Cuban immigrant and 1996 Olympic bronze medalist Alexis Vila will be making his WSOF debut tonight in Miami, Florida. MMAFrenzy caught up with the former Olympian ahead of his WSOF 6 bout with Josh Rettinghouse to discuss tonight’s fight and more.
Your fight with Josh Rettinghouse was announced a short time ago, was the bout on short notice or was this something that just took awhile to come together?
It was on short notice but I am always ready to fight so it just took a little time to prepare.
What do you know about your opponent?
I don’t have too much time to see him too much but I know he comes from a wrestling background and has good jiujitsu. So that is what he is going to try.
How important has your wrestling background been in your MMA career?
Wrestling helped with my transition to MMA. Combining my wrestling and jiujitsu has been important for me.
How have you stayed over a long career in wrestling and now in MMA?
I have stayed motivated because I like fighting. I like the training and the job, I just like fighting. I like the job.
Weight cutting typically gets harder for fighters as they age. How have you managed your weight for this fight?
I don’t have too much to cut at 135, like I do at 125. I just have to get close that last week and I am good.
With the success of Cuban athletes in other sports (i.e. Yasiel Puig), do you think there will be a wave of Cuban stars in MMA?
I have to give a lot of support to my Cuban friends like Hector Lombard, Yoel Romero, Jorge Masvidal, and more. A lot of people don’t know about it but we have a lot of Cubans getting into MMA right now.
How big is wrestling in Cuba?
Wrestling is popular in Cuba but we don’t have the coaching or training like there is here where we have everything. It makes a big difference. It takes a long time to get used to the things we have here. In Cuba, we make big sacrifices to get the results.
When did you immigrate to the United States?
I came to the United States in 1997 after the Pan America games.
How important is fighting in Miami for you with the city’s Cuban population?
It’s crazy! People love me here and I love it here. People used to see me fight here all the time but it is a big step up to fight with WSOF. I am excited to be here.
How long do you want to keep fighting?
I take good care of myself and if it was up to me I would fight forever. I love it.
Has wrestling in big events, i.e. the Olympics, helped you with nerves before a fight?
I think wrestling in big competitions has helped me by preparing me to be ready for anything.
Anything you would like to say to the fans or anyone you would like to thank?
I want to say thank you the fans and to my manager, American Top Team, Nova Unaio, and everyone that has helped me here.
WSOF 6 will take place on the campus of the University of Miami on October 26. The October 26 lineup will be headlined by a WSOF welterweight championship pairing between Josh Burkman and Steve Carl. The card will be co-headlined by the fast-rising Marlon Moraes taking on his fellow prospect in Carson Beebe.