“I want to fight the top guys. Send me your best. You want to stand and bang then let’s go!“
Ike “Hurricane” Villanueva
Interview and Photos by: Richard Burmaster
They say the most dangerous athlete’s are those with the confidence to overcome any obstacle put before them. If that’s true then Ike Villanueva is going to be a hard man to stop. Anytime you walk away from a six figure paycheck to slug it out in the cage you have to have a ton of confidence that you will succeed. There is no doubt in Ike’s mind that he will succeed and his trainers agree with him. Ike’s head trainer Rocky Long says that Ike’s work ethic is second to none. When you combine that work ethic with heavy hands and an iron chin, you have a dangerous combination for any opponent. Top it off with a heavy dose of confidence and you have one of the top 205lbers in the city Ike has made the commitment to his family and himself that he will make his living as a fighter and he is well on his way. If you’re in Houston on Friday be careful, Hurricane Ike is back in town and he is ready to cause some more damage. We were able to catch up with Ike before is boxing debut at The Arena theater during the Russian Invasion show on March 5th.
TCD.net: How did you get started in MMA?
Ike: My brother in law got me started when he was at Silverback MMA. Daniel Pineda, Bob Perez, Tony Orosco, I started with those guys. I was a big cocky 290lbs, but those guys got me down where I needed to be. I didn’t really respect the ground game a lot but Jose’ and Daniel taught me a lot about it. By the time I had my first fight Daniel and Bobby had done moved on to 4oz but I stayed at Silverback. I had a fight at Katana, and I lost. That was from not having big guys to spar with, you can’t just go into the gym and hit pads with small guys if you’re a big guy. It’s just not going to work. So the following week I talked with Bob and Daniel and I started training over at 4oz. Bobby told me I should go to 205 and I thought he was crazy. Then I got committed to making the drop. I want to put on a show so I was ready. April 11th I took a pro fight for SWC fought this guy named Daniel Andrews. He was a golden gloves boxer but I made quick work of him. He hit me harder than I had ever been hit before in my life(laughs) I told myself that I fight for my kids and I put 3 big rights in him. Sad part is the ref was not going to stop the fight. You can see pictures of Daniel doing a 360 around the ring as I’m telling the ref I’m going to kill him if I hit him again. Mercifully the ref stopped it. Followed that win up with another win in SWC against a guy named Craig Basket out of Dan Henderson’s camp. Knocked him out in 20 seconds, he was a wrestler and I hate wrestlers. He tried to take me down and I pushed him off, one straight right later that was it.
TCD.net: How did you end up here at Streamline Fitness with Rocky Long?
Ike: I had gone 3-1 at 4oz and I was on a high horse. Fought at Urban Rumble and beat Dell Mitchell. Then I took a fight on Shark Fights. My biggest problem at 4oz was that I didn’t have big guys to spar with. They kept saying the big guys were coming and when they finally did bring them the guys couldn’t go for longer than a minute. The kept telling me “Ike you’re hurting them”. So after that loss I decided I had to go somewhere that had some big guys. I knew Rocky had an open door policy, so I went over to Cardio Boxing and he had Razor Rob the heavyweight boxer and Nick Mitchell and I realized that’s where I needed to be. I have not fought since September, that’s 8 months solid training with Rocky. My game is so different you won’t even recognize me.
TCD.net: Tell us about your upcoming boxing match on March 5th at the Russian Invasion at the Arena Theater.
Ike: I was scheduled to fight Chad Cook on this card but it got shut down. I told Rock “man I got to fight. I don’t care what it is” I am a stand up fighter first. Not a great ground game but heavy hands and we all start standing. So I started training boxing with Coach Javier Rodriguez, Lewis Woods’s helps me out a lot. No disrespect to anyone who has trained me before but after training with Lewis Woods I went home and I was hurt. I felt lied to.( Laughs) I was shadowboxing and my arms were sore He wore me out. Javier trains me here everyday at StreamLine. They tell me all the time “Ike you could be a boxer”. So I decided to do both, whichever one comes to me first because I am a fighter.
TCD.net: So this is your debut in boxing?
Ike: Yes this is my pro boxing debut and they say this Russian guy is like Ivan Drago from Rocky. They say he is just going to stand there and let the hands lose, Hell I am the best person to do that, I take pride that I am fighting for Houston. This is my town, you have to come here and beat me in my house. This will be my first true fight in Houston and I am ready to bang.
TCD.net: Will it be hard to stay in boxing rules and not follow him to the ground like in MMA?
Ike: I’m not going to follow someone to the ground. If you’re going to the ground it’s because I put you down. I have the best hands at 205 here in Houston, maybe even in Texas. I am looking to fight the top guys. I’m not a big kicker, you kick me and I’m going to counter with the hands. My hands are where they need to be right now.
TCD.net: Who is the top 205lb fighter in Houston?
Ike: I am.
TCD.net: Is there anyone out there you’re looking to fight at 205?
Ike: Anybody. Somebody step up and fight me at 205. I don’t want any boring fights. I want someone who is going to bring it to me. I want to fight the top guys. Send me your best. You want to stand and bang then let’s go!
TCD.net: Why do you fight?
Ike: For the fire, I have heart it’s what I was born to do. I gave up a 140k job to do this full time. I gave the commitment to my kids that I am going to make it work and I’m going to make it work right now. I don’t do it just for the love like other guys say. I’m going to make it. I hear guys say “Ike you talk a lot” Yeah I do, but I also back it up. Ask around, I have a resume. If I put these hands on you its over. 2010 I got Rocky Long, Nick Mitchell, Jason Frank and those boys push me. I’m going to make it!
TCD.net: Since you have been in other gyms around town what made this gym stand out to you?
Ike: Rocky Long doesn’t play. You walk into other gyms and see guys wasting time and bsing. Not here. You walk in and its go time, work now we can talk later. Rocky puts me through drills that make other guys quit. Our training is harder than the fight. Training is hard. Fighting is easy. At the fight I get to play with the crowd and get my name out there. Here at the gym is where the blood, sweat and tears are left. People don’t see this part. Rocky has me running six miles a day. We have drills where it’s me and 6 guys in the cage. 5 minute rounds with a fresh guy each time. Some day’s I call rock and tell him sorry cause I should have beat all six guys.(Laughs) Rocky tells me that’s not the drill but I am better than that. Haha. Rocky put that fire in me. He is like a brother to me.
TCD.net: How will this boxing match end?
Ike: Knock out, third round. I look at these boxers and you have to wear them down. They think an MMA guy is going to come in with a storm. I’m going to out box this guy. Don’t ever think an MMA guy can’t box because I’m going to prove it to everyone.
TCD.net: Who are your favorite fighters?
Ike: Honestly I look at Rocky Long. I’m at Shark Fights getting my hands wrapped and I have former WEC champ Mike Brown telling us how tough Rocky Long is. Cain Velasquez impressed me; it’s that brown pride (laughs). I also like Scott Smith from Strikeforce. He gets beat the whole fight then waits to the end and just drops them. A lot of other guys would have just quit but not him. I like that.
TCD.net: Any motto you live by?
Ike: Don’t take it for granted.
TCD.net Anyone you want to thank?
Ike: I want to thank all my sparring partners at Streamline Fitness, Lewis Woods, Rocky Long, Javier Rodriguez, “Big Time” Nick Mitchell, Jason David Frank, Nate Garza. Everyone who got me here, all my fans who support me. Thecagedoor.net, I have been waiting for you guys to come see me! Haha.