“If I have seen further than other men it’s because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” – Sir Isaac Newton
In this latest conversation, I speak to Alex Morono, a twenty-year old fighter out of Gracie Barra facing his biggest test yet as he is set to take on Paradigm fighter Jeff Rexroad at the April 9th Legacy Fighting Championship show set to hit the Arena Theater here in Houston.
Currently 2-0 in his young fight career, Alex Morono has been a revelation. He’s won both of his professional bouts in under a minute and also boasts some impressive wins over names like Pete Sprajc and Justin Murray as an amateur – where went spotless in four fights without a loss. Now he faces his biggest challenge yet, against a fighter many consider to be one of the most well-rounded in the city in “Super Cop” Jeff Rexroad.
What is Morono’s mindset like as he faces his biggest challenge yet? How does he deal with the pressure of being considered one of the city’s top up-and-coming fighters? And how does he deal with all the women clamoring for a grab at him now that he’s a burgeoning MMA superstar?
I caught up with Alex today while he was on his way down to Laredo to corner some of his teammates to get answers to these and many other questions. Enjoy the interview.
Alex, as always, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. How’s the car ride going down to Laredo?
Again man thank you showing interest and doing what you do for the sport. The car ride is going great. Matt Wald is driving and I’m with a very spirited, in the worst part of the weight cut, Jared Chaffee, who is soon to make his pro debut along aide Israel Ohlson who holds the second fastest submission record with a 26 second armbar behind my 21 second armbar.
I always see you cornering your teammates in fights. I hear you help out a ton that way, coaching at Gracie Barra along with Matt Wald and others. I know it can’t be the money. What rewards do you get out of contributing to that team effort? Are you guys THAT close?
Man, since I’ve started training full time and working at the gym I have not only put in so much time with the MMA competitors but with the students as well. I always thought of it this way; the competitors are the bricks that build the gym and the students are the mortar that holds them together. It’s nice being able to get to know so many people in the gym because with the camaraderie Chad Robichaux had created. Everyone will go the extra step to help and that’s why we are so successful. And when it comes to cornering, not only do I love it but I really enjoy watching our guys perform well and to test their metal in the cage Sometime though I do take their losses worse than my own but that’s just in love for the gym and my training partners. I very rarely miss any of our guys fight. The only time I missed a few was when Raymond Bell fought Frank Salinas Jan of 2010 , when Levi Forrest fought Mike Bronzoulis and when Matt Wald fought and TKO’d Josh Ramirez only because I was overseas teaching BJJ in south Africa.
As far as your own career, I know many people (myself chief among them), have touted you as sort of the “next big thing” as far as up-and-coming fighters go. Does that put any pressure on you at all? What are your thoughts on that stuff?
No pressure at all. I have learned in this sport that your mental strength is just as important as your training. My last two fights I was very confident and that allowed me to think very clearly and keep a cool demeanor during the fight. I had a very-relaxed heart rate and controllable adrenaline. It was funny in Laredo, when I fought last December, I remember asking Chad if it was normal for me to be as calm as I was and it proved successful as I finished the very fast paced fight in only 21 seconds. With the amount of training I do and the love of the sport I don’t see myself ever being too overwhelmed that I fall into the grasps of pressure. I tend to do well under pressure which is something I could not have said almost 5 years ago when I just started training.
Upcoming on April 9th, you’ll be fighting Jeff Rexroad out of Paradigm at Legacy FC. I’ve got to be honest. I’ve been very impressed by your record thus far, both as an amateur and as a pro – but I also think that Rexroad will be your biggest challenge yet. This is the fight where, if you win, you’ll have earned your stripes. What are your thoughts on him as an opponent?
I agree. Not only is Rexroad a good fighter with a good record, Paradigm as a whole has proven to be a very successful gym which makes it even better that I get to fight him. I’m truly, truly looking forward to test my metal against him. Our gym has always had solid game plans and this one will prove to do well. And he is tall, 6’3 is tall for a welterweight but a lot, almost all of my sparring partners, are taller than me and matt, who’s reach is actually longer than Rexroad’s, always comments on how I do best against tall guys and how other than Cody Phillips, who I fought to a Thai draw with, are taller than me. One thing I have found with most all opponents other then height is the age difference. It never really clicked to me before but most opponents are almost 10+ years older than me. I still find it necessary to call them sir when talk to them haha.
He’s a BJJ brown belt and displayed an excellent boxing game in his last bout. What’s your pedigree and how would you describe your own fighting style?
Again I do agree that this will make for a good fight but I do not like to look at it as a test. I know he will be difficult to submit but I plan on having many many more professional fights in my career and I don’t see this different than any other fight, I’m taking it 100% serious one fight at a time. And with my pedigree, I stay training year round but the training camps are where I really boost it up. I’m in the gym almost 8 hours a day, at least 6 of which are classes or sessions. One thing I did a little different this camp is started early and worked of heavy weight lifting for the first almost 6 weeks and now, with the last 4 I’m moving to less weight more explosion. Working sprints and a lot of striking with matt Wald, Kru Ali, and MMA with Gerardo Abadie. I take usually 2 jiu jitsu classes a day with a lot of rolling. He is a brown but I’m a 4 stripe purple and when I cover for a coach and teach a kids class they make fun of me because my belt is damn near gray it so warn out. And I have use of all of the phenomenal coaches we have. Of course Chad Robo, Todd Moore, who recently got his black belt and our other coach who I have really worked a lot with Alex Gotay and welcoming a new full time coach Octavio “Ratinho” Couto, the encyclopedia of BJJ. And also working with the guys at the Champions Forrest location – Jayhson Rodgers and Alejandro Siqueira – and when I can, Draculino and Ulpiano. And even working with Raymond Bell, a long time brown belt in our new Kingwood location. Our recourses are limitless. I fell stronger and better than ever, now with a slightly larger focus on making weight, which is never fun but a part of the sport. When training like I am now I walk around between 185 and 190, so the cut to 170 is long but not too taxing, I’m at the point where I can easily pinpoint when and where I cut the week of weigh-ins.
Any thoughts on how this fight will go? How do you see it ending in your mind?
Every time I take a fight I plan on it going the distance. It’s funny every time someone asks me I tell them I want to keep it standing and I train to go the distance and have frequently caught first round submissions. I’m ready to battle it out three rounds and I’ll be disappointed if there is no blood. I’m coming into the fight with a few tricks up my sleeve too, so no matter where the fight goes don’t blink. The way I look at it is I will do whatever it takes to win (in the realm of the rules of course) if I need to make it a boring fight then so be it but with our styles I think that’s impossible.
Before we go, a few random questions. What do you do for fun when you’re not training?
Hang out at the gym haha. No I don’t usually don’t miss a UFC or Strikeforce fight and get together with friends and family to watch those. I rip it up on the ps3 quite a bit but it’s hard to do during a fight camp and since May of 2010 I’ve taken consecutive fights so it’s like one big fight camp with no injuries thank God.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a fighter?
Tough question. I was a hefty teen in high school, weak and soft then starting my junior year went to L.A. Boxing where I started Thai and BJJ with Antonio Flores, who is fighting Bronzoulis late April, a fight I can’t wait to see. I met Chad there and the rest was history. I still do train with Antonio; he’s a great friend and an even better training partner. I would probably be I’m college Station wasting time and money on a partying degree haha. They say college is important to network and I agree but I have met many more professionals in many different fields at the gym. College isn’t for everyone.
Have you been getting a lot more ladies since you became an MMA fighter?
Haha I guess so. I’ve always hated going to places I wasn’t comfortable with, like a stranger’s house or a shady club, due to paranoia. I am never able to relax haha but I’ve always been one to have a girl friend other than to just hit it and quit it.
What’s the best advice you’ve given or been given so far?
Ahh. I was thinking a lot about this one and matt recommends I use my losing quote. “Losing is not an option. If I do not accept it then it cannot happen” and that is easy to misinterpret. I would not consider myself cocky and do not look at my opponents like they have no chance. I take every scenario into account and that’s why builds my confidence. My corners know to tell me if I lose a round. Mark my word. I’m ‘m losing rounds one and two and the only way to win is to get a finish in round three you best believe I’m coming into that third round like one crazy mutha fucka. I’m looking to fight but not in a proving grounds sort of way my view on pride is different than many others. I consider myself a true martial artist and love to test myself.
This is my first time getting into the sponsor game and it has proven to be very helpful. Thanks to everyone a Gracie Barra and thanks to all my sponsors. AAM.Co pool service, Vinny Vincent realty, F.A.S training, RB Brinlee, and of course TXMMA.com and TheCageDoor.net.
In-Depth Coverage of April 9th’s Legacy Fighting Championship
- A TXMMA.com Exclusive with Legacy Lightweight Champion Ray Blodget; Taking on Daniel Pineda on April 9th! – here
- Looking to “Whoop” Up on Someone – “Fighting Aggie” Bubba Bush set to take on Andrew Craig for the Legacy 185 Title! – here
- Stepping Back into the Cage with Alex Black; Ready to Do Battle Once More Against Tim Snyder at Legacy! – here
- The Next Big Thing? Time to Grow Up as Alex Morono Faces Jeff Rexroad at Legacy FC on April 9th! – here
- TLegacy FC Announced April 9th Bout Additions – “The Chosen One” Returns; Andrew Craig Arrives to Take On Bubba Bush – here
- Initial Legacy Card Announcement and Fight Opinions from Houston MMA Personalities – here
- Interview with Jeff Rexroad, Main Event Preview of ‘Blodget versus Pineda,’ and much more by TXMMA Writer Mike Calimbas in the 2nd issue of Legacy Magazine – here
- Much more to come here on TXMMA.com!