It’s a country with a rich heritage of martial arts thanks in part to fighting legend Bruce Lee, and Saturday, nearly 40 years after his untimely death at 32 in 1973, the UFC will host its first card in China. “UFC on Fuel TV 6” will be held in a place just a few miles from where Lee grew up in Macao.
Lee’s impact on the sport is as famous as the legend he left behind, he inspired billions of people with his films, was in effect the forerunner of the sport we know today as “Mixed Martial Arts” and his philosophies have been quoted by everyone from Pacquiao to “Bones” Jones and even Georges St Pierre.
Like many young fighters Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres (7-5) was not even born when Bruce Lee was alive. But that did not stop him from waxing poetic when he spoke to me about him being a fighter.
“I signed up for this, this is what I wanted to do,” said Caceres. “Once I’m in the fight, I know there are two things that can happen; the guy can either defend my attacks or attack me. So once I understand the situation it’s a lot easier to deal with”.
Heck, he even dressed up like Lee, wearing a yellow jumpsuit on the “The Ultimate Fighter” where he became a fan favorite.
For his upcoming fight with Motonobu Tezuka (19-4), Caceres went to train at a gym that has a reputation of turning out a long list of fighters that have become stars of the sport, The MMA Lab, which is the home of UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, Jamie Varner and others.
‘The reason we sent him to the MMA LAB was we wanted him to start training on a bigger level,” said Caceres’ manager, Ricardo Llorente of First Round Management. “Here in Miami he’s running over everybody since there are only two or three professional guys in his gym and there is just so much you can do with guys that are there. To get him to the next level of fighting we had to send him to the MMA Lab. It’s a great fit for him. There are a lot of lightweights there. Plus Crouch is a great coach and a big motivator and the MMA Lab is more like a family over there.”
Caceres has improved a lot since we first saw him on TUF, especially in his ground game winning by a Triangle Choke in the second round over Damacio Page at UFC on Fuel TV 4 back in July.
But the pride of Japan will weigh heavily on the Tezuka’s shoulders and he will undoubtedly come out swinging. I predict the unorthodox style of Caceres will be enough to slay the dragon. However, much like the legend himself Bruce Lee said when he spoke about winning and losing, it should be one hell of a great fight.
“Forget about winning and losing; forget about pride and pain. Let your opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life! Do not be concerned with escaping safely – lay your life before him!” -Bruce Lee