Looking back on his 2018, bantamweight Joey Ruquet feels like changes outside the cage may have contributed to going 1-1 inside it.
After picking up a win in his first bout of 2018 in April against Keith Carson at Combate Americas 20, Ruquet came up short against Bruno Cannetti in December at Combate Americas 29.
“Last year I was going through a management transition and a contract transition,” Ruquet told MMAWeekly.com. “It’s been a bit of a slow start, but I definitely think that 2019 will kick 2018’s ass.”
Having gotten himself situated in the business end of the sport, Ruquet believes he’s made a lot of progress in the development of his game and is a much superior fighter in his 2019 incarnation.
“I feel like twice the fighter I was in my last fight (in December),” said Ruquet. “I’ve developed a higher fight IQ. Going into sparring, trying to throw the punches that I want to punch, trying to make guys make mistakes rather than look for mistakes. I’m trying to be two steps ahead of everybody; whether it’s on the ground or standing up.
“I’m doing a lot more calisthenics and biometric workouts. I’m doing a lot more with weights. My teammates have noticed the increase in strength. I’ve been able to handle guys who are a lot bigger than me a lot easier.”
On Friday in Los Angeles, California, Ruquet (6-2) will look to get back on track when he faces Alan Cantu Garcia (8-5) in a main card 135-pound bout at Combate Americas 34.
“My game plan is just to frustrate (Garcia); create openings, a lot of feints, make him think things are coming and make him want to commit, and I’m going to capitalize on his mistakes,” Ruquet said. “I’m going to focus a lot more not looking for openings, but focus a lot more on creating openings.”
Entering into his fifth year fighting, Ruquet feels like he’s coming into his own now at 26 and this could be the year he fulfills his championship aspirations.
“I’ve been holding back a lot in my past fights,” said Ruquet. “I feel like I haven’t shown my full potential. I’m ready. It’s all there, all the pieces are together now, I just have to put it out there.
“On this new contract, I win these first two fights then I get a title shot. Hopefully Gustavo Lopez has that belt. That will be my goal.”