Photo by Taro Irei via MMA Weekly
At just 30 years old, Cole Escovedo has seen just about everything.
"The Apache Kid" was the inaugural WEC featherweight champion, and throughout his career, he's squared off against some of the best bantamweight and featherweight fighters on the planet. In fact, the man who took his WEC title was none other than Urijah Faber.
After dropping down to bantamweight, Escovedo campaigned heavily to be a cast member of season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter, but was instead given a fight in the UFC against Renan Barao, one of the current top contenders for the title. After dropping a hard-fought decision, he was stopped in a wild battle with former title challenger Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 135 in a bout that was entertaining enough to make the pay-per-view broadcast.
Just one and a half months later, Escovedo is making his return to the cage, taking on Ultimate Fighter season 12 alumni Alex Caceres, better known as "Bruce Leroy," who will be making his bantamweight debut on the UFC on FOX: "Velasquez vs. dos Santos" preliminary card this Saturday night (November 12, 2011).
The longtime veteran was a guest today on Bloody Elbow Radio and had a very interesting discussion with host Matt Bishop about getting back on track, how he got a fight so quickly and how he plans to finish "Bruce Leroy" in their upcoming fight.
To get things started, Escovedo discussed how he was able to get a fight with such quick turnaround, especially after suffering a technical knockout loss to Mizugaki. As many fans likely understand, getting a call from the boss so quickly after a losing performance is usually not a good thing.
"I didn't expect to get a phone call so soon from them as I did let alone a phone call that wasn't me getting my pink slip so it was a pretty welcome phone call. I would say it was within a week of the Mizugaki fight that they called me to see how soon I could get medically cleared and stuff. Any time when you lose a fight and you've got the boss calling you, it's like any other job, you don't want to mess up a presentation or something and then the boss calls you the next day, that's never good. It was a little surprising and it is what it is. If they were gonna cut me, they were gonna cut me but it was a pretty positive phone call."
For a fighter who's been in the game as long as Escovedo, he understands that his back is against the wall heading into this bout. There's no room for failure because a three fight losing streak has only been survived by the most popular of UFC competitors. He also believes that after stepping in against some of the toughest bantamweights on the roster in his first two fights, this is an opportunity to showcase what he's capable of.
"For me, the third time's a charm. I definitely want to get in there, get my first win, show everybody that I am capable of winning on this level so it's good because I was already on training regimen and this just kinda pushed me right back into training regimen so I don't really feel like I missed any time or anything. I feel right off the bat from where I left last time."
Escovedo also has a unique mentality when it comes to fighting. To him, there's nothing more important than being entertaining, not even winning. He'd rather lose a fight that has the fans giving him a standing ovation than ever win a fight and hear boos.
"That's how I go with every fight, to go for broke. At the end of the day, whether you win or lose your fight, you could get cut. If you win and you're boring, then you could get cut. If you lose but you were exciting, you could keep your job. It's a matter of going out there and just doing my job. I don't go out there with the fear that, "Oh God, if I lose I'm gonna get cut!" and try to do whatever I can to try and get the 'W.' I'd rather go out there and go for broke and have an exciting fight and have some super-exciting submission or knockout win or lose as long as the fans are on their feet. I say it time and time and time again. It's like a broken record. If the fans are on their feet and they're cheering and screaming, it doesn't really matter if I win or lose. I want to win, but at the end of the day, I want to have a good fight. I want to have a fight that people talk about whether I'm on the receiving end or the gaining end of it. I just want to have an exciting fight. I want to give fans what they paid for."
Escovedo's opponent, Alex Caceres sports a 5-4 overall record with all four losses coming by way of submission. He believes the ground is where his advantage lies.
"I'd like to think I [have an advantage on the ground] given that all his losses are by submission and I've got a plethora of submission wins against guys that say they couldn't have been subbed or shouldn't have been subbed and I end up putting them to sleep so I think if it goes to the ground I will have the definite advantage but I kind of think that with just about any fight. I think my ground game, I'm no black belt or anything but in my last two fights, neither of the guys wanted to go to the ground with me so it's just kind of reputation. I'm not a psycho on the ground but I'm definitely dangerous. I think his gameplan will be to try and keep it on the feet and utilize the reach we have."
When pressed for a fight prediction, "The Apache Kid" was very straightforward. He is confident in his ground skills and he's going to be too much for Caceres come fight night this Saturday.
"I honestly see it with me winning by a submission, probably maybe end of the first or early into the second when he gets frustrated that he's not capable of using his reach maybe and thinking that the ground game might be his alternative. Realistically, that's it. I can't guarantee you anything except that I'll go out there and do my job and leave with my shield or on it. That's what I always say. I think it'll be a good fight for me. It'll be my first interview with Joe Rogan is pretty much what I'm visualizing."
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will Escovedo earn that much anticipated post-fight interview with Joe Rogan on Saturday? Does he have the skills to overwhelm "Bruce Leroy" on the ground like he believes?