Modestas Bukauskas traces his return to the UFC to a photo with Jon Jones.
In 2019, Bukauskas trained with the current heavyweight title challenger and declared he would win the light heavyweight title in Cage Warriors, his then-promoter. Jones gave his stamp of approval.
Then Bukauskas won the belt. He figured it was a sign to start writing down things in order to will them into existence.
“So I just started like, ‘OK, well hold on, let me get a white board,'” Bukauskas said on The MMA Hour.
Four days after beating Tyson Pedro at UFC 284, Bukauskas is beginning to believe in the power of that whiteboard, even if it’s record, at best, seems 50-50. He is the owner of a bonus-winning knockout in his 2020 UFC debut, which he predicted by promising his bonus to his parents. He is also the owner of a three-fight skid punctuated by a horrific knee injury, which led to his unceremonious release from the promotion.
A chance short-notice fight in Australia gave Bukauskas another chance in the UFC, and he took full advantage by upsetting a hometown favorite. In no way was it the way he thought things would work out, but he’s grateful they did.
“From everything coming true, everything started not coming true, basically,” he said. From my dreams becoming true, to being crushed down, passion burned before me. So now [that] everything is starting to happen again, it’s like a mystical thing, but I feel like everything obviously happened for a reason in order for me to succeed.”
There are many more items on the whiteboard. Back in the UFC by 29, which came true. His new record of 14-5, cemented after his decision over Pedro. There are still a few tasks to tick off, the biggest of which is to be UFC champ by 31.
He’s got two years to go, but he’s not giving up.
” These are the things I have in my mind, [and] “I’m working towards that,” he stated. I have all the records there. Obviously, the top ones are more like my long-term, but I’m gonna have to rub some of that stuff off, and the bottom ones more for like short-term kind of stuff.
“It’s just something to keep it in the forefront of my mind, what is that I want to achieve, what do I want to do and just keep it running through my head constantly.”
Bukauskas believed that all his difficulties were worth them, and that he was now back at the UFC. He learned of his UFC release via the Twitter account UFC Roster Watch instead of his manager. After its total destruction, his knee needed two operations. In recovery, he tried to abuse alcohol. He fought for his faith.
“I think all the things that happened to me, like the really hard times, hard times, we’re all just part of god’s plan,” he said. “In order for me to become a UFC champion within the next couple of years, I had to go through all of this, because I tell you what bro, when I was in that cage in front of almost 15,000 people, I loved it. I even watch it back on the video, just me walking out of my hands out, I’m just like I’m here, you know what I mean? This is it, this is what I have been waiting for.
“Being in the moment and listening to my entrance song, it was amazing. I feel ready for battle. These were feelings I never felt before. I am grateful that this rollercoaster happened this way. As crap and s*** of the time it was, I’m grateful that happened this way, because I wouldn’t have learned the lessons needed in order to be where I am now, and I’m by no means finished.”