Former Hero FC title challenger Jose Ceja has a kill or be killed mentality when he faces Joey Ruquet at Combate Americas 10 on January 19th.

After losing to Ivan Rivera back in March 2016 in what was a thrilling back and forth fight, Ceja returned to fight Cameron Graves at Fury FC 12. With one round in the books, Ceja looked to be getting the better of Graves, but to his frustration, the fight was stopped because of a cut on Ceja’s eye, and Graves was awarded the TKO victory.

‘The Ghost’ then went on to make his debut appearance for Combate Americas in October of last year, where he managed to pick up his first professional MMA finish and revenge his loss over Rivera, stopping him with punches in the first round.

Ceja spoke to Cage Pages ahead of his fight against Ruquet and explained if there were any specific goals he had for the new calendar year.

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No, not much is changing, but it’s a big deal that I’ve finally got signed to a big promotion like Combate Americas. I’ve been fighting 14 years, but I’m not changing anything, everything is the same. You know, I don’t have any goals specifically in mind, but I do want an opportunity to fight for the title that is being put up either at 135 or 145, I don’t care.

As well as discussing his new approach to his fighting career, Ceja is adamant he is just as ruthless as he was during his amateur boxing days.

I’m wiser now, I’m smarter now, I’m more evolved now, and one of the changes I’ve made lately is I no longer fight to win rounds, I fight to go in for the kill, to either get knocked out or knock my opponent out. I find that to have been very beneficial to my career, so that’s what I’m gonna do from now on. Yes, the speed and power is still there, I feel good.

Coming from a Mexican background, Ceja is very pleased to compete in the promotion’s first ever event in Mexico City in front of his home crowd and believes that Combate Americas is a promotion on the upward spiral.

I think the future is bright for everybody who is a part of Combate (Americas), this is the first time ever, as far as I know, that live professional mixed martial arts is going to be aired on open T.V meaning anybody in Mexico is going to be able to watch this fight, that’s a big deal to me, it’s more important than money, to be popular with the Mexican people.

With UFC 207 in the books, it was interesting to focus on Cody Garbrandt’s flawless performance against Dominick Cruz. Ceja believes there are many similarities between himself and Garbrandt, and this will be put into fruition when he faces Ruquet.

I was surprised with the outcome, Dominick Cruz is an amazing fighter with amazing footwork, and Cody’s footwork was even better, it was just shocking almost. That’s what these boxers have over these traditional Dutch kickboxers and Muay Thai fighters, and that’s what my advantage is, that’s what I’m going to exploit.

Joey’s (Ruquet) too traditional, he just stands there moving forwards and backward in a traditional manner. I train Bang Muay Thai, under Duane Ludwig, the same system that Cody trained, I believe Duane Ludwig was with Team Alpha Male then he moved to Colorado. My coach Josh Grayhagen is under Duane and I started training in his system about 3 years ago, it’s highly advanced.

Ruquet returns to action at Combate Americas 10 having not fought for nine months. Considering Ceja was sidelined for the whole of 2015, it was fascinating to get his take on ring-rust in MMA. Does it exist, or is it all down to an individual’s work ethic outside the cage?

It’s up to each individual’s work ethic, I hadn’t fought in 18 months, I tore my ACL in 2014 so I didn’t fight for 18 months, then came back to fight Gerzan Chaw and I blew him out the water, I did better than I had ever done before as far as dominating my opponent, and Chaw was a good fighter.

So I had no ring rust, I don’t believe in it. I think every individual is different and has different work ethics, I continued to train and continued to grow throughout the time I was off, when I came back, I saw myself way better with so much improvement.

Now taking a do or die approach to his fights, it was no surprise to hear that Ceja believes this fight against Ruquet will not be left in the hands of the judges.

I win this fight by knockout or any finish, I win this fight by determination, that’s my prediction.

Come January 19, you can watch Ceja in action at Combate Americas 10 on UFC Fight Pass starting at 8 p.m. EST in the promotion’s debut appearance in its home of Mexico City. The main card will also be shown on live TV via AZTECA AMERICA at 10 p.m. EST.

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