High expectations have followed Billy Evangelista for much of the past couple of years.
Considered one of Strikeforce’s premier up and coming prospects, Evangelista has featured prominently on the promotion’s Challengers Series events as well is one of only a couple fighters from that imprint to be included in the recent EA Sports: MMA video game.
In return, Evangelista has performed up to the expectations, carrying a perfect 10-0 record into Friday’s Challengers Series event where he will be taking on Waachiim Spiritwolf in a fight that could very well be his last before moving up to the main Strikeforce show next year.
“I feel that I’ve been doing well in Strikeforce and I should be getting up to the bigger show after this against bigger name guys,” Evangelista told MMAWeekly.com.
Even with the prospects of moving up to the big show looming, Evangelista says he is not looking past his opponent on Friday.
“I don’t underestimate Waachiim,” he said. “It’s MMA and I can train as hard as I can and one punch, kick or mistake and I’m done.
“I’m not taking him lightly, I’m going to be very careful, but at the same time I’m very confident in my skills and my training camp that I’ve done. I’m anxious to go out there and show it off.”
One aspect in particular that Evangelista hopes to showcase in Friday’s fight is his developing leg strength.
“Just pretty much my lower body I thought was a little bit weak, so I decided to make it a strong point,” stated Evangelista.
“I’ve been doing a lot of uphill running wile dragging tires, lifting tires, doing squats, leg extensions, leg curls and a lot of calf raises as well and it’s paying off well. I feel the power every time I kick, so I should be able to do some damage in my next fight.”
As for the pressure of fighting in front of his hometown crowd in a match-up he’s expected to win and use to catapult him to the next level, Evangelista says it all goes away when the cage door closes.
“I like to keep my mind blank and just go in the fight,” he said. “Yeah, there is a little bit of pressure, but by fight time it’s pretty much gone and I’m just reacting (to my opponent).”
And from there it appears that both Evangelista and Strikeforce are on the same page.
“I want to get out of this fight, get to the bigger show and start fighting opponents there and end up getting the belt,” he stated. “I want to continue my winning streak and hopefully whoever the champion is at the time, Gilbert (Melendez), or whoever and try to get that belt.”
While he’s had high expectations on his shoulders for quite some time, Evangelista has always shown that he’s ready to meet said expectations, and in doing so, make a name for himself his way. And it appears that doesn’t seem in jeopardy of changing any time soon.
“I want to thank Stealth Armor, Chin Chek, Redwave Tattoo, Southeast Fresno Boxing Club, Heidi and my management at Zinkin, Strikeforce for having me back again, and my coaches who have been putting in a lot of work with me in training,” concluded Evangelista.
“To the fans, come check us out, it’s going to me, Lavar (Johnson), and a lot of our other teammates fighting on this card, so come and watch the fights and support us. I’m going to go after this fight, get back in the gym and get ready for the next one.”