UFC veteran Roman Salazar put up a peculiar 0-2-1 run inside of the promotion, but is now taking his bilingual talents to Campbell McLaren’s Combate Americas. Salazar will be headlining Combate 13 on April 20, 2017 as he will be taking on the 7-1 brawler Ricky Palacios. Before waging war in a new promotion, Salazar caught up with Bloody Elbow to discuss returning to his roots with his coaches, making use of his broadcast journalism degree, and gives some insight to teammate Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis.
Thoughts on wonky 0-2-1 run in the UFC:
“I’ve definitely had some really weird, astronomically weird, strange things happen in my UFC fights, man. I’ve sat down and talked about it with my head coach now, Santino Defranco, and he’s like, ‘man, maybe it’s just the universe’s way of telling you that you weren’t quite ready to be there. You might have got called up a little early.’ But I know, man, grinding day in and day out with Henry Cejudo, Frankie Saenz, Patrick Williams and all these guys. I belong fighting the best in the world.
“I mean I’m beating them rounds in the practice room; they’re beating me rounds in the practice room; we’re grinding everyday. I know I didn’t get to show my full skillset in the UFC, but now I’m using this platform of Combate as a way to show what I have to offer.
“I think once I got to the UFC, I started fighting not to lose, instead of my fight to win mentality I always had. It always felt like I was fighting for a pink slip, and that’s a weird way to fight.”
Returning to the roots by adding Santino Defranco to training camp:
“I attribute that to working with Santino Defranco again. Whenever I was working with Santino Defranco, I had really great amateur career under him. I only had one loss a pro, and that was to Anthony Birchak, under him.
“I had to be a little bit selfish. I had to go find what I needed, instead of what everyone else needed. I’m still here at Fight Ready, but for my camps, I’m going to have him run my camp. He knows my style, instead of trying to make me fight a style which I’m not.
“If I have any strength, it’s just my ability to mix everything up well, and keep opponents guessing. He just brought that out in me again. I’m fighting like me again, man. It feels great.”
Can we expect more of a striking heavy game from you from now on?
“Absolutely, man. That’s what it is. They gave me the green light to be me again. They’re like, ‘hey man, this is what makes you so hard to deal with. Are you wrestling, are you striking, what are you doing? Your style, the whole reason you even got called up to the UFC is because you were always putting hands on people, and finishing people.’”
How did you link up with Combate Americas?
“They were doing a co-promotion with the WFF, which is who I fought for here. I was actually their featherweight and bantamweight champion some years back. They were doing a co-promotion down in Tucson, which is my turf over there. I grew up over there, even though I’m up in Scottsdale, Arizona now, so it’s kind of nice heading that way. The matchmaker Tom Ortiz just happened to tell them about me, and they seen a couple of my videos, and they realized I was bilingual and kind of marketable for the.
“They called, they asked if I’d be interested in fighting. I was like, ‘heck yeah.’ I mean I watched the Combate cards all the time. I love the platform. I love how they showcase Latin fighters, and our style of fighting, which is real hard-nosed fighting. I just love it, man; I feel honored to be able to headline one of their cards.”
The brawling style of Combate 13 opponent Ricky Palacios:
“Ah, dude. I love it. All it took was one fight. We watched his fight, my trainer and I, and I was like, ‘dude, let’s do this.’ I love guys that show up to fight. I love it. this is what we do. We’re not here for pillow fighting, dude. To me, I love challenges like that, knowing that if I mess up at any point, I could end up counting stars, and just sleep, and that’s it. I have to be that on point with everything I do, and I love those challenges.”
Drawing experience from the Kid Yamamoto fight:
“It reminds me of whenever I fought Kid Yamamoto. He has that same kind of sting. No matter what he touches me with, he could put me away, and I knew that the whole time. It keeps me on my A-game; it keeps me honest, and I can’t wait to put it together. I’m excited. I love the way Ricky Palacios fights. I just can’t wait to make him feel uncomfortable.”
Utilizing a degree in broadcast journalism commentating in the world of Mixed Martial Arts:
“Believe it or not, I already do a couple of the shows here. I was actually going to talk to these guys about it because, obviously, I’m bilingual. The Spanish speaking crowd might need to be talked to. I always thought about seeing Fabricio Werdum on UFC Deportes, and I hear that accent, and I’m like, ‘oh I know I can do better than that, haha.’”
“We’re keeping him honest. He brought [Alexandre] Pantoja in. He brought a couple other of his Brazilian brethren in here... A lot of 25 pounders his size, and a lot of tough up and comers, hungry up and comers that are young pros here. Whenever they come in and spar with us, man, they feel like they have something to prove, so every round they’re just taking it to us 100%.
“We got Henry actually using his wrestling now. It’s funny because if you watch all of his UFC fights, they’d be like, ‘this guy’s a gold medalist, because he doesn’t use it much?’ But now, it’s dangerous, man. They got him using his feints and everything he’s doing; he’s scary to deal with right now.
“He started watching some of Khabib’s fights and he realized, ‘why don’t I do this?’ and I’m like, ‘yeah, why don’t you do this. You could ride anybody.’ Dude, it’s a nightmare having him on top of you right now.”
You can catch Roman Salazar taking on Ricky Palacios at Combate 13 on April 20, 2017. The event will air live on Azteca America and ESPN Latin America, and delayed on UFC Fight Pass. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your MMA coverage including news, interviews, analysis, and more!