For fans of mixed martial arts that are looking for the next big thing, look no further than the current King of the Cage (KOTC) middleweight champion, Joey “The Dreamsmasher” Villasenor. A team member under Greg Jackson’s fight camp, Villasenor has long been ranked as one of the top 185lb fighters in the world and is poised to make waves in that weight class in the very near future. Villasenor sat down with MMAWeekly to give us some information on his background and his future in MMA.
MMAWeekly.com: How did you get into mixed martial arts?
Joey Villasenor: I got my start about ten years ago that was the first time I witnessed ultimate fighting, I think it was UFC 3. It was on videotape, I wasn’t at the live event. I believe Pat Smith had just mauled this human being and just knocked him out, pretty brutally. I was an athlete, baseball, football, track, all when I was growing up. Seeing actually two men, converge in a fight, kind of like scared me senseless. I mean every man likes to think he can hold his ground pretty good, and when I saw two athletes going at it fiercely, blow by blow, it scared me into learning self defense. It kind of woke me up a little bit that maybe I’m not as tough as I think I am. So I started taking self defense classes, and after that Jiu-Jitsu started hitting the market, I was cross training right at the beginning, I was striking and doing jiu-jitsu. Basically, I wanted to compete against other martial artists, and figured out I was pretty good at it. So now that’s what I do full time and its great.
MMAWeekly.com: How did you get in with Greg Jackson’s camp?
Joey Villasenor: I’ve been cross training with Mr. Jackson for about the last 2 ½ to 3 years. I’ve been training full time for a year. I was based out of Farmington with Team Four Corners. We just came upon the assumption that it would be best for my career to come out this way to train full time with this team. My wife transferred her job down here, and I basically quit my job of 6 years to pursue my dream as a mixed martial artist and so far it’s been the right choice.
MMAWeekly.com: What kind of improvement and what kind of difference has training under Greg Jackson made for your game?
Joey Villasenor: On an honest and serious note, up there in Farmington we really got a basic background of standing and groundwork. We didn’t have the pool of guys to pull from. In Farmington we really didn’t have an extensive training program. Basically with my job and the other guys having jobs, it was hard to have an extensive training program. I did know however that when I came down here it would be more systematic. You know running and stand-up and jiu jitsu, and Mr. Jackson basically opened up my ground game. Everybody knows that I’m a striker, on the ground I was really defensive. My whole thing was striking, and now I’m more aggressive on the ground, passing, going for submissions. I would say my ground game has improved at least 40 to 50% more, as far as technique and the training method that he’s opened my eyes to. Overall my game has improved at least 40% and that’s a lot to say in just the last year. (Mr. Jackson) is just so into learning and history and warfare. He just knows so much about warfare and he just adds it onto his system. He’s a very creative human being and very gifted in teaching.
MMAWeekly.com: So you’ve been fighting in King of the Cage for the last few years, you’re their middleweight champion, tell us about you’re last couple of fights there. (Villasenor fought twice in one week, versus Michael Gonzalez in New Mexico and against Damien Riccio in England)
Joey Villasenor: Well, the one here in Albuquerque was more of a grudge match. Basically someone from within the state had challenged me and he wanted to see where he stood as an athlete compared to me. I ended up winning at 1:38 I believe by TKO. I was able to show off my kickboxing skills which a lot of people don’t know I have. They just know I have good hands. I dropped my opponent with a roundhouse to the face and then mount him and ended it with punches. Damien Riccio is a tough Frenchman out of the U.K. fighting scene and I give him credit for really wanting to step up and see what kind of an athlete he was on that side of the world. He was able to get me on the ground and into side control. I was able to get my feet along the cageside and bridge out of there and reverse my opponent and continued to try to pass his guard. I proceeded to open the guard up with punches, he dropped his guard a little, I knew I hurt him. I threw some more punches and I knocked him out, I believe it was at 1:54 of the 1st round. I love being KOTC middleweight champ. I’ve earned it over the past few years.
MMAWeekly.com: There were a lot of rumors floating around about you in Pride. Are we going to see you there anytime in the near future?
Joey Villasenor: Right now the KOTC organization is working on that. It sounds like they’re really trying to push me out there. And we’re hoping by late this year we get the opportunity to show them what kind of champion KOTC has. I’m 18-3, my 3 losses were at the beginning of my career. If people really take a look at me, there’s a lot to offer. I just hope that Pride or one of the other Japanese organizations will take a look at me. The UFC has called me a couple of times to fight for them, and that’s always much appreciated to be called on from them. As of right now we’re really pushing for the Pride deal, we have a couple of people involved in the UFC, and we just want to open up some doors in some other places.
MMAWeekly.com: In the 185lb division, how do you see yourself matched up against some of the top ten competition?
Joey Villasenor: I think everybody that’s seen me fight would rank me right up there with anybody. I’m not fearful, I’m ready. It would be an honor to compete against those guys. But I feel that I’m the snake in the grass, I’m the underdog. If anybody’s seen me fight and they know how I prepare, whoever I’m matched up against better be ready for a war.
MMAWeekly.com: What’s the next fight for you, anything signed yet?
Joey Villasenor: We currently have a fight scheduled 6 weeks away, which is going to be a KOTC pay per view. I believe it’s August 5th against Jorge Santiago, who lost to one of my teammates, Diego Sanchez for the 170lb belt about a year ago. He moved up a weight class and wants to fight against me at 185. We’ve done lots of homework and I’ve got the best scout on my team in Diego Sanchez, since he’s fought him. We really look forward to this fight. Jorge Santiago is a great athlete and at 170 I heard he was just having a hard time cutting it, so he’s decided to jump up into my weight class and we honor that. We’ll be prepared for him. It should be the main event on the August 5th pay per view.
MMAWeekly.com: One last question: You’ve got one of the best nicknames in all of MMA, “The Dreamsmasher”, where did that come from?
Joey Villasenor: That nickname came from the fact that everybody’s given a nickname and basically me and my wife were throwing names around. We really wanted a name that would stand out. A name that stands with my fighting style. If you’ve watched a number of my fights, you know I knock people out, or if not they leaved bloody and bruised and it’s not a nice looking aftershot of my opponents. “Dreamsmasher” came from the fact that every fighter has a dream, and I have a dream and when you come in to fight me, it’s my mentality that you’re not going to smash my dream, I’m coming to smash yours.
MMAWeekly.com: Thanks for your time Joey, any final words?
Joey Villasenor: Yeah, I’d like to say thanks to my sponsors, Warriorwear.com, Fairtex, Define Fitness, and Fitness Massage. And thanks to the fans.