Bazooka Brass- a interview w/ top MMA prospect Joe Coca
You cannot teach 20 year old confidence you just have to live it. Bantamweight prospect Joe Coca possesses a wide-eyed swagger that comes with his unscarred 7-0 record. Throughout his three year pro career Coca has been able to outclass the majority of his opponents on the local MMA scene.
Coca picked up the MMA bug at New Mexico's famed Fit No Holds Barred gym where his older brother Lorenzo Coca had begun training the sport. Starting at the age of 16, Coca spent two years working with the pros at Fit NHB in anticipation of his own professional debut.
In order to keep his competitive juices fresh prior to his first cage fight Coca excelled in the key elements that make up a MMA fighter; testing himself in amateur boxing bouts while also becoming a multiple time Grappler's Quest gold medalist.
Coca is an intriguing prospect because of his youth, proficiency in submission grappling and established professional gym where he learns his craft. Albuquerque's Joe Coca is currently ranked number 19 in the ULTMMA50; a pound for listing of the top prospects in MMA.
ULTMMA.com (Uniting Locals Through Mixed Martial Arts) spoke with Coca in the days leading up to his 135 pound title fight with King of the Cage and Dream veteran Abel Cullum (16-3). Coca opened up about his early MMA training, possible strategies for Cullum and his non-MMA aspirations.
ULTMMA.com: How's training been going over the last few weeks?
Joe Coca: Excellent. Training has been going awesome; I've been working on a lot of stamina and endurance. I have top of line training partners and each have a unique skill to help me out.
ULTMMA: Any reason for the six month layoff between fights?
Coca: No, not really. Honestly I've been just training and doing my thing. Before this fight I was just taking it easy for the Holidays, you know.
ULTMMA: How active of a schedule would you like to take in 2010?
Coca: You know what man I just take them as they come. If, a fight is right for me I'll take it. I usually not the type of guy that can fight one week to the next, I defiantly not that guy, but when a fight feels right I'll take it.
ULTMMA: Outside of the gym, how else do you spend your free time?
Coca: I have a full time job and I go to school full time. I'm a supervisor at a fitness gym and I'm studying business.
ULTMMA: How did you get started in MMA?
Coca: I've been training for four years now. My older brother is a pro fighter and I've kind of followed in his footsteps. I did wrestle my first year of high school and honestly I went to the fight gym just to stay in shape for wrestling, but I never went back to wrestling. I picked it, loved it and have become addicted to it.
ULTMMA: What were your initial thoughts when this King of the Cage title fight was presented to you?
Coca: I probably heard about this fight six to eight weeks ago. That's perfect timing for a fight. I've seen Abel fight before and my thoughts on it are that I'm going to kick his ass.
ULTMMA: Your both from New Mexico have seen Abel Cullum fight before?
Coca: I've been following Abel for a long time especially because King of the Cage is one of the big shows in the Southwest. I've seen him fight and I think he's a great champion but everything he does I think I do it just a little bit better. It's nothing personal and he's a really cool guy, when I have talked to him he's been really cool to me.
ULTMMA: Through seven fights, what has been the toughest so far?
Coca: It was for the freestyle cage fighting bantamweight title. I fought Frank Barragen who's out of Texas. I won the fight but I got my ass whooped, I was definitely feeling it.
ULTMMA: What went wrong in that fight?
Coca: No, we executed the game plan exactly like we were supposed to. That fight went exactly how I wanted it to go but he got his licks in.
ULTMMA: What do you his game plan will be going into this fight?
Coca: There's not that much footage on me. He couldn't have studied me that well. He's got to be concerned. He's got to be losing sleep over it. I feel like I'm well versed anywhere be it on the ground or standing up or wrestling it doesn't matter.
ULTMMA: Is this the biggest fight of your career?
Coca: This is the biggest fight of my career so far. I foresee bigger things later on. Honestly, I try to take it all in stride and take it one fight at a time.
ULTMMA: What are some of the goals you have for your MMA career?
Coca: I really don't set goals for MMA because whichever fight is my next is my biggest fight. I don't like to look past that until it comes.
ULTMMA: With a full time job, full time school schedule, Do you see yourself doing MMA long term?
Coca: I'll do MMA until I start losing. You know what I mean. I'll do it until it's not my passion anymore. Right now it's one of big priorities, school is a big priority and work is a big priority luckily I've found a way to juggle all three of them. I'm a busy dude but that's the way I like it.
ULTMMA: Any sponsors you would like to thank?
Coca: Full Tilt Poker dot com, the New Mexico Arthritis center, Center Trees, and everyone at Fit NHB