Homecomings can be a powerful motivator, and John Howard is not lacking in inspiration these days.
“Doomsday” will return to the Octagon for the first time since being released from the UFC back in 2011 when he faces Uriah Hall next weekend at UFC Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen. The 30-year-old built up solid steam on the regional circuit, winning six out of seven bouts, and his success earned the veteran a call back to the premier promotion in mixed martial arts.
If another run in the UFC fold wasn’t sweet enough, the bout with Hall will take place in Howard’s hometown of Boston, where he will receive support from the city’s fighting faithful.
“Coming back to the UFC in my hometown, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Howard told Bleacher Report. “I’m so happy and proud, and appreciate the opportunity to fight in front of my hometown. The Boston Garden—people call it the TD Garden—but it’s the Boston Garden to me, and I’m excited to fight there.
“I’m excited, man. I’m pumped up to be fighting in front of my hometown, friends and family. It’s a dream come true and I can’t wait.
“It’s been hard work,” he added. “I’ve been grinding, fighting, and just getting stuff done right. There hasn’t been anything easy about it, but it has all been worthwhile. It just shows that hard work pays off and I’m so happy the UFC gave me a second chance to show what I can do. I know I belong in the UFC and it feels good to be coming back. I’ve been working so hard, and now that I am coming back to the UFC, I’m so happy. It’s a dream come true and I’m ready.”
While Howard couldn’t ask for a more ideal setting for his return, he will face a stiff challenge in Hall. The Ultimate Fighter 17 finalist possesses a unique striking attack based on power and technique and has proven knockout ability in his hands and feet. Nevertheless, Howard is no slouch in the stand-up game and is excited to mix it up with the highly touted prospect.
“It’s going to be a great fight. He’s a good striker and I’m also a good striker. I want to see what he throws at me and what he comes with because I’m coming at him hard and fast. I don’t get in there to play games. I can’t wait for this fight. I know he brings it and I’m going to bring it. It’s going to be a great fight.
“Experience is a big factor on my side because it’s something you can’t duplicate. I’m going to use my experience to my advantage and take it to him. I’m going to see what he does in there. I know he trains with some of the best guys in the world, but training with the best guys and fighting the best guys are two different things. I’m going to see what he brings, but if I have to make adjustments I will, and I’ll keep moving forward.”
Duane Finley is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.