Danny Maldonado will look to earn a second consecutive flyweight title when he meets Edwin Solis inside the Aggressive Combat Championships cage, November 11.
After dropping the first two fights in his amateur mixed martial arts career, Maldonado then earned a draw in this third contest. That’s when something had to give. The 27-year old “Flashnado” has since recorded three straight wins, picking up the Triton Fights flyweight title in the process.
Now, returning back to his roots, Maldonado will compete at ACC 17 on the all amateur fight card promoted by business partners Eugene Perez and Tom Kilkenny. Maldonado (3-2) meets Edwin Solis (2-1) at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York. Perez and Kilkenny were once part of a merged promotion known as Triton where Maldonado currently holds the 125-pound belt. Maldonado seeks to earn their title which would make him a dual belt holder.
When asked what his plans were should he accomplish his task, Maldonado seemed confident that he would not need to defend either belt.
“If I go in there and dominate this kid like I know I can, I’m probably going straight to the pros,” he said. “It depends. If I have a bad performance obviously I need to go back and defend my belt. If I win impressively I feel like there is no need for me to keep going in the amateurs. I feel like I am old enough and I have a strong team, I can just go straight to the pros.”
Maldonado currently trains at Pure Hart Training Center under the tutelage of one of the area’s top heavyweights, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. “I train with the best. We have some Renzo Gracie black belts, Matt Kaplan. I have a guy that trains with Ray Longo for my kickboxing, Nicholas Robyn. He’s opening up his own program. Doing big things.”
What changed for you after the first few fights? Did something click or what adjustments did you make after dropping two fights and then recording the draw?
“My first two fights I didn’t really train for. I was a blue belt in jiu-jitsu at an old academy. I won a lot of jiu-jitsu tournaments. I had a fallout with that gym. I had a knee injury. I tore my meniscus. I took about four months off, found a new gym. I immediately took a fight. I fought a tough guy in Carlos Rodriguez. I was supposed to fight another guy but that guy pulled out two days before the fight. I made a decision to move up in weight and fight just because I wanted to fight. My next fight was with Edwin’s teammate who is a good wrestler. I didn’t train for that fight, I didn’t learn anything new. I just went in there because I have balls and I wanted to fight so much. I didn’t prepare for it, but I was able to take him down event though he was a wrestling champion. I was able to hold my own on the ground, but what I did learn is that I need a strong team. I had all the skills. I just needed somebody to tune me up and tailor my game.
“I never wrestled in high school or college, but for some reason I just picked up wrestling so quick. That’s how I have been so dominant. I haven’t had anyone be able to stop my takedowns in a fight.
“I started boxing in 2011. That was my first real introduction to martial arts. I hurt my shoulder so I had to stop for a while. I started jiu-jitsu and I loved it. I always watched UFC and Strikeforce when I was a kid and that promotion was still around. I thought, ‘Why not do it? You like to fight. Might as well.'”
When you transition to the pro division, do you see yourself staying at flyweight or can you move up to the bantamweight division?
“I’m a pretty short guy, and I’m a pretty small flyweight. I put on a lot of muscle. After this fight I want to take some time off and put on more muscle. What I want to do is obviously be a UFC flyweight champion, then bantamweight title. In regards to the flyweight division, I feel like with Demetrious Johnson breaking the record and pulling off that submission, flyweights are going to get a lot more respect. It took a while for the division to get some notoriety and people actually caring about it but we’re the most skilled fighters in the world. That’s just how it is. Shorter guys have better technique because we don’t have knockout power, and we don’t have a lot of strength and muscle. We have a low sense of gravity so we have more balance. We are just a better martial artist, us smaller guys.”
How do you see this fight playing out?
“I respect Edwin’s gym. I was actually supposed to fight him two years ago but my knee acted up and I had to cancel that fight. No disrespect to Edwin but I don’t think he’s not the toughest guy I ever fought. He’s the most skilled guy I fought. He has skills. He is okay on his takedowns. His jiu jitsu is there, he’s a purple belt so I’ll give him a pass on that. His striking has no power. He has speed but I just feel like I’m the better athlete. I’m faster, I’m definitely stronger. My wrestling is better. My jiu jitsu is way better. My striking is way better. I have more power in my hands. I know he’s going to try to take me down but I’m going to finish him. His takedowns will not work and if he does take me down, I’m going to get up and beat the shit out of him. I’ll beat him up. I want to knock him out. I feel I haven’t showed my striking yet because the gameplan was to always dominate my opponent on the ground. But for this fight I feel like the takedowns are going to be open for me wherever and whenever. They are going to be open for me. I feel like I can finish him in the first round if I start fast. I’m very aggressive. If I start fast and put my hands on him, I’m going to knock him out.”
How did your nickname Flashnado come about?
“It’s a play on my last name and ‘flash.’ My teammate who is fighting in December likes superheroes. He likes ‘The Flash.’ He named me that because I am fast. It’s a play on my speed.
“I just want to thank my coaches. Matt Kaplan, he’s the one who molded me back when I got into this game. I owe it all to him. Nicholas Robyn, my stand up coach for making me a complete martial artist and comfortable on my feet. I also want to thank my other grappling coach Jonathan Calestine, he’s a Renzo Gracie brown belt, one of the best brown belts in the world. Then my friends and family who support me and spend money to watch me fight. It’s always good to have a good support system.”
Aggressive Combat Championships 17 takes place at the Westchester County Center, located at 198 Central Ave, White Plains, New York.