Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Claudio Puelles is representing Peru on the world stage, but he is also feeling the love from the entire Latin American community.
Puelles (10-2) scored his third consecutive UFC win with a unanimous decision over Jordan Leavitt at UFC Vegas 28 this past weekend (June 5, 2021). “El Nino” touched on what it meant to represent Peru and how Latin American fighters ride for each other.
“Coming from a small country, we’re not very famous for excelling in sports. We have some great athletes, I’m not saying we don’t, but it’s not like the United States or Russia,” he told MMAmania.com. “Being right now that Peruvian fighter — because I’m the only one right now — it feels really good. I have a lot of support from the people in Peru and all of Latin America. All Latin Americans are giving me support. I get hundreds of messages from Argentina, from Mexico, from Chile. Different countries supporting me. I have a lot of friends that fight in the UFC from Latin America and I support them as well. We support each other. It’s pretty cool to have us fighting against people from everywhere in the world.”
Puelles was coming off a nearly two-year lay-off. And despite not paying much mind to it, he admitted that constant questions about it during fight week had him second-guessing.
“To be honest, there were nerves but not about the two-year layoff. Actually, I didn’t even think about it that much until fight week when I started doing interviews and everyone started mentioning that,” he said. “Everyone started bringing it up.”
After all, how could he be nervous after putting in work at the renowned Sandford MMA facility?
“I still can’t believe how beautiful of a camp it is. Just the facility itself is so beautiful. Me, 10-years-ago, would have killed to be in that gym training,” he gushed. “Being a UFC fighter 10-years-later and training alongside these champs and getting this kind of coaching, I’m really glad and I enjoyed it a lot.”
Puelles also touched on one of his favorite pastimes: skateboarding.
“I’m actually very big on skateboarding. I love skateboarding. When I first got to Florida, I skated a lot. I went to five different skate parks. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a little kid. I stopped for a long time because it was giving me a lot of injuries. I also stopped two and a half months before my fight. I didn’t want to risk any ankle injuries.”
So what separates a real skateboarder from the posers? A love for the actual activity is the only prerequisite for Puelles.
“I feel there are a lot of people who only do it because everybody does it. I see people hanging in there and they drink all day. They bring booze in their backpacks and gather around with their skateboards and drink,” he said. “For me, that’s not a real skateboarder. Sometimes I go there by myself and skate for an hour, an hour-and-a-half. I do all my tricks and I go over all my basics. I like repetition, I’m very methodical like in fighting. I’ll do five kickflips, five hardflips and so on. If I finish all of those, I’ll try and get one new trick.”
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