interview with rising bantamweight Dustin Ortiz

Talented bantamweight Dustin Ortiz returns to action this Saturday night in the “GFC 7” co-main event at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds Sports Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

Ortiz made his professional debut on April 17 at “Strikeforce: Nashville” where he defeated Justin Pennington with a first round rear-naked choke submission. He won another fight last month, and is ready to get right back in there. talked with Ortiz this week about his recent victories, his upcoming opponent, his training, and what the future may hold for this hometown hero.

Hi Dustin, how are you feeling now just a few days before your fight?
I’m feeling good. I always stay prepared and never stop training so I’m feeling ready.

It seems like they had a little trouble finding you an opponent. What’s been the deal with that?
I’m not sure what has been the problem with finding an opponent, I try to focus on my training and just fight whoever the match maker finds me.

Who are you fighting Saturday and what can you tell us about him?
I will be fighting Forrest Beard. I don’t really know anything about Forrest. I know he has a slight reach advantage, but I truly feel that’s all he has. I don’t know his style so it’s hard to say how well we match up. I do know that I will do my best to make it a good fight.

Who are some of the sparring partners you worked with to help you get ready for this fight, and who are your coaches there at Nashville MMA?
I spar with just about anyone I can. We have very few little guys that train MMA so my opptions are very limited. Right now I’m working with BJJ coaches Shawn Hammonds and Ray Casias for my ground game. Ed Clay, Josh Schockman and Lance Pattrick have been helping me with my stand up.

At this stage of your pro career what is your main motivation and drive?
Right now my main motivation and drive would have to be reaching higher grounds. What I mean by that is getting to where I’m fighting in the best shows, better living.

We last saw you in the cage at “Strikeforce: Nashville” back in April when you choked out Justin Pennington in the first round. What was that whole experience like for you, the open workout, fighting at Bridgetsone Arena in front of your friends and family, the whole “big show” experience, what was that like for you… did it make you want more of it?
The Strikeforce experience was great. My family was more excited than I was. The best part was that my two brothers were able to come down from Virgina to watch.

That must have been really cool for them. Would you say the Strikeforce experience has motivated you to work even harder and want to get back to the “big show” even faster or did you not need any more motivation?
The whole Strikeforce experience was amazing. That show made me want to fight more, train harder, be the best, have fans, and it really opened my eyes and showed me and hopefully others that I can perform in a big show and that, that is where I belong.

What types of things have you been working on since the Strikeforce fight and where do you think you have made the most improvements?
I’ve been working on everything. I try not to focus on one thing too hard.

Okay. Now you were supposed to have a fight last month I believe at Silverado’s weren’t you, and you’re opponent didn’t show up or something? What happened with that… did you find out why they backed out?
The whole Silverados thing was a mess. I have no clue what happened to my original guy. Then they got me a guy at 145 but something was wrong with paper work. So they ended up giving Lucas Thomas a rematch. So I took him down and ended up breaking his rib in the first round.

Thanks a lot Dustin. Best of luck this weekend.
Thank you.