by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
As the fallout from the shutdown of EliteXC continues, some of the fighters hardest hit by this news were the competitors for the upcoming Nov. 8 show in Nevada. None may have taken a bigger hit than top middleweight contender Joey Villasenor, who for the second time in just three months had the rug pulled out from under his fight schedule.
Originally set to be a part of the Sept. 20 show that was eventually canceled as well, Villasenor was gearing up for a rematch against Robbie Lawler on Nov. 8, but now that fight has been scrapped as well.
“Yesterday my manager called me and he said I have some bad news for you and I said, ‘Robbie Lawler got hurt?’ and he said, ‘No, it’s worse than that, Elite folded,’” Villasenor told MMAWeekly.com in an exclusive interview. “I knew that they were in turmoil, but I was really banking on Nov. 8 happening.
“I felt good going into the fight that I would beat the No. 3 ranked middleweight in the world and have a great plan for my future, but these things happen and now we just have to prepare for what’s next.”
Villasenor disclosed in the interview that he only had one fight left on his existing EliteXC contract and was hopeful to renegotiate a better deal after his fight with Lawler. Now, much like EliteXC welterweight champion Jake Shields, he is hopeful to get out of whatever legal bind his current deal holds him to so he can hit the free agent market.
After dealing with such a tumultuous situation at EliteXC, Villasenor said there are certain priorities that will play into his decision to sign with another promotion.
“It’s basically job security,” Villasenor commented about whatever company he signs with next. “I want to go to a company that’s going to take care of you. We’re not millionaires and most everybody knows that us MMA guys are in it because we love it and it’s a dream to do something you love and get paid doing it.”
As far as security in the MMA business, there may be no better place than the UFC and their growing stable of fighters, which Villasenor knows all too well training with Greg Jackson and his group of fighters including UFC stand-outs like Rashad Evans, Keith Jardine, Nate Marquardt and of course welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre.
“I would love to be on the same circuit with them and it’s always been a dream of mine to compete in the UFC, but right now I just really don’t know what’s going to happen, what the stipulations are, but if they’re real close to giving me a full opportunity then I’d love to go over there,” stated Villasenor.
As far as his past dealings with EliteXC, the New Mexico based fighter commented that overall it was a positive experience, but did say that there were people in the company that he “will no longer have associations with, and didn’t feel comfortable around.”
He also said that for all the talk about the executives at EliteXC, they were a group he rarely dealt with during his time with the promotion.
“The Shaws and all the higher-ups, I had nothing in common with those people,” said Villasenor. “The people that I got to see the most were the photographers, the people who helped show you around, gave you your per diem. I have a lot of friends that work for Elite and it was a great experience for me.”
Villasenor again stressed that his future must be met with stability and after having two fights canceled in just three months, the sooner he can settle his next deal to fight, the better.
“As soon as possible,” Villasenor said about fighting next. “I’m extremely bummed out that I’m looking at a possible 8 to 12 months of inactivity. That really bothers me. The lifetime in this sport is so small and to have you take a whole year off, that hurts, that’s bad.”