SAN ANTONIO, TX, April 2, 2012 – Alamo Showdown 3 is coming up this Friday night in San Antonio and it’s shaping up to be another exciting night of fights for fans in Central Texas. The card is slated to feature a trio of championship fights at the amateur level on top of a 10-fight slate. We’ve already spoken to Elias Garcia, the 135lbs. contender coming in from Corpus Christie to challenge for the ABG bantamweight title. This time we speak to the defending champion CJ Vergara about how it feels to defend his belt for the very first time.
Interview – CJ Vergara (Rodrigo Pinheiro BJJ / Championfit Gym)
CJ, before we talk about the fight, please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into fighting.
I am 20 years old. I was born and spent my younger years in Laredo, TX. since I can remember, fighting has always been something that has been more than just an interest. The first memories I can remember include watching Bruce Lee warm up in an underground fight pit and imitating his every stretch with obsession. From there, it was all about the Ninja Turtles, Mortal Kombat, Batman, boxing, and just about anything else that included a fight. I was a practitioner of Goshin-Jitsu karate from the age of 5 till about 10, and had quite a few competitions, but my lack of attention span at the time drew me away. When I was 13 I came across Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz on the big screen, and decided that’s what I wanted to be. When I was a freshman in high school I started up a fight club with friends in any patch of grass or dirt we could come across, and by my junior year hundreds of people were watching. My parents caught wind and freaked out – finally put me in a gym at 17. I’ve been discovering myself as a fighter ever since. I have a lot to learn about this sport and about myself and embrace every step along the way.
What are some of your favorite moments as a fan of MMA as a sport?
I don’t have a particular favorite fighter as of right now. When I was younger I must admit Matt Hughes was my hero and I did put a hole in the dry wall when GSP beat him. I take a little bit of what I like from a lot of fighters so I keep an open mind. If I have to pick a favorite fighter it would be Bruce Lee – not so much his techniques or practices as much as the way he embraced the nature of fighting in a spiritual manner. Chuck vs. Wanderlei is one of if not my favorite fight in MMA.
It sounds like you’re pretty much consumed with fighting. What do you do when you’re not in the gym training?
If I’m not in the gym training or working as a boxing trainer with James Leija’s Championfit gym, you could find me spending time with my family or close friends. I have a son who was born on March 21st of 2011 and I couldn’t fill my spare time better than with him and my long time girlfriend whom I consider an unofficial fiancée more than a girlfriend, I don’t like that word. I have a close relationship with both my parents and an even closer one with my little brother who is 13. Being a young father has definitely been the best thing that has ever happened to me in every sense. I have something to fight for now, a man with something to lose and someone in his way is someone to fear, that’s how I see it. I have a close group of friends that I’ve kept near just about my whole life and am just as close with family such as cousins, aunts and uncles. Video games, good movies, good food, nature, and music also are a big part of my life. That and grilling… nothing better than a Sunday BBQ.
Aside from being a good dad, what are some of your other goals right now?
My only short term goal right now is defeating Elias Garcia April 6th but long term, I definitely want to make it to the UFC. I want to prove that a small city boy raised in a very humble upbringing can become a king if he so chooses. I want to make my dreams come true for myself, my son, his mother, my brother, family, and everyone else that believes in me. I do want to be sponsored by Oakley someday too… Nobody’s done it yet.
How’s it been like for you training to defend your title against Elias? Who’s helped you out and how long have you been training for this one?
Camp has been long for this fight. I trained 10 weeks for the golden gloves tournament, and kept it going for this fight. My coaches are my biggest help, Pete Spratt, my Muay Thai and MMA coach, has elevated my game to such a higher level since I first began training with him over a year ago, and has also been a loyal friend and mentor. Rodrigo Pinhero has showed me the importance of the ground aspect of MMA and has opened my mind up to the amount of simple techniques that can be applied at any time, and also has been a great role model. And James Leija has opened the doors to the sweet science of boxing for me since I connected with him almost a year ago. Once again, as my other trainers, he has been a great role model, mentor, trainer, and friend throughout. Mark Lozano, Kevin Martin, Efrain Loredo, Sean Balusek, Diego Brandao, Taylor Camacho, Mike Mestas, and Kyle Brown are the guys that have been across from me in sparring or beside me through cardio, and they are just as important as the rest. My family has been the biggest support system I could ever ask for; they keep me going every day.
Tell us about your opponent and this fight.
Elias is a dedicated fighter from what I’ve seen. This fight is my first title defense, and a champion remains a contender until he defends his belt so I’m ready. I love to entertain the crowd with fast paced, exciting fights. I want to finish this fight.