Ariel Zuniga

Photo via BTC Fight Promotions on Youtube

Ariel Zuniga talks bantamweight tournament semi-final at BTC 14

Ariel Zuniga tests skills with Albaraa Atmeh at BTC 14: Clash. This is a semi-final bout in the ten grand bantamweight tournament and goes down on March 5th live from RBC Place in London, Ontario.

I spoke with Zuniga prior to this fight and excerpts from our chat are below.

Ariel Zuniga

Balancing his construction job with MMA training and what winning this $10,000 tournament would mean

“For me, it’s more than just the money. People notice me for the work ethic that I do and the way that I fight. Just pretty much to get more fans, the money is just secondary. I want to use it for my family. Because I just want to go in there and perform, man. It’s a nice little bonus. I’m going to use it to take my family to go visit Nicaragua. Because they’ve never been there, my kids. That’s what I’m fighting for right now.”

The impassioned moment Zuniga had with fans following his BTC 13 bantamweight tournament quarterfinals win

“God, that made me emotional. I remember I was trying to cry, but I didn’t have anything left inside of me. Like I think I had no water left. It was overwhelming because I felt like the brink of death almost. It’s like I clawed my way out. I knew that I had it in me because I hadn’t been there in what? Don’t remember how long it’s been since my fight with Teshay (Gouthro). I just felt happy to be in there. You know what I mean?”

“Then for the two rounds that the guy (Harley King) started working me, I had my talk with Bazooka Joe Valtellini in the third round. He reminded me why I was there and how I’m one of the few guys that’s still doing my job. Still training and pushing for this. He reminded me why I was there. Then I went out there and I finished. So from the motivation, my determination, and my will that I have, I knew that I could do it. So I was just overwhelmed with what I could do.”

BTC 14: Clash

Having Joseph Valtellini in his corner and the value in being around such a decorated combat sports veteran

“Yeah, it was crazy. I felt pretty much like a Mortal Kombat character. My two coaches had the controllers and they’re telling me what to do. They’re great cornermen. With Joe and Marcus, my grappling coach, they pretty much were yelling everything that I needed to do.”

Digging down deep in the Harley King fight and how one learns a lot about themself from a performance like that

“Yeah, I know that I can finish in all rounds. That’s what I pretty much figured. And when I stick to a game plan, things work out. I just know that when I’m backed up, I might get stronger when I’m on my back heel. When push comes to shove, if somebody’s trying to kill me, I won’t let them.”

Ariel Zuniga vs Albaraa Atmeh

Zuniga’s awareness of Albaraa Atmeh’s skills from both fighting on the last card and overall thoughts on his skills leading into this tournament semi-final

“Yeah, I had seen that one, and I had seen the one prior to that; his debut. I’ve seen footage on him.”

“I’ve been doing study and they’ve been doing studying as well. We sit down, we talk about game plans, and just look at it analytically. See what we can do from what he does. And from what I can do. Then we made our game plan off of that.”

Parting thoughts for Ariel Zuniga

“Just for everybody to pretty much buy the pay per view and watch me fight, bro. Watch, it’s going to be a good one. Everybody is gonna bang each other up.”

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