Photo courtesy of XCFC
Roaming New Mexico is an amateur fighter with deep potential for MMA. Jesus Padron, known as "Zeus" amongst his peers, is the light heavyweight and heavyweight champion of Shane Dunagan's XCFC.
In his amateur career, Padron is 10-0. Over 10 fights, only one of his opponents has made it past the first round, and that one ended with a brutal shoulder throw that knocked his opponent senseless in the second. Jesus Padron is the real deal; there are no two ways about it.
When you watch Padron fight, it is obvious he is capable of making the leap to becoming a pro, but the understanding of the commitment involved is what keeps "Zeus" content to wait for the right opportunity.
"It's got to be a life decision you have to make. Do I want to put in this time? Anybody can be a pro fighter, you can walk in and say hey I'm a pro now and find some guy will give you a pro fight. Some smaller organization will pay you $50 to get beat up by some guy."
"If you're serious about the sport like we are, it has to be a calculated step. You have to be willing to sacrifice the time and effort and the work to put in to be a successful pro. I'm waiting for the right situation where it's going to be meaningful. I don't want to be one of those local guys, look at me I'm a cage fighter. This is a sport that I love and I want to do it the right way."
Padron thought that opportunity had come knocking when the tryouts for The Ultimate Fighter were announced. Padron was ready to leap head first into the TUF landscape. He described his experience.
"We all went into one of the rooms where mats were set up. Dana White talked to us and told us how it was going to work. Frank Fertitta was there and he talked to us a little bit. Then we got to the grappling portion and they set me up with a guy who was like 23-9 as a professional. We started rolling, I tapped the guy out three times. Just completely dominated him."
Padron went on to say, "The way it works is, they went through everybody in the grappling then decided who was going to move on. Well the guy I dominated moved on and I didn't."
Padron asked what he could improve upon, saying, "I actually talked to Dana and said 'I'm curious to know what I'm lacking that I could do better next time,' and he said, 'To be quite honest we're looking for people with more pro experience.' I told him, 'No disrespect but the guy you put me up against had 30-something pro fights, and I completely schooled him.' And Dana said 'Well, that's just the direction were going.' I thanked him and went on and it was bittersweet because I know what I can hang with."
He ended by saying, "But not making it because I didn't have the pro fights, to me was a bit ridiculous." Amir Sodallah can vouch for the fact that a guy with no pro fights can win The Ultimate Fighter .
Many who have seen "Zeus" fight would agree that Padron could have more than held his own against some of the fighters that eventually made the cut, pro record or not.
Padron did not let this set him back, though, and he intends to improve upon his current position by finding the best competition he can. "I'd like to test myself, if not a big name maybe a big team. We almost got that shot with Tuff N Uff to fight a guy from Xtreme Couture, but that didn't work out," he said.
"I'd like to get out there and see what other parts of the U.S. has as far as fighting. My experience being a wrestler, I was a big fish in a small pond growing up, and dominated the area. And when I got to the Marine Corps, and tried out for the All Marine wrestling team, I found out I wasn't that big of a fish. There were sharks in the water. I'd like to see how big of a fish I am in a bigger pond."
He is very humble talking about having a perfect record. "10-0 sounds like a terribly impressive record but look at the body of work. Some of the guys I fought were pretty decent, but some of them not so much, some guys who may never fight again. I'm trying to get out and get the best fights I can possibly find."
Padron is not only a fighter; he coaches high school wrestling for Deming High School. It is positive seeing mixed martial artists giving back to the community, and coaching helps him as a fighter as well. "It made me a better fighter, because you when you're doing, you never sit back and think about why you do what you do. When you're coaching, it really tightens up your game because you have to explain what you're doing. And definitely I would say 100 percent it makes me a better fighter."
Padron gave credit to a few influences. "The Marine Corps, I've always said, is what made me who I am outside of wrestling. There's not an option to lose, you know there's not an option to get them next time. It's adapt and overcome it. It makes you mentally tough and mentally strong where you know you can overcome any obstacle, not only fighting but in my life. it's a big part of who I am."
He went on to say, "My wife and my children are my biggest motivators, they keep me sharp." And of course he mentioned his extended family, his fight camp Team Knuckle up.
Shane Dunagan had this to say about his champ: "Jesus is a talented fighter. There was a lot of bleacher talk that he was one sided with his ground and pound wrestling background but I believe he put that rumor to rest on his last fight landing a well-executed round kick and letting his hands go."
"I believe he earned alot of respect from the fans and fighters on his last fight not that he didn't have it already.
"He has been the LH and HW champion for sometime now. It's hard to find guys to step up for the beatdown. He's a force to be reckoned with.
"Gabe Garcia will be facing him on the next event Gabe has had two impressive wins and is looking to fight Jesus only because he said if you wanna be the best you have to fight the best!
"Jesus represents the sport with much respect always being respectful on the mic at the end of his victories."
Overall, Padron is a hungry fighter with an appreciation for doing things right and not rushing. He took a difficult situation and used it to make himself better. He isn't hurrying his career, and he understands the bigger picture.
That alone is a solid foundation for any fighter's career. Being highly capable and talented fighter doesn't hurt his chances, either. Best of luck to Jesus Padron in his aspirations to someday make his mark on MMA.
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