He got complacent.
Figueroa, who fought recent bantamweight title challenger Michael McDonald to a unanimous decision that earned “Fight of the Night” honors, rebounded from that UFC-debut loss with back-to-back wins over Jason Reinhardt and Alex Caceres.
But then came the fight with Rivera. Figueroa knocked him down early and had the upper hand, but Rivera stormed back in the second round and delivered Figueroa a TKO loss. The fight narrowly lost out on “Fight of the Night” honors (to the Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar headliner), and despite the defeat, Figueroa was congratulated for his work. But he didn’t want to hear the praise.
“There were a lot of things that went wrong during the last fight,” he told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “The weight cut wasn’t that good. I took a year off due to back-to-back injuries. And honestly, I just got too comfortable.
“Like they always say, I did the worst thing a fighter can do. I got too civilized and too comfortable. I kind of lost the hunger, and I could feel it. I’m not proud of it.”
Figueroa (9-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) said that won’t be the case tonight when he meets Canadian 135-pounder Roland Delorme (8-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) at UFC 161. The fight takes place at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre and kicks off the night’s FX-televised prelims, which precede the pay-per-view main card.
After sorting through personal issues and getting his camp in order under trainer Allen Mohler, Figueroa feels reborn. Despite the competitive fight with Rivera, he said he never really felt the fire in his belly or that things were clicking.
“I honestly felt like I entered that fight going 50 percent,” he said. “I just wasn’t there. … Even after I dropped him in the first round, it took two or three seconds for it to even register.”
This time, though?
“I’ve got the hunger back,” he said. “I’ve got my edge back. So now I’m going to come back like I used to come out, like I did for the McDonald fight, the Reinhardt fight, the Caceres fight. I’m ready to go in there like a normally do.”
In past years, Figueroa may have felt he wasn’t prepared for a fight unless he pushed his body to the edge. He said overtraining was a serious issue, which simply led to injuries, frustration and a loss of motivation. He wants to stay busy and fight three of four times this year.
To do that, he’s gotten smarter in camp and learned a valuable lesson.
“Just because I’m not laying on the ground dying for air after a workout doesn’t mean I’m not training right,” he said.
MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.view original article >>
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