by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Luke “Lil Hulk” Caudillo is one of those fighters that seem to get better with time. During the course of his six-year MMA career, Caudillo – through hard work and perseverance – has improved his lot in the sport and now appears to be on the verge of a breakout year.
Case in point is this past weekend’s Ring of Fire 29 event in Broomfield, Colorado where Luke went toe-to-toe with highly regarded Dennis “Piranha” Davis and pulled of an impressive split-decision victory.
Just a few years ago it would have been highly possible for Caudillo to lose such a tough, three-round fight, but instead Luke shined, earning the victory, adding it to his current four-fight winning streak.
Not one to waste time, Caudillo was back in the gym less than 48 hours later to continue his evolution from being a gatekeeper-type fighter into becoming one of the Midwest’s hottest prospects, ready to make his big league MMA breakthrough.
“I felt pretty good about it,” said Luke of his win at Ring of Fire 29. “It was a big fight for me because Dennis Davis is no joke, he’s a tough fighter. By the second round, after I threw some heavy punches on him, I knew he was a game fighter and he was going to stand and trade with me for the whole three rounds.”
Caudillo continued, “[During the course of the fight] I threw a straight right and dropped him on the canvas, and I threw a big flurry at the end and he had no response. So, you know, I didn’t think it was going to be a split decision, but I came out with a win.”
With the victory, Luke is currently riding high on an impressive winning streak, which is in stark contrast to the beginning of his career that saw him lose four of his first seven fights.
According to Caudillo, recent decisions and new training partners have helped him raise his game and have helped lead to his recent success.
“I’m looking to make a splash in the sport,” exclaimed Luke. “I came out here to Denver to train with Duane [Ludwig], Nate [Marquardt], Eliot [Marshall] and all those guys, so I’m ready to make my name and be recognized. Rolling with top-rated guys every day and hanging with them is definitely a confidence builder.”
“I [also] think it took me making a commitment to myself and saying, ‘This is what I want to do, be a fighter.’ I’m not juggling a job anymore, I’m just straight training and fighting, so I think that’s really what’s been the positive for me, training and going into fights now,” added Caudillo.
As for what’s next for Luke, he feels he can continue to be successful where he’s at, but is also hoping to make his jump up to the national circuit very soon.
“I’ve been doing stuff with Ring of Fire ever since the start of my career; I started my career with them, so definitely I’m always going to be loyal to them,” stated Caudillo. “But if someone wants to get me, I’m definitely a game fighter. I’ve never backed down from a fight yet, so I don’t plan on starting now that I’m on a winning streak.”
Luke further commented, “I’d like to look at the WEC or UFC. I’ve been fighting since 2001, so I’m looking to get my name out there and get on some other organizations. So hopefully something big happens, we’ll see. As long as the money keeps getting better, I don’t care where I go. [Laughs]”
Wherever he ends up, Caudillo knows that the crowd can expect a great fight and he urges them to keep an eye out for him in the coming year.
“I just want everyone to know that I appreciate my team back home in North Platte [Nebraska], and my team now – Eliot, Duane, Cody, T’s KO, Nate Marquardt’s High Altitude Martial Arts, and just a ton of guys that have helped me out,” said Luke. “Thanks to my sponsors: Cool Tattoo, CA Technology, Club 3, and LA Boxing in Westminster.”
“To the fans, if you see the ‘Lil Hulk’s’ name on the card, you’re going to see some bombs thrown, I guarantee you,” concluded Caudillo.