Earlier this year, Danny Castillo (11-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) put his two-and-a-half years of experience in the WEC to good use in outclassing "The Ultimate Fighter 2" champion Joe Stevenson en route to an impressive decision victory.
The California-based lightweight puts his WEC experience and training time to the test tonight when he faces Jacob Volkmann (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) at UFC on Versus 5 in Milwaukee, Wis.
When the Team Alpha Male fighter received word that Volkmann was now the task at hand, he became thrilled at the opportunity to put his experience and training to work.
“I was really excited about this matchup,” Castillo recently told Bleacher Report. “Jacob Volkmann is a tough, tough wrestler. I think what Jacob Volkmann brings to the table and the reason why he’s had success in the lightweight division, (is) I think he’s real durable and he comes in great shape."
"With that being said, I think that’s all he brings to the table," Castillo continued. "His stand-up is questionable, I don’t think it’s really all that good, his ground game is okay, I think his submission defense is really tough, but in terms of him as a submission threat I don’t really see too many threats from him.
“Threat level of this opponent is very low, so this is a fight that I can show a lot of my game, I can take chances because I don’t feel a threat of a knockout and I don’t feel a threat of a submission. So, I think it’s going to be a real grinding wrestling match and I have a feeling that’s what he’s going to try to dictate in the fight and I’m fine with that. I’m a great wrestler, I’m really confident in my wrestling abilities, so it’s a great matchup for me.”
All of Volkmann’s decision victories have ended in less than spectacular fashion; however, don’t expect Castillo to fall into his opponent’s game. Instead, expect Castillo to implement his countless hours of training in the Octagon.
“I’m going to be taking the fight to him,” Castillo said. “I’m sure that the three lightweights he’s fought in the past have been trying to take the fight to him too. But I feel like I’m more of dynamic fighter than he is, I feel that I’m more athletic, and I’m going to be stronger than him. So, if he tries to wrestle me and take me down and he is successful with the take downs, I’m popping up, I’m elbowing him in the face, I’m taking the fight to him.
“I’m not going to lay down while he wrestles me, I just have too much fight in me. Even though he’s gotten heat in the past from other people in the press, I think that this fight isn’t going to be one of those fights that you’ve seen from Jacob Volkmann in the past.”
In preparation for tonight’s matchup, Castillo spent time honing his skills with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif.
The team’s leader, Urijah Faber, fought valiantly in a loss to bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz earlier this summer, and Joseph Benavidez returns to action five fights after Castillo on tonight’s Facebook-streamed prelims.
With that being said, Castillo says the atmosphere in the gym has been intense, with the aforementioned fighters readying themselves for fights alongside him.
”It’s a great feeling, the intensity in the room is really high,” Castillo said. “You have a lot of guys in the room that are super positive, the one thing I love about my team is that we’re all like-minded people. We learn from each other, and Urijah just came off of an awesome fight, I saw it live then I re-watched it again, and I think the fight was a little bit closer than I thought watching it live.
"I had Urijah winning the fight when I watched it live, and then when I re-watched it I thought it was a little closer, I don’t know about 45-50 though, I still have no idea what that judge was thinking. But he was back in the gym less than a week later and he’s all smiles, positive, (and) he’s in the gym helping everyone prepare for their fights.
“So, when you have a leader like that, everyone learns from that and everyone is super excited about their fights. The intensity is super high and it’s an exciting time, you wake up in the morning and you head to practice and mentally you prepare yourself that today is going to be a tough day that there’s a guy trying to win this fight in practice every day.
"When people say ‘You’re working really hard’, someone’s got to win my fight and that someone’s me, and I’ve been busting my butt and preparing myself for a great fight. So, it’s great, it’s been great.”
Castillo’s work ethic helped him to achieve NAIA All-American status during his time as a collegiate wrestler, and he’s now becoming a well-rounded professional fighter.
The talented lightweight believes that he’s surrounded himself with the correct people and is training to maximize his hard-working approach.
“I think it’s a little bit of everything,” Castillo said. “Having the correct preparation, the teammates that I have, (and) I have a great team around me. I’ve worked a lot of my ground game and my physical conditioning as well.
“I’m really looking forward to this fight to see what I showcase the most, if it’s my physical strength (and) athletic ability or if it’s my ground game, I’ve been working extremely hard on my ground game.”
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