Newly acquired UFC fighter Will Campuzano will be making his second appearance in the promotion at the upcoming Fight for the Troops 2 on Saturday at Fort Hood.
The Dallas-area fighter will be making his second UFC appearance in as many months. His opponent, Chris Cariaso, is a much more striking-based fighter than the wrestling-based competition to which he is used.
ESPN Dallas caught up with Campuzano to check in on his training, thoughts on fighting back in the Lone Star State and to get some insight on his opponent.
1. Is there more pressure fighting close to home for the Fight for the Troops 2? Are distant family and old childhood friends suddenly reappearing asking for tickets?
I really don't look at any fight having more pressure than another. In the UFC every fight might be your last one because you are going against the best in the world every time.
It's going to be nice to fight in front of the troops, because I have a lot of friends that are past and current military, so it will be cool to do a show to honor those guys that do so much for us.
As far as people asking for tickets, that has been going on since amateur fights. The UFC kind of takes care of that for us by limiting the number of tickets we have access to. So by the time I get a couple people taken care of, they are already spoken for.
2. Will you be able to get out there early and meet with some of the troops, or will you be training up to the last minute?
The UFC has us come out a few days early before every event to be sure our schedules are set and get us comfortable in the hotels and with the facilities. I hope to get out there and get to say thanks to some of the guys and meet some soldiers.
3. Your upcoming opponent, Chris Cariaso, has a striking base. Are you looking forward to standing and trading instead of stuffing shoots from wrestlers? Is this a chance to use your wrestling skills to control the bout?
I always look forward to striking. It's what I'm comfortable with, especially with my boxing and knees and kicks. I would like to have an exciting fight every time. You can be exciting from your back against a wrestler or as a wrestler on the top. I just think when you use it to control without damage, it isn't very exciting. If I am going to use wrestling, it's going to be to get on top and hurt somebody and try to be exciting and finish the fight.
4. Your last match against Pace was a near victory. Do you think you were ahead on the card? Was that a submission you had been practicing against?
It's hard to concentrate on the "cards". I don't think about just trying to get a decision. I am trying to find a way to finish and be exciting the whole time ... that usually makes the fight turn out the way you want it anyway.
As far as expecting a certain submission, you go out and train for everything, I have great submission guys I train with all the time like my coach Alan Mohler, Johnny Bedford, Jason Sampson, and they keep my BJJ game up. I didn't get caught because it's some crazy new submission that no one had ever thought of. I got caught because I finally got a chance to work to finish Pace and try and hurt him. I got caught from pushing the action on him. Maybe it wasn't the safest thing to do, but trying to finish people is what got me in the UFC and it's what is keeping me here.
5. What difference has there been in training for a fighter like Cariaso over some of your past wrestling-based competition? Have you sparred more and worked more stand up?
Actually, he may not be a "wrestler", but he is a good grappler and submission guy. I always work my stand-up because it's what I love to do and you always love working what you are good at. This has been a great opportunity for me, because it was another last-minute matchup for me, so I decided the best way to get high-level training and fast track my camp was to go to Team Alpha Male with Faber, Benevides, Mendes and the team they have in Sacramento. Those guys have been really great to allow me into their camp and right now I am excited and ready to fight.
Will Campuzano would like to give a shout out to ...
I want to be sure to thank my coaches at Mohler's BJJ in Coppell, Texas. The guys at Team Alpha Male in California. My sponsors, Heavy Hands fight gear. Hope for Silent Voices and Muay Thai fight club. Lastly, my manager Brad Barnes with Phalanx Management, and Mickey Dubberly at KO Dynasty, who handles all the sponsor stuff for events.