Last February 3, Phillipe Nover received a call from the UFC. The message: he’ll be fighting in Manila. It’s the best gift he could ever receive on his birthday — to fight on home soil and return to the Octagon.
Nover’s 2-year stay with the UFC was very tough. Before he even set foot inside the cage, he was already carrying a huge load on his shoulders – being likened to not one, but two legends of the sport: Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to live up to expectations.
“It was a hype-believe in the UFC, and I couldn’t fill in the shoes. I think, at the time, I might have been a little anxious, a little too much pressured,” he tells Dojo Drifter, relating to the hype surrounding him during his time as a cast members on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF).
After winning three straight on TUF, Nover made it to the finale of the show only to lose to Efraim Escudero. Never the less, the Fil-Am offered plenty of promise. The fire eventually died down, unfortunately, when he was cut from the UFC after losing 3 straight, which included his season finale bout. This was the worst thing that could happen to someone who left a stable nine-to-five job to pursue his fighting dreams.
“It was definitely a difficult time in my life, because I quit my job at that time as a nurse; I hit the scene and lost a few fights. I was definitely on a rollercoaster down. I also had a neck injury where I had surgery after my UFC stint.”
It was a frustrating period for the Brooklyn native, but the early exit made him realize that having heavy hands and intimidation weren’t enough to survive in the big leagues. From there, he re-assessed his situation, started working religiously on his arsenal, and began putting it all together. The experience in itself was something Nover could never take for granted.
“I’ve seen the ups and downs, and fans can appreciate that. I’ve seen streaks of losses, I’ve seen streaks of wins, I’ve pretty much fought on all the top shows and the lower shows. I’m so experienced in it and I’ve learned so much. I definitely understand myself better at this point in my career. I feel like I’m the best that I’ve been before. So just learning the fact that you have to train with the best people in the world, you have to get the best professional coaches and really dedicate your life to it.
“In order to appreciate the highs in life, you have to appreciate and feel how it is to be down there. And the people who stuck around–my family, my friends, and the fans who stuck around – those [are the people who] I really appreciated.”
Now where he wants to be physically and mentally, Nover savors the second chance given to him by the UFC and doesn’t fear the pressure that comes with his Octagon return. On May 16, he’ll try to pick up where he left off when he faces former ROAD FC champion in Nam Yui-Chul in Manila.
“As far as me having to deal with the pressure, I’m just gonna have a good time. You’re gonna see me dancing there, you’re gonna see me smiling there, and you’re gonna see me having a good time, cause I fight because I love it.
“You’ll see a more well-rounded Phillipe Nover. I’m confident, I’m ready to go, and I’ll conquer the ‘Korean Bulldozer.’ I’m gonna stop him.”
Featured photo courtesy of Phillipe Nover and Cristian Buirton