Interview: Ike Villanueva

“It’s gonna be a category 5 come September 16th.”

Ike Villanueva

Interview by: AJ Hoffman

Ike Villanueva is on a tear lately, and with the recent run of Houston fighters heading off to national shows, Ike is trying to prove that he belongs on that list. Now on a 3 fight win streak, he will look to keep the momentum going when he takes on Larry Crowe at Legacy FC 8. Ike also has a new coach, and he lets us know how working with one of the legends has helped him.

TCD: Talk about the fight camp. What has changed for you and who all are you working with?

Villanueva: I have been training here under Saul Soliz for about the last 6 months. They are bringing in guys like Matt Lucas from ACS, Bubba Bush, Andrew Craig, Carlo Prater. I am having literally the best camp I have ever had. It is all new for me being a middleweight. Saul is really strict, and that is what I need. Everything he tells you is the truth. He wants to make me the best, and I am listening to everything he tells me. I am here twice a day, and being on a 3 fight win streak, I don’t want to look back.

TCD: How do you balance a full time job and fighting?

Villanueva: My dad and I run a velcro machine shop, but I am taking some time off to really focus on this camp. It is hard to work and train. I have taken about 4 weeks off to get myself in the best shape possible. My body is in really good shape, trying to get to 185 for the first time, but it is going to be good.

TCD: Where is your weight at now? What have you had to do differently to make this cut?

Villanueva: Right now I am at 197. I started this camp at 237. Big thanks to my sponsor, E-Fit For Life. They are feeding me 5 meals a day and it has made a big difference, eating healthy. No drinking for me. The diet is strict right now. Watching what protein I take in. No more taco trucks or Mexican food. I miss it, but it is going well. I am just tired of fish. I am a little surprised that I am this close at this point. When I was 210 I didn’t think I would make it, but now I am feeling great. I am excited about the cut.

TCD: How much do you know about your opponent, Larry Crowe?

Villanueva: Larry Crowe and I were in the same district in high school. We have a long history. We played football against each other. He is an aggressive southpaw, and that night he is going to find out why they call me “The Hurricane.”

TCD: When you saw his fight with Jermaine (Anugwom), were you surprised at him using his hands so much?

Villanueva: I was really surprised. I was more shocked that Jermaine was backing up though. He froze up, got taken down. I thought it was a premature stoppage. I thought Jermaine was blocking most of those, but that is MMA. I knew when I saw that fight that I wanted to fight him. I was supposed to fight Derrick Lewis at 205 but he couldn’t make the weight, so I told Brett (Boyce) to make the Crowe fight happen.

TCD: Your last couple of opponents landed some shots on the feet early, and sort of fell into your game. Is that part of your strategy, to sucker opponents in to standing with you?

Villanueva: I try to do that. I like to lull them into that security. I want them to get confident and get aggressive on their feet. I get a taste of them, and I stay standing. Once they think they can stand with me, it’s bad news for them. A lot of guys say the easy way to beat me is to take me down. But you have to get hit about 3 or 4 times to get in that close. With 4 oz. gloves, that isn’t gonna happen.

TCD: How has your ground game improved since you have started working in a gi?

Villanueva: Travis (Tooke) told me if I want to do jits and get better on the ground, I have to put the gi on. It helped a lot. The guys we have here at Metro are great on the ground. It is a whole different game. I respect the gi a lot more since I have started doing it. I am getting a lot better on the ground.

TCD: Is this your biggest fight, being on national television in front of your home crowd?

Villanueva: This is my coming out party. Right now I am 8-4, all but 1 has been a finish. I am gonna win in fashion. People pay for these fights. I am gonna put on a show. It’s gonna be a category 5 come September 16th.

TCD: Does that loss against Chico Young still motivate you?

Villanueva: After that fight I had my resurrection. Every fight since then I am looking to knock heads off. I was digging for something that wasn’t there against Chico. I should have fought my fight, but that is a lesson learned. That fight is still my fuel. Never again will I let my kids see me like that. I was bloodied up, my face was split open, but I never backed off. I keep coming. I am also done with the smack talk. My kids are getting to the age where they are on me about that stuff, so it is PG-13 now a days.

TCD: Now that you are at 185, would you want to fight Chico again?

Villanueva: He is on his track, I am on mine. We are under the same management, and we are both going to the top. I am not ever going to back down from anybody, but I am not looking for that now. If it ever had to happen, so be it, but the past is the past for me. The way I see it, if it happens, it’s because Joe Silva sets it up.

TCD: With all the fighters from Houston recently taking the next step, do you feel like you are getting close to the next level?

Villanueva: Of course. I have to get a couple in at this weight, but that is why I am here with Saul. He tells me to get a couple in at this weight. To get comfortable. So that is what I am doing. Let me get one or two fights here, but in 2012 you are gonna see me making some big moves at 185.

TCD: Anybody you want to thank?

Villanueva: E-Fit For Life. My family out here at Metro Fight Club and all the guys from Team Tooke who are helping me out. My 4 Oz. family who is still helping me out. Lee King, Randy Hauer, Carlo Prater. My wife, she has been great through all of this. My mom and my dad. TF Entertainment. They made the Hurricane Ike Version on youtube. Thanks to everyone out in West Houston, my family. Be ready Houston. Hurricane Ike. Category 5.