U.S Soldier on the Rise in MMA: Manny Walo to Make WSOF Debut
Manny Walo is a warrior both in and outside of the cage. The 27-year old fighter from New Jersey is an active-duty Sergeant in the U.S Army National Guard, serving seven years and counting. Walo has grown up with a strong heart and has only become stronger both mentally and physically with his military experience, and has transitioned this strength into the world of mixed martial arts. Walo has a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under BJJ black belt Jamal Patterson, and also trains in Muay Thai under James Meals.
Losing in his professional debut, the last thing on Walo’s mind was quitting. Instead, Walo learned from the fight, and with help from his teammates and support from his family, he has not lost since that debut in December 2011, going six wins with one draw, amassing an overall record of 6-1-1.
George Portoulas from My MMA News had the opportunity to talk with the CFFC veteran about the military, and his rise to the national level of mixed martial arts competition, earning a spot on the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) fight card in Bethlehem, PA on September 13.
My MMA News: Manny thanks for the chance to catch up with you, we know you are very busy with training on your up coming fight. How is training going?
Manny Walo: Training is going extremely well. I am getting alot of help preparing for this fight from my teammates at AllStar BJJ, Team Renzo Gracie. A lot of these guys will be fighting on the card with me too. This is one of my best camps I have had and I am ready to go.
MMN: Who are some of the guys helping you in the gym that will be on the card?
MW: Lot of guys on the team helping me prepare. We have many on this card like Marlon Moraes (main event), Ozzy Dugulubgov, Frankie Perez, Luciano Cristovam to name a few.
Manny with the win at CFFC (photo courtesy of CFFC and Manny Walo’s facebook)
MMN: You were competing in the CFFC, one of the best organizations in the east coast, and are now going to make your debut with the World Series of Fighting, what does this fight mean to you?
MW: It was a great experience fighting in CFFC, they are one of the biggest promotions out here in the east coast. It means a lot to me to have the chance now to compete on the national level to display my skill set and to challenge myself even more.
MMN: Is this a multi-fight deal with the WSOF, or a one-fight contract?
MW: This is a one-fight deal. I am looking at it as an audition. I need to win and perform well so I can be brought back to the organization and make a name for myself at this stage.
Walo emerging victorious (photo courtesy of www.westernmassmma.com / Manny Walo’s facebook page)
MMN: You started off your professional mixed martial arts debut with a loss by judge’s decision. Since then, you have been undefeated in your last seven bouts going 6-0-1. What do you feel the key to this successful unbeaten streak has been?
MW: Hard work and dedication. I learned a lot from my first loss and I have no regrets. I took the fight at middleweight (185 pounds) and since then I have moved down to welterweight (170 pounds) which is a more comfortable division for me. My teammates have pushed me hard through my career.
MMN: You have fought at welterweight since your debut, is weight cutting real hard for you or are you used to it now?
MW: I cut weight safely and it is not hard. I have to thank many of my sponsor Meal Plans to Go with helping with my diet.I am a big welterweight fighter.
MMN: How much do you cut to get to welterweight?
MW: I walk around 195-200 pounds and cut to 170 for my fights. Fighting at 170 is more comfortable for my height at 5’11”.
High Kick (photo courtesy of Manny Walo’s facebook page)
MMN: Your opponent is Tenyeh Dixon, a seasoned vet with 21 professional fights under his belt (11-10). What do you know about your opponent?
MW: I don’t know much about my opponent. No idea what his strength and weaknesses are. All I know is he is taller about 6’3” or 6’4”. I don’t look at records, I feel he is a tough opponent and will be ready to fight. I am not worried about him though, I can only worry about myself and prepare for this fight.
MMN: So what do you feel your strengths are going into this fight?
MW: I have tenacity, always pushing the fight and looking for the finish. I will not stop one second and I will always push the pace. I have will power and heart, I have been like that growing up and built a strong mentality from the army.
MMN: How do you see this fight going?
MW: My way. I am confident in my stand up game, I had 11 kick boxing matches. On the ground I train with All American grapplers, top wrestlers and BJJ guys helping me. Stand up striking or on the ground, I see my hand being raised with a victory.
MMN: So you also did some kick boxing? Amateur or Pro?
MW: I had 11 fights as an amateur (kick boxer) going 9-2. I was training army combatives, and I needed to learn striking so I joined a kick boxing gym and went from there. I still work on Muay Thai with my instructor James Meals.
MMN: Would you like to go back to compete in kick boxing someday?
MW: I enjoyed kick boxing and had a good experience. I want to now focus on my mixed martial arts career.
Good night (photo courtesy of CFFC / Manny Walo’s facebook page)
MMN: Not to look past your opponent by any means, what are your future goals in mma?
MW: I am obsessive so I am only focused on my opponent for now. I am only focused on this promotion for now. Ideally I want to keep moving up and making it to the highest possible levels. I am thankful for the chance the WSOF is giving me right now.
MMN: You were telling me earlier about your background experience in mma, and how about your military experience?
MW: I have been in the U.S Army National Guard for seven years, still active.
Walo overseas, he spent a year in Iraq (courtesy Manny Walo’s facebook page)
MMN: What was your most memorable experience so far in the US Army?
MW: Deploying to Iraq for a year training military police. It’s a different world out there with the culture. It was a life changing experience and I had the chance to meet new people. I was able to save money and take care of a lot of things back home. I had a great group deploy with me.
MMN: That is amazing. We thank you for serving and protecting our country.
MW: Thank you, I appreciate it man.
MMN: Where can our readers follow you via social media Manny?
MW: Everywhere, on Twitter @MannyNWalo Instagram ArmyFighter05 Facebook Manny N Walo and my fan page on facebook is Manny Walo.
September 13 at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center: Manny Walo makes his WSOF debut against Tenyeh Dixon.
MMN: Thanks again Manny for the chance to catch up. Any sponsors you want to thank?
MW: I want to thank All Star BJJ and Team Renzo for prepping me for this fight, my coaches Jamal Patterson and James Meals, my family and girlfriend for all of their support in this. Enlisted Listed 9 Fight company, Nue Resource Funding, Meals plan to go, Nutrition Zone Sparta.
World Series of Fighting will take place at the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA on September 13, 2014.