For Evan Cutts, martial arts hasn’t ever really been about fame and glory. Instead, it’s been more of a path of pure competition and a journey of self-betterment.
“It makes me a better person,” Cutts said of his fighting career. “I say that chuckling, but I do really believe that there is a warrior spirit inside some people, and if it’s not exercised in the proper way, it’s going to manifest in unhealthy ways, and whether that’s an external unhealthy way where you’re getting pissed off and doing something you regret, or it’s an internal thing and you’re suffering from depression, I think some people have to address that warrior spirit, and that’s something that’s just inside me as a person.”
Cutts, who also serves as an owner and operator of Fitness Fight Factory in Texas, hasn’t been able to address that warrior spirit quite as much as he’d like over the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic forced him to spend extra time focused on his business, and fight bookings were few and far between on the regional stage, leaving him inactive since December 2019.
But things are looking up in 2021, with Cutts (11-4) set to headline Thursday’s CFFC 94 event, which streams live on UFC Fight Pass from Philadelphia’s 2300 Arena. “The Butcher” challenges reigning welterweight champion Bassil Hafez (6-2-1) in the main event of the first of two back-to-back fight cards for CFFC.
Cutts said he’s thrilled with the opportunity.
“It’s hard to sometimes jump into a high-level regional promotion like that and get a title fight right off the bat, so the fact that I get to fight for a title right off the bat is a huge deal for me,” Cutts said. “At this point, it’s about collecting belts and trying to push my regional ranking because that’s how ultimately you get into the UFC.”
Cutts owns a 2018 win over current UFC welterweight Ramiz Brahimaj. He also suffered a few early career decision losses to “The Ultimate Fighter 16” winner Colton Smith and eight-time UFC veteran Sean Spencer.
He currently stands at 5-1 in his past six, with the lone loss in that run via split decision, and Tapology has him ranked as the No. 1 welterweight on the Texas regional scene and No. 29 in the entire U.S.
Cutts believes he’s ready to make the jump to the UFC and says that he understands it’s not just about wins in order to get the invitation, but to do it in a fan-pleasing style.
“I’m hoping this will get their attention,” Cutts said. “I want to make it an exciting fight. I have a really good record. My only losses are decision losses, and sometimes even though I’m tough as all hell, I just want to make sure the fight is exciting, too.
“It’s cool to be tough. It’s cool to have a grinding fight in a sense that guys are up against the cage, holding the guy down, wrestling for dominance, and you’re trying to land ground-and-pound, but at the same time, I know for fans that can be not the funnest fight to watch, so I hope Bassil and I go out there and just have a banger and knock it out.”
Like Hafez, Cutts is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, his of the famed Jean Jacques Machado lineage, so both men will be comfortable on the ground, to be sure. But Cutts believes fans enjoy standup wars more than tactical ground battles, and he’s hoping Hafez will be willing to engage.
But regardless of his opponent’s actions, Cutts says his goal is simple: Enter the cage with a gladiator mentality.
“Either kill him or come back on my shield,” Cutts said. “The desperate coasting to a win doesn’t garner attention. I want to turn a corner. I’m starting to get the point in my career where it’s like, ‘You’ve got to make it now or never.’
“If you’re just coasting by for another five or six years and you never really jump off the regional scene, then why the f-ck are you doing it?”
Cutts started martial arts as “a nervous 15-year-old boy and not really having a lot of direction.” Now, he believes the sacrifices required for success in the sport have driven him to be a better man outside of the cage, as well. For him, fighting is much more than just a sport.
“Having a competitive outlet or drive and pursuing meaning is the best way to overcome some of the psychological obstacles we face,” Cutts said. “There’s nothing that makes me hungrier. To my family, to my sons, I am a better person when I am pursuing something that means something.”
This story was first published at CFFC.tv.
This was originally published on www.mmajunkie.com