Ricky Calatayud, fighting out of El Centro, California, competes out of the flyweight division, holds a professional record of 14-2 and has won all his fourteen victories consecutively. Still with big aspirations in his career, Calatayud talks with MyMMANews so you can find out more about his career here.
First of all, how did you get into MMA?
“In 2005 my friend had been fighting in Tijuana, Mexico to earn extra cash. So, I began to help him in the process. I wrestled at a young age so, training came naturally to me. I came from a single-family home and I was trying to get myself through college so I decided to take a leap into fighting to earn extra cash on the side while trying to earn a degree. The extra cash helped because I successfully graduated from my local junior College IVC with an Associates in Science and then moved on to California State University Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Biology.”
Is MMA your full-time job or are you working somewhere else as well?
“I have always put MMA as a high priority in my life. Trying to make my dream a reality outweighs any job in the world. But, unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to the point where I can quit my day job. I am currently employed by a company named MTC and I work as a Detention Officer. But after work hours, MMA becomes my full-time job.”
Can you explain who you train with and how you came across the camp? Also, who are your sparring partners?
“My intentions of training in one gym have never been ideal for me. As a fighter, I feel that I get more out of training in different gyms. I’ve learned different skills and most importantly, different mindsets. Not having much money while attending college allowed me to train in different gyms and attending their open mats / open sparring session / one-time trial, and deals. My skills, motivation, and drive have allowed people to open their doors for me. Over the years I have attended boxing gyms (Str8-up Boxing/ Sparta Boxing), jiu-jitsu schools (Viper Jitsu/ Kombat Sports/ Morales Jitsu/ 10th Planet Jitsu), college wrestling (East LA College/ Alhambra High/ Central High/ Southwest High), Muay Thia schools (Vo Sci/ California Kickboxing), and MMA gyms (So Cal MMA/ San Diego Combat Academy / Shaolin kung fu Fiveanimals/ Yuma United Mixed Martial Arts). All the gyms I attend have high-level athletes in their designated area so I have to be at my best in that area. I have sparred with World Champion Boxers ( Alfredo “Perro” Angulo/ Diego de la Hoya), wrestled against high-level wrestlers but in the MMA scene, I’ve sparred against Dominick Cruz, Liz Carmouche (helped corner for UFC 157), and Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (Bellator 125 Champion) and shared some leather with Kevin Gastelum as well. I have always respected my sparring partners and was very appreciative of their time given to me.”
How is the cut to 125? What is your favorite thing to eat before a weight cut?
“My weight cut to 125 is actually fairly easy. My walk around weight is 134 on a good day, no higher than 136. I have a fairly healthy eating lifestyle. I really don’t have a favorite thing or a must have before weight cut. As long as it’s healthy and nutritional, I’m game. That’s what matters the most. Every once in a while I’ll sneak in a slice of cake or something, but during weight cuts, I’m strict. I would never disrespect an organization nor disrespect my opponent by missing weight.”
You are 35 years old. How do you feel and how much do you feel like you got in the tank?
“I have never felt better in my life and feel as if I am in my prime. I feel sharper than before and my fight IQ has increased due to all my past experiences. There are plenty of fighters my age and older who are still making a lot of noise. I still have the goal of being a UFC champion one day and I have plenty in the tank to go the distance.”
You lost your first two fights but have gone on to win your next 14. What was going through your mind coming off two losses in your very first two fights? Also, what adjustments did you make and what did you learn from the losses?
“My first two fights were a rude awakening for me, psychologically and physically. I asked myself if this was the sport for me. I questioned whether it was worth all the hard work I had put in and whether losing in front of friends and family was worth the risk. After those losses, my mindset changed. It pushed me to better understand the game of MMA and that I could not be a one-dimensional fighter. Fighting is a very egocentric sport so you have to believe in yourself. After my two losses, I told myself I will never lose again and that I would become a champion one day. From that point on I trained for every fight as if I was fighting in the WEC, because at the time that was the only venue catering to 135ers and 125ers. In 2012, every fight was statured to me as if it was a UFC fight. I believe that’s why I had managed to finish all my opponents in the first round. I became very tactical and aggressive in style of fighting.”
You were supposed to fight for the Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series last season. You had to pull out due to injury. What caused the injury and how did you feel being so close to an opportunity but not getting your shot?
“First of all, I would like to give a big thank you to Mr. White and Mr. Maynard for considering me. There is not one day that goes by that I am not thankful that I was given that opportunity. Much love, Thank you guys! ‘Some changes look negative on the surface, but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.’- Eckhart Tolle. That is one of my favorite quotes by Mr.Tolle. When I got the call from my manager to fight in the DWTNCS I was actually in the hospital, due to my wife having a 6th-month miscarriage. At the time my mind was somewhere else but this phone call changed my life. Something that I had worked so hard for, I couldn’t say no to. As humans, we always try to find outlets in life, for negative distractions. So, I began to train hard and put in long hours to get ready for this show. Due to my overtraining, I managed to get injured. Don’t get me wrong, I have fought hurt before but not injured. A month before the venue I called my manager and told him I was injured. I told him I would still take the fight if he wanted me too but he said, “NO”. He said going into that fight with an injury wouldn’t be smart so, I took his advice with a grain of salt. Even though I didn’t get a chance to fight I am still very appreciative of the opportunity. I understand that opportunities like that don’t happen every day. It took me 12 years to get that call but I don’t live my life in regrets nor do I look to the past, I like to live my life in the present. As Mr. Tolle states in the quote, there might be something greater for me in the future.”
What makes you a different fighter from everyone else?
“Well by DNA we’re all different and I like to relate that to fighting. Everyone has their own unique style and mentality behind fighting. As for me, what I believe makes me different is my persona. Like I had said before, in the fight game you must have a big ego. I know when and where to control that ego. A lot of fighters talk about their past accomplishments rather than taking them as lessons. I believe that is their ego talking. I am also different because of the way I see my life revolving around fighting. I try to live in the present moment and sharpen my fight skills as well as my overall life. If I were to compare my fight style to anyone else, I would say I am a mixture of Eddie Alvarez and Roger Huerta. Both fighters show a lot of heart and it’s hard to find that during a fight.”
I know your desire to compete in the UFC. If Dana was in front of you and you had to state your claim, what would you tell him?
“I have said this to my manager and myself plenty of times, “My heart is with the UFC”. That’s the only organization I see myself competing in. I have refused fights with big organizations before because my heart and motivation are to step into the UFC octagon. If Mr. White or Mr. Maynard were in front of me, I would honestly want to plead and beg them to give me a chance to be a new face of the 125 weight division. In reality, I would try to maintain my composure and say that I know I could make some noise in the division and bring a new fan base to the UFC. I know I could also work my way up the rankings to become a UFC champion one day. Two weeks’ notice, one week notice, 3-day notice, or 1-day notice, let me be your guy. I’m ready to show the world who I am and give off some exciting fights.”
What is your end goal MMA?
“’You cannot do anything of great success if this is about you.’ – Shawn Stevenson. I love this quote from Shawn Stevenson (Model Health Show) because it explains it all. A small part of my end goal to is ultimate to retire as a UFC fighter. However, the bigger part of my end goal is to inspire others just as I have been inspired throughout my fight journey. I think about the people that have influenced me during this journey, coaches, manager, friends, coworkers, and most of all family. I want others to see that it’s ok to set big goals for yourself. I want people to see that getting to your goal is full of ups and downs and it will not be easy but it will be worth all the sacrifice. I don’t see an end goal in MMA for me, because it was never about me. It was always about the people around me.”
Skittles or M&M’s?
“Honestly, I try to stay away from candies and stuff like that, but if I had to pick, it would have to be Peanut M&M’s.”