HOUSTON, TX, July 8, 2012 – Ever since he burst onto the scene with a submission victory over former champ Rey Trujillo in January of 2011, Galveston, TX native Justin Reiswerg has been hailed by many to be one of the brightest young stars coming out of the Houston area.
He’d confirm that opinion with a thrilling and convincing win over another young prospect (Marc Ramirez) in the opening bout of LEGACY 7 – the event that ushered in the HDNet / AXS TV era for Houston MMA’s flagship promotion, the Legacy Fighting Championship.
After his fourth win in a row versus Kenneth Battle at LEGACY 8, Justin was pitted with his biggest challenge yet this past February, a bout against UFC veteran Patrick Audinwood at LEGACY 10.
Undaunted by the challenge of facing an adversary with nearly twice as much experience and a UFC pedigree, Justin took it to his New York-based opponent. He ultimate lost by third round submission but the result may have been drastically different had the bout not been capitulated by an unfortunate ankle injury suffered by Justin in the first round that left him hobbled for the rest of the fight.
“It was a tough loss and I felt really bad for letting everyone down,” he says. “I think it was a good fight and that it showed me a few errors that I made, more mental than physical.”
Looking at that bout as a learning experience, Justin’s recovered from his hobbled wheel and has trained hard to experience a different outcome this Friday night when he takes on fellow Houstonian Cris “Chop” Rucker at LEGACY 12.
We recently caught with Justin in advance of next Friday to get his thoughts on the upcoming fight and what else lies ahead for him in the near future.
Justin, thanks for taking the interview. How are you feeling heading into LEGACY 12?
I’m feeling great! Training hard with some of the best fighters in Houston is the best way to prep for a fight.
Looking back, how would you describe your career to this point?
My career has been a lot of fun so far. Ups and downs obviously but the overall impression that MMA has had on my life is great. The greatest moment was probably going to war with Marc Ramirez to show the world that Legacy is for real.
Your last fight was a tough pill to swallow for your fans. A lot of people think you would have won had it not been for your foot. What are your thoughts on that fight and how is it motivating you moving forward?
It was a tough loss and I felt really bad for letting everyone down. I let someone come into my town in front of my people and beat me. I can assure you that I won’t be letting my fans down again anytime soon. I think it was a good fight and that it showed me a few errors that I made, more mental than physical. Obviously my ankle inhibited my Proformance (shamelessplug) but I should have adapted and that is what I’m taking as the lesson from that loss.
Legacy has grown quite a bit as an organization and you’ve been fighting for them a long time. What has that experience been like?
Legacy has grown by leaps and grounds and I am honored to fight for and represent this great promotion. To all other promoters out their trying to make their way up, take a look and some notes. I remember fighting for LSBD (Lonestar Beatdown; Legacy’s former name) in a bar in College Station and look how far Mick has brought the promotion and it’s fighters. The experience has been great. Maybe we can go back to fighting in bars instead of arenas though; I miss all the cigarette smoke.
How would you describe your style as a fighter to the average fan?
I would say my style is well rounded. I’m always game to stand and trade because I am confident in my Muay Thai skills. I also don’t mind going to the ground and slapping on a submission or just beating them up till the ref stops me. I think every type of fan can appreciate my style from the hardcore old school guys to the noobs that rock Affliction everywhere they go.
What are your goals as a fighter for the rest of the year?
I haven’t told many people this but I’m actually going to take the rest of the year off after this fight. Okay, okay settle down everyone…I will still be training hard and expanding my game but I want to enjoy my last semester of college and get my company off the ground. I will be back next year if this doesn’t piss Mick off too much.
What teams do you work with and who’s helped you get ready for this one in particular?
I proudly rep 4 OZ Fight Club and Bam Bam Martial Arts. Over at 4 OZ I get a lot of personal coaching from The General, and he has me work with everyone who is up for sparring that day. That gym is so stacked with talent that it is impossible to have a weak session of training. At Bam Bam I get a lot of work from my coaches David “The Beast” Harris, Fadi Khouri, and Josh Hill. They are all BJJ black belts and they all have a different style of playing the game. I think they have really rounded my game out to deal with any style of grappling my opponent brings with him. I would also like to mention Cody Phillips. Everybody knows this guy is helpful but he has truly gone above and beyond to help me, and other members of 4OZ.
What’s your motivation heading into this fight?
I am ready to get back in the win column. I hate telling people that I lost my last fight, it’s degrading. I am also very motivated because I plan on finishing this guy and since nobody has done it yet I am working really hard to accomplish that.
How do you view Chop Rucker as a person and adversary?
As a person I respect him for doing what he does. He lays his skills on the line against some top notch Houston talent. As an adversary I will say that this fight won’t go 3 rounds. I am going to pick apart every weakness I have seen in his game. Standing, clinching, and on the ground, I am going to outwork and outclass him everywhere.
How do you picture this fight ending?
This fight won’t last more than 2 rounds. I see him coming out, being explosive for a bit, then becoming frustrated because everything he is doing isn’t working. Can’t really predict the ending but it won’t involve us waiting on the judges to add up the scores. I will finish him in 2.
What’s next for you after this?
After this fight I will take a week or two off then get back in the gym. That coupled with school and work will make my summer speed by but I would like to get to Vegas at some point for some fun.
Any last words or acknowledgements before the fight?
I would like to thank all my family, friends, and fans. Made to Win for getting me the fight and lining up sponsors and supporters. All my coaches and teammates for helping me prepare. Proformance for my sick mouthpiece that keep my teeth in my head. Defense Soap, and St. Michael’s for supporting all MTW fighters. Also any other sponsors that will be hopping on board for this fight and last but not least TXMMA for the coverage.