Trey “The Truth” Waters is preparing for the biggest opportunity of his fighting career. Slated as the co-main event on Dana White’s Contender Series: Season 6, Week 7, Waters gives us his thoughts on his upcoming matchup with Gabriel de Souza Bonfim. He also shares his thoughts on his last fight (a highlight-reel knockout against Benjamin Bennett at LFA 133), what makes his striking so effective, and being the next man up at a gym brimming with UFC talent. 

Grapplermag: Trey “The Truth” Waters, Trey “Deep” Waters, Trey “Knee You In The Face Without Jumping” Waters, appreciate you taking the time. The fight’s coming up in a week. How are you feeling?

Trey Waters: “I feel good. I’m ready.”

How far in advance did you know about this fight? Didn’t have a full training camp, but not super short notice, either.

“It was like two weeks ago so it wasn’t much of a training camp. But I stay ready.”

We’ll talk about the last fight real quick. If you would’ve had a camera on me, the video would’ve gone viral, because man, I was freaking out watching that whole fight. What was your mindset going into that third round? 

“Honestly, it was tough. He was grinding me out. I was tired (laughs). Obviously, I was always looking for my shot. But he did a real good job of controlling me, holding me against the cage, and just nullifying my offense, which was different. I wasn’t used to that. But I eventually did find my shot, for sure.”

Did you know [the knee] was your shot all along or the opportunity just presented itself?

“What happened was, he started to get real obvious. He got desperate. There was one route to victory, and it started to become very obvious he wanted to push me against the cage and close the distance. So when the ref broke us apart, I knew it wouldn't be long before he tried to get me right back to that same position. I heard Steve [Koslow] say ‘Shoot the knee.’ I shot it, and it was just perfect.”

How did you get into your partnership with Jason House and Iridium Sports Agency and how has it taken your career to that next step?

“Jason’s dope, man. I believe he’s the best in the game, honestly. He has more UFC fighters than any other agent, and he’s legit. He does a lot, he has a great team around him, and it was a perfect fit. He reached out to me after my Combate Global fight, and I was actually looking for management, and it was just the perfect fit.”

He got you the LFA fight, which was in Denver. Was that your first fight outside of Florida?

“Yes. Well I fought in Georgia as an amateur.”

How was that experience, just adding the travel aspect to what you’re already kind of used to, as far as ritual and routine?

“It was different, and we had a lot of trouble. They flew me out the day before weigh-ins, so I didn’t have any time. My weigh-in was at 11 in the morning. I got there the day before that. I was scheduled to only have the night to prepare for the cut. Our first flight got delayed, our second flight got delayed, so I arrived hours later than when I was supposed to. It kind of got to me a little bit, considering [the fight] being at such high elevation. It was a little weird, but we got through it.” 

Did the altitude affect you at all?

“I believe it did a little bit. I’m real big on ‘No Excuses’ though, so I never try to tell myself that it affected me. Even right after the fight, people were asking me. I was like, ‘Nah, it didn’t really affect me.’ But when I look back, it did, but not majorly.” 

But to experience that and take it in stride is a positive, mentally.

“Austen Lane actually said this yesterday and it reminded me that I’ve faced adversity before. I’ve felt it. I know what it’s like to go in those deep waters, and I don’t think my opponent is necessarily familiar with that…I think that’s the biggest difference between me and him. He’s been real dominant, he hasn’t really fought dudes that really test him. I’m excited to be the guy to do that.” 

So you’ve already been out to Las Vegas to the UFC Apex to get fitted for your equipment and to film pre-fight video packages. One of the things that I took from the interview there was the way you talk about your striking. ‘It’s on another level, it’s different.’ When you hear analysts talk about ‘using your reach', what does that mean to you as far as your approach being the rangier fighter nine times out of ten?

“It means a lot. It separates me from most fighters. If you got back to my last fight with Ben, he was 5-0 pro boxing, so he’s a great striker. If you look at a lot of his other fights, he melts guys on the feet, and he did not want to stand with me at all, to where he got extremely predictable. And that guy is so versatile, one of the most well-rounded guys I’ve faced. To take a guy like that and to force him to do what he did, that’s the effectiveness of my striking, and I think that’s what separates me. I think I’m going to prove it again with Bonfim, because he is such a great striker, but my striking is going to shut his down completely. 

That's just what makes me different. I’m not only long, I truly understand the range. I know how to dial in the range of my opponent. I know how to make them miss, I know exactly where to be to counter at the right time, placement. All these things I think separate me as a striker from most guys that I’m going to face.” 

Talk a little bit about Steven Koslow just being your buddy and training partner. How does his perspective help your game?

“One, he’s a master grappler, so just his knowledge when it comes to grappling is extensive. He’s dominant [in that area], so he helps me a lot in that, but another thing about him is his mindset. It’s good to have him there with me, because he knows what it takes. He knows the mindset you’re supposed to be in, how to be ice-cold. That’s the way you need to be and he’s perfect to have around, because he’s a master at what he does. He’s authentic, for sure.” 

Did you get to use the Apex facilities while you were there or just for the B-roll footage and stuff?

“No, I was just there to record. Actually, they make it a thing, when you’re competing for the Contender Series, you’re not a UFC fighter. We have no access to that. They make it clear, ‘You ain’t a UFC fighter until you get that contract.’ So it’s cool. I have no problem going and earning it. All I need is the opportunity.” 

Have you talked to Preston Parsons at all about his experience going to the Apex and any knowledge he might have for you?

“We spoke about it. He told me what to expect. He obviously has fought there twice. He told me some things that made me feel confident about going in there, so I’m excited.” 

My perception of the Dana White Contender Series is different in a sense that if you want the contract you not only have to win but do so decisively and in impressive fashion. Does that change your approach at all from how you normally fight?

“To be honest, no. Only because I think the way that I naturally fight, my style just in general is exciting. Even if you look at my last fight again with Ben, he did the best job at nullifying my offense, stopping me from being exciting, stopping me from being myself. And look what still happened, you know? So I just think if you’re really like that, there isn’t really anything that can stop it when you’re in that situation. I think there’s nothing that can stop me from getting this contract, doesn’t matter what Bonfim brings, I think Dana’s going to be like, ‘Damn, this kid’s a savage.’”

How do you foresee your clearest path to victory?

“To me, I just know how hard I am to hit. I don’t think he’ll freely be able to touch me like he thinks he will. I believe I’ll be able to counter him, and when I hit him with shots, I think they’re powerful. I don’t think he’s going to be able to take them. He’s young, I think he’s going to be anxious. Like I said, I don’t think he’s been tested, and I’m a dog. I’m going to bring the fight to him, and I believe I’m going to finish him. If I don’t finish him on the feet, I think he might try to initiate the grappling, and I think I’ll choke him [if he does that].”  

The dynamic of this gym, of Elevate MMA, is interesting to me, because there are so many guys here that are right on that doorstep. Preston is there, he has two fights [in the UFC], you’re right there, Steven’s right there, Korey Taylor is right there. Talk a little bit about how you value the gym and the team that you have, how everyone is there hungry and so close to eating. 

“I love it. I think we have a special group. Like you said, everybody is right there at that cusp. Everyone can tell you, when you come into this environment, the amount of growth and the speed of the growth that happens here...we’re all growing at a rapid rate, to the point where we almost can’t even tell, because we’re growing so fast together. It’s something special for sure. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, everyone just has their own special thing, and we all feed off of each other. We’re all on our way. Preston broke the door down, and we’re all running right behind him.”



Tim Kline

Brandon Ibarra

Brandon attended the College of Journalism at the University of Florida. He has one stripe on his white belt.