After a stretch that saw him fighting every three to four months, bantamweight up and comer John Castaneda has had a nearly seven-month layoff since his last bout.
Originally slated to have his first bout of 2017 in January, Castaneda was forced to drop out of his scheduled bout with Gustavo Lopez in Combate Americas, but feels the time off he has had has helped him in the end.
“My last (fight) was at the end of October, so this will be about seven months, and honestly it has been kind of a blessing,” Castaneda told MMAWeekly.com. “I’ve had some nagging injuries between my camps that I’ve been able to heal up.
Castaneda credits his time at The Academy in Minnesota as being a big reason he was able to use his time off constructively.
“I have a really good coaching staff and awesome training partners that absolutely just beat me up,” said Castaneda. “I think that’s what you need. I think that’s what everybody needs.
“There’s no point in being the big fish in the lake, so to speak. If you’re the best in the gym, you’re really not getting better. Fortunately for me, I have a gym full of beasts in all categories.”
Castaneda (12-2) will finally have his first bout of 2017 when he takes on former UFC vet Chris Beal (10-4) in a main card 135-pound at Combate Americas 14 on Friday in Ventura, Calif.
“I think that the key to victory against (Beal) is to push the pace and just out-wrestle him,” Castaneda said. “I know he’s a good boxer, but I’m at an all-time high right now in terms of confidence in my stand-up. I’m not opposed to standing up, beating him the feet, and finish the fight.
“He’s coming off a four-fight skid. I’m sorry, but when someone’s losing four fights in a row, they’re used to losing now, they’ve accepted defeat. I haven’t accepted defeat for three years now, and I’m not going to accept defeat on Cinco de Mayo.”
For Castaneda, making up for lost time is a big part of what he wants to achieve in 2017.
“This year’s goals aren’t any different than previous years’ goals,” said Castaneda. “I just want to keep winning my fights. I want to have at least three to four fights. It’s kind of late starting in May, but hopefully I can squeeze in at least three.
“Obviously I just want to keep the ball rolling; keep winning fights; and hopefully get some eyes on me. I just want to keep fighting the best in the world.”