Ep. #31 – Efrain Escudero

Efrain Escudero is a Mexican born mixed martial artist best known for winning season eight of The Ultimate Fighter. He went on to be one of the head coaches on The Ultimate Fighter and to compete all over the world for the world’s largest MMA promotions.


Efrain Escudero: This is Phoenix oh wow and I’ve. I’Ve been to Phoenix once and it’s uh, it’s incredible how uh so how things go in there. I was a house-training bin uh. You know, for the most part I mean we’ve been doing uh. We went back to kind of doing old school stuff. You know, we’ve been doing a lot of uh what we call a garage training, backyard training. So, but now our gentle son like opened up so our coaches are trying to get back to normal. So you know one of the things we still got. Ta be very careful. We don’t definitely don’t want to get our coach sick. We don’t want to get our training partnership and we don’t want nothing like that. It happens. So you know we’re still taking all the precautions awesome is Arizona’s opened up now it aren’t they like everything yeah, but we’re opening and we’re still we’re opening up slowly bringing everything back into normal. But you know I have a firm believer that we’re just getting ready to head back in there yeah you, you were scheduled to fight back in March. Obviously, things fell through then all pandemic. Are you still trying to trying to get a get back in there and and if so, when yeah me trying to get into the fights yeah like you know, I think now I am a more efficient fighter, meaning I’m actually training I’m trying to evolve as a Fighter, I’m studying everything I’m trying to become a perfectionist. A lot of the times I you guys saw me fight was just me being a very hard-headed individual and a lot of my guts in like we know. You know what we call like manpower kind of like allowed me to go in there and just you know, be barbaric and just withstand anything and and – and you know my ability to do with stem punches and get punches. But now I want to be able to be efficient. I want to be able to to have fun and fights I want to. You know I miss studying the greats. I’Ve been like looking at some of the Canelo for me whether I’ve been looking at it kebede. Why does kabhi does such things? Why does you know? Why does Connor move the way he does what’s going on, so I’m trying to get the psychological part which the metaphysical it’s already there? You know. I know that I’m gon na withstand I know, but now I’m trying to utilize my whole tools and my brain hasn’t been utilized in a while. So now I want people to miss and I want to hit them when they miss not just them get away with it. You know sorry to cut you off, but yes, and as soon as Arizona has officially said that they’re not gon na host any events for the next 90 days, which pretty much give us a pretty good 90 day to get back in shape, to continue working and And and implement in our game plan, let’s see, what’s the ultimate goal now I mean you’ve had to UFC since you’ve been on The Ultimate Fighter. You coach, The Ultimate Fighter you fought from now on, or you fought for UFC you’ve kind of done it all. What is the goal now and what’s the as a third UFC stint, is it a Bellator state book? What’S the goal – or I want to make it to the I’m gon na, make it back again: it’s a big innings like you know it doesn’t matter what it is, but I know I’m gon na make it back, but I actually want to I’m having fun with It I’m gon na. I have a lot of you know for the longest time you can ask any any of my ex teammates or old teammates from the MMA lab that you would not see me in the gym like every single day on a full camp. You know, I would sometimes be tired and he you know something bothered me and I was just like okay, you know what I’m gon na take today off and pretty much. What I want is. I want to be able to give my everything for wherever it takes me for the next year and a half or a year. You know so just have fun, but this time actually do it as a profession not just like. Oh, this is telling him a natural gift, talent and, and that but know this time is it’s gon na be a lot of heart. It’S gon na be a lot of work. Dedication, it’s gon na be a lot of repetition and it’s gon na be you know, muscle memory. You know I mean even in those stints, you have c-stands, your losses have all been decisions like in it wasn’t until like way way back into your early career, where you, you were finished, their their close decisions, unanimous decisions or split decisions. You really don’t get finished. Often, and this past weekend drew Dober a guy that you, you finished with a guillotine one, is it? Is it a bit bittersweet, seeing guys that you’ve beat before in the UFC and ranked in the UFC? You know what one of the things is. I’Ve seen George overs a you know. You pointed him out he’s in a great individual dude over is a friendly. Like you know, we were in Mexico City because we fought in Mexico City and you know, usually you walk upon him. I’M used to like watching, like you know, you see your opponent, is you kind of like nod heads, and you know kind of like that, or I seen the Nate Diaz, where his crew and his and the other crew are trying to fight each other at all Times you know kill at any. Second, I see you. I’Ve seen that too, but drew Dober was a complete different individual. You know he. I saw him in Mexico at the hotel. He came and hugged me. I was like hey man, good look at the Rica and his boys and everything sounded so like but friendly. You know like, oh my god, I’m fighting this guy, what the hell so I wouldn’t need to meet, and then people like Kevin Lee, which I don’t think he like man, that fur that fight against Kevin Lee. It took me I trained three weeks and you know and now to see him. He fought for UFC, title and and man I was like what the hell am i doing you know I have to change something, and I finally realized that what I have to change him and now I’m on the work in progress, yeah, yeah you’ve I mean I’ve Been a fan of yours since, since the Ultimate Fighter, all right, you’re one of the few people who have been on The Ultimate Fighter and coached it. What I liked about the your season, where you coached was you you coached against Kelvin Gastelum, but you guys didn’t fight at the end. Well, what was that, like coaching coaching with someone like him? Well, you know, Kelvin Gastelum is like my little brother. We went to the same high school and Russell for the same team and we have same coaches and everything, so I actually helped Kelvin get on the Ultimate Fighter when he first came in the UFC right before he caliber left on the Ultimate Fighter, he asked me: Can I see your plaque and I told him – and I still remember this night – I told him – I’m gon na show you this plaque, but in with one condition, you’ve got to bring me back yours and he said all right, cool and man. I just said it out of nowhere. He probably showed me and then he kept his word. So to me it’s it’s super amazing to be able to see that from an individual. You know he’s a great great person. I love him. I respect them. You know what I don’t know if you guys saw the coaches challenge with me and Calvin how to wrestle each other with sumo suits helping. It is about a good 30 to 40 pound solid bigger than me, but one of the things is like I said we did wrestle the same high school together. We wrestle this thing. Coaches and me and Calvin had wrestled before it gets each other and the competition before is that Calvin used to cut his hair like me, so then my buddy was like oh yeah. I too look alike. I got to change so me and Calvin actually wrestled and whoever lost how they change his hairstyle and I ended up beating them then, and I ended up eating or not so there’s a friendly competition between me and ham since who knows when and just to be Able to to share that platform with them, but for me to be able to be like one day like you’re gon na be here cuz, I I wrote him my first, my first autocratic, honor first autograph that I did. I get made him a picture and I sent it. I told him one day, you’re gon na be here and then it’s like just to see his growth and and you know how can you not like the guy he know, especially he gives fights like that. Asana, fighting and stuff like that. So to me it’s it’s crazy to see him so yeah I mean even like the the one. The one thing that’s kind of been a like. I guess over his head has been that the recent drug test, and even still it’s you know it’s it’s it’s marijuana and that thing bad that bothers me. I think I think that’s something that the game really needs to change. What are your thoughts on that? You know what I’m uh, one of my job’s is were out here in Arizona. Marijuana is not recreational, yet marijuana is a medical as used for medical purposes only which allows people to go and be able to get a a card and be able to go to a dispensary doing everything legit. So now I think that the drug test in in in marijuana case, I think, they’re just affecting the sport, because what you have a medical condition. How are you gon na tell an individual to take percocet for his pain instead of like smoking and feeling better? You know from an actual tree implant, so a lot of the people medicate better and they were medically better on that. So you know: what’s the worst she’s gon na do he’s gon na miss weight because he ate too much yeah yeah. So to me that that’s that that’s my take on, I don’t think it should be legal. I mean I illegal. I don’t think that they should ban a lot of people. I don’t think that you know he did pop recently and who knows what the suspension will be taking place a man. This is who thought I better change, something you know yeah. I agree 100 %. I mean I’m in Canada, so they just changed it last year. So I mean I personally don’t smoke, but it’s legal everywhere and I feel like it’s. Definitely not a performance. Enhancer like you’re, not gon na, be better. If you smoked marijuana, I think it’s it’s not steroids. It’S nothing like that. It’S not going to negatively affect your opponent, so I I have no issues with it either. What’S your I mean for a long time you were kind of the first Mexican in the UFC. What are your thoughts on now? Latino, America being really big in the you guys like a year at Regas, Kelvin Gastelum, there’s, there’s a lot of Mexican bases now, one of the things is it when I first started it and that UFC in 2008. You know this. I was a Mexican born fighter and I I became a fan of the sport back in like 2002 2003. I started watching the chuckling bills and and Tito’s Ortiz’s matchup and the rivalry and the frank riggs and it Mayhew’s. And I was like man what the hell’s going on and then you will see the Minotaur Nogueira’s and you know the Anderson Silva’s here like okay and then all of a sudden here comes. You know GSP in your like manual, 90 got Brazil, America, you got Canada where the hell’s Mexico, you know. So I was like man what the hell is going on and but then all of a sudden you, you changed the channel and then you see the Juan Juan Miguel Marquez and you see the Julio Cesar Chavez, the coolest I was junior and then the Erick career In Morales here like okay, they’re still boxing, so I was a big boxing fan and then I I came aboard. I sent my application, never thinking to get in selected, one the show automatically boom. I got a big stardom because, oh, my god, the UFC. Officially, we have a Mexico fighter, so then, all of a sudden 2010 comes around. It was me and Cain doing tours, introducing the sport into Mexico. Then I was like alright cool and then a blink of a nice 2014 and this UFC 188, and I can’t even walk inside the you know inside the stadium for way is because people are pulling me and like taking pictures with me, and I was like. Oh, my god, what’s going on and then I fight dude over and it’s like I I finish them in 30 seconds in that place goes insane and I’m like living a dream. And now you look at the list in the list in the list of fighters and you’re like, oh, my god, you know it all started with one and now everybody you know so to meme the Latin fighters and the places where I go in and give seminars And and talk to people – and I do motivational speaking so I see that no longer they want to be the next forum on air marquez de Julio Cesar Chavez, the mic taxes. You know they don’t want to be that person. The Mexican fanbase is starting to girl s. I want to be the next Kelvin I want to be the next year year. I want to be the next Dominique oozes. The next Henry said. Who knows that’s what they want to be, and I think that it is. It is great to see that the Mexican fanbase has actually turned in from boxing into. I mean obviously we’re still big fans of Canelo and stuff like that, and we still always will follow boxing and it’s always going to be there, but now we have and we’re taking part of the one of the biggest sports in the world. What do you think it will take for for it? I mean you mentioned a bunch of names, but I mean there really hasn’t been since Cain Velasquez lost to ver doom. There hasn’t been a big event in Mexico. What do you think it will take for them to go back and out of Sonya versus kelvins yeah? I think that would do it actually that that would be gon na be crazy right there in Mexico, City uh-huh fight of the year crazy insane and for a belt man, and then you see you know both guys are gon na deliver so that to me in Mexico so, though, yeah an undercard, okay, yeah here versus some beat, or some bot or, however you pronounce something yeah that would be. That would be huge. That would be very, very big now that event was man me as a fan would pay my own way to go over there and watch it myself yeah that would sell that would sell a lot. I can see your face now, you’re thinking about it. That’S great. We had to be in a couple of events, and the UFC is really kind of gone out of like above and beyond, trying to put this stuff together. What are your thoughts on what they did on and you know kind of going against what everyone was telling them going against the media and just doing it anyway? I think I think it was great. I think it was great that the UFC is a look. Everybody saying all we have to: we got ta stay home, everybody saying there is a big Corona boy liars stuff going around. We need to stay hopeful, wait a minute, we’re staying at home and doing absolutely nothing like our economy is going down. People who are getting bored and Nancy at home schools are shut down. Kids, don’t have nothing to do, but you know what in all honesty. First first, I’m gon na cover. You asked a very good question, but I’m gon na stop it there and I’m gon na cover this whole coronavirus deal so first understanding the corona virus is to me. I think the world needed it. I think it’s eight. Yes, many people have died and you know my condolences to all those that lost one, and you know what, on all honesty, the world Nina look at their pollution. Our pollution has gone down. Look at our kids. Kids are no longer glued to the TV they’re. Actually wanting to go outside and ride a bike couples are actually talking their problems out no longer can they get mad and run it and go to a bar. Nobody can actually likes it. You got an issue. You got ta you’re forced to talk it out. You’Re a family people are learning how to cook again how to cook clean wash. You know, and I think that the world have forgotten about that. You know like enjoying small time enjoying, like sometimes you’re like. Ah, like you know Here, I am back at a restaurant. I’M bored, like you, know not really enjoying the moment going out, so restaurants should be like in dude, pretty good, like oh man, I’m eating a nice steak, we’re all here or hard-working and enjoyment is it’s paying off, and I think that a lot of the things Are a lot of us, including myself? I won’t claim we’re just going through the motion and I’m really looking at at the big picture, and now we actually enjoy celebrating. Even to the point where you know what your true friends are because now they’re calling up and checking on you so that to me itself understanding that it was a big factor to to understanding that the UFC had to do this. Why? Because now people gather up together and family events, people are watching it on TV the UFC had tested over a thousand like they did over a thousand tests within those three events which other company have you seen. That’S doing that and now that the UFC is able to help Jacare and his team figure out how they’re gon na do it. You know yeah, so I think that it is like you know: there’s not every company saying you know what I’m gon na test. Everybody! No now they’re saying: okay, guys, you guys are free to open bars again wait. We never took a back seat. We never did anything. I mean you know. My immune system is good, but I don’t know if I have it or not. If I’m gon na be passing it, which and ultimately it’s making it’s gon na make, our dollar continue to devalue, I think opening smart ways like the UFC having a company, that’s worth two four point: two billion dollars being able to help their athletes be able to Make sure that they’re, good and well taken care of, I think that’s. It was a great thing and I can i truly do hope they. They come to Arizona as it made a statement that they were gon na, come to Arizona if Las Vegas didn’t open for event. So yeah, I think that’d be amazing in Arizona. I do believe they book the apex, though I think they they managed to get that done. So I’m not sure if they’ll go but an event in Arizona would be, it would be amazing and your thoughts on fight Island is that something that you’d like you? If you were finalists, remember as a kid, we all it didn’t matter. If you were a fighting fan or not, you watched more combat like you didn’t care, you watch so you’re. A fan fan, fan, fan of fighting a fan of action movies, a fan of like mystery everything you watch Mortal Kombat. So imagine that, like man, that’s like it, I was like a dream. Come true. You know we’re living that moment. He’Ll I’ve done it. Oh man! Imagine I’ve won a reality. Tv show I coached a reality. Tv show. I wasn’t a video game care. I was a video game character. I I got the opportunity to travel all over the them [ __ ] all over the world such places as our survey on who knows who, where is that plaintiff I’ve never even heard of it before I even went there, you know III got to go to Macho beat you in in Peru. I got to see things that you know I’m Belgium on, like monks and it’s what else am I missing? I think that fight island would be amazing to add to that now. That would be incredible. I was even mentioning like an Ultimate Fighter on fight Island. I think that’d be crazy man that would be a that would be crazy man, but but see the Ultimate Fighter. Like everybody is, like you know, everything’s a ball beat. You know yeah everything’s, involving just this fight. I would love to see. I would love to see an ultimate fighter with an actual rivalry, because a lot of it now it’s kind of like stage you know I would love to see a Diaz camp versus like a or a Conor McGregor vs., kabhi kind of like Ultimate Fighter. I don’t think he could have those two guys in the same room, though I don’t think the people yeah that would not be safe. That’S a fighter perspective on me and also yeah, and I guess last question on MMA related and then I’ll and then I’ll. Let you go, what are you doing outside of training to keep your mind occupied? Is there any shows on TV any video games only? What is it you’re doing? I’M uh okay, so my regimen is. Ultimately. I ahead asked my question my own question. I was like what do I want out of life? What is it my purpose? I continue and I’m not stalking spiritually, I’m saying how am I gon na provide for myself and what is it that I want to do so I kept telling myself and I kept telling myself what am I gon na do? What am I gon na do and then I recited you know what I want to do something with law enforcement. I want for criminal justice, but my track record is not very good, not how many fell or anything like that. But I wasn’t a very smart individual. You know so, then I decided, you know what I’m gon na do security, so I ended up security, so we were the part of a security company called Athenian protection. We protect and we serve the public here in Arizona. You know one of the things that we do is so I’m being staying occupied, but one of the things is, I still have a passion and goal for for for training and evolving as a fighter as an individual. So then I started telling myself: how do I go to the next level? Okay? Well, I wan na coach and teach. If I became a police officer, I would like to be in the training facilities you know, but yeah. Eventually, you got to do the groundwork and you have to be good at your ground work, but guess what I want to be in the gym. I want to be able to teach an individual how to protect themselves. Yeah anybody can grab a gun, and you know it takes a skill and it’s like a very strong skill set to be able to be an officer like that or anything that you do a military, wise or anything, and I told myself I want to be able To help those people I have a, I have a pretty good track record of what people can do and can do, and it’s just from life experience and I’ve been in those situations so many times that is just like embrace it and breathe it into my brain. So I wanted to do that so then um. So I go to work and I work 40 hours a week and then after work I get off at 11 o’clock at night and then eleven o’clock when I get home and if I don’t have my children I put on my running shoes, I pull my headband And put my sweats and I’m out running and, like literally I’m running now, like a 10-minute run, know I’m out running like I ran like almost ten miles like a couple nights ago and I’m out like in the middle of nowhere like in the middle of the City of Phoenix pitch-black, no, no people around it’s just you know. That’S when you’re. That’S when you test your cell phone and you will you survive to actually know what you want to do and to me I know I want to help. I don’t want to give back to the public. I don’t want to do something and you know, but with that being said, I have to be able to provide for my family due to the fact that we have this thing upon us and we’re going to get through it. You know, and my great company that did hire me so being a part of a great team, and now I’m I’m moving into what I wanted to do so st. occupied. Now I have to be able to write a whole script on what I’m gon na teach them. I can teach you physically, but can I write it down? Ah, this is a challenge. So that’s what’s keeping me busy man. So to answer your question, I know what a little long on it, but that’s what I want to do. Yeah, that’s great, and not only is it ten miles, it’s 10 miles in Arizona, and I had a training camp there once when I swam and it was brutal. The altitude is not the humidity and the altitude gets you. Oh man, it’s a it’s. Whatever man, you know hey, what else am I gon na? Do I had too much energy and I was like you know, I’m gon na just sit at home and trying to watch a show. I might as well do something that’s gon na benefit me. So I took the long road and you know it’s just peaceful man, you just put a little bit of music on your phone, and all you have to do is just keep the next step and the next step and the next thing and you’re gon na make It man doesn’t matter what this I think, that’s a great example until everybody that is watching this interview. I want to tell you guys bottom of my heart that you know I’ve suffered. I’Ve cried I’ve said a bunch of tears, blood and sweat to this sport. I blend this sport like deeply. I it’s I’ve been put in a lot of hours and I came into the sport very young, but guess what guys when you’re tired, all you have to do is don’t think, don’t look at the finish line. Just give the next step give the next step and every single step in life. Anything you do in life. It doesn’t matter you’re, tired, you’re, sleepy guess what we are all tired, we’re all sleeping, we’re all going through something else, we’re all having issues. Something is always wrong with us, but guess what? Let’S focus on? What is right with us and utilize that and be the best that we can be all right man, I don’t think there’s a better way. You could have ended that so thanks very much for the time. I appreciate it hope to see you back out there soon and hopefully in the UFC or Bellator or a big promotion. I’M so glad I was able to get you on. I’Ve been a fan for a long time, hey well, thank you very much, and so everybody follow me on my social media, FES Gretl and guys, if you guys have any questions any concerns. Anything you want to ask me remember, break me on my social media and I’ll write you guys back. Alright, alright, awesome man! Thank you, stay safe and, hopefully see you out there soon. Alright. Thank you very much.

Sergio Pineiro

Sergio Pineiro is the Founder of FighterPath.com and host of the Quarantinecast podcast. Based in Canada he is both a sports journalist and MMA enthusiast. He practices the sport but has a passion for the individual stories of training, fighting and living the fighting lifestyle.

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