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When I’m focused…I’m there. I’m just there. Move, breathe. There it is.
In-fighting styles make fights, and with the upcoming bout between Jose Palacios and Nick Chasteen at Lion Fight 18, fans will be getting exactly that. The younger, less experienced Chasteen, coming off a bullying loss to Pedro Gonzalez at Lion Fight 16, will be exchanging leather with the more experienced Palacios, whose ring experience has included bouts with Coke Chunhawat, Malaipet Sasiprapa, and Justin Greskiewicz. I got to sit down with the Unlimited MMA fighter one week out from his fight to talk about his fighting, getting cut, his upcoming bout, and the fight game.
Thanks for taking the time out to talk Jose. How did you originally get into fighting?
I wanted to get into shape for the military. I started when I was 19, which is late compared to some other guys. I took a martial arts course and I picked up the combat aspect of martial arts pretty quick. I started with Wushu forms. We did sparring once a week during which I was pretty aggressive. Before that, I used to have boxing matches at my house. I would get the neighborhood kids together and we’d have a fight club. Later I was told to go to Cung Le’s gym and that’s where I learned about San Shou.
Did you end up serving time in the military?
When I first took the pretest for the military, my scores sucked. I was like, “Oh shit! I’m going to be a straight up grunt!” I wanted to be an officer and was told that I would need to go to college, get some units and then I could go in as an E3. I started school and continued marital arts. By the time I graduated and told my coaches that I wanted to go to the military they had an intervention. “Listen Jose you should stay, you’re good at fighting” and all this other stuff. I ended up listening. I needed discipline, just something that gave me a feeling of accomplishment.
You started at Cung Le’s gym in San Jose. How did you hook up with Rudi Ott to Unlimited?
I stayed with Cung for awhile. In about 2011 I made a move from Cung’s to here. I needed a team that was around to train so I started to train Muay Thai with Rudi Ott.
What’s your professional record?
Right now it’s seven and six. At first I was really bummed out about it. Everyone wants a fantastic record, but looking at it, I’m happy with the people I fought.
The quality of your ability as a fighter is more evident in who you are fighting than your record.
It took me a while to understand and accept that.
Have you done any other fighting besides Muay Thai?
I’ve fought twice for Strikeforce doing MMA. I’ve also done a couple underground fights, which were kinda… fun and scary.
What was your MMA career like?
I’ve fought for Strikeforce many times, back when they were a kickboxing show. I was actually on the first California sanctioned MMA card, Shamrock vs Gracie. Unfortunately I had an injury back stage that required surgery. I headlined a few Young Guns show for Strikeforce as well. It was a good time in my career. I met some great people and made some fun memories.
What are some of the difficulties you face outside of the ring?
A lot of things. Mindset is a large challenge. You have to think positive all the time. When you constantly train you’re always in pain, you’re always tired and if you don’t accept that as part of the lifestyle it’s really easy to put training off. “I’m too tired, I’m going to go hang out with friends.”
When I was younger, the hardest part for me outside the ring was accepting the responsibility that training implied. Maintaining discipline is the hardest challenge. It’s easy to fall off of training. You might lose friends because of it. A lot of my friends that I grew up with, I don’t really see anymore, although you do make new friends along the way.
Also, the financial situation is a major difficulty. We don’t get paid very well to do this. The fights don’t always pay well and it’s difficult to maintain a regular job while training all the time.
What are some of the difficulties you face inside the ring?
Besides getting elbowed in the face? Staying focused. Sometimes your opponent will be faster than you expected or you’ll be more tired than you expected. If you’re not there 100%, your lack of focus can bite you in the ass. I’ve taken a few fights where I wasn’t a 100% focused. I knew I was a better skilled fighter but I wasn’t “there.” Losing a fight because you let it happen is harder than getting knocked out.
What do you think about when you’re fighting?
When I’m focused- nothing. I’m there. I’m just there. Move, breathe. There it is. When I’m not focused, “I wonder who’s watching,” “Oh shit I just got hit,” or “I wonder how Mom’s doing?” I’ve had situations where those thoughts have gone through my mind. At one point my mom wasn’t doing that well and as I was fighting my mind was somewhere else.
Can you hear your corner that well? Do you have an easy or hard time listening to their instructions?
Have you heard Coach Rudi Ott? It’s hard not to hear him. He has a voice that just travels. I hear him but sometimes it can be difficult to see what he sees. That requires some faith to just do what he says. Sometimes things are fantastic and I can hear and understand him, other times it’s a bit more difficult and things don’t just click together.
What do you think about when you’re walking out from the dressing room and into the ring?
That’s the worst part. I’ve talked to a few fighters about this. Some have said “Oh, I don’t feel anything.” While I’ve seen other fighters puke right before their bout. I’ve been both. I’ve been really calm and other times I’ve been so agitated and anxious. I just try to breathe and stay within myself. It’s a crazy feeling going into a fight. It’s a intense rush.
What are your strengths as a fighter?
So I’m a coach here at Unlimited as well and when I ask a fighter “What do you think your strength is?” I know what that fighter will say, but what their real strength is will be something else. In that same way if you ask Coach Rudi what my strength is you’ll get a different answer. According to Coach Rudi my southpaw stance is a good advantage for me but I like fighting standard. I like my speed when I am fighting orthodox. Overall though, I think my countering is my strength. Hitting someone when they don’t expect it is fun.
What’s your favorite thing about being a fighter?
I couldn’t picture being anything else. I think I couldn’t ever not be a martial artist. Even if I never fought again, I’d still be training. When I was a kid I always wanted to be a ninja so training for me is fulfilling that dream. “I’m training to be a ninja,” I’ll think to myself. So really it’s the lifestyle of being a fighter.
What’s your least favorite thing about being a fighter?
I wish we got paid more for doing what we do.
Where do you feel like you are in your career?
I battle with this question a lot. I’ve had a lot of injuries, but every fighter has had a lot of injuries. My body has been broken down. There’s been times when I couldn’t even move my legs. I just had a baby and with him around I think about my career. I want to be able to play with him and move around with him. I think about retiring sometimes but not just yet. I’d like to make a run for the title.
What do you expect with this upcoming fight with Chasteen?
I respect everyone I go against so I’m not taking him lightly at all. In his last fight he was bullied. I respect the kid. He’s been successful with what he’s done but I’m going to do what I have to do. I’m going to impose my skills and will upon him. I’m training to win.
You were recently cut in a fight with Justin Greskiewicz. What’s it like being cut in a fight?
Before the bout with Greskiewicz I was training and fighting for Glory. I had a match with Gabriel Varga. The pace for the training was very high output. I had a similar pace for the Muay Thai bout with Greskiewicz. I came out with a high output. I was tagging him a lot and aggressive. The next thing I know I was cut. It was a minute and thirty seconds into the first round. I never really got a chance to really do as much of what I wanted in the bout.
Have you been cut besides the bout with Greskiewicz?
With the bout with Greskiewicz I was cut up into my brow. It was a dangerous spot and the laceration was really deep too. I’ve been cut up high, and on the side.
Have the other cuts you’ve had hampered your fighting? What have they felt like?
The first time, I got by the Russian Experiment, Artem Sharoshkin. It was a warm feeling on my face and it just felt weird. I was cut in the fifth round and I’d already won the fight. The second guy that cut me was Shane Oblonsky. He cut me really deep. I had got a “Harry Potter.” My corner man saw the bone and almost passed out. He was disgusted by it. Luckily that didn’t bleed a lot and that happened late in the fight as well.
What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of this training camp?
They go hand in hand. My sleeping patterns have been really weird because of the new baby. We haven’t been able to push like we normally do in training but at the same time it’s allowed my body to train, rest and train harder when we do need to push things along. I don’t feel as burned out.
What does your final week before this fight look like?
My training will be fast and intense ,although nothing too crazy. Finishing up the mental aspect. I’m on weight.
Do you cut a lot of weight for your bouts?
For this bout I’m doing pretty good on my weight. The bout is at 145lbs. I’m not too heavy.
Thanks for taking your time out and talking to us. Anything else you’d like to say?
I’d like to thank Gfy for always being there, All Day Results (ADR) for supporting me on this camp. I’d like to thank Muay Thai Addict and Peter Cassaras Italian Clothing for their apparel. Beautiful! Self defined and body by Jose. I’d also like to thank my team in the gym. UNLIMITED is amazing, including Coach Rudi and my team at home. I love you. Last but definitely not least Aileen, you’re amazing. Thank you for everything you’ve brought into my life.