Before Gary Balletto Jr. returns to the CES MMA cage for the third time against Montoyia Swilling at CES MMA 40 on November 23 at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., the Cranston brawler sat down with Pro MMA Now.
How were you introduced to MMA to begin with?
I was always involved with wrestling and boxing when I was growing up. As MMA got more popular when I was in high school, I thought that I wanted to try it. I found a gym to start training at, and I just jumped in.
What were your first impressions?
I was always a rough kid growing up, so the brutality really attracted me to it initially. I fell in love with the sport right away.
What role has your father, legendary Rhode Island boxer Gary Balletto Sr., played in your passion for martial arts?
The lifestyle, for sure — growing up in the gym and competition atmosphere became a lifestyle for me early in life. The transition to MMA wasn’t so big. It’s still the same feeling of competition, and the same mentality.
Do you feel any pressure to be great, considering the level that your father competed at and what he accomplished?
I don’t really have much to worry about on that front. There’s always pressure because you don’t want to lose. But I was talking with my wife. She asked me what my plan was for this fight, and I don’t have a game plan. I’m so unpredictable that I say I don’t know what I’m doing until I’m already doing it. I’m just going as I go, and that mentality does relieve a lot of the pressure. I don’t overthink anything; I just jump in and do it.
That being said, what are your goals in MMA?
Well, you know, it’s one fight at a time. I think every fighter who does this has a dream of moving their way up to the top competition, which is the UFC. Everyone has that dream to one day hold the belt. Right now, it’s just one fight at a time. Right now, it’s this fight, then it will be my next one, then the next one after that. That’s how I’m approaching my career.