Looking back on his unanimous decision victory over Jesse Bazzi at PACF 35 in March, flyweight Claudio Ledesma faced a more difficult task than he anticipated, but was nonetheless able to come out with the win.
According to Ledesma, Bazzi proved to be a much more difficult task than he was scouted to be, making the victory that much sweeter.
“It was a top-notched competition. (Bazzi) was one of the top-ranked guys out of the Great Lakes region,” Ledesma told MMAWeekly.com. “It was a tough fight. He was a tough kid, and actually caught me by surprise with how tough he was. It was good to get a win over a good solid guy like that.”
Following back-to-back losses to close out 2015 and open 2016, Ledesma has been on a five-fight winning streak, to which he credits his maturation as a fighter and growth in his mental game.
“I’m starting to look at things a little differently,” said Ledesma. “Our team has always solid, but we just kind of changed our training and are training a little bit smarter than harder sometimes.
“That and believing in myself a little bit more and realizing that a lot of fights that I lost that were slim decisions, or against good guys where I feel like I lost the fight before I even walked in because I felt like I wasn’t at that level. Now I’m starting to realize that I am amongst that level and that I belong in those types of fights.”
On Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Ledesma (16-7) will look to claim his first major MMA championship when he challenges titleholder Juan Puerta (16-6) in the 125-pound title main event of Titan FC 55.
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“He’s a great fighter on a great streak as well, too,” Ledesma said of Puerta. “I just think we match up really well together and our games are kind of similar. I’m just excited for the opportunity and excited for the big fight.
“It would be cool to win this thing and kind of have that career validation. All of my teammates have belts, or have had belts, are in the UFC or another big promotion, and I almost feel like I don’t belong. It would be nice to get that belt to get that validation.”
Should he pick up a win on June 28, Ledesma could have a bright outlook for the remainder of 2019, but for now he’s just got his mind set on his match with Puerta.
“I never think ahead; one: out of respect for my opponent, and two: just because you never know what life is going to throw at you; so I just think of the one in front of me,” said Ledesma. “Whatever happens after this one, usually I’m asking for another one real quick, so hopefully it turns out to be the situation.”
(Photo by Daniel Freel/New Jersey Herald)