EXCLUSIVE (Part 2)| Joey Beltran Talks Maldonado Loss and Release from UFC | BJPENN.COM Radio
“Anybody that says I suck and I’m fat and I’m a slob – you’re right,” said light heavyweight fighter Joey Beltran after being cut from the UFC. “I am chubby, I do suck; but you know what? I have the balls to go for it.”
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
Following the news of his recent release from the UFC, light heavyweight fighter Joey Beltran spoke with BJPenn.com Radio about his career up to this point and his most recent bout inside the Octagon.
Listening to Beltran talk, you wouldn’t guess that he had just been cut from the UFC on the tail-end of a recent 1-4-1 run. But that’s how he’s always been.
“Everyone’s like, ‘Are you bummed?’,” Beltran said, describing his friends after hearing he was cut from the UFC. “I was like, ‘No, man! I made it [to the UFC] twice, what’s going to stop me from going there a third time?’”
In fact, when Beltran reflects on the UFC’s decision, he said that Dana White’s words seemed to indicate that he would be cut after his recent loss to Fabio Maldonado at UFC Fight Night 29.
“Yeah, I mean ‘Could have, should have, would have,’ bottom line the blame is on me.” Beltran said. “I knew what situation I was walking into. I knew I was walking into his home turf, and by losing the second round – by losing five minutes of the fight – I opened the door for him to steal the whole thing. That’s all my fault.”
That second round is the only part of the fight that bothers Beltran, he says. He visibly slowed down in round two, something that the light heavyweight is still trying to understand.
“I think possibly one of two things: maybe the weight cut took [a lot out of me]. The water situation down there, I could not find even normal water; all they had was mineral water. And if you’re trying to cut weight and cut sodium out of your diet to lose weight, the last thing you want to do is put a bunch of mineral water – which is full of magnesium and sodium – in your body. So it wasn’t until the last day, the actual day before the weigh-ins, that I found some distilled water. I had to cut 17 pounds that last day, day and a half before.
“Possibly that’s why I got tired in the second round. Maybe I was holding my breath and was a little too excited [had an] adrenaline dump, the crowd was going crazy. I lost the second round, and it opened the door for them to steal the whole thing from me. But overall, I take full responsibility. I had a game plan obviously, I’m not just a [brawler]. People want me to just stand in the middle and swing with him, why would I do that with a pro boxer with a 22-0 record? I’ve bled enough for the UFC fans, I’ve had enough wars, I’ve got enough stitches and literally holes in my face too many times. I didn’t feel like I – you know, I went in there with a plan and a strategy, obviously close the distance, put him on the fence and rough him up, take him down. And I was able to do that for two out of the three rounds, and they jacked me. But it’s all good man. What am I gonna do? I can’t do anything about it now.”
In much the same way that the second round ‘opened the doors’ for Beltran to lose the fight, the loss to Maldonado opened the doors for his release from the UFC. Ironically, Beltran’s last two fights showed his improvement since dropping down from heavyweight – performances that were ultimately denied the benefit of a win. Beltran would have his victory over Igor Pokrajac overturned after he failed a post-fight drug screening, and his most recent fight saw him losing a somewhat controversial decision.
But it’s not the loss that irks Beltran. For him, it is simply his performance in the second round.
“Like I said man, the thing that bugs me is not losing, it’s that I got so goddamn tired in the second round and I don’t know why. I don’t know why. I haven’t been that tired since I was a heavyweight. That’s the part, I swear, that’s the part that pisses me off. Not losing, not getting cut by the UFC, it’s the fact that I got tired. Because I did everything, like putting in work, going heads up with Alex Gustafsson, round after round in the gym, I was ready to fight. I don’t know, man, I don’t know what happened. I think it might have been the harsh weight cut, not harsh for a lot of it, but I’ve always had to do it steadily over a week, but I always have normal water. When I got to Brazil, it’s funny but it’s not funny, I had diarhhea for the first three days. It’s all good, man.”
As far as how the fight went, Beltran conceded losing the second round; but he remembers everything.
“I mean honestly, like the first round, I remember… because I hadn’t fought in so long, I just remember like, ‘Fuck! I was just thrown in a washing machine!’ Everything happened so fast, and the second round came, and I landed a combination – big, hard elbows, and we separated, we came back to the middle and I remember thinking, ‘Oh shit, I am tired!’ And then he just started jabbing me. I was conscious, I was totally aware. I was getting jabbed, they weren’t hurting. I’m not saying that to be a jerk or whatever, but honestly, none of his punches hurt, he was just popping me the whole time, just popping me – and obviously winning the fight. Third round – going before the third round my corner let me know in plain English, like, ‘You need to fucking win this round. You need to take him down. You need to win.’ And I went out and did it. I went out throwing big, heavy hay-makers, I landed, I cracked him a couple times solid. I got the takedown at the end. Got the position, controlled the takedown, roughed him up, fucked his face up.
“If that was on a playground, they’d have scored it [for me]. You see us at the end of that fight, he’s covered in blood, I’m doing OK, I win that fight. But unfortunately we weren’t fighting on a playground, we were fighting in Brazil in his hometown; and they got me. Like I said, I can sit here and go crazy over it, but bottom line I know I won. He knows I won. I had countless number of Brazilians coming up to me, telling me that I won – which was kind of cool. But I didn’t win on the judges, they didn’t give it to me, so what can I do?”
But all said and done, Beltran is taking his release from the UFC with an exceptionally positive attitude. Having two stints in the UFC dating back as early as 2010, Beltran said he is proud of what he has done in this sport – especially given his start in MMA.
“If you really know me and you really know what I come from and what I’ve been able to do – it’s pretty remarkable, man. Just the fact that I have even been in the UFC, period. In no way, shape or form of a joke or a lie when I say that I literally got off the couch and decided I want to fight. I want to fight. I was 24 years old, still in junior college, and I decided, ‘You know what, I don’t want to die wondering could I have made it. What if?’ And I decided to go for it. I put all my eggs in a basket, grabbed a hold of my nuts and I went for it. And I was able to make it to the UFC after three years of training and fighting – and then I lasted in there for ten fights when I was supposed to get rolled over by Rolles Gracie, basically rolled over by everybody else. The whole time I was there I was supposed to lose. To win four out of ten fights.
“Like I said, if you go look at your uncle, go look at your cousin sitting on the couch, 300 pounds and say, ‘Hey, you want to go fight in the UFC?’ So that’s pretty cool man. I’m not worried. I’ve been talking to my coach, Eric Del Fierro, a lot about it, and I used to take losing really, really hard. It used to bum me out, I’d get depressed and go on benders and stuff, really put my family through the ringer. Fighting doesn’t define me. Fighting is a really cool portion of who I am as a person, and it’s a really cool portion of my journey of life. And I know that it’s not the end-all and be-all of me. UFC is not the end-all, be-all of who I am as a person. I’m sure it’s going to be a really cool part, a cool story to tell my grandkids. But fuck, there’s so much more I need to do in this world outside of fighting.”
For the time being, Beltran is weighing his options. Though he didn’t explicitly say it, he implied that both Bellator and the World Series of Fighting have been in contact with him about signing a new deal. Before he gets back into an MMA cage, however, he does hope to get into a boxing ring for a professional fight of a different kind.
“I’m going to do a professional boxing fight, because that’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. Growing up, I wanted to be a professional boxer, you know there was no MMA when I was growing up. So I want to do that just to knock another goal off of my list.”
As far as his career in MMA is concerned, Beltran said his is happy with what he has accomplished. He has proven how anyone can work their way to great things.
“I just would like to say to everybody that supports me and that likes the way I fight, honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you guys. If I could do anything other than entertain you is to give you a little inspirtation that, hey man, normal people can do extraordinary things when they work really hard and put their mind to something. I’m a classic example of that. Like I said, I was off the couch, got in the gym and three years later [I was] fighting in the UFC knocking out Rolles Gracie. So it can be done. Anybody that says I suck and I’m fat and I’m a slob; you’re right, I am chubby, I do suck, but you know what, I have the balls to go for it.”