Coming off a loss and a year layoff, Korey Kuppe was looking to make an impact in his first fight of 2019 against Kenny Cross at Lights Out Championship 2 in February.

In what ended up being one of Kuppe’s tougher fights, he was able to get past a hard weight cut and pick up a submission win just over three minutes into the third round and pick up his first win in 16 months.

“I kind of knew I was going to win unless I had really big misfortune,” Kuppe told MMAWeekly.com. “I knew if I took my time, stayed safe, I wasn’t going to get caught in anything and would eventually find a submission.

“I’m happy to get past that one and get ready for this next one. I sat out for a year after my last fight (prior to this one), so I’m looking to get busy here.”

Kuppe feels like he experienced a lot of growth in his year off, particularly in how he views the stand-up element of MMA now as opposed to how he felt prior to his last loss.

“I got knocked out for the first time (in February of 2018) and it kind of put a lot of things into perspective,” said Kuppe. “It let me know that I’m not untouchable. I feel untouchable when I’m striking in MMA. I had a little bit of a lack of respect for people on the feet in MMA. It made me respect the game.

“My background is Karate, and I don’t think there’s a sport Karate guy who can submit people on the mat like me. I’ve really been developing that and am taking it to a world class level of Jiu-Jitsu, and I feel I’m right there. I feel like a whole new animal since that year off. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

On Saturday in Grand Rapids, Mich., Kuppe (7-3) will look to pick up his second win in 2019 when he faces Erick Lozano (10-15) in a middleweight championship bout at Lights Out Championship 3.

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“He was actually my first professional loss,” Kuppe said of Lozano. “That was like four and a half years ago. I was 3-0, just thinking I was going to run right through him, and he ended up taking me out on the mat.

“For me, I’m looking for fights that excite me. There’s guys that have pretty 9-1 records that won’t fight me, so what’s better than a guy that’s beat my ass in front of my mom and made my mom cry.”

Should Kuppe pick up back-to-back wins, he’ll be looking to use the momentum to carry him to the next step in his career in 2019.

“A lot of these guys are just trying to make ends meet, trying to make paychecks, but that’s not what I’m in this sport for,” said Kuppe. “I was a three-time world champion in Karate, and I’m looking to be a world champion in MMA, and that involves fighting the best people in the world.

“I’ve got to run through these people, get noticed, and I don’t care if I have to go to the UFC headquarters and hunt down Dana White, Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard, I’m going to get the job done. I’m going to start turning in highlight reels and I won’t be deniable.”