Nfld. & Labrador

UFC contract a 'dream coming true' for MMA fighter Gavin Tucker

The 30-year-old from Ship Cove, N.L., has been fighting pro for years in Halifax, and just signed his first contract with the UFC.

'This is comparative to the NHL for hockey,' says 30-year-old featherweight

Gavin Tucker posted this photo of him signing a UFC contract to his Facebook page over the weekend. (Facebook)

It's a dream come true for a mixed martial arts fighter from Newfoundland: Gavin "Guv'nor" Tucker was signed to the UFC over the weekend.

The 30-year-old from Ship Cove, now living in Halifax, found out a few days ago he was heading to the octagon.

His manager woke him at 2:30 a.m. with the news — and he "lit up pretty much like a Christmas tree."

I had a really good record and everything was in place for me, so I got lucky.- Gavin Tucker

"It's like the pinnacle of fighting, everyone is trying to do. Every weight class has a top 40 or 50 guys in the world, when you look at the whole world from Southeast Asia to New York to the U.K., everything," Tucker said.

"That's crazy — I just broke that top tier of guys all over the planet. So nothing but tough scraps from here on out. Not that the other ones weren't, we just hit a new level. This is comparative to the NHL for hockey."

Since he heard the news, Tucker said he's been "living in the gym," but has had to take time out of his hectic training schedule to get paperwork signed, as well as a police background check and a number of medical check-ups, before he's able to fight.

'I got lucky'

Tucker first moved to Nova Scotia to attend St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, where he got his music diploma in jazz studies.

When he moved to Halifax about seven years ago, Tucker joined the Titans MMA gym and started fighting pro and teaching classes.

He missed out on a previous chance to sign with the UFC a couple years ago, when he was recovering from a shoulder surgery.

Gavin Tucker shows off his belt after a successful defence of his MMA title in Halifax last summer. (Aggro Photography)

"It really is timing with those guys too because they need to have your weight class open, it's not just like passing through your town and picking you up," said Tucker.

This time, he was ready.

"I had a really good record and everything was in place for me, so I got lucky."

Next steps

Tucker first announced he had signed with the UFC on his personal Facebook page, just after 12 a.m. Sunday, in a post that had nearly 1,000 shares and 500 comments by Monday morning.

He had so many calls of congratulations he had to shut his phone off just to get some sleep.

While Tucker couldn't reveal when his first UFC fight will be — or who his opponent is — he's hopeful people will support him.

"The next step after all that paperwork is done is to make an announcement and get people out to watch me either get my heart broke or get this dream coming true."

With files from Meghan McCabe