BJPenn.Com Exclusive: "Last Call" Castillo talks his fight with Michael Johnson and Team Alpha Male
UFC lightweight Danny Castillo is coming off a decision win over John Cholish at UFC on Fox 3 this past May. That victory is his third in a row and a few more wins like that will earn him some tougher opponents. In the meantime he is enjoying his life and preparing for his next fight at UFC 151 against Michael Johnson on September 1st.
“I took a week off and went to Mexico with my girlfriend,” Castillo told BJPenn.Com. “Other than I’ve continued to train and I’ve been grinding at the same time. I’m on a three fight win streak so every fight from here on in is going to be the toughest fight of my life. This fight with Johnson is going to be tough, he may not be the toughest opponent I’ve faced, but because of the UFC and the win streak this is the biggest fight of my career.”
Castillo trains at Team Alpha Male with former WEC Featherweight Champion and two time UFC Bantamweight title contender Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez who will face Demetrious Johnson at UFC 152 to determine the first ever UFC Flyweight Champion. He sees a huge benefit personally and professionally from training with this camp.
“We have a bunch of tough guys and our camp is so solid from top to bottom,” said Castillo. “We have five guys in the UFC right now and I think the unity we have is one of our biggest strengths. We are all really good friends; it’s like a big family here. Our girlfriends are all friends with one another, they even work out together. Everyone is willing to help and be part of each others camp. I have four other UFC fighters that are willing to do whatever it takes to help me win this fight.”
When asked what he felt were his biggest advantages over Johnson, Castillo was quick to point out a few different areas where he feels he is the better man. His past opponents are one of the biggest reasons he will defeat Johnson.
“I would say I have more experience than him although he’s been in the big show since his time on TUF,” Castillo offered. “I have fourteen fights under the Zuffa umbrella so I think that is definitely to my advantage. I have fought tougher opponents, when I was in the WEC I fought some of the best lightweights in the world. The WEC guys have proved how good they are by how they have performed in the UFC. I also think I have the better team, nothing against the Blackzilians, but we have more guys around my weight class. I also think my wrestling is a lot better and I’m stronger than he is. He’s a great striker and he’s fast, but I have fought a lot of great strikers and won”
With a 4-1 record in the UFC Castillo believes it’s just a matter of time before he faces a top ten opponent. He also understands he needs to make a statement in this fight in order to achieve his goals.
“I think a win over Johnson which would be my fourth straight would definitely get me a fight somewhere near the top,” said Castillo. “I feel like I’ve matured as a fighter and I’m in the best shape of my life. The faster I finish the fight the better chance I have of getting a top 10 fight. I know fighters always say they are looking to finish the fight and that’s what I am looking to do. I am looking to break Michael Johnson and make a statement.”
The main event of UFC 151 is for the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion pitting two future Hall of Famers against one another. Jon Jones will attempt to defend his title for the fourth time against Dan Henderson who will seek a championship in his third organization. Castillo gave us his thoughts on the match-up.
“I want Henderson to win because I’m a huge fan and he’s also a wrestler,” admitted Castillo. “He’s been in the game a long time, but Jones is just phenomenal. His reach and his ability to strike from any position is what sets him apart, no one has figured him out yet. The closest person that I can compare him to is Anderson Silva. My heart wants to go with Henderson, but I feel like Jones will win this fight.”
At UFC 150 one of Castillo’s former WEC brothers defended the UFC Lightweight Championship for the first time albeit in controversial fashion. Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar have now fought a total of 50 minutes and depending on whom you ask you will get different opinions on who won each fight.
“I think it was a tough fight to score,” said the 32-year-old Castillo. “They say that you have to beat the champ and I don’t feel like Edgar took the title away from Henderson, but at the same time I don’t feel like Henderson took the title from him in their first fight. I think Henderson inflicted more damage and that’s what won him the fight. Edgar has a huge heart and a great gas tank. Both of those guys fought their heart out for 25 minutes, it was a great fight. I have to admit I was pulling for Henderson because we were in the WEC together.”
Watching guys like Henderson, Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis have so much success is definitely something that gets Castillo pumped and excited. He wants to join them and show that he should also be considered a top lightweight in the world and is willing to work harder than ever to get there.
“You can expect to see a motivated Danny Castillo,” offered the Sacramento, CA resident. “Fans will see a more mature Castillo who is at the top of his game. I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life ever. I’m in better shape than I was in when I wrestled in college. I’ve got numbers to prove that, my wrestling heart rate is really low and that’s allowed me to work five, five minute rounds and I’ll be ready to take the fight to Johnson.”
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I'm a married father of two and a lifelong Long Island resident.
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