TGS Exclusive Interview for STFC 33: Fabian Saldivar

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Fabian Saldivar at STFC 31

On February 27th, 2015, STFC will return to the McAllen Convention Center for another showcase of mixed martial arts action.

The main event to STFC 33 will feature Santa Rosa’s Fabian Saldivar defending his STFC Texas featherweight championship against Eduardo Bustillos. Saldivar took time out of very his busy schedule to talk about a variety of topics with us.

Eduardo Martinez: To start things off, have you gone back and rewatched your last fight against Javier Obregon at STFC (9/5/14)?

Fabian Saldivar: Yeah, of course. After the fight, as soon as they put it up, I was watching it, rewatching it. Just to see what mistakes I made and what I could improve on.

EM: In the second round, it was a dramatic round. It started rough, what are your thoughts on what happened?

FS: Yeah (laughs). Honestly when it was happening, I remember thinking, ‘Stay close to him so he is not able to land big shots and the ref won’t step in.’ As soon as I was able to start moving forward, and when it was more grappling than anything, I felt like I was more in control. Whenever he mounted, I’d do this escape where I stick my neck out and he goes for the guillotine. It’s kinda like a set-up for a sweep. So I used that to get on top and finish the round on top.

EM: Do you feel that round proved that you could survive when things got tough?

FS: Yeah, to me going into any fight, winning isn’t the only thing on my mind. After the round, I wasn’t tired or anything. I could tell he kinda got tired, trying to finish me. So I was like, ‘Alright, time to get going.’

EM: If I remember correctly, at the end of the second round, you were going for an armbar. Is that correct?

FS: Yeah, I had heard that we were at the ten-second mark. I went for a couple of hammerfists and I thought, ‘Maybe I can get this armbar real quick.’ I guess I didn’t time it right because as soon as I went for it the bell rang so I let it go. I think if I had a couple of more seconds, I felt the arm was already there to take.

EM: It was finally in the fourth round when you were able to submit him with the rear-naked choke. How did that moment feel when you knew you had won the fight?

FS: It felt good. When it was right after the fight, I didn’t get up and jump around. I picked him up and talked to him. I felt like it was my toughest fight so far. Because one: I had been taken into the fourth round. Two: Because I had got caught. So I was joking with him actually, ‘Hey what did you catch me with?’ I am pretty sure he was still bummed out about it. I just exchanged a few words but it felt good. Afterwards, usually after a win, I can remember little things. Little bits and pieces. But I was trying to remember who I talked to, who I saw, and I could only remember a little bit. I was really excited about winning.

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The final seconds of the fight at STFC 31.

EM: Did it feel like a blur, maybe?

FS: Yeah it did but I don’t like to dwell on a win. A couple of days of excitement, Saturday, Sunday, you take it in. But Monday it’s back to work. I never want to be satisfied. This is my first belt. STFC has new belts coming out so I feel like there is just another belt for me to win. Like it’s another belt on the line, not the one that I have but a new one.

EM: I know you’re a father, so how did your children feel about you winning a championship?

FS: When I showed them, they were barely starting to get into WWE, they said, ‘Did you beat up John Cena?’ I was like, ‘Yeah I beat up John Cena.’ They wanted to hold it, wear it. I don’t ever take them to fights because I don’t want them to see me like that.

They are into wrestling so they like that aspect of what I do.

EM: Do you watch wrestling with them?

FS: I don’t have DISH or anything because I don’t like to watch too much TV. But I have Netflix, so we’ll watch the documentaries of all the old wrestlers like Shawn Michaels. Sometimes they’ll have the new guys and we’ll watch that too. Or I’ll buy a DVD of matches of who they like. They like CM Punk. People that they like now, I didn’t really grow up with them but I’ll watch it. I grew up watching Shawn Michaels.

EM: Other than Shawn Michaels, did you have any other favorites growing up?

FS: Honestly Shawn Michaels, he was the one that I would watch. There was a few others, like Bret Hart was cool. I liked Stone Cold. I didn’t really like The Rock though. He’s cool now but when I was growing up I was like, ‘I don’t like him’. I always liked cocky athletes, people that are confident. Even with UFC fighters like Conor McGregor and even Bisping, when he was winning and talking all that trash.

EM: Did you grow up Santa Rosa?

FS: Yes.

EM: This is going to be a bit random but I also write about music. I associate Santa Rosa a lot with the late (conjunto accordionist) Ruben Vela. Are you familiar with Vela?

FS: Actually our families are related. I went to school with his grandson, his name is Ruben Vela and his dad is also Ruben Vela. We call him ‘Rabbit’ and his son we call him ‘Little Rabbit’. So we’re cousins of them and we all grew up together.

EM: So you’re actual cousins?

FS: We’re cousins but not first cousins. Like his dad is cousins with my dad, they have a lot of that in Santa Rosa. So everyone is like, ‘We are kinda cousins.’

EM: Did you ever listen to Ruben Vela’s music growing up?

FS: My mom would listen to it. When I would go drive with my dad, he would put Vela on but he would change it up, and put like Ozzy Osbourne and stuff like that. To change the pace.

Ruben Vela. DJ's would sometimes say, "Cuando toca Ruben Vela todo el mundo se desvela!"

Ruben Vela. DJ’s would sometimes say, “Cuando toca Ruben Vela todo el mundo se desvela!”

EM: You mentioned McGregor earlier, are you excited about his upcoming fight with Jose Aldo?

FS: Yeah that’s going to be a really good fight. I like the way he moves, actually both fighters. It’s going to be a really good fight. That’s one of the fights I’m looking forward to the most. Especially because I see myself in the UFC soon, so that is the weightclass I am fighting in. I like to watch fighters in my weightclass and size them up. Picture how I would do against them. They are both crazy good so I want to see how that fight goes.

EM: How do you feel your life has changed since you won the STFC Texas featherweight title?

FS: Little things, since I live in a small town people will say, ‘Hey what’s up champ?’ I’ll get that. My friends give me crap about it. Growing up I was skinny. I never even got into a fight in high school. I think the only fight I got into was with one of my friends, it was like a pushing match. He socked me one time and that was it. They will say, ‘You think you’re tough now?’ Usually just that, it’s cool. I like being from a small town, the people know you. I went to a cafe in Santa Rosa. I was having breakfast with my family and a guy walked in. I think he went to school with one of my cousins. He ended up paying for my meal, mine and my family’s meal. I thought that was pretty cool.

EM: When Bustillos called you out, what went through your mind?

FS: I was actually there. I watched the fight, then I wasn’t paying attention, then I heard ‘el campeon’. That’s when I started paying attention, ‘Is he calling me out?’ I guess when I first heard it I was initially like, ‘That’s messed up.’ I waited for my shot, I didn’t really call anyone out in the cage. But then I was thinking, ‘You know what, that’s cool.’ He said he wanted to fight the best and right now that’s me. I’m not going to dislike him for that. That’s what happens when you’re the champion, people are going to try to want to beat you. That’s my job to show that they can’t.

Bustillos calling out Saldivar at STFC 32.

Bustillos calling out Saldivar at STFC 32.

EM: Have you gone back and studied his fights?

FS: Yeah I’ve seen a few of his fights. He actually fought one of my old training partners, Manny Soria. I talked to Manny a little bit about it, how he moves and stuff. But I don’t focus too much on what he does, I’ll watch it a couple of times just to get a feel for how he moves. If you’re smart, you’re not always going to come in with the same game plan. Because then you are going to be predictable.

EM: Who are some of your coaches and sparring partners that have helped you prepare for this fight?

FS: My main gym is Cinco MMA Elite. My two coaches are Chris Cortes, a brown belt, and another brown belt Eli Rodriguez. Chris runs the straight jiu-jitsu and Eli does jiu-jitsu, cardio, stand-up. Some of my training partners are Frank Hernandez, who is also going to be on the card, he’s making his pro debut. Also another guy Michael Torres, and his brother Matt Torres is another sparring partner of mine. All these guys are decorated wrestlers. They all went to Weslaco (schools). So their grappling is really good, everyone has their own style. With sparring, everyone is really creative. That’s what I like about training there. Amador Ramirez, he’s actually going to be fighting in March for STFC. Him too. He’s crazy good. And also for a little bit I trained with Victor Martinez, he’s going to be fighting for the lightweight belt.

EM: Do you have any thoughts on that fight between Victor Martinez and Luke Flores?

FS: I got Victor. I trained with him, I’ve seen how tough he is. I’ve seen Luke fight a couple of times, I think the quality of opponent that he’s fought is not on the level of who Victor has fought. I feel like Victor is going to be able to win and get that belt.

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EM: Do you feel like you’ve done all you can to prepare for this fight on Friday?

FS: Definitely, it’s already fight week. I’ve been ready since they told me I was going to fight him. I’ve been training ever since I got the belt, I haven’t stopped. I just picked it up whenever I needed to. That was it.

EM: Anything you’d like to say to the fans about what to expect from you this Friday night?

FS: They can expect a win from me. I don’t really like to make predictions about how a fights going to go but I know I’m going to win. A win by any means.

EM: Before we go, anything else that you would like to add?

FS: Just thanks to the STFC for putting awesome shows. This is the only promotion I’ve ever fought for and it’s the biggest one down here in the RGV. I’m ready to defend my belt and actually get a new belt. Those new belts look pretty nice.

EM: Yeah they look awesome.

FS: I definitely need to get that belt. Hopefully soon I will get to the UFC. There are a couple of fighters from down here that are already there and I wouldn’t mind joining them.

EM: Thank you for the interview.

FS: Thanks.

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