Julio Arce speaks with MyMMANews
Social distancing at his home in Queens, New York, Julio Arce is focused on fighting his fight.
It’s not a new revelation for the UFC featherweight. In fact, he started changing his mindset after his split decision loss to Hakeem Dawodu at UFC 244 on Nov. 2, 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic may be stopping him from competing, but it’s buying him more time to evaluate his own game. Whether it’s talking to a sports psychologist, shadow boxing or strength and conditioning, the New York native is making adjustments.
The 30-year-old is looking at what comes next by evaluating his past.
“I would say I put myself where I fought their fight instead of using my other tools in my arsenal,” Arce said. “I’m doing whatever I can to make myself a better fighter, so then when I do go in there, I can perform to the best that I can. I love them [fans] and all, but I’m going in there to pretty much put my body on the line.”
Arce’s only two losses inside the octagon came by split decision.
Before coming up short in a back-and-forth affair with Dawodu, his only other promotional defeat came against Sheymon Moraes at UFC 230 on Nov. 3, 2018. He suffered a cut above his right eye, leaving Moraes and Arce covered in his own blood at the end.
Bloodied or not, Arce kept both fights close. It’s a lesson learned after leaving it in the hands of the judges.
“Maybe I just wanted to make it more spectacular, maybe I was focused more on making it for the fans,” Arce said. “If you take the decision, you knockout or submit them, it does not matter, go in there and fight your fight, not their fight.”
Closing the distance
Since his fight with Dawodu, Arce has been seeing a sports psychiatrist to help the mental aspects of MMA.
“I want to try and unlock something,” Arce said. “Maybe I’m doing, I’m not realizing I’m doing while I’m fighting.”
Arce has fought his fight before in the UFC. He just wants to do it more often. He finished Julian Erosa with a head kick in the third round at UFC on ESPN+ 10 on May 18, 2019.
Arce landed two head kicks in the first two rounds against the much taller fighter, but waited patiently to catch Erosa off guard. The moment came with about three minutes left in the bout.
“It was just the matter of seeing it, noticing how he was reacting everytime I hit him,” Arce said. As you start going more into the fight, your body starts to wear down, so then I just threw it there. After my left hand, a left head kick and the one he didn’t see coming is the one that put him out.”
His knockout victory over Erosa was the first fight of two-straight opening night bouts. Arce kicked off UFC 244 against Dawodu, making him the first bout on both New York cards.
The Tiger Schulmann’s Martial Arts fighter is not concerned with where on the card he is. With that being said, Arce says opening cards does have its disadvantages.
“There’s a less chance of getting noticed for a fight bonus or something. Sometimes placement on the card matters, but it also depends on what kind of card you’re fighting under,” Arce said. “I’m just glad I get to fight, I love doing this and eventually my time will come.”
A plan in place
Julio Arce is not risking his well being or the well being of the people he lives with to fight. As a sensei at Tiger Schulmann’s in the Bayside neighborhood of Queens, he continues to teach his students through video chats and message boards.
There is no set time of when Arce will compete, but it will most likely be after the pandemic subsides.
It’s not keeping Arce from preparing. If anything, he only wants to fight more.
He is using this time to perfect his style in the cage.
“We’re kind of in an era where people just want to see straight knockouts, quick submissions, quick finishes and when it goes the distance people get impatient about it. It’s like look, at the end of the day it’s two people in that cage and we got to win our fight how we need to win it,” Arce said. “By the time I fight again, I’ll be ready to go, a whole new level.”