It has been nearly 16 years since Alexis Vila (11-1) won a bronze medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga. And while many things have changed in the years since then, one thing that time hasn’t altered is Vila’s desire for competition.
Fueled by that desire Vila transitioned to mixed martial arts and made his professional debut in 2007 with the dream of one day becoming a world champion.
“I always go in to win,” Vila said. “I’m going to go in with that same mentality. I want the belt. That’s what I’m here to do.”
Vila came close to earning the title shot that he set out for in 2007 when he faced Eduardo Dantas (13-2) last November in the finals of the Bellator Season 5 bantamweight tournament. In the end though it was Dantas who won the decision and handed Vila the first loss of his professional career.
“Dantas is a great fighter,” Vila said. “[He is] very impressive for his age. A lot of things happened before that fight that affected my performance. I didn’t recover from the weight cut as good as normal because I wasn’t able to get my IV in time. Also, I was suffering from a lot of allergies so I couldn’t breath well and [I] got tired [during] the second and third rounds.”
Since that time, Vila has taken steps to make sure that the issues he faced in his fight with Dantas don’t arise again.
“I think I have all those things fixed for my next fight,” Vila said. “I’ve changed up my cardio and strength training to ensure I don’t get tired. People are going to see a different Alexis Vila this tournament.”
The first test for the returning Vila will be this Friday, April 13, when he takes on Louis Nogueira (12-2) at Bellator 65 in the opening round of the promotion’s Season 6 bantamweight tournament.
“[Nogueira] is a good match for me,” Vila said. “He’s a [BJJ] national champion in Brazil, but my wrestling and boxing [are] so good that I don’t think anyone can stand with me now.”
As for how the fight will ultimately play out, Vila hopes to rebound from his loss and pick up the win in exciting fashion.
“I don’t think it will be even close to going to decision,” Vila said. “I always come to finish. I don’t like fights going to decision.”
His own fight isn’t the only bout Vila is interested in come Friday night. In the main event Zach Makovsky (14-2) is scheduled to defend his bantamweight championship against the man that handed Vila his first loss, Eduardo Dantas.
“I’m very excited to see this fight,” Vila said. “I want to see who I will be fighting in the future.”
As for who he would prefer to fight, Vila said it wouldn’t matter to him although he would like a chance to avenge his sole loss.
“I would fight either of them,” Vila said. “But I would like to fight Dantas again of course. He is my only loss and I want to take that back.”
Bellator 65 takes place this Friday, April 13, at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. and airs live on MTV2. For more information about Bellator Fighting Championships visit Bellator.com.
Alexis Vila would like to thank his management team of Tina, Ray, and Ron at ML Management. He would also like to thank his sponsors Contract Killer and Lexani in addition to all of his coaches and trainers at ATT, Young Tigers, and South Miami Sports Performance.