John Phillips called out fellow Welshman Jack Marshman, but it sucks they're both in bad spots

LONDON – John Phillips wanted to meet Jack Marshman in the octagon, but maybe not under these exact circumstances.

Phillips (21-8 MMA, 0-2 UFC) and Marshman (22-8 MMA, 2-3 UFC) and enter their middleweight bout at UFC on ESPN+ 5 on Saturday with a few similarities. For starters, both of them hail from Wales. And, as it happens, the two are in similar need of a win, each carrying a two-fight skid into the cage at The O2 in London.

For Phillips, the meeting is the granting of an old wish. He just didn’t necessarily anticipate that, instead of fighting for the position of No. 1 middleweight in Wales, they’d be possibly fighting for their jobs.

“To be honest, obviously Jack signed for the UFC first as a middleweight,” Phillips told MMA Junkie during a media day today in London. “It ruffled my feathers, being the first middleweight to sign and presented as the best middleweight that Wales had to offer – which really pissed me off, because I felt I was the best middleweight to come out of Wales.

“So I asked for the fight and obviously that was the reason the UFC started looking. I won a couple more fights and I was in the UFC. But then me and Jack had sort of a bad luck in the UFC and we both need to win. So to make the fight happen now, it sucks. But it is what it is. It’s him or me and that’s going to make an exciting fight.”

Unlike Marshman, who has a pair of wins among his five-fight UFC run, Phillips has yet to taste victory in the octagon. The Cage Warriors and BAMMA veteran lost both his bouts since his debut in March 2018, both via rear-naked choke, to Charles Byrd and Kevin Holland. He was on a four-fight winning streak before the skid.

The fact that those four wins were knockouts, like many of Phillips’ wins overall, says a lot about his style. And he is, understandably, a little frustrated when his opponents aren’t keen on playing it.

“Especially when they say all the way up the fight, ‘I’m going to stand, I’m going to stand,’” Phillips said. “Than they shoot from the changing rooms. (Expletive) pu–ies. (Expletive) piss off. But we’re ready for that now. It is what it is. This game can be so rewarding, or it can be so (expletive) cruel.”

Phillips doesn’t dance around his feelings about the rough stretch he’s faced after getting his long-awaited UFC shot. “It (expletive) sucks,” he said, after jokingly thanking MMA Junkie for reminding him of it. He could make excuses, but “actions speak louder than words” and he’s hoping they speak loudly on Saturday.

As usual, Phillips sees no other way of it happening other than via knockout. And he’s hoping to entertain the fans with a great fight until then. That is, if he has a foe who delivers on their word for once.

“He’s going to (expletive) shoot,” Phillips said. “He’ll shoot. We’ll see. I think he’s going to say he’s going to stand, whether he will or not, we’ll soon find out. But I think it will be a great fight. I don’t want to get into a slagging match with Jack because, you know, we’re both countrymen, we both are from the same cloth, I think we’re going to have a great fight.”

To hear more from Phillips, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC on ESPN+ 5, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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