Heavy MMA’s "10 Questions" feature is back, and this week Megan Olivi talks to UFC lightweight Danny Castillo.
Castillo, a member of Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif., has been doing his training camp for his next fight in Las Vegas as Faber coaches opposite Dominick Cruz on "The Ultimate Fighter LIVE."
Castillo fights next week against John Cholish at UFC on FOX: Diaz vs. Miller, which takes place May 5 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. Their fight is part of the preliminary card that will air live on FUEL TV.
1. Team Alpha Male is in Las Vegas for this season of "The Ultimate Fighter LIVE," so you’re doing the majority of your camp there. How is that going?
I’m getting great training — it’s an awesome experience.
2. Is it exciting or challenging doing a camp outside of your home and what you’re used to?
It’s exciting. I think the thing I like the most is I’m around fights every week. So I get the kind of nerves that I would get for a fight, so when I go to the fight (on May 5), it won’t be like I haven’t fought in five months. Those nerves are just going to be like every Friday. It’s been a great experience for me. I’m super fortunate, and I’m happy I got the chance to be out here.
3. The guys on this season of "The Ultimate Fighter" are in your weight class — 155. Are you able to work with them as training partners, and do you feel like you’ve learned anything from getting different looks and working with people you aren’t used to?
Yeah, that’s another cool thing — there are eight fresh bodies with eight different styles. A lot of them are really different then my regular training partners. For the most part, they seem like they started training every discipline from the beginning. They seem like they are the younger generation of MMA that’s coming up training everything opposed to one style.
4. I saw on Twitter you’re working with a new boxing coach. Can you tell me more about that?
I’m working with Floyd Mayweather’s uncle, Jeff Mayweather. He has a few world champions. He’s also worked with (Muhammed) "King Mo" (Lawal) and (Roy) "Big Country" (Nelson), so it’s awesome. That’s the thing I like about it, also — I’m in a boxing gym, so I get to focus primarily on boxing. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on that when you’re in an MMA gym. I’ve been able to spar with some pro boxers, including Zab Judah’s little brother. I was able to spar with him a couple rounds. That was good, getting a lot more competition in there. The thing I’m bringing to this fight is confidence. My confidence is at an all-time high. I’m excited. I haven’t been this excited for a fight in my career.
5. How do you feel about John Cholish as an opponent? This fight will be his second fight in the UFC.
I think it’s a dangerous fight for me, mainly because he’s unknown. Me losing to an unknown guy would be terrible for my career. I’m confident about this fight. I only have four losses, and all four of those guys are still in the UFC currently. And two of the four losses are guys in the top 10 of the division, and they were early in my career. I feel like I’m finally maturing into the best fighter that I can be. It’s exciting. I know I keep saying that, but this is the first time that I’m like, "I’m done with the training — I just want to fight."
6. What inspired this change? It seems like it’s a big mental change for you.
I think it’s a mixture. I’m not getting any younger, and I feel like it’s my time and I put in the work. I feel like all the hard work I put in two years ago finally caught up. It’s starting to pay off. I’m seeing huge leaps and bounds. I know myself and I know my abilities as a fighter. I think that’s what’s changed the most — being able to go in with some of these pro boxers and not worrying about their boxing. I’m not going to worry about John Cholish’s stand up because I was in there with Zab Judah’s little brother and some of the best boxers in the world. I’m tired of not getting the respect. I’m ready to move on and make my way to the top of the lightweight division.
7. Both you and John Cholish are big sneaker guys. Are we going to see you bring out the big guns during fight week?
I don’t know. I always go to win. I already have my sneakers picked out for the weigh-in — I’m excited about that, too.
8. You’ve been in Vegas for quite a while. When you aren’t training, what are some things you like doing in Vegas?
I think just hanging out. Being in Las Vegas with my training partners is nostalgic. It reminds me of being in the dorm rooms in college. It’s not like we’re going out and partying and doing lots of crazy things — but just being in the rooms, having four or five guys in the rooms laughing and joking and hanging out and enjoying our time. That’s probably what I missed the most about college, all those good times. So just hanging out with a good group of friends, it’s awesome being able to share this experience with them.
9. The main event on the May 5 card is Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller. Who do you see coming out on top in that matchup?
That’s a tough one to pick, but I’m going to go with Nate Diaz. He’s a buddy of mine and because of what he did to Donald Cerrone, and nobody’s been able to do that in Donald’s whole career, let alone the run that he was on in the UFC just tearing up the lightweight division. I think Nate is going to come out on top of this fight. I’m really pulling for him. In fact, I’m going to spar with him on Thursday, which is awesome.
10. Is Diaz someone you frequently work with, or are you just training together for this fight?
I’ve worked with him the past four fights. Not consistently, but I’ve been at Cesar Gracie’s training with them. For the last fight, I trained with him twice, which was the least amount of the camps. He’s got the best gas tank in the division, so that’s what I use those workouts for — a conditioning cardio workout to see how much I have improved. When I’m there, Nick (Diaz) is there, too, and just his knowledge of the sport and how he talks to me is motivational and inspirational because I know how good he is. He just puts fighting into perspective. The way he puts it is just simple for me to understand and takes a little bit of pressure off my shoulders.