Olivier Aubin-Mercier credits GSP like jab for striking success at UFC 206, wants Andrew Holbrook next

Picking up yet another submission win, Olivier Aubin-Mercier put on perhaps the best performance of his young MMA career. He choked out Drew Dober in the second round this past Saturday at UFC 206, netting his 7th career rear naked choke win.

Fighting in front of his home crowd in all but one of his pro MMA bouts, Aubin-Mercier has become one of Canada’s brightest stars. He displayed much improved striking getting the best of Dober on the feet and the ground.

“The game plan was to use my jab a lot and my leg kicks to frustrate him then maybe at that point try to take him down,” Aubin-Mercier said on his game plan. “We saw that he’s a pretty good wrestler and we didn’t want to push the same way I did with my last opponent so the plan was to take my time and to stand with him without standing in front of him.”

He was able to stick the jab right at Dober, busting his nose up. When asked whether he was surprised at the success he had on the feet in the first round, Aubin-Mercier said that he’s been putting in the work.

“Not really. The game plan went really well and what you saw in the fight was what we did in the training camp. Right now I have a schedule. Before I was just doing stand up maybe when everybody had time (laughs). So right now I have a striking coach and I think that it was shown and I’m happy with the progress.”

“The Quebec Kid” did suffer one hiccup though; he was dropped by a left hook early in the second round which set the Canadian fans into panic mode. Despite admitting that he was rocked, he stayed calm which ended up being a blessing in disguise for him.

“I just opened my eyes and I was on the ground. So I guess it got pretty close for me to get knocked out, it was a flash but on the ground I was lucid and everything so just really a flash.”

“He went a little berserk on the ground so I just decided to grab him and just let the storm pass. I thought he was getting tired actually, we knew he had really good cardio so I was surprised. When the storm passed, I tried an omoplata and he tried to stand up and that’s where I had the opportunity to take the leg lock sweep him. So at that point I swept him, took his back and choked him. I’m pretty happy because it’s the first time we see the attack from my back.”

That’s back to back wins for Aubin-Mercier who dropped a unanimous decision to Carlos Diego Ferreira earlier in the year. He already has his sights set on his next opponent as he’d like to fight Andrew Holbrook. Although considered a step down in competition, he had a pretty good reason as to why he wanted the fight.

“I think it’s an interesting matchup. I like his style, I like how he fights on the ground and he’s doing a lot of leg locks so for me it would be a fun fight to train for,” Aubin-Mercier said on Holbrook. “I like how he fought against Jake Matthews and I don’t normally watch UFC fights but every fight I’ve seen of his, he’s won. I don’t think I’m at the point where I should fight a top 10 yet especially that I’d have less experience than most people in the UFC. For right now I just need to get better.”

The UFC makes its next visit to Canada early next year in Halifax. When asked whether he’d be interested in fighting on the 19th of February, Aubin-Mercier insisted it’s too soon for him to come back.

“I don’t think so. I mean yeah there’s Christmas but I kind of hurt my hand a little bit in the fight in the first round. So it would be a good 2 or 3 weeks without being able to punch leaving me about a month and a week to get ready for the fight so for right now I don’t think I’m going to do it. Let’s see what will happen, if my hand miraculously heals we’ll see.”

UFC 206 did not get off to the greatest start as Canadians Jason Saggo, John Makdessi, Mitch Gagnon and Valerie Letourneau all suffered losses prior to Aubin-Mercier’s fight. Although he was watching the previous fights, he remained focused on his own.

“I didn’t feel any pressure but I have to say I was feeling weird. Some of them were my friends so I was feeling sad for them and I don’t know I was feeling like the card was doomed or something.”

Although it seems that he will miss the UFC’s next return to Canada, he’d still prefer to fight at home. It is unknown when the UFC will return to Canada again after Halifax but Aubin-Mercier has a valid reason as to why he likes to fight in his home country.

“I like to fight in Canada because it’s less expensive. Every fight I’m bringing three coaches so I have to pay for 2 coaches and plus one of my friends is a really good cook and I bring him to my fights to cook my after weigh-in meal; he’s the chef from Joe Beef . Maybe in the future when I get a bigger payroll I wouldn’t care but for right now I prefer to fight in Canada.”

Training at Tristar gym gives Olivier the opportunity to train with many fighters on the roster. Most recently, young rising star Mickey Gall has spent his training camp in Montreal, preparing for his upcoming fight this Saturday in Sacramento versus Sage Northcutt. Prior to Mickey’s visit, Sage has also spent some time in Tristar in the past giving Olivier a chance to train with both.

“I sparred with him (Mickey) when he came to Tristar and basically, he’s a really nice guy and I like him but what I told him was that since I trained with Sage before I couldn’t tell him anything about him.”

I also asked Olivier about Georges St. Pierre who’s ever so close to returning to action. Although he didn’t have much of an update, he was adamant that St. Pierre wants to return and has been training like an active fighter. GSP was rumoured to headline UFC 206 but due to failed negotiations was left out of the card. Aubin-Mercier, who idolized GSP and drew comparisons to him early in his career, was disappointed at the missed opportunity.

“I was kind of sad that he wasn’t going to fight in Toronto because like I said I started MMA because of him so for me to have been on the same card as him would have been a really great honour.”

With no rush for a big step up in competition, Aubin-Mercier is looking to improve and climb his way to the top fight by fight. His sights are set on Andrew Holbrook which should make for a very entertaining fight on the ground. With no target date for a return, Aubin-Mercier will look to continue his climb in the stacked lightweight division.