Mixed martial arts has become a natural fit for high level wrestlers looking to stay active athletically, so when 1996 Olympic freestyle wrestling bronze medalist Alexis Vila (8-0) made the switch, he had pretty high expectations for himself.
Currently considered one of the top ten flyweight fighters in the world by many, Vila, a native of Cuba, has been working on his MMA skills with the prominent American Top Team camp in Coconut Creek, Fla.
“I work on all around MMA every day,” Vila told ProMMAnow.com. “This is my life. I want to be the UFC champion, so I focus on everything I need to do to achieve that goal. There is always room for improvement, and as such I continue to work daily on all the skills I need to be the best.”
With top notch wrestling skills and a great MMA camp behind him, there’s no reason to think Vila can’t establish himself as the best 125-pounder around. However, at 39 years old, people are bound to wonder how much longer Vila can stay near the top and make a title run.
Sure, guys like Randy Couture have fought the best in the world well into their forties, but at 125, Vila has a lot of very skilled young lions nipping at his heals.
“I get this question a lot,” Vila said when asked how much longer he believes he can fight. “I am in the best physical shape of my life with very few injuries. I run circles around the guys in their twenties during cardio training. As an Olympian and professional athlete me entire life, my body is conditioned differently than someone who just started doing this a few years ago — I feel like I can fight forever and I will fight until I can’t fight anymore.”
With the talent and determination in place, now all Vila needs is a shot against the other top competitors at his weight. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
The good news is that UFC president said we can expect the world’s biggest MMA promotion to open up a flyweight division sooner or later. Plus, before merging with the UFC, World Extreme Cagefighting helped to put the featherweight and bantamweight divisions on the map.
The bad news is that the smaller guys still don’t have as easy a time lining up big fights. For the time being, Vila is plying his trade for the Mixed Fighting Alliance organization, with Lewis McKenzie (10-4) up next on Feb. 12. But if he has to, Vila is willing to fight at bantamweight if it gets him the big opportunity he relishes.
“I will be the UFC Champion,” he said. “The UFC has indicated they would give me a shot once they open up their 125 pound division, but since that hasn’t happened yet, I’m willing to jump to 135 to achieve my dream. So Dana White, if you’re reading this, give me a call!”
Vila had been rumored to face fellow flyweight contender John Dodson at Tachi Palace Fights 9 on May 5. That fight recently fell through.
“I was entertaining an offer from Tachi Palace,” Vila said. “However, I am currently under a contract with Mixed Fighting Alliance Promotions and will most likely be fighting for a title belt around May. We requested an allowance from Tachi in the event this is the case. However, they declined.”
Vila added, “Tachi Palace has done a great job focusing on and promoting the flyweight fighters, where other promotions have ignored them to some extent. I think it is great that they are giving us an opportunity to display our fighting ability and make a living doing what we love. Tachi has some great flyweights, but I am the best 125-pounder in the world. I was told I would have the opportunity to fight [Jussier “Formiga” da Silva] to prove that, but that hasn’t happened yet. Put me in the ring with anyone ranked higher than me and you will see.”
Alexis asked to thank the following:
I would like to thank ProMMAnow for the interview; my trainers and coaches; my management team, ML Management; Clinch Gear for always sending me their gear and shorts; my fans for their loyal support; and all my other friends and sponsors.