Unshakable faith: UFC on FX 4 bantamweight Dustin Pague interview exclusive with MMAmania.com

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 08: Dustin Pague reacts after submitting Jared Papazian with a rear choke in Bantamweight bout during the UFC on FX 3 event at Bank Atlantic Center on June 8, 2012 in Sunrise, Florida. Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Dustin Pague sure knows how to keep busy.

"The Disciple" was frustrated after having to wait seven months to score his second UFC bout. It was an extremely long and agonizing period where he had to dwell on the mistakes which cost him his first loss in the Octagon.

This time? He'll have just two weeks.

Pague was recently victorious via first round rear naked choke submission over Jared Papazian at UFC on FX 3. When Francisco Rivera had to pull out of his fight against Ken Stone in the opening bout of UFC on FX 4, he gladly stepped up on extremely short notice. Pague will be fighting this Friday night (June 22, 2012) on Facebook.


The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 14 veteran spoke with MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission where he talked about the call to fight on one week's notice, what it felt like to get his first UFC victory and what it's going to take to get the win this Friday night in Atlantic City in this exclusive interview.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You just fought Jared Papazian barely over one week ago and now you're fighting again in less than a week. I've got to hear how you ended up getting this fight. Let's hear the story

Dustin Pague: That's a good question and it's a funny story. After my fight with Jared, I basically flew back the next day, I met my wife and we drove to Myrtle Beach for a vacation for the week. I'm chilling down on a swing at the place we're staying at and I get a call from one of my trainers that asks, "What's your weight at?" I'm like, "You've got to be kidding me." I said, "When?" and he said, "This weekend," and I said, "Let's do it. I'll make weight."

I didn't ask who it was. I just said, "Let's do it, Tell them I'm ready. I'll be ready" He said, "Alright, that's what I wanted to hear," and a few minutes later they called back with some more details, who I was fighting, where I was fighting and now it's history.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Before we talk about the upcoming fight, let's talk your last fight for a little bit. How good did it feel to get that first UFC win?

Dustin Pague: Man, that was amazing. It went perfectly. Words can't describe how I felt at that moment. That was like the big burden on my shoulders, to get that first win in the UFC and to truly consider myself a UFC fighter. That was phenomenal. It was amazing.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It was an amazing performance too. You had talked a lot and he had talked quite a bit about standing and banging and getting "Fight of the Night," but you were in full mount within 30 seconds of the first round I think. Were you expecting the fight to go to the ground like that or was that just an opportunity that you saw and you took advantage?

Dustin Pague: Kind of both. My gameplan originally was to keep distance, stick and move, cut angles because I know Jared likes to come forward so we were just gonna avoid and pick him apart, but if he did close the distance, I wanted to clinch and I feel comfortable there. I knew I could get a sweep on him and take advantage of the ground game. It was just kind of heat of the moment. You always have a gameplan and when the fight goes down, sometimes it goes differently and you've got to adjust. I felt strong in the clinch. I knew the sweep was there and I just went for it and went to work on the ground. It was pretty cool.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Coming out of that fight, I can't remember a single part where you even got punched or kicked or elbowed from bottom. I'm assuming that you came out of that fight with zero injuries, right?

Dustin Pague: Yeah, I feel great, man. I don't think I even broke a sweat. I think I broke more of a sweat warming up in the back and I feel great. I'm ready to fight again. It's a dream come true to have this fight coming up as well.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Most fighters that I talk to, after their fights, they go on a pizza and candy spree, all the banned foods that they couldn't eat when they were not preparing for a fight. Did you have any opportunity to do that, or were you just getting started on it and then you got the phone call?

Dustin Pague: I was getting started on it and we actually had plans to go to a seafood buffet that night but I obviously had to cancel that. I was definitely doing some snacking but my metabolism was so high just from before the Jared fight, dieting 12-13 weeks out and eating super clean, it didn't really affect me too much. My weight's pretty low and it's a perfect opportunity. Everything is in place and I'm probably in greater shape now after that week off to relax my body a little bit and just let it heal from such a hard train-up. I feel great. I'm ready to rock again brother!

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Have you had any time yet to specifically prepare for Ken Stone?

Dustin Pague: Yeah, as much as we could possibly do. We studied some footage of him and it's a pretty similar gameplan to Jared. Just try to stick and move, use my angles and try to avoid letting him lock me up in a body lock and take me down. I'm gonna try to work the stand-up and get a knockout.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I don't know if this has stood out to you from watching footage of him or not, but I feel you guys are very similar styles of fighters. You're both long, have strong jiu-jitsu on the ground and you both use your length in your stand-up. Do you see those similarities too?

Dustin Pague: Yeah, definitely. My trainer said the same thing. He said that, "He's another version of you," and I guess we're gonna find out which one is the better version come Friday night. (laughs)

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you think it's helpful for you that you're stepping in there on one week's notice while he's preparing for someone else this whole time or do you think it's a disadvantage?

Dustin Pague: It can kind of go both ways. When we have a fight coming up, you can prepare for one thing and really focus on takedown defense or working a submission but bottom line, a fight's a fight at the end of the day. You really just have to be prepared for anything and that's something Ken's been training for. At the end of the day, you can have your mind set on one opponent, but you just need to be ready to fight anyone. I'm sure he's prepared to fight whoever that night.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What's the shortest notice you've ever taken a fight on before?

Dustin Pague: When I was an amateur. I was actually helping out at Gladiator Fight Club. It was an amateur event and I was signing off on hand wraps and a 155-er dropped out of a fight and someone asked, "Hey, do you want to fight?" and I was walking around at like 152. I weighed in, they said, "You're good to go," and then I fought that night and won by armbar.

This is the shortest notice professionally, though, and with such a big organization, too.

Ben Thapa: When you were on the ground, there was a moment where the referee said, "Don't kick off the cage." Did that enter your mind at all during the fight?

Dustin Pague: A little bit. I was a little confused and he kind of slapped my foot away at the one part when I had a body triangle on Jared. It didn't affect me that much but I know Jared is making a big deal out of it as far as affecting the outcome but I'm pretty sure that had nothing to do with the outcome. I think he was telling us not to interlock our toes in there. I was a little confused but it didn't mess up what I was going for.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Ken Stone, people talk about how skilled he is, but I think his biggest weakness is chin strength. If he gets hit pretty hard, he tends to go out. Is that one of the things you've been keying on?

Dustin Pague: Yeah, definitely. It's something I noticed but you can't bank on it. Sometimes guys just get hit on the right spot and it looks like a guy would certainly knock a guy out but it doesn't. I'll definitely be looking for the knockout but it's not something that I know is gonna be easy. I expect a war. I expect the unexpected and I'm gonna try my hardest.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you're visualizing success against Ken Stone, what do you see?

Dustin Pague: Right now, I see my corner all in the cage celebrating like last time. Our fists up, getting pictures taken with smiles on our faces.

Dustin would like to thank Jesus, his wife Jackie, his training partners, his manager Brian Hamperm Christ Merit, Scott Howard, Scott Valentine, Neil Johnson, Ryan Forehat and his friends and family. You can follow him on Twitter @DustinPague.

So what do you think, Maniacs?

Can Pague pull off a Chris Leben and score two UFC victories inside two weeks? How do you see his fight playing out on Friday night against Ken Stone?

Sound off!

To listen to the complete audio of our chat with Dustin Pague, click here (interview begins at the 1:14:00 mark)

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