After a rocky start to 2018, lightweight Fernando Padilla was able to right the ship in his last bout of the year and close things out on a high note.
Perhaps more so importantly than finishing 2018 with a win after back-to-back defeats, Padilla was able to rebound in a fashion he feels will set the pace for his 2019 and beyond.
“Well, 2018 was hard,” Padilla told MMAWeekly.com. “I started the year with two losses, but that was a big reality check and it made me push myself really hard.
“After months and months of fight camps and a lot of cancelled fights, I found my way back to the cage in November for King of the Cage, won my fight. I didn’t just get the win; I feel like I’ve moved onto the next level in my career that night.”
Speaking of cancelled fights, while bouts falling through was difficult for Padilla, he was able to remain active and work with his team to greatly improve his game.
“I know it’s part of the game, but for sure it was frustrating,” said Padilla. “I was training nonstop and not just regular training – it was fight camp training – pretty much all the time for five months.
“I think training at Team Oyama is the best thing that’s happened for me. I learn a lot every day; it’s a new thing and a new push. If you ask me about the Fernando Padilla from two or three years ago, it’s nothing like the Fernando of today.”
On Friday in Albuquerque, N.M., Padilla (11-3) will look to pick up his second straight victory when he faces Donald Sanchez (30-19) in an LFA 58 lightweight bout.
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“I think he’s a good fighter,” Padilla said of Sanchez. “He has a lot of experience, but I’m hungry and I’m training hard. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen, but I can tell you that I’m going to put my 100 percent and all my heart into this fight and for sure – I’m aiming for the win.”
Should Padilla build up a winning streak, he’d like to close out the year by making the move up to the next level.
“My goal for 2019 is for sure is to be in the UFC, train as hard as I can and see if I can get to the Top 15,” said Padilla. “I know it’s going to be hard, but that’s the goal I have to achieve to make my dreams a reality.”