Yoislandy Izquierdo Discusses His UFC Debut With CageJunkies
On April 14th Miami native Yoislandy “Cuba” Izquierdo will make his long awaited debut for UFC. Originally slated to debut in February, the undefeated lightweight is now set to face Reza Madidi in his long journey to mixed martial arts greatness. The Cuban born fighter took a few minutes out of his training schedule to discuss how it will feel entering the UFC octagon for the first time, traveling to Sweden for his debut and what he expects out of his opponent. Below the video is an English translation of the interview.
JR: Welcome CageJunkies, we are here today with Yoislandy Izquierdo, nicknamed “Cuba”, how are you feeling brother?
YI: Real good. Getting ready.
JR: For those not aware, this gentleman will be competing in the UFC, in Sweden. Give us some details on the show and on your fight.
YI: It’s going to be April 14th in Sweden. We’re heading out on the 9th. We’re going to have five days to get used to the change in timezones and climate. Besides that we’re just working on strategy for my opponent. Everything is going according to plan.
JR: Speaking about your opponent, Reza Madadi, what do you know about him?
YI: He’s a good fighter. He has 11 wins and 2 losses. The majority [of his wins] have been decisions. I know he’s a wrestler. He has some stand-up and I assume he’s getting better there too. He’s like any other opponent that is going to face me.
JR: How do you think the fight is going to play out and how do you think you will end it?
YI: All fights start standing. So it depends on how the fight plays out and what his plan is. It doesn’t matter to me. I think he’s going to try and take me down like any wrestler who wants to fight where he is most comfortable. I’m going to contest that. I’m going to fight the fight I always fight to reach my goal which is to get the victory.
JR: How have you been working on your jiu-jitsu to counter your opponent if he gets you to the ground?
YI: I’ve been training at Zen Jiu-Jitsu with Master Enrico Cocco. He’s an excellent teacher and an excellent athlete. I’ve also been working on my vulnerabilities and my escapes. And if the opportunity arises for me to work a technique on him, I’m going to.
JR: This is going to be the first time you’re traveling outside of the United States since you immigrated here. How does it feel leaving a place that you worked so hard to come to?
YI: This is a career that’s like that. You have to travel to everywhere to fight. So it is a little strange to leave your comfort zone and it’s going to be the first time for me, but what really affects me is leaving my family behind for the moment. In the future they’ll get to travel with me as part of my team. But the other part, I’m happy to travel, happy to see a country I haven’t seen before, a beautiful country like Sweden. So I’m really happy. It’s the next rung in the ladder in my life.
JR: Now this is your first fight for UFC and it will be on Fuel TV [editor's note: The main card will be on Fuel TV. Preliminary bouts will be streamed on Facebook]. Alot of people have opinions about a fighter entering a promotion as big as the UFC for the first time. How are you handling that pressure, if you even feel it?
YI: The reality is that it is a big promotion, the biggest in the world, and the event is going to be really enormous. Tickets sold out two months before [the event]. It’s going to be full, it’s going to be very emotional and the adrenaline is going to be super-high, but I’m trying to maintain my calm. Trying to maintain my concentration and not let anything distract me. Just focus on the fight. I’m trying to prepare as best as I can just in case I can’t hear my corner because of the noise. We’re making the plan and trying to be as focused as we can on not doing less or more [than we need too].
JR: For those that are not aware, we’ll be watching UFC on Fuel TV 2, to watch Yoislandy fight on April 14th. Would you like to thank anyone?
YI: Of course. The fans that support me. My trainers Manuel Lopez, Enrico Cocco, Eric Castanos and Carlos Finales. To my wife who has supported me. To my daughter, to my daughter in Cuba and to my family in Cuba who have supported me from so far. And just wait as we’re going to get another win, and a first because it will be a win in the UFC.
JR: You heard it here first like always. Thank you again Yoislandy. Always a pleasure.