We hear the all too common tales of fighters and their paths to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. We can all remember the amount of times we’ve heard the wrestler turned fighter stories, the bar room brawler types, and the men who sought out to show how tough they are by stepping into the cage.
It is refreshing to hear a fighter answer “I did it to do self-defense I wasn’t doing it to be a fighter.” Middleweight fighter Joey Villasenor has fought in many of the top MMA promotions around the world including King of the Cage, Pride Fighting Championships and EliteXC.
Joey had always been competitive in sports such as Baseball, Track and Field and Football. Joey’s first introduction to MMA was a cousin of his sending him a VHS tape of UFC 2. When asked what his first reaction was Joey replied “The first time I saw it I almost threw up” the fight that impacted him so deeply was the famous Patrick Smith vs. Scott Morris bout.
After seeing the devastating finish by elbows Joey stated “It literally scared me right into self-defense, I started the sport out because I didn’t want to be that guy.” Ironically Joey fought on the same card as Smith for his MMA debut.
Joey entered the King of the Cage promotion and quickly showed himself to be a star. Joey gained the King of the Cage Middleweight belt and went on a 15 fight win streak for the promotion.
Villasenor got his next big break competing in the Pride organization against some of the best fighters in the world. “Fighting in Pride was one of those goals in my life that I achieved” Although Joey did not come out with victories in Pride he performed well.
EliteXC was the new nest for Joey and the first time that MMA traveled to the Showtime network. Joey racked up two high profile wins against UFC veterans David Loiseau and Phil Baroni. EliteXC fell soon after due to numerous problems and accusations. When asked what Strikeforce does that EliteXC failed to do Joey answered “They’re not run by a boxing organization, these are people that have been involved in Mixed Martial Arts for a long time.”
Since his training began in Mixed Martial Arts Joey has trained with arguably the top MMA camp in the business today with Jackson’s MMA. With head trainer Greg Jackson and striking coach Mike Winkeljohn they offer an "unbeatable combination."
“We train hard, we look out for each other and we’re like a big old family.” George St. Pierre, Rashad Evans, Nate Marquardt, “Cowboy” Cerrone, and Keith Jardine are just a few of Joey’s daily training partners. “I’m going to look back on my fighting career and say wow I trained with these guys?”
Joey feels his overall MMA game has improved since we last saw him in the cage. “I’m smarter, my hands have gotten a lot better and in all areas I’ve gotten better.”
Joey’s next fight is against talented Ju-Jitsu practitioner Renaldo “Jacare” Souza who likes to bring fighters to the ground where he often destroys his opponents. “This next fight has a lot of challenges and my last few fights were all strikers.” “There are a lot of obstacles but I’m sure they’re obstacles I can deal with.” Joey is actively watching film on his opponent, and trying to mimic his opponent’s efforts in his training.
Joey will look to unravel the puzzle that is “Jacare” and elevate himself to the next rung in the Strikeforce Middleweight division on May 15th.
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