The Fight Nerd: You were supposed to fight Daniel Weichel in your first M-1 Global Lightweight title defense on July 8 at M-1 Challenge XXVI, but were forced to pull out. Tell us what happened that led to these circumstances?
Jose Figueroa: I was 5 weeks out from the fight and I was defending take downs – 5 minute rounds fresh guy every minute – and I got took down in the last 10 seconds of the day’s practice; fractured a rib. This was my best camp ever and I was really disappointed.
The Fight Nerd: When do you expect to be back in the ring to defend your belt?
Jose Figueroa: Not exactly sure. But I’m dieing for action. It’s what I live for.
The Fight Nerd: Before your last fight against Artiom Damkovsky, you also had some medical issues. Tell us what happened and if you are fully recovered from that as well.
Jose Figueroa: I had ripped or strained my pec and bicep. I was out with that for a while and did no live wrestling or bjj to train for that fight. Got the MRI to prove it
The Fight Nerd: Your opponent, Weichel, will now be facing Beau Baker. Do you have any thoughts on this match?
Jose Figueroa: This is a great match. Two lightweights that are not under sized – they’re actually large light weights. Wiechels experience and well roundedness could win him the fight. Unless bakers NCAA Division 1 Wrestling can stop him (I believe Baker was State Champ in Greco.) Baker also beat Tommy Speer at his own game (wrestling) and Tommy was a TUF finalst at 170 pounds. So this is a great fight.
The Fight Nerd: On the same card, Mairbak Taisumov will be fighting Josh Bacallao, with the winner hoping to get a shot at your belt down the line as well. Which of these two would you rather fight?
Jose Figueroa: I will fight either. But I’d rather fight the winner.
The Fight Nerd: Unrelated to the fight, your nickname is “The People’s Champ”. Is that a reference to the WWF’s Rock or is that from somewhere else? How did you end up with that as your nickname?
Jose Figueroa: Well its kinda of funny. A few years back, I knocked this dude out on the ground with a elbow. Then I was fighting on another show and started punching a guy on the ground went to throw an elbow and the guy tapped. My corner said he didnt want to get hit with the People’s Elbow. A few years later at American Top Team longwood, I told some guys and they said ‘You’re the people’s champ’. Well, here I am training my butt off to give the people what they want – an action packed fight with a well-rounded and well-conditioned athlete.
The Fight Nerd: Please thank your sponsors!
Jose Figueroa: I would like to thank bamf fight gear, full tilt poker, fight-bite (mouth guards) validation fight wear, lexani rims, florida chiropractic health center, health diagnostic, my muay thai trainer Bobby Robare, strength and conditioning coach Darren Hessellink , mma/ bjj coach Paul Rodriquez, boxing trainer Dorian Beau Pierre, M-1 Global, showtime, and last but not least #1 MMA team American top team.
M-1 Challenge: Bennett vs. Garner on Friday July 8th is headlined by the rematch between the 2010 M-1 Selection Americas Tournament heavyweight finalists Pat Bennett (4-2) and Kenny ‘Deuce’ Garner (6-3). Tickets are priced at $75 for the front row and all other seats at $50 and can be purchased online at www.fightcluboc.com, or by calling Roy Englebrecht Promotions at (949) 760-3131.