Taking the road less traveled is not an easy decision in any profession, but for professional fighting, it’s even more uncommon as most choose to give up on the dream rather than continue pushing forward. For Chicago-born Chepe Mariscal, patience has been more than a virtue, it’s been a characteristic that has carried him to where he is now, finally, in the UFC.
After years spent on the regional scene fighting for notable promotions like LFA, CFFC, HFC, and Cage Warriors, Marsical got the call to make his UFC debut at UFC Jacksonville last month against previously undefeated prospect, Trevor Peek. Coming into the fight, Mariscal was listed as the underdog and immediately put those doubters to rest with a wild, fast-paced, and thrilling unanimous decision victory to hand Peek his first loss.
Now that he’s finally on the big stage, Chepe Marsical spoke with MyMMANews.com about his debut, how he plans to be smart and patient while also resourceful with his new promotion, and more. Going through the craziness that was his fight against Peek, Marsical said the rush and feeling of finally being in the UFC didn’t hit him until after he got his hand raised in victory.
“It definitely hit after the fight. Just to witness the crowd that they had when I was walking in, I was like “oh, shit that’s a lot of people” and when I go in the cage, the dog came out. I wasn’t really feeling or thinking, it was more let’s get this dub and get out of here. When I was walking out, I was like “damn, this is where I really belong.”
Crediting Peek’s toughness, Mariscal would add that while a knockout or quick finish is always nice, he loves being part of the grind and grit in professional fighting, so going all 15 minutes in his debut didn’t bother him one bit.
“I love the game, dude. If he survives all three rounds, that’s amazing. He caught his guys between a lot of attacks so I was even a little hesitant, I saw that the “Machine Gun” was coming out then I was pulling it back, and [coaches] were saying that’s a smart game plan cause a lot of guys get caught in-between his punches. It was just about being focused, owning the moment, and just being like “this is it”.
Getting the upset victory in his UFC debut came with a thrill, but after several years in the regional scene and waiting longer than expected to get his moment on the big stage, Mariscal said it’s all business moving forward. Even pondering his future and what weight classes he would fit best in, contemplating a potential future jump up to the lightweight division as well.
“I’m glad I’m in, it’s awesome, but it’s just the beginning. I didn’t get no bonuses or the most recognition out of that night, and it’s alright that’s how my journey has been. It’s always been “who’s this guy?” and I love being that guy, I don’t like being the guy they all know, why not be a surprise to everybody? I’m glad that it’s the beginning and I can’t wait to tear up these divisions. I was even thinking, what if I play around at 155, but my biggest move is at 145 and let me see what I can do there, if I can magically go to 135.”
Part of that consideration comes from the new resources that Marsical has available to him now that he is part of the UFC is the nutritionists and science that is provided by the UFC staff, which can lead to new opportunities in his career.
“There’s a lot of science, man. I’ve seen some nutritionists and they’re like ‘Man, the lowest you can get is 145.6 and your body is going to start reacting funny. Then I get down there and they’re right, my body starts shutting down, I start feeling my kidneys. It’s trouble making 145, I’ll do the right nutrition and everything. But, I’m definitely seeing if I can tear everyone up at 145, then maybe make one of those jumps, but I’m just chilling there  for now.”
Not everyone knows the name or the story of Chepe Marsical, and that’s okay. He’ll make his second appearance in the UFC on September 9 at UFC 293 in Australia against another highly-touted prospect, Jack Jenkins. To hear more about the story on Marsical’s journey, including leaving Chicago and jumping around gyms until finding a home in Colorado, the lack of MMA in his hometown, and more, watch the video above.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM’s Fight Nation.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
Follow me on Twitter: @MP2310