When a fighter makes their UFC debut, it’s a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. So much rides on what they can do in a maximum of 15 minutes. It’s a special time that a fighter wants to share with friends, family and anybody who has seen them working towards this one goal for so many years.

It would have been nice for Justin “Tank” Scoggins if his debut were to take place in his hometown, or even his home country. Instead, the undefeated flyweight has made the trek “Down Under” as he prepares for UFC Fight Night 33, where he faces off with Richie Vaculik, who is as Australian as they come.

“It’s really cool for me. It’s awesome and it’s a whole new experience. The people here have been so nice, and I am really excited to be fighting on the world stage,” Scoggins exclaimed in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “Whether it was my backyard or his, there is always going to be energy there. If it were mine, then people would be getting behind me, but since it’s in his backyard, that energy is still going to be there, with people booing me or whatever. What I do with that energy is up to me.”

Scoggins (Scott Lee/IamScottLee.com)

Scoggins (Scott Lee/IamScottLee.com)

Scoggins makes up one of the younger faces of the current UFC roster, and it was at an even earlier age that he worked out that his life would be devoted to training and competing with a goal of being one of the best fighters in the world. Having not tasted defeat in any form of combat sport, Scoggins is on the right path to establish himself in the UFC.

“I started training in Kenpo when I was just three years old,” he explained. “The second that I hit that mat, I knew that it was what I wanted to do. After that, I moved into wrestling and from there I just knew that I wanted to fight in the UFC one day. That was my goal and that’s all that I thought about.”

Turning 21 years old opens up a whole new world for a young adult. Being able to legally consume alcohol in clubs and bars typically means that the average young adult takes to a life of partying. It’s during that time of their life that they can be young and reckless. Life for Scoggins, at the tender age of 21, isn’t about looking forward to the next weekend of binge drinking. Instead, it is about the contract that he had signed with the UFC.

“A lot of my friends went off to college, and they were partying and stuff,” he said. “They are gonna go off and get their nine-to-five and live their dream, and I am going to live mine. I want to be the best fighter in the world and fight for the premier mixed martial arts company.

“I don’t need to go out and party or anything like that. I have good people around me who want to see me do well. I have friends who have helped me out and my parents have helped me so much, and I know that without their support I wouldn’t be where I am today. I believe that in life you are going to attract what you put out there, and I am putting out hard work and dedication to being the best fighter that I can be.”

Scoggins (Scott Lee/IamScottLee.com)

Scoggins (Scott Lee/IamScottLee.com)

A debut with the world’s premier mixed martial arts company was likely to be overwhelming enough for Scoggins, but to do it in a completely different country, that’s something that not every fighter is faced with during a moment in their career that has life-altering potential. Scoggins certainly sees the positive side of fighting outside of North America, and the time difference has no bearing on how he sees things going down in Australia on Dec. 7.

“I can sleep pretty much anywhere,” he said. “[The time difference] wasn’t that much of an issue for me. People were telling me that I would be really jetlagged and it would be hard, but it’s been alright so far. I’ve just been getting into a schedule, and I know I’m ready.

“I have always wanted to travel here, so there was just nothing but excitement for me. I am looking forward to putting on a show for the fans and looking forward to building some new fans in Australia. No matter where I am fighting, I go out there to put on a show and to make an impression.”

On the cusp of his debut with the UFC, Scoggins finds himself in an unfamiliar country with fans eagerly awaiting a hometown favorite in Vaculik who is also making his debut in the Octagon. Putting all the emotion aside, Scoggins views this simply as another fight. It’s something that he has done time and time again. He has had success each and every time he has done it. If Scoggins can leave Australia with his very first win in the UFC, it will leave an impression on not only him, but also thousands of fans all around the world.

[light_box]Justin would like to thank Revgear, Fear The Fighter, Unique Kennels, Myrtle Beach Auctions, Art To No End Tattoos, Revolution Martial Arts, American Top Team, HIT Training Centre and, of course, his mom and dad. Follow Scoggins on Twitter: @TankScogginsMMA[/alert]

Photo: Justin Scoggins (Scott Lee/IamScottLee.com)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.

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