By TXMMA Staff | Photos by Mike Calimbas (MMA Photographer)
THE WOODLANDS, TX, October 30, 2013 – Gracie Barra: The Woodlands’ MMA leader steps back into the cage this Friday night at Fury Fighting Championship’s debut (FFC 1).
Historically looked upon as one of Houston MMA’s top up-and-coming prospects over the last few years, Alex Morono (5-1) is out to prove he’s indeed worthy of the big show and will be looking for his fourth win in a row at FFC 1. He also faces perhaps his toughest test since facing eventual champion Jeff Rexroad in just his third pro fight at FFC 1 when he takes on Oklahoma resident Rob Wood, a protégé of Rafael Lovato Jr. and training partner to UFC’s James Head out of Oklahoma City.
In short this main event presents an interesting and noteworthy clash between two ‘blue chip’ prospects with a shot at one day being in the UFC. Needless to say it’s a pivotal test for both men and indeed worthy of main event status.
We caught up with one half of the main event, Alex Morono, to get his thoughts on this Friday night’s bout.
FFC 1 Interview – Alex Morono (Gracie Barra The Woodlands)
TXMMA: What’s up Alex! How are you feeling heading into your fight this week?
Alex Morono:Fight camp went so well I’m almost expecting something strange to happen. It was a long 2 month camp consisting of a lot or wrestling and cage work. Fighting a guy like this was a great opportunity to really solidify my MMA game like cage work and td defense and I’m feeling sharper than ever. My weight is lower than normal so the cut shouldn’t be very difficult and with all of the strength and conditioning we’ve done this camp I’m leaner than ever. I’m so, so ready for Friday.
TXMMA: You haven’t fought in almost 7 months. What have you been up to since March?
Alex Morono:It was more unintentional (not fighting more often). I was looking for fight but at the same time I competed in a couple of BJJ tournaments and have been working with my guys as they’ve gone through camps for MMA and boxing matches.
I teach or train at the gym 7 days a week (privates on Sunday) and have been very busy with that. I fought in March and was actually looking for other fights in between but didn’t have much luck. Finding fights is tougher than I thought. Overall we’ve been pretty active (as a team) this year, some MMA fights, boxing tournaments and a lot of BJJ competitions. The team is so close that if someone wins it’s a victory for all of us.
TXMMA: Your team has experienced some great success indeed. What do you attribute that to?
Alex Morono:January of 2012 the gym went through some staff and management changes and I took over the MMA team and Professor Alex Gotay took charge of the BJJ program. Since then we’ve gone 18-2 in MMA! This year we had a lot of fights planned but not all happened, mainly from injuries. I guess were training too hard but we’re 5-0 so far this year with 4 first round finishes. We plan on finishing the year off at 8-0 with Ricky, Kody and I fighting on the same night. ]
TXMMA: Greater love: Coaching or teaching?
Alex Morono:Both. Teaching has really helped me technically understand and love the sport and allows me to personally connect with the students which, in my opinion, is what makes a gym successful and coaching for the matches keeps me so involved and close without team. All of my best friends are at the gym and our success comes from that bond. I see the guys all day at the gym then we usually hang out after. I couldn’t ask for a cooler lifestyle, especially being able to make a good living off of it. I truly believe that live is only as good as you allow it to be. If your unhappy then change and there’s not one thing id change right now. \
TXMMA: Looking ahead to FFC 1 you’re taking on a tough opponent in Rob Wood. Tell us a little more about the matchup.
Alex Morono:He is one of the toughest opponents I’ve had to date but I’m ready to fight a guy at this level. It’s the main event spot for the card and that’s always been something I’ve wanted to do as a professional. Jace and Eric offered me the main event spot and with a few of my teammates on the card it wasn’t a tough decision to make. What good is a leader if he won’t fight alongside his soldiers?
TXMMA: Have you had time to study him (Rob Wood) at all? Give us your breakdown.
Alex Morono:He’s definitely a good wrestler/grappler and from what I’ve seen he doesn’t prefer to do a lot of striking so I’ve worked into his strengths. Surprisingly I feel strongest with my takedowns and cage work. I’ve really done a great job this camp and had a lot of fun gong to Klein Oak and wrestling with their coach and bigger guys. I also had the pleasure of getting a lot of work in with Todd Moore and Travis Tooke for this camp.
TXMMA: What are you hoping to showcase in this one? Are we going to see you more active in the near future?
Alex Morono:As always I viciously look for the knockout but seeing his style and the way I’ve been training I plan on a lot of grinding and grappling if that’s what it needs to be. My ground game is by far my sharpest aspect right now. I’ve had such a great group of black belts to work with. Professor Gotay and Fadi Kouri have been working a lot with me at the gym and I’ve been doing very well with them. And as for being more active I plan on fighting 2-4 times a year and with 3-4 more wins I hope to get into the big show but I’m very content with taking it one fight at a time.
TXMMA: Who else should we be on the lookout for from GB North Houston?
Alex Morono:Ricky Turcios and Kody Williams have been in the trenches with me since day one. We’ve worked so hard and are all very confident in each other for Friday. Also I’ve worked a lot with Todd and Travis from Tooke’s and cross-trained with Pat Bierschwale. All the guys trained right and are ready to get some finished on Friday.
Thanks again for talking to us. Do you have any last words for the fans before Friday?
Alex Morono: I feel it is my job as a fighter to get the most vicious and horrible knockout possible. I don’t understand how guys go into fight immediately looking for a takedown. In my mind it’s a fight and I’m looking to constantly finish. I’ll be damned if I let this guy think he can win and will do everything in my power to make the ref rip me off of his in unconscious body. I’ve envisioned myself wining the fight in every gruesome way possible for two months now. I think it’s made me a little crazy but for once that a good thing. <laughs> I respect rob as an opponent and can’t wait to battle it out on Friday!