UFC heavyweight Joey Beltran understands just how quickly things can change in the sport of mixed martial arts.
After beginning his career in 2007, fighting in predominately smaller promotions, Beltran battled up the ranks with consistent knockout victories to earn match ups against more notable fighters, such as Houston Alexander, along with earning title shots in both King of the Cage and 5150 Combat League. And, following his technical knockout victory over Alexander in January of last year, he was invited to the UFC to compete, winning his first two bouts.
In his third bout with the promotion, however, Beltran failed to earn the victory against Matt Mitrione and now faces the possibility of losing two consecutive fights in the sport’s top promotion. So, when he enters the cage opposite Pat Barry at “UFC Fight Night: Fight For The Troops 2″ this Saturday, he will do so with the clear understanding of what is on the line and the knowledge of just how quickly his UFC career could be over.
“With us both coming off a loss and the way the UFC has been cutting people like crazy, everything points to this being a knock-down, drag-out type of fight, where we’re both going to be fighting for our careers,” Beltran told HeavyMMA.com. “Maybe last year we might have been able to keep our jobs, but with the addition of all those new fighters, all the WEC fighters, there are a lot more fighters on the payroll.
“And I don’t expect the UFC to put on a ton of more shows. They already do. They put on two a month on a good month, sometimes three. It’s ridiculous. So, yeah, pretty much. We’re fighting for our jobs, I think. It’d be foolish to think we could squeak by Joe Silva and keep your job if you lose.”
Any fighter competing to keep his job with the UFC in his next contest is undoubtedly under added pressure to succeed. And, with all of the new additions from the WEC, more and more fighters will find themselves competing for their jobs.
But Beltran, fully understanding what a loss on Saturday would entail, is used to the feeling. It is a feeling he has dealt with throughout his time with the promotion.
“Personally, I kind of feel like I’ve always been fighting for my job in the UFC, or fighting just to prove that I belong,” Beltran said. “Fighting with the best fighters in the world, I always feel like I have a chip on my shoulder. But it helps to motivate you to get up every day when you’re sore and you feel like crap. You make yourself go to the gym and give 100% because I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle.”
Beltran’s uphill battle continues with his fight against Barry at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas and he now faces a decision many fighters on the brink of unemployment are faced with, being whether or not a more conservative style should be implemented. After all, had Marcus Davis taken a safer approach in his fight against Jeremy Stephens at UFC 125 earlier this month, he could still have his job by avoiding his opponent’s come-from-behind knockout.
But Beltran will not be buying into that logic. Regardless of the fact that he would be possibly packing his bags should he lose this weekend, the California native says, no matter what his gameplan may be, he cannot help but put on an exciting performance and that an entertaining victory is on tap for this weekend.
“In terms of gameplanning, or the way I’ll approach the fight, you can have a gameplan and the second you get hit with something hard, you’re going to fight how you always fight, I like to say,” Beltran said. “I always fight in an exciting fashion and just kind of go for it. I try to win, try to knock him out. That’s pretty much, I think, what’s going to happen.”
“Obviously with our jobs being at stake, I have to win. But I definitely think I can win and still entertain. I definitely know that our job is to entertain. I’m on TV. People are tuning in to be entertained. I don’t plan on pulling off a very boring fight. That’s just not in me. But I definitely say that I will win at any cost. If it goes to the ground, if a submission is there, or I can get a dominant position and pound him out, I’m going to take the win. I’m not going to be hunting for the knockout. I’m hunting for the win, however it comes.”