Interview with Luis Saldana above
Luis Saldana has embraced being around some of the biggest names in the sport.
Before earning a UFC contract with a spectacular performance on Dana White’s Contender Series last November, the Iowa native made the move from MMA Lab to Fight Ready. During his time there, Olympic gold medalist and former two-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo has been an influence.
“He’s in there almost like every day,” Saldana revealed to MyMMANews. “He comes in on his own time. He’ll come in, help us out. Wrestle with us. I’ve got a little bit of wrestling with him when he’s come in and wrestled with the team. Gives a lot of good pointers. It’s just great having people like him around in the gym.
“It’s great, man. I get to pick [his] brain. Think about what they say and try to put it into my game. It just helps out with everything.”
From time to time, a contingent of Brazilian fighters drop by the gym and train with the team. Bellator featherweight and lightweight champion Patricio Pitbull was recently in the trenches.
“He was just a big, ole thick dude,” the UFC featherweight said about Pitbull. “I got to grapple with him. He came in and taught the wrestling class. We went with each other and yeah, it’s like next-level stuff when you’re going with a guy like him.
“[It’s] pretty cool when those guys come down from Brazil.”
The 30-year-old Saldana will be making his first trip into the Octagon on April 10 at UFC on ABC 2 in Las Vegas against Jordan Griffin.
The featherweight debutant plans to quit his part-time warehouse job in the near future. Therefore, he is looking to earn a performance bonus so when he decides to dedicate all his time to the sport he will have a safety net.
“I just wanna go out there and perform,” Saldana said. “And put on a good show for the fans, the audience, everyone watching. I think I’ll do that. Once I go out there, start feeling myself and get going.
“I just take it as it comes. Whatever he gives me. I’m a good grappler, too. My striking is really good but my grappling is also really good. I didn’t get to show it in my last fight. But hopefully, in this fight, I get to get a submission or something.”
South Korea-based combat sports reporter that covers many of the major organizations around the world.