GLENDALE, Ariz. – Say you’re a stellar grappler, and you’ve got a guy who’s known for packing a serious punch in front of you.
Sure, you can always try to prove a point by taking it upon yourself to test him where he’s best. But there’s a more logical, or at least safer, strategy to take. And that’s the one Antonio Carlos Junior (10-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) wanted to take in his UFC on FOX 29 meeting with fellow middleweight Tim Boetsch (21-12 MMA, 12-11 UFC).
“I knew I had to move, keep far from the hand because he hits very hard,” Carlos Junior said after Saturday’s main-card bout, which aired on FOX from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., near Phoenix. “And he knocks a lot of people out. So I knew I’ve got to move, throw my jab, keep the distance, in the right moment put him down and go for a submission. That’s what I did and it worked.”
That, it did. Carlos Junior didn’t even need full five minutes to do it, either, locking in the fight-finishing rear-naked choke at the 4:28 mark of Round 1. But that doesn’t mean he was entirely out of harm’s way, considering there was a bit of playing with fire on the feet early on.
Carlos Junior wasn’t really wearing too much damage after eating a big rirght hand, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t feeling it.
“I’m feeling a little dizzy,” Carlos Junior said with a smile. “He hit me really hard. He hits hard.”
But Carlos Junior still feels pretty great about the win. And considering he’s now on a five-fight winning streak – all but one of the wins coming via submission – one can certainly see why.
Carlos Junior won’t go so far as to say this was the most important win of his career, which also involved a “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” title that he won over fellow UFC middleweight Vitor Miranda. But it was certainly one of them, over a man whom he considers “a legend.”
It still wasn’t big enough to elicit a callout from Carlos Junior, who has no names in mind. As someone who’s moved by challenges, that’s all he wants. But, you know, there’s always something to sweeten the pot.
“If it’s a top-10, top-five (opponent), I don’t know, it would be better, for sure,” Carlos Junior said with a laugh. “I want to be a champion. And to be the champion, you have to be the best. So that’s what I want.”
Slowly – and politely – but surely, Carlos Junior has been making his way to the top. From the slightly rocky early UFC stretch that saw him take two wins, two losses and a no-contest in five bouts, Carlos Junior has certainly come a long way.
And we haven’t seen it all just yet.
“Everybody can improve,” Carlos Junior. “I’m learning every day at the gym. I started training MMA in 2013. In 2014, I was on ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ I won the show. But I still have a lot to do. A lot to learn. I have only, what, 12 fights? Thirteen now. All my career was in the UFC, between the lions.
“I feel I have a lot to improve, but I feel I’m ready for everybody. I feel I can beat everybody. Just keep my mind doing the right thing. Keep working with my team, Din Thomas and everybody at American Top Team. I feel I’m on the right way.”
To hear more from Carlos Junior, check out the video above.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: UFC on FOX 29's Antonio Carlos Junior still sees a lot to improve on, but 'I’m ready for everybody'