Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chandler, Garcia previewed for SteelFist, Siler, Hughes to fight

Today we began a series of preview interviews of SteelFist's MMA card on April 15 in SLC. One pro bout matches two Utah 155-pound veterans, Jordan Chandler, and Kerry Lattimer. We interview Chandler and we hope to have an interview with Lattimer next week. Another 145-pound pro bout matches debuting AJ Garcia against 4-2 Rowdy Akers. Garcia is interviewed today and we hope to have Akers' interview next week.


About the fight, what motivates you and got you started as a fighter?

Chandler:  I started fighting after being pressured into it by my buddies; I continue to fight because there is nothing harder to do. This sport not only challenges me physically but mentally and emotionally as well. To be able to think clearly and keep your composure in a fight when it gets pushed to the later rounds or to finish out a fight camp after going through 8 weeks of pure hell is an accomplishment of its own. I am motivated by knowing that if I can prepare myself for a fight I can do anything I put my mind to. (Chandler, below)

Your fight style, your opponent's strengths and how you hope to neutralize that?

Chandler: Honestly my fight style is a mixed martial artist. I have been in this sport for so long that I am comfortable in all aspects of the fight. I know Kerry is not only a good wrestler but he is just all around tough. I mean he is from the same town in Idaho that I am from; I know they build us tough over there. There is no quit in him. I am preparing for a 3 round war and I plan on pushing the pace. I will take the fight to where I want it to be.
How goes training, who coaches you and who do you train and spar with?

Chandler: I wake up every morning at 4 am and go to the gym for strength and conditioning, I go work two jobs and then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings from 5:30-7:30 I’m at One Hit MMA in Layton training with Aldo Oreggia and Bruno Antunes doing Kickboxing and Brazilian Jujitsu, on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings I go to Lindon to train at University of Grappling with Marc Brewer. I train with so many guys that push me through my fight camps its hard to name them all but a few of the guys include, Jon “hands of steal” Neal , LJ Schultz, Gavin and Kaden Weston, Tyson and Jake Barnhart, Chris Johnson, Mike O’laskey, Joe Rodriguez and Jordan Smith. But there are many more in there as well so I’m sorry I couldn’t list everyone.
How has fighting improved your life, what is a long-term goal?

Chandler: Through fighting I have met some of the most amazing people someone could only ask to know. I have been able to make some lifelong friendships and learn to never judge a book by its cover. I have many adventures going on in my life that nothing is certain yet. All I know if after this fight I would like to get back in the cage as soon as possible. I don’t want to waste anymore time in my career. Its time to stay busy.



About the fight, what motivates you and got you started as a fighter?

Garcia: This fight is very important to me because I'm coming off a loss right now. I've dedicated all of my fights to my grandfather, Elias, because he's been battling cancer for years and the day of my last fight, I found out he didn't have much time. I'm not blaming my loss on that but I also can't say I was 100 percent focused either. I got to spend a few more weeks with him before he passed and now I want to go out and win this fight for him. I also know my opponent is working harder then ever since I beat him once so I know I need to be working just as hard. (Garcia, after a win, below)

Your fight style, your opponent's strengths and how you hope to neutralize that?

Garcia: I'm a freestyle fighter. I love mixing things up and catching guys off guard, shooting take downs when they think I'm gonna punch and punching when they think I'm gonna take them down. Rowdy's best attributes are his toughness and his cardio. I dominated him the first two rounds of our last fight but he came out in the third like nothing was wrong and never gave up. I have a serious grappling advantage though, and I'm looking to get a finish this time.

How goes training, who coaches you and who do you train and spar with?

Garcia: I've recently changed gyms from the Garage MMA, to Foleys and working with Pat Reeves, Justin Roberts, Eric Munoz and Ben Guymon. It's been a breath of fresh air working with these guys and I'm glad they've welcomed me in. I'm still doing work with Anthony Lobato, who has been my coach since I started fighting, and one of the best jiu jitsu guys in the state. Anthony is a coach who really cares about his fighters. ... Anthony is a guy that wants you to succeed in life, just as much as he does in fighting. How has fighting improved your life, what is a long-term goal?

Garcia: Being an MMA fighter has helped turn my life around completely. I suffered from addiction for years and struggled to get clean. Once I finally got clean, I needed something to do with my time and always had a passion for fighting. I decided to start training and tried out a few gyms until I met Anthony and found myself a home. Once I started I traded my addiction for drugs to fighting and have now been clean for years and have custody of my 6 year old son. Without fighting I have no idea if I would've ever stayed clean. After I win this fight I'm looking to take another one right away and keep this train moving. I'm not getting any younger and wanna do everything I can in this sport before my time is up. Most of all, I want to continue being a role model for my son and showing others that suffer from addiction that they can get out if someone like me can get out. There is hope and I'm proof of that. Extra question: What's it like to make a pro debut?

Garcia: I'm very excited to be a pro fighter. I fought 12 times as an amateur and fought the best guys from all over the state. Too many guys only take a few ammy fights or only take easy match ups and aren't ready when they become pro. I wanted to make sure I was ready for anything when I went pro and I feel like I did that with my ammy career. This fight with Rowdy is gonna be non stop action so bring your popcorn and be ready for a war!

MORE NEWS ... Kick boxer Thomas Hughes, who has also fought MMA, will headline the Muay Thai FitCon card April 22 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Hughes is a member of the U.S. Kickboxing team and has fought in international events. He meets 145-pounder Pedro Curiel in his first Utah bout since 2014.

And, as we have previewed, this Saturday Ogden MMA pro Steven Siler fights on the WSOF 35 card in Verona, NY. Siler's featherweight bout against Hakeem Dawodu will be televised online at's prelim card beginning at 6 p.m. We will have a recap of Siler's bout Sunday.

... Take a peek at the state athletic commission's scheduled events page. It's been updated.

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