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Joey Beltran will take his titanium jaw and 3 times grown Grinch sized heart with him to Brazil next week, where he will be facing Brazilian boxer Fabio Maldonado. Beltran began his career by selling tickets to friends and family that wanted to watch him fight in a rained out casino parking lot on an Indian reservation somewhere; to now fighting on the grandest stage of mixed martial arts in the UFC. He has etched his name in the annals of MMA with his highly entertaining style of throwing down with his opponents. That style has made him a fan favorite throughout his career; however, he will receive very little fanfare from a Brazilian crowd that historically has shown diehard nationalism to their own. Beltran is looking to get back on track against Maldonado after coming off of a 9 month suspension from taking a banned substance that he was unaware of taking.
The interview was conducted on MMA Sentinel Radio on Wednesday August 2, 2013.
On fighting Fabio Maldonado and it being expected to win ‘Fight of the Night’:
Who knows what could happen? As long as nothing weird occurs, like me slipping on a banana peel, I’m pretty sure we’ll win fight of the night.
As far as what I am going to do; I’m not going to say I won’t take him down. If he sticks his leg out there, I’m going to grab it. If he gives me a submission, I’m going to take it. More than likely, yes it will be a slugfest. BUT, I’m not ruling out me taking him to the mat to work my ground and pound or submitting him.
Do you EVER come in with a gameplan?
Here’s what happened in my fights… The fight would start and I would get freaked out and freeze. I’d start taking shots to the head, which would wake me up. Then, I’d start fighting out of instinct and completely negate all of the training and learning I had done. I used to think, “I’m in the UFC and these guys are really going to hurt me.” (Sarcastically) None of the 13 other grown men I’d fought to get into the UFC were chumps, but now that I’m here THESE guys are going to hurt me.
Half way through the 1st round I’d be covered in my own blood and would think, “Alright, let’s starts fighting”. Yeah, it produced good fights and people liked it, but I wasn’t really fighting to my potential or following the game plan. After my fights I’d be bummed out thinking, “Why did I do that?”
I went to a sports psychologist and it really helped me out to get through my self-imposed mental blocks.
About the drug suspension:
I’m still pretty bummed about the Igor Pokrajac fight. I got that stupid positive test and to this day, I have no idea why. If you look at my physique it’s pretty clear I have no idea what Nandrolone or Deca is. I dealt with that 9 month suspension by becoming hungrier and working on my technique.
Does it mess with your head when you take supplements because of all the hidden ingredients that could show up as a banned substance?
Yeah man. I did it totally different for his fight. I took no supplements at all, aside from protein shakes. It sucks because you walk that fine line trying to improve your performance and find stuff on the internet that is legal today, but illegal in 2 weeks. These companies aren’t regulated by the FDA. So they say there is baking soda in it but really it is human growth hormones.
I’ve moved on and am just ready to scrap. This suspension has just become another part of my journey now. I was complaining a lot about fighting, when I was fighting. The suspension may have been God’s way of saying, “Oh you don’t like it? Well, now you aren’t going to fight for 9 months. How do you like that buddy?”
I was forced to sit back and look at my career. I haven’t held any major title or even put together a decent win streak in the UFC. But, I’m comparing myself to the highest level of fighters in the world. The highest level of martial arts in the world and then there’s chubby little Mexican Joey Beltran; and I’ve been hanging with these guys for 4 years now. So, I realize that I’m doing alright. I just need to be comfortable with what I do. I don’t care if you are a Karate guy, Jiu Jitsu master, or wrestler; I’m going to grab a hold of you and punch you in the face until the ref stops it or time runs out. That’s what I’m going to do.
Do you miss fighting in Indian reservation parking lots?
It’s all part of the journey for me. It was an awesome highlight. I remember sitting in a tent waiting to fight and saying to myself, “This will be a really cool memory one day… fighting in a parking lot.”
Now you are a UFC veteran and your next fight is in Brazil. A complete 180 from your early career:
I was talking to Jason Lambert this morning and I told him that I’ve never been able to say that there are literally a million people that want me to lose. That’s pretty cool!
An entire country is watching that wants me to lose. That’s pretty awesome.
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