Look what I have done at just 17 years old. When I am 19 or 20, at my full potential, I think I can do something pretty special.
Tony Orozco, Jr.
Interview by: AJ Hoffman
At only 17 years old, Tony Orozco, Jr. is the baby in a fighting family. His dad, Tony Sr., runs a successful gym (Silverback Fight Team) and is about to have his second professional fight. His brother, Scotty Juarez, will be taking on Lee Higgins on the same card. “Lil’ Tony” is making a name for himself though, with two impressive wins in as many showings. The most recent was a dominating first round TKO win over Angel Zamora, who at 39 years old was over twice Tony’s age. Next up for Tony is Randy McCullough from Team Bailout on July 1st at Cage Combat 4. We had a chance to chat with Tony leading up to that fight.
Orozco: I started doing jiu-jitsu at TNT Jiu Jitsu when I was 6. I hated it, but my dad forced me to keep doing it, and eventually I fell in love with it.
TCD: When did you start branching out to MMA?
Orozco: When I was around 13 or 14, when my dad was opening the gym. I took a couple of years off from training when I was 9 or 10 because I just wanted to be a normal kid. I wanted to run around with normal kids.
TCD: Is BJJ your favorite aspect of the sport?
Orozco: It is my favorite, but lately I have liked the stand up. I know jiu jitsu is my strength, so I just want to see what I can do boxing. I know I have my ground game to fall back on, but I like to test myself.
TCD: Do you still train in a gi?
Orozco: No, I don’t train in a gi anymore. I did until I was about 10 years old. I don’t even own a gi anymore. I try to make it as close as possible to the actual fight. I do no-gi, and usually in gloves.
TCD: Being in a fighting family, with your dad and your brother both being pros, do you guys push each other from a competitive standpoint?
Orozco: Yeah, we are all really competitive with each other. In pretty much everything. But we are always pushing each other. My dad and brother are the people who push me the most. And we call David (Armas) our stepbrother. He pushes me a lot too.
Orozco: I am turning 18 in September, but I will probably wait until I am 19 or 20 to turn pro. I really want to wait until my mat strength is developed. I wasn’t even planning on fighting until I was 18, but once I started seeing my brother fight I was begging my dad to let me get in there and fight. Look what I have done at just 17 years old. When I am 19 or 20, at my full potential, I think I can do something pretty special.
TCD: Between now and when you go pro, what do you think you need to work on the most?
Orozco: I still need to work on my standup a lot. I really like it, but I know I need to keep working on it. I need to learn how to take a punch. In two fights I have been waiting to get rocked because I want to know how I react. I actually hope I get hit hard in this fight so I will know how I react.
TCD: Having been doing this for so long, is it getting old for you?
Orozco: No, not at all. I am still learning something different every time I roll. As long as I keep learning, I can’t imagine it getting old. It is something new every time I get in there.
TCD: Talk about your last fight. Was it weird fighting against a 39 year old?
Orozco: They said it was his debut, but I saw a video of him on youtube fighting in Louisiana or something. I knew he was a ground guy, but I don’t think he knew I was a ground guy too. I wasn’t really trying to finish the fight that early. I was trying to irritate him with some punches, and the ref ended up stopping it.
TCD: What do you know about your next opponent?
Orozco: He is really tall. He lost his first fight against Carlos Jimenez, and he won his second fight. I see that he likes to stand up, and I am excited about that. I don’t really have anything bad to say about him. I think he is around 30. This is my 3rd fight and I am only 17. I am really looking forward to going against him.
TCD: Is fighting what you want to do as a career? Have you made a decision on that yet?
Orozco: When I was a kid, I always wanted to be in the medical field. The more I have gotten into this, the more I think I want to do this as a career. I love doing it, and it would be nice to work at something I love doing.
TCD: Anybody you want to thank?
Orozco: Scotty, my dad and David for helping me. All my training partners at Silverback. That’s about it.