You may remember his yellow jumpsuit from season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter, Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres (6-4) was a colorful character on that show… with his quick kicks and a big grin. And my guess is he will be flashing that signature smile when he steps into the Octagon this weekend at UFC 143 in Las Vegas. Caceres will be taking on fellow bantamweight Edwin “El Feroz” Figueroa (8-1). I had a chance to speak with Caceres this week and he gave me this very candid interview.
Now you dropped down a weight class and was very successful at this weight with a win over Cole Escovedo last year at UFC on Fox, how do you feel at this weight and what was the reason for the cut?
“It all comes down to weight; I was walking around at 145. I was only cutting 5 pounds to make that weight so I wasn’t really cutting any weight so just to start competing competitively with these fighters in the UFC, I had to actually start cutting weight cause everybody else was cutting 20 -25 pounds to get to a certain weight. And competing with people that are about 20- 30 pounds heavier than I am whether it was at 155 or 145. So far the weigh cut hasn’t been difficult for me it’s a normal weight cut, I cut about 15 to 20 pounds most of its done by dieting. The last ten I did by cutting but it’s actually very comfortable for me, this weight.”
How do you think being at a lighter weight has helped your game? Do you find yourself faster?
“Well definitely being at a lighter weight did make me a better fighter, because I had to work harder to get to that lighter weight, which made me push my cardio workouts and my technique workouts a lot more than what I was normally doing. I was kinda like cruising on by using more skill than actual athleticism in my fights. Though I know I have the skill but I had to meet it half way with my athleticism. So being at that weight class actually helped me to be working out more so I feel like my strength is more competitive, my speed is more competitive and I am actually more hungry at this weight, it makes me want to fight more.”
So, what’s the game plan for the fight Saturday?
“The game plan is to do my thing like I do. I never really go into the fight with a game plan of course, I have certain things I want to do and certain things I would like to do but then again I never know what is going to happen in a fight or how this guy is going to come out. So I try to adapt accordingly. Other than that my game plan is to usually keep it standing, and win the fight. If it happens fast it happens fast but try and win the fight more out of accumulation, trying to dominate quickly, ya know. I find that I do better that way coming in and out try to hit the guy more times than he can hit me. Usually sometimes they don’t hit me so that if anything that would be a game plan.”
Have you looked at any of Figueroa’s fights, he looks like he’s pretty competitive in the stand-up game as well?
“I know him; I have seen him fight personally live. He’s very competitive with his standup game he’s a solid Muay Thai PR practitioner, as well. He has a good ground game defense I’ve seen him work that a lot, and he’s one of those guys that likes to stand and bang ya know and swing for the fences and see who goes down first. But then again, I am not that type of fighter so it will be a standup fight on my terms where my strengths are more dominant. “
You have been working a lot on improving your ground game which you showcased in your last fight that you won. Are you continuing to work on this skill?
“Oh Yeah! It sounds kind of backwards for a standup fight that I am actually training for. I have actually been training a whole lot of ground; I’ve been actually picking up more ground classes and more wrestling a lot more Jiu Jitsu. I definitely do want to implement my ground techniques that I have learned in this fight. I do prefer to stand up but I am pretty confident in my skill level on the ground and I need to display that and how do you say it ‘test myself’. And I want to keep working on that cause I want to have a solid ground background so when it does go to the ground I am comfortable and can bring it to my feet anytime I want to.”
You sound like a different fighter than the one I spoke to last time, what’s changed?
“Honestly it wasn’t till very recently within the last 6 months I came to a certain awareness and it kind of just hit me ….I know what I gotta do. After those two losses I kind of went into myself and I thought really long and hard and what I wanted, what I needed and what I was going to achieve in my life and remembering that has helped me a lot, actually I used to know it but somewhere along the way I got jaded and forgot it. Recalling that back to my memory opened up my eyes and showed me what I needed to do and I have definitely matured a whole lot. I know that there is still room to grow, it’s a sense of trying to achieve perfection but knowing that I will probably never achieve perfection but doing it anyway.”
Spoken like a true warrior. You can catch this bantamweight fight and the rest of the UFC 143 prelims starting at 8 p.m. ET on Fuel TV.