Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jarrell Hodge Interview

Photo Credit: Hex Linc Photos

In his last fight, Jarrell Hodge went in as an under dog against Cody Garbrandt. Few, myself included, gave Hodge much of a chance. After two close rounds, Hodge proved those people wrong with a highlight reel knock-out of Garbrandt. Next up is Tyler Saltsman at Fight Night in the Flats. Saltsman is a highly regarded fighter with several impressive wins himself. A win for Hodge would have to put him at the top of the list of contenders for this years amateur series title.

Q: Last fight you got a KO over Cody Garbrandt. Going in, not a lot of people gave you a chance. Did you feel disrespected or like you had something to prove?
A: I didn't feel disrespected. I do feel every time I step in the cage I have something to prove. I didn't feel disrespected till I read the comment on your site.

Q: Which comment?
A: You asked his prediction and he said "he isn't gonna last till the third round" and said he was gonna knock me out. Then he called me a kid and that got me kinda mad right there.

Q: After the win, you were obviously excited, what did that win mean for you?
A: That win meant a lot. Everyone was I guess scared to face Cody, he was a top prospect. I went in their focused and did what i had to to do win.

Q: He is a popular local, with all the people pretty much rooting for him, can that get intimidating?
A: No, I mean, being a wrestler, I went into situations where you aren't the favorite to win and you go into someone else's home territory and fans rooting for them. Its just you and him in the cage, not them.

Q: You have Tyler Saltsman next. Where as Cody is known more as a striker, Tyler is known more as a wrestler, does that make you change how you train?
A: Oh yeah. I watched a couple of Tyler's fights and watched his game. I am preparing for him different than I did for Cody.

Q: You expect that he will try and take it down as soon as he can?
A: Yeah, what I see from his fights, is he tries to take them down and ground and pound. I am preparing for that and working on my defense for that.

Q: He fought Cody, and Cody won a decision. Can you watch that and maybe learn from what Cody did to help with this fight?
A: Yes and no. I have talked to Tyler a couple times and see he is boxing down there at Penn State and getting his hands together. That was a year ago and a lot can change in a year.

Q: His striking has improved, do you hope at all that he will stand with you?
A: Yeah I am hoping. That's where I feel my strongest at, my standing. My background is a wrestler, growing up all I did was wrestle, so I am comfortable if he goes down. But hopefully he will stand.

Q: So if he does take it down, you are confident you can hang with him?
A: Yeah I am confident in my wrestling.

Q: Is there a key for you to win this fight?
A: Just watch out for the shot. Key thing is defense for me. Every time he fights someone he takes them down and wins a decision. So I am practicing my defense.

Q: He does take it down and grind it out, and opponents tire late, you didn't seem to gas late against Cody, does that give you an advantage that other opponents haven't had?
A: Yeah, I work every day on my cardio. I have good trainers and partners that work with me in the morning and night. I ain't worried about running out of breath.

Q: Fight Night in the Flats is the NAAFS's biggest card of the year, does it mean anything more to you to be on that card?
A: Not really.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: No, no prediction. I don't like doing predictions. Fight of the Night, that's all I want it to be. Everyone get their money's worth. My people come have a good time, and everyone who comes to support a fighter has a good time and everything goes well.

Q: If you win this fight, wins over Cody and Tyler back to back, does that put you at the top of the contenders list for the amateur series title?
A: Yeah, in my mind. Already in my mind I am at the top. I am gonna keep working hard and try and get the belt. In other peoples minds, they might not think I am, and maybe think Cody is at the top and it was a fluke win, but in my mind I am at the top.

Q: After this, any idea what you want next, or are you just focused on this?
A: I focused on this. Tyler is a good fighter, so whatever is after Tyler I am ready and hopefully I get a title shot like you said.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: I'd like to thank Bulletproof, Brickhouse, my family, my girlfriend Alex, my little man Jase, the fans, NAAFS, and God.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tony Castillo Interview

Photo credit: Hex Linc Photos

One of the most anticipated fights at NAAFS Fight Night in the Flats is the title bout between champion Frank Caraballo and challenger Tony Castillo. If you have followed along with their feud you will notice the title almost seems secondary in this fight. There seems to be a lot of bad blood between the two, making an exciting fight even more exciting. Castillo is coming of back to back wins over a couple good opponents in Kevin Rothacker and Paul Compton. Here are his thoughts on the match-up.

Q: You are coming off wins over two good opponents. It seems your biggest advantage was their inability to stop the takedowns, is that accurate?
A: Definitely that's a factor. That's my home, my ground and pound. I don't think anyone in this weight class will be able to stop my takedowns. That is my base and my home. I know I can go there at any time without anyone giving me trouble.

Q: You have gotten better since going to Victory, how has that helped you?
A: That's the main key to my wins. Being around the people I am. Working with Terry (Blackwell) and Pat (Schottenheimer) and everyone. Its easier to advance your career when you have guys pushing you everyday. Yeah, I came from good camps before like USA Martial Arts, but as far as having the guys over there to train with every day, its not the same and plays a major part in what I have been doing lately.

Q: You have the wrestling background, but do people under estimate your stand-up?
A: Oh definitely. Nobody likes a wrestler. People think "oh that's all they can do". I grew up on the streets banging, where we weren't allowed to wrestle. So as far as my stand-up game, yeah they under estimate it. I look at it as if I wanna take it to the ground, I'm gonna take it to the ground, if I wanna stand on my feet, I will stand on my feet. So as far as people under estimating it, yeah its gonna be there, but it doesn't factor into my game plans.

Q: With all the talking back and forth with Frank Caraballo, does it make this fight about more than just the title?
A: Definitely! To be honest with you, and no disrespect to the NAAFS and anyone involved, but as far as the title goes, I wanna fight Frank regardless of the title. Even if he got his ass beat by Donny Walker, nothing would have changed. Me personally, I don't care about the title. Its not in my agenda to be the champion, I got bigger and better things. Its a good achievement and looked upon good by me and my team. Its an honor to fight for the title, but its not in my head, Frank's in my head. Like I told my team, I have never got to fight someone where I just don't like them. He thinks I like to talk, I think he likes to talk. That's what it is. We are both gonna talk and as far as the fight, I am just looking at him. All I cafe about is beating him.

Q: How did the bad blood start?
A: It really blew up over nothing. Online, someone said something that pissed me off. Like an idiot, I told myself to stay off line, but I didn't. Someone said something and I fired back. This is my lively hood, this is what I live. You cant call it a misunderstanding, cause its not a misunderstanding. He knows that I'm right and that's that.

Q: What did you think of his performance against Donny Walker?
A: I looked at it two ways. It was the best he's ever performed, but did I respect it? No! He was able to look good because Donny respected him too much. I said the same thing when Frank fought Terry. They showed too much respect, not to say neither deserved it. When you don't respect someones game you go in there thinking "I don't care what you do, I am trying to take your head off and work my game". As far as his last performance, good job, but I don't respect it at all.

Q: Can he have any more success than the last two opponents at stopping takedowns?
A: No, not at all. Honestly I am not even working ground for this fight, not working takedowns at all. He wont be able to stop them. That's not even on my mind right now. When I fought Compton, even in that fight, everyone talked about his wrestling pedigree. But these guys don't understand I am used to taking bigger guys down. I look at guys at 145LBS as being smaller than me and not being pound for pound at my level as far as stopping me. He isn't gonna stop nothing. His only chance is to keep it on the feet, but I got a chin and he ain't doing nothing to it.

Q: If it goes into the later rounds and is a fast paced fight, who does it favor?
A: It definitely favors me more. I always told everyone, when I get a five round fight, that's my fight. When we are in the gym and go ten rounds, my best rounds are three, four and five. I don't even get warmed up till the third round. So in the championship rounds, if it does make it out the first thirty seconds of the fight, its my advantage, those are my better rounds.

Q: With the emotion going into the fight, is it gonna be hard to keep the emotion in check and stick to a game plan?
A: I am gonna be honest. I have never trained for a fight to where I don't like him. When you go in there you always have the mentality of not liking the person, but its not as easy to say "I don't like the person". All my fights have been a sport, showing my skills. The fans are gonna get what they pay for, I am coming out swinging and trying to knock him out the first thirty seconds. If he can hang after that, it will settle down a little bit and we are gonna play a game. As far as emotions, I cant lie, its all about emotions in this one. I have never trained this hard to where I am constantly looking at him and not liking him every day I am in the gym. I think it will add to the fight and people will see why they call me Mexican Muscle.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: I wont call it a prediction, I will call it what I wanna see happen. I wanna knock him out, I wanna see him leave on a stretcher and that's that. Call it a prediction, call it a want, necessary, that's what I call it.

Q: Anyone you wanna thank?
A: My gym, Victory MMA/Instigator, all my guys, my corners, Terry, Pat and Dustin (Kempf)and everyone. My sponsors, fans here and back home. I got a big group coming out to support me. I wanna say this is for them, but this is the first fight that's for me.