Things were looking up for featherweight mixed-martial artist Javier Vazquez just over a year ago, as he signed on the dotted line to provide his services for the WEC.
Unfortunately for the Cuban-born fighter known as "Showtime," things have not quite gone the way he would have liked.
His debut with the organization would pit him against LC Davis, which ultimately went in favor of Davis via a close split decision. The loss obviously wasn't the way Vazquez would have liked to begin his journey and also snapped a four fight winning streak he had compiled with various other organizations.
Just two short months later he would seek redemption against Deividas Taurosevičius in a preliminary bout of WEC 43: Cerrone vs. Henderson. Once again he would be on the losing end of a close split decision making him 0-2 with World Extreme Cagefighting thus marking the first time in 17 professional bouts that he would lose back to back fights.
Despite both being razor-thin decisions that could have gone either way, Vaz quez was left uncertain of his future as a mixed-martial artist.
In his most recent outing he found himself across the cage ready to wage war against the veteran Jens "Lil Evil" Pulver back in March. It took him just under four minutes to lock in an armbar forcing Pulver to tap and call it a night.
Finally, Javier "Showtime" Vazquez (14-4 MMA, 1-2 WEC) would have his hand raised in the WEC.
"That win really meant a lot. It reaffirmed everything that I had been working for in this sport. It let me know that I am doing the right thing. I was able to pick things back up and apply everything that I had been working so hard on in the gym after those two losses," Vazquez recently stated in an interview with Bleacher Report.
He would go on to add, "If I could, I would do everything I could to erase those two fights. I'd really like to avenge both of those losses to LC and Taurosevičius, but I don't think they want me."
Rather than find redemption in the form of avenging one of his recent losses, he looks ahead to his upcoming bout in a preliminary bout this Wednesday at Pearl in the Palms Resort in Las Vegas where he takes on Mackens Semerzier in a three round featherweight affair.
Rather than dwell on past disappointments, Vazquez chose to learn from those experiences and make some changes in order to prevent similar results in the future.
"This camp in preparing for Semerzier has really been amazing. I'm in great shape and I'm continuing to improve every single day. I've brought in a new boxing trainer and it has made such a huge difference in my striking game.
"I feel like I'm a much more polished fighter now. I'm more complete right now than I was even a year ago. Whether it is on the ground or on my feet, I'm going to finish off Semerzier and let everyone know that I'm for real."
Both Vazquez and Semerzier share a common opponent in Deividas Taurosevičius. As previously mentioned, Vazquez was on the unfortunate end of a split decision while Semerzier dropped a more clear cut unanimous decision to the Lithuanian fighter. To date, it is the only loss of Semerzier's relatively short professional career, which officially stands at 6-1 overall and 1-1 in the WEC.
"One thing that I'll be able to use to my advantage come fight night is my edge in experience. It's kind of like 'been there, done that.' I've seen all sorts of styles inside of the cage. I've been in there with grapplers on his level and one thing I'm sure of is that I'm the best grappler he's ever signed to fight."
A win over Semerzier would mark the 15th of Vazquez's career and would make him 2-2 in the WEC. More importantly it would prove that Vazquez is ready to mix it up with the bigger names in the division bringing on bigger paydays as well as future televised bouts for the fighter known as "Showtime."
"I really feel like I'm an elite featherweight. Really, I should be 3-0 with the WEC. I feel I'm ready for a title shot right now and if it were up to me I'd make it happen sooner than later. I know I can beat anyone in this division and that includes Jose Aldo."
A proposed title bout between Aldo is a premature topic as there are a few fighters in line ahead of him, namely Manny Gamburyan who gets a crack at Aldo's crown at the end of next month.
Yet, if Vazquez can continue to build on the momentum he has generated with the win over Pulver, and use that to earn the victory over Mackens Semerzier, it will be more than just a step in the right direction.
It will be a step closer to the redemption that he desperately seeks.
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