(Vazquez lands a nice right – photo Hedges/Zuffa)
After beginning his World Extreme Cagefighting career with consecutive split-decision losses, it is safe to say Javier Vazquez’s time with the WEC has not gone as well as planned.
After dropping a decision loss to LC Davis at WEC 42 back in Aug. of 2009, Vazquez dropped another decision loss just two months later at WEC 43 against Deividas Taurosevicius.
However, even after consecutive losses to begin his WEC career, Vazquez has received a golden opportunity, as he is set to face mixed martial arts legend Jens “Lil’ Evil” Pulver on March 6 at WEC 47: “Bowles vs. Cruz”.
Pulver, the UFC’s first ever lightweight champion, has fallen on hard times since making the move to the WEC and its highly competitive 145-pound division. “Lil’ Evil” is currently riding a four-fight losing streak in the WEC and is looking for a shot at redemption. Vazquez does not believe Pulver will get what he is looking for.
After all, “Showtime” says he has been preparing for this fight for quite some time.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve been preparing for this fight for eight or nine years,” states Vazquez, whose professional career began in 1998. “I’ve been preparing for this fight for a long time.”
But don’t try to tell Vazquez that Pulver is finished as a fighter. As far as he is concerned, he will be facing the same Pulver that fought BJ Penn at UFC 35.
“I’m training for the Jens Pulver I was training for eight years ago,” says Vazquez. “I can’t be thinking that he’s not where he was.”
While Pulver is clearly not at the level he once was, Vazquez should certainly be training his heart out for this fight. After his two disappointing losses in the WEC, Pulver’s name-recognition gives Vazquez a priceless opportunity to rebound from his hard times.
“I feel fortunate to be fighting Jens because he has a big name,” states Vazquez. “The first two fights I had, not many guys knew the guy I fought. They’re kind of starting to make names for themselves now, but when I fought them neither of them were super big names.”
Vazquez has spent the majority of his lengthy career submitting his opponents early and often. Eight of his thirteen wins have come via successful utilization of his jiu-jitsu, which he ranks up there with the best of the jiu-jitsu players in the world.
“I think it’s pretty good. I think my training partners think it’s pretty good. I think everybody I’ve rolled with thinks it’s pretty good,” explains Vazquez. “I definitely think that I’m at the top tier, or near the top tier, of the jiu-jitsu guys.”
While Pulver will likely look to brawl on the feet, Vazquez believes that if and when the fight hits the floor, “Lil’ Evil” will be in a load of trouble.
Vazquez knows his top game is a devastating mixture of ground and pound and endless submission possibilities, but the jiu-jitsu ace is no stranger to defending off of his back. And not only does he defend submissions well, he also manages to avoid sustaining much damage from the ground and pound efforts of his opponents.
“Once I get anybody down, even (if I’m) on the bottom, people are generally in danger,” states “Showtime”. “If I’m on the bottom I try to play a real active guard. I have a lot of different attacks from the bottom and I don’t generally take a lot of damage.”
However, Vazquez doesn’t just think that he is “dangerous” on the ground. He believes he is a ground wizard and can end a fight against anyone he is matched up against.
“I think I can finish anybody,” exclaims Vazquez. “Anybody!”
Vazquez was unable to live up to that strong claim and finish his first two fights in the WEC, dropping consecutive split-decision losses. The two defeats were the first for him since 2003.
However, out of the miniscule four losses in 17 total fights, Vazquez has yet to be finished, losing all four fights via decision. He manages to stay competitive and remain a threat in every single fight, something very evident from his close bouts in the WEC.
Vazquez does not credit the ability to stay in every fight to his incredible heart, or his mental toughness, but rather his constant ability to fight intelligently.
“I try to fight smart, man. I try not to get into too many exchanges. I try to fight real smart. I try not to fight with any emotion,” explains Vazquez. “I pretty much just try to be like a robot and I think always defend first and attack second. When you have that kind of mentality, you generally do okay. You don’t get desperate. You don’t start brawling with people.”
Vazquez may have begun his career with the WEC with two disappointing losses, but on March 6 in Columbus, Ohio, he will have the opportunity and privilege to fight a legend of mixed martial arts. A loss to Pulver would put Vazquez on a three fight losing streak and in danger of receiving his walking papers
However, a win on March 6 may be enough for Vazquez to get his name out in the open and garner some attention for himself. While it would not throw him into title contention in the highly competitive WEC featherweight division, a victory over Jens Pulver would certainly grant “Showtime” the redemption he is looking for, along with that elusive first win in World Extreme Cagefighting.