by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At this past Saturday’s Strikeforce event at the famed Playboy Mansion, 135-pound show opener Anthony Figueroa was looking to do more than just show up, earn a paycheck and maybe cohort with some of the Playmates afterwards – he was looking to make a statement.

At the 2:09 mark of the very first round, Figueroa did just that, dropping and finishing his opponent, Miguel Linares, staring the show off with a resounding salvo.

“It was a good win for me,” said Anthony of his victory over Linares. “He was a little bit bigger, taller, and heavier (than I was). He tried to stand up and I caught him when we got in with the clinch and got the big KO. It was nice to start off the fights like that over at The Mansion.”

For Figueroa, his win on Saturday represents the first fight of his young career he was able to finish an opponent and not have to go to a decision – an important occurrence in any young fighter’s career and a welcome change from the norm according to Anthony.

“Those decision fights are fun fights, they’re action-packed, but it felt really good to just get in there and get out in the first round,” commented Figueroa with a chuckle, “and, I think the crowd enjoyed it too. I know I liked it, and I could use a couple more of those, that would be nice.”

Getting such a convincing win was not only important to Anthony’s blossoming career, but it was also important for him to have a good showing and get back on the winning track, after having lost to fellow up-and-comer Chris Cariaso at June’s Strikeforce event.

“It was important because it was the first Strikeforce at The Mansion,” said Figueroa. “First of all, it was a big show with a lot of people watching, plus I was the opening fight, so I wanted to really set a good tone.”

Anthony added, “From losing to Chris, I just went back to the gym and trained harder, tried to put on some weight. So I hit the weights and put on a couple of pounds of muscle. So I felt strong. I didn’t feel so bad when I lost to Chris, it was a good fight.”

Raising his record to 3-1, Figueroa looks to continue his development as a fighter and stay busy in the cage as the year winds down.

“I think I’m still learning, learning every day,” explained Anthony. “I’m getting more experience in the cage. I’m feeling more comfortable, so it really helps. After a couple of fights, you can hit the gym and work on the specific areas that you think you need work on. It helps a lot.”

“I know there’s a Strikeforce show coming up, here in November, at the HP (Pavilion in San Jose) and I’m looking forward to trying to get on that card. I’m glad Strikeforce brought me back at the Mansion. That was the only 135-pound fight and I tried to put on a show. Hopefully they’ll bring me back again and I’m sure they will. I’m looking to get back in there,” continued Figueroa.

With good fight prospects ahead of him and continued development under Cung Le and the American Kickboxing Academy, Anthony Figueroa could very well develop into one of the rising stars of the ever-growing 135-pound division in the upcoming year.

“First of all I’d like to thank my coach, Cung Le, and the USH Fight Team; my sponsors, Toe2Toe.tv, KNOXX Gear, HardNinety and Contron,” concluded Anthony.

“Strikeforce looks like they’re going to keep us going at the 135-pound weight class, so hopefully they’ll put a belt out there for us and maybe give me a chance to fight for it. So keep your eyes out for me.”