UFC 249 is only a week away. After seven weeks without a UFC event and more than five events canceled, the biggest fight promotion returns on May 9 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Kicking off the pay-per-view will be Yorgan De Castro. He will be fighting former NFL defensive lineman and controversial fighter Greg Hardy. De Castro kicked off the UFC 243 pay-per-view in his debut against Justin Tafa winning via first-round knockout.
Here is an interview with UFC 249 fighter Yorgan De Castro.
How are you and your family doing during this quarantine?
“I’m doing good man. Staying at home. My wife, my daughter stay home. I’m the only one that’s going out shopping for food. I’ve been training twice a day. But that’s it. We’re basically home.”
How’s training going?
“It’s a lot of one-on-one. We’re used to a lot of group session training like jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, and a lot of sparring with different guys. Now its just one-on-one. I’m doing my conditioning in the morning with my coach and then I will go back right now at 3:30 to do MMA drills like speed work and lift a little bit, but it’s just like one on one. Me and my two coaches on Saturday are going to spare with two different teammates, but that’s it. I would say the most people involved in this camp is five or six.”
Are you happy that your fight against Greg Hardy is finally taking place after being postponed a couple of times?
“Damn right! It’s been crazy. I’ve been burned out with a lot. I started training during December, then they canceled two weeks before March 28th. Then it was back on for April 18 and they canceled again. So it’s been training and then take a couple of days off, and then back to train again. But I think it is finally I think this time going to happen.”
In previous interviews you said that you asked for Greg Hardy, why is that?
“I asked for Hardy for the simple fact that outside of the rankings, he’s the biggest name. If you look at the top 15 guys, I believe Greg Hardy is the biggest name. I mean, he’s got a big name. You have a lot of people who hate him and a lot of people that like him. People want to tune in to watch. Every time he has stepped in the cage, he brought attention. He brought numbers. People are gonna watch him. And if this is a heavyweight division, one punch can change everything. I like to take a risk against a guy with a name because if I win. It is a win-win for me.”
Take me back to your UFC debut against Justin Tafa. When did you get the call that you were going to be bumped up to the pay-per-view?
“I was in China. It was a long flight to Australia you know. Boston to China, then China to Australia. I believe it’s 24 hours. It was 15 hours from Boston to China. So when I got off the plane we had a layover for six hours, so we looking for a place to eat. I opened my phone and it was a bunch of tagging people tagging me. I said, wow, this was meant to happen. Let’s do it.”
You went into enemy territory and you flatlined him. Were you nervous at all going into Australia?
“Yeah, I was nervous. I mean every time you step in the there you got another man over there really trying to take your head off. I mean you gotta be a little nervous. But I’m telling you it was less stressful than being on the Contenders Series.”
Why was that?
“I think it was depression and trying to make the next step. I was 32, and to me, it was my last call and I said if I don’t make it right now, I’m probably not going to make it. If I can’t beat the guy I was fighting,- the guy that was one dimension fighter. He was a wrestler and that’s it. If I cannot beat a wrestler then I’m not ready to fight UFC.”
“It was was a lot of pressure. The place was 40 people at the most, and then you got Dana White and Mick Maynard watching you fight, it was intense.”
You’re going from the largest UFC audience of all time to this next fight with no audience in the arena. Will that have any effect on you?
“I don’t think so, I’m going to do the same thing. I’m going to focus on Greg. That’s it. I’m fighting one man. No matter what. That’s him. I’m fighting him. I want to try to focus on him and I want to make it quick. I mean I don’t get paid by the hour. I’m going to make him fight my fight. One of us is going down.
What did you do with your performance or the night check after you knocked out Justin Tafa?
“Nothing, believe it or not. I paid the bills and paid my manager and my coach. I’m a simple guy, man. I stay at home. My life is simple, I stay home and the gym. That’s it. And I eat a lot.”
You work security at a Durfee high school. Do most of the kids know now that you’re a pro fighter?
“Yeah, I mean the kids, the kids know me. They love me, they relate to me. They always look for motivation. I’m happy to play a good part on most of these kids’ life. This part of the USA is really tough. A lot of immigration and a lot of underprivileged kids. So they see me on TV and they see me working so it gives them motivation and hope. They say, well we can do it too. So I have a good relationship with the kids.”
I saw the video of you returning home to a pep rally. How was that? How did that feel and the emotions behind that?
“Yeah, that was very emotional because when you feel that you’re doing something good and people actually like it and recognize it. I thought it would it be like a normal day but then they went nuts and it hit me right in my heart and I felt like I was doing something good.”
So back to Greg Hardy. You are the underdog again. Why do you think people keep counting you out?
“I always fight someone with a big name or they come from a big gym. You don’t know me and you don’t know my gym. You don’t know my coach or my work ethic. Plus I’m not a 6 foot 5 with abs. I’m a short, heavyweight. My looks can be deceiving. They’re going to judge me by the looks. So they’re going to count me out. I’m okay with that. I mean I’m the underdog, but when the cage locks and my opponent gets ahold of me or when we start to punching or throwing kicks, I guarantee it’s going to change. But I’m okay with it. Being the underdog is okay.”
What does it mean to be on the most stacked card of all time?
“I’ve been telling everybody all week. I feel honored and I feel blessed. Especially during this time if we can go and put on a show and give people entertainment at home. It is such a big card. I believe we got like three former champs over on the prelims and the main card is so big. I’d be happy to be on the prelims but I’m honored to be on the main card.”
What should we expect to see from you on May 9th?
“I’m going to give it all, man. I’m going to give 100% from the time the bell ring till we get it done. I’m willing to go out and try to take Greg Hardy’s head off. So I’m going to close the distance. I’m going to throw bombs. That’s it.”
UFC 249 takes place on May 9, 2020.
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