Chris Wade almost got onto the UFC’s Brooklyn card last February as a late addition. Didn’t happen. He almost landed a late spot on the UFC’s Buffalo card in April. Didn’t happen.
“I’ve been healthy, I’ve been raising my hand, ‘pick me! pick me!” the Islip-raised Wade said earlier this month.
This, of course, was after he already secured a spot on another New York-based UFC fight card, one slightly closer to home.
Wade will battle Frankie Perez in the first fight of the night at UFC Long Island at Nassau Coliseum on July 22. Just after 4 p.m. that Saturday, he’ll be the first fighter to enter the UFC’s octagon in Long Island, what with this being the promotion’s first event here. He’s also one of six Long Island-based fighters scheduled to compete inside the renovated venue.
“Fighting at Nassau Coliseum means the world to me,” said Wade, a former state wrestling champion at Islip High School. “This is like our little mecca of sports and entertainment, so to fight there is a real validation that you’ve made it in whatever path you’ve chosen.”
Ten months will have passed since Wade last fought in September when he lost a unanimous decision to Islam Makhachev. It was his second straight defeat, both of which came against Russian-based grapplers.
“I was starving for a fight,” Wade, 29, said.
Both competitively and financially.
Healthy the entire time, the competitive spirit inside Wade needed to be set free upon someone besides training partners. Plus, he’s a homeowner on Long Island and has a daughter to support.
Like most up-and-coming MMA fighters, Wade teaches classes at his gym (Long Island MMA in Farmingdale) and gives private lessons. He also helped open a second Long Island MMA gym in Islip. Wade also has a stake in Island Strong, an apparel business focused on taking pride in Long Island and all it has to offer.
“Not having fought in New York yet, being that outside guy looking in, I’ve been looking to jump in any way I could,” Wade said. “So to hear Long Island, my ears perked up, I’m like I gotta have this.”
Wade (11-3, 4-2 UFC) has four career wins by submission and seven by decision. Two of his four UFC wins came by submission. He and the New Jersey-based Perez (10-3, 1-2) fought once before in Ring of Combat, with Wade winning by split decision to defend his RoC lightweight title. It was the first career loss for Perez.
He wants his Long Island debut to be something fans all over the world will remember. Not only to secure his immediate UFC fighting future, but to help stand out amid a crowd of lightweight fighters each trying to make a name for themselves with the work inside the octagon and their sound bites on a microphone.
“I definitely need to make a statement this bout, considering the way things have kind of been going,” Wade said. “I’ve watched it creep from a true sport, like, just get your hand raised, to this almost WWE-esque entertainment entity where they want to see promo videos, they wanna see the trash talk, they wanna see the whole nine to bring the fan in.”
|CHRIS WADE’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY|
|Aug. 30, 2014||UFC 177||Cain Carrizosa||Won by submission, Round 1, 1:12|
|Jan. 18, 2015||UFC Boston||Zhang Lipeng||Won by unanimous decision|
|June 6, 2015||UFC New Orleans||Christos Giagos||Won by unanimous decision|
|Jan. 17, 2016||UFC Boston||Mehdi Baghdad||Won by submission, Round 1, 4:30|
|May 8, 2016||UFC Rotterdam||Rustam Khabilov||Lost by unanimous decision|
|Sept. 17, 2016||UFC Hidalgo||Islam Makhachev||Lost by unanimous decision|
|July 22, 2017||UFC Long Island||Frankie Perez|
Photographer: Marcus Villagran
Video editor: Greg Inserillo