Whether on the largest stages in MMA or working their way up, it’s been a fantastic year for fighters competing out of Latin America. On the rise and seeking an opportunity of his own is Puebla’s Diego Lopes.
The current 19-3 Lux Fight League featherweight champion says it’s been a very good experience with the promotion and he’s thankful for the experience. However, it’s hard not to seek out that ultimate end goal.
“I’m ready,” Lopes told MyMMANews regarding a future with the UFC. “The opportunity has not come yet, I have all the patience, still working, still making the effort to maintain this professional level. I have one month in the U.S. waiting for this opportunity, but it doesn’t matter. I’m gonna wait for when the time has to be.
“Right now I’m a free agent but I’m training like I’m going to fight next week. So I’m ready, but I don’t have any scheduled dates right now.”
As Lopes rides a winning streak of seven in a row, his claim to a UFC contract is only reinforced by having beaten three UFC veterans on this run. No matter what, he intends on continually grinding and that’s what he’s doing at the moment by staying active in BJJ competitions — first in Cancun where he won a title, and now in Miami.
Before his own activities, the Lobo Gym and Brazilian Warriors representative helped his longtime teammate Irene Aldana ahead of her big rebound win at UFC 264. The top-ranked bantamweight fought perfectly and did everything that they trained, says Lopes.
With both of their successes, among others, the team is surging like never before.
“It’s a combination,” Lopes said of his BJJ matches between MMA fights. “I want to be active all the time because I love Jiu-Jitsu and I need to compete all the time between MMA fights. But also these competitions improve and help me get better for the next fights.
“Every fight has an evolution for all the Lobo Gym team [members]. In every fight, we improve stuff. I’m so grateful once again to Francisco Grasso because he gives me the opportunity to share all my Jiu-Jitsu knowledge. Also, every win is a perfect combination of striking with Francisco, my Jiu-Jitsu, and also with Irene, Alexa [Grasso], and Carlos [Arana].”
Lopes and Aldana aren’t the only two that have been doing Mexico proudly as of late. Aside from fellow teammate, Alexa Grasso who is climbing up the UFC flyweight ranks, Karina Rodriguez also became Mexico and Lobo Gym’s first Invicta FC champion earlier this year—thus providing another great example of their talent combination.
Shortly after, their fellow countryman in Tijuana’s Brandon Moreno captured UFC gold in a highly-anticipated rematch.
“Every fighter needs an extra motivation,” said Lopes. “Always. So these kind of things with Brandon, Irene, etc., motivate me to be better. Most people ask me why we live in Mexico when I can live in other places in the world. I live in Mexico because I love the country and I also want to demonstrate that in Mexico we have very great talent that is able to compete with the top of the world.”
Despite being still just 26-years-old, Lopes has been a crucial key to the success of his peers and is crafting a great career of his own. But in the end, it’s not about fighting for a drastically extended period. The happiness provided by being able to help and share his skills is more than enough.
Drake is an MMA writer based out of Brush Prairie, Washington, USA who specializes in feature pieces, the women’s fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since 2009. Drake has most notably written for BJPenn.com, FanSided, The Body Lock, South China Morning Post, MyMMANews, WhatCulture, Cageside Press, Sherdog, The Scrap, and MMA Today. He has also written for and created video content for RT Sport. As for other sports, Drake is a longtime fan of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @DrakeRiggs_ . Also check out all of his video content on YouTube at YouTube.com/DrakeRiggs where he uploads fighter interviews, podshows, and various other types of content.