Team Alpha Male lightweight Danny Castillo was expected to face Isaac Vallie-Flagg at UFC 172 on Saturday, but Vallie-Flagg was removed from the bout in favor or a match-up with Takanori Gomi. Castillo was then lined up to face Charlie Brenneman.
“I found out probably about five weeks ago. It totally changed things up. I was really excited about the Isaac fight for a couple of reasons. He’s an exciting fighter. He likes to sit in the pocket and bang. I have been working with Bang Ludwig, so I was excited to show off my stand-up skills,” Castillo told MMAWeekly.com recently.
“But it’s kind of cool that I’m not fighting him because Isaac is a cool guy and I really like him. He’s a really good person I feel like. I’ve never met him, but we’re friends electronically on Twitter. And he seems like a really good guy, so I’m glad the fight didn’t go through,” added the 34-year-old athlete about the opponent change.
Castillo doesn’t know Brenneman and that’s the way he likes it.
“I don’t know Charlie. I don’t know anything about Charlie besides the fact that he’s a fighter. I don’t know him personally. We’re not friends on Twitter. I don’t have teammates that are friends with him either. So it’s completely different. It’s the way I like fights. There’s nothing personal. It’s just all business,” he said.
When asked what a win over Brenneman would do for his career, Castillo’s answer was a bit of a surprise.
“That’s the one thing. I don’t think a win over Charlie Brenneman is going to do anything to boost my stock. Charlie Brenneman is very good at what he does. He’s a wrestler. He makes fights ugly. That’s what he does and he’s very successful at it. These days it’s really hard to be a one-dimensional fighter and be successful. And Charlie Brenneman has been able to do it,” said Castillo.
“He’s fought some of the biggest names in the sport: Johny Hendricks, Anthony Johnson, Rick Story. The list goes on — Erik Silva. The guy has fought the who’s who of welterweights and now he’s dropping down to lightweight. Besides the fact that he’s fought those big names, I don’t think it’s necessarily going to do anything for my stock in the division. Although a loss to Charlie Brenneman would hurt my career a lot. A loss to Brenneman would definitely hurt my stock,” he added.
Castillo has been fighting professionally since 2007. Saturday will be his nineteenth fight under the Zuffa banner. His fight with Brenneman kicks off the preliminary card on FOX Sports 1. He’s looking to make an impression on the viewers and begin a rise to the top of the 155-pound weight class.
“I’ve been in the game a long time. This will be my eighteenth or nineteenth fight with Zuffa. And I feel like I still don’t get the recognition that I deserve. I try not to focus on that, but in the back of my head it’s like I’ve fought some of the biggest names in the sport. I beat Ricardo Lamas. I beat Dustin Poirier. I’ve fought Donald Cerrone. I’ve fought Anthony Pettis. Those are some of the baddest lightweights in the world. I’m still not anywhere where I want to be. It’s kind of frustrating. But now I get the opportunity to show hundreds of thousands of people how good I am on FOX Sports 1,” said the 34-year-old.
Castillo will be looking to finish Brenneman, but will settle for a hard-fought win.
“I expect to win. I expect to be the best Danny Castillo I have been,” he said. “I’m just looking to win. I want to be on the winning track. I’m looking to make a push. Everything right now is good. My jiu-jitsu is good. My striking is good. Physically I’m in the best shape of my life. And Mentally, I’m so focused. I’m ready.”