Casey will be fighting on Saturday, August 31, 2013 in Legacy Amateur Series 13. He is going into this fight in the 135 pound weight bracket. This will be his first fight with Legacy. Thank you again Casey for the interview and good luck on fight night!
What all martial arts do you train and when did you start training?
Well now I practice Jiu Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai Kickboxing and some wrestling. Then I try to put it all together for Mixed Martial arts. But I didn’t start out training at an actual martial arts school. I just by chance met my good friend Rich Casteneda through a friend and ended up training with him in his shed. He trained in Kuk Sool Won, and since I had no fighting arts experience period, I was an open book. Rich is also just a lover of all martial arts so he knew of Jiu Jistu and had friends that knew other forms of fighting that came by to train occasionally. So I picked up what I liked and threw away what didn’t seem to work for me. Richard eventually took me to Iron Dragon to expand our knowledge, and Rich humbly told me there wasn’t anything more he could teach me and we needed to know go to an school to learn more. So here I am 3 years later. And a side note, I still learn something from Rich every day when we grapple so the teaching never ended. I really do want to thank him for really being my bridge into the world of martial arts I wouldn’t have ever started this awesome journey if not for his willingness to teach me.
At what point in your training did you know that you wanted to get in the cage?
It’s hard to say when or if there ever was a specific moment. But I know that I began to feel that I was supposed to do this. Because I had never been particularly good at any sport. Mostly because a lot of sports like track, football, basketball all really depended on you to be fast, jump high, be strong or big. And I was none of these things so fighting seemed to be the only thing were you wanting it more than that guy across from you in the cage, actually played a factor in you winning or losing. Even though I wasn’t naturally aggressive or anything I seemed to be able to use it when I needed to.
Do you have any specific short term goals in BJJ? MMA?
Well a short term goal is to win an amateur title for sure. Even though it’s just amateur that would be so huge for me. And of course over time when you fight you develop different reasons why you do it, and now I want to become known for my coaches and their schools to help them grow and prosper. Because my coaches like Bryan (Beard Jitsu) who is my Jiu jitsu coach helps me so much and has been supporting me the whole way through, and Vincent Serrano who is now my Muay Thai coach and has put in a ton of effort teaching me even though he has only known me a short time. I want to help them along with Master Jason white, who is the owner of Iron Dragon and got me my first cage fight, to build up their schools and business. That’s what I feel I can do in return for all they do for me.
What are your long term goals in BJJ? MMA? Or other martial arts that you train?
My long term MMA goals are obviously to get into the UFC and fight for that organization and go as far with it as I can. But that’s everybody’s answer pretty much. But I would eventually like to be teaching BJJ and No Gi, and MMA in either somebody’s school or my own school. Because I really do love coaching and teaching the newer guys that come in.
Do you have any aspirations to cross over to the professional fighting circuit in the near future?
Yes I do, as I said before I’d like to attain an amateur title and either stay and defend it for more experience depending on what myself and my team thinks, or move on and begin a professional career.
Preparing for a fight is physically and mentally grueling work. Tell us how you managed your schedule and training and how did you prepare yourself mentally for the fight?
Well I’m 22 years old now so I’m still slowly making my way through school, so when schools going on that’s one more thing to worry about. But I work at San Jacinto hospital on the weekends part time, usually just two 12 hour shifts on Friday and Sunday night just to keep money coming in because, no money means no gas no food and without those things training isn’t too likely. But I chose to work weekends so that I could have all week to train. So when people at work would ask why I don’t work during the week I used to say because I have to train. And they would ask “train for what?” or “Oh cuz you work out during the week”. And since most of them don’t understand and give me this look like I’m just lazy or something. But I can’t expect anyone who doesn’t practice martial arts or who has never trained hard for anything to understand what I mean. So now I just say I don’t work during the week because of school to avoid the frustration.
What advice can you give those out there who might be thinking about getting in the cage to fight?
Make sure you are at a good gym and that the coaches feel you are ready. Don’t just walk in a gym and say you wanna fight. You might, but that won’t stop somebody from pounding your face like a drum and choking you to sleep because you don’t know what you’re doing and just don’t have the experience. And I might be referencing a few of my early cage experiences. I do feel I starting fighting too early, mostly because I wasn’t a natural talent to I couldn’t rely on aggression or strength in there and really just need to be good at the arts and be technical. I’d say if you’re a guy who is picking up stuff pretty quick and are getting all areas of your game worked on (Striking, Wrestling, Jiu Jistu) then maybe about six months and see what your coaches think. I only was at Iron Dragon Maybe 3 months before my first fight. But I asked for it and Joel Scott gave it. Haha. Even though that first one got fight of the night, losing just isn’t okay anymore. I got a lot of good experience taking all those early fights but it left me with an ugly record to climb out from under. So make sure this is what you want and you’re willing to give up some things to make it happen.
BJJ is my passion, so I always want to know...what's your favorite submission and go to move?
I would have to say, even though it’s nothing special, the rear naked choke. I’ve gotten two of my wins by RNC and the reason I prefer chokes to armbars, especially in MMA, is because a guy may let his arm pop to get out of it in MMA. But with a choke he can be tough all he wants, he’s still going to sleep.
What motivates you to keep going and what helps keep you on the right track? Is there anyone that inspires you or someone that has been a big influence on your decision to train BJJ/MMA?
Honestly I think training actually keeps me on the right track in life outside of the gym. If I’m not doing right in life, my training will suffer because it can mess with head when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to and you’re consciously aware of it. Well all my training partners and coaches are such a big part of my motivation because I want to do well for them and for our school so that’s always a driving force. I also want to do well for my family my grandparents my little brother who for some reason looks up to me and my wonderful girlfriend Nicole. But mostly for my Mom, she’s had a rough life a lot of things have not gone well for her but somehow she keeps this upbeat attitude and is always smiling and trying to be happy. She’s been my biggest fan through all of my ups and downs in this sport and I know she will continue to support me always. She gets so excited when I have a fight coming up and wants to make posters and shirts and has all these ideas. I feel that by doing well and winning and giving her something to be proud of and excited about is something I can do for her to keep her smiling.
What would you consider the biggest life change as a result of your training?
I’ve really grown up since I began training. This growth has been evident in my 4 year relationship with my girlfriend and I’ve gained a lot of maturity over this time. And as I said before, my training keeps my life in check. So it’s helped me really grow as a man. Because as an amateur fighter, not even a well-known amateur fighter, you end up having to do a lot of the outside conditioning training on your own. So I’ve had to learn to keep myself accountable to the things I needed to get done if fighting means that much to me. So it’s also taught me accountability.
Where do you see yourself in the BJJ and MMA community in 10 years?
If my body holds up, possibly still fighting if I make it to the big show. And even if I am still fighting I might be teaching MMA or jiu jitsu classes as well.
Tell us something we might not know about you. Do you have any jiu jitsu ink? What do you like to do in your spare time?
Well let’s see, I’m a Nurse Tech at the hospital going to school for nursing. I love outdoor stuff, hunting and fishing; I used to play paintball when I had the time. I loved playing football, hanging out with my buddies from high school. But most of that stuff I don’t have time for anymore. The only thing I really do on the regular is watch movies at night with my girlfriend Nicole when I get home from training but we try to do fun stuff like go to the pier and fish late at night or go to Galveston for the day or something, we find stuff to do. Like I said I work weekends and train all week but you have to make sacrifices for the things you want. If you want it that bad, it’s worth it.