At 6’3, 205 pounds, 29 year old Aaron Rosa is in his prime. Fighting out of Rodrigo Pinheiro’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Rosa has the benefit of working on his ground game with one of the best jiu jitsu practitioners in the world. Here Rosa can also count on excellent sparring partners, one of them being Muay Thai specialist, Pete Spratt.
At the very beginning of his professional mixed martial arts career, Rosa racked up ten straight wins, fighting for various promotions. He is currently 17-5 and is a veteran of UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce, and EliteXC. His wins include six KO’s, four submissions, and seven by decision.
Rosa will be facing Tony Melton in the premier fight for the “Orgullo del Valle” MMA event in Pharr, Texas on March 16. The 31 year old Melton is currently 7-3. Six of those wins came by KO, and one by decision. While Melton appears to be the underdog in this event, Rosa is experienced enough to know that Melton, with at least a thirty pound weight advantage, and six KO’s under his belt can be dangerous.
Immediately before the main event, Cody “Wolverine” Williams, 4-4, fighting out of the Texas Karate Academy in Beaumont, Texas will meet the Valley’s (McAllen) Randy “the Hurricane” Fuentes, who is currently 5-3. Fuentes has been augmenting his training by throwing his hat into the boxing ring, where he won his first pro fight by unanimous decision in the Valley’s “Border Brawl” in September of 2011, and at this date is 4-0 as a professional boxer.
Although not a main event fight, the grudge match between Ricardo “El Gallero” Palacios and Leroy “Guapo” Martinez, promises to be a scorcher. Palacios and Martinez own schools separated by only a few miles in Mission, and each has a substantial following. In the weeks leading up to March 16, there have been insults and substantial “smack” talk traded between the two camps. If there is a war in the offing, we can expect it between these two fighters. Seven prelim matches will come prior to those listed above, with plenty of action promised.
We contacted Pete Spratt, Tim Kennedy, Adam Schindler, Andrew Chappelle and Ryan Larson and asked the question: “What are your predictions for UFC 128?” Here’s their predictions…
Pete Spratt: Bones Jones – due to his size, speed and athleticism.
Miller – due to his vast UFC experience.
This will be Kamal’s 1st time in the UFC.
Tim Kennedy: Jones by just being awesome and Kamal by sprawl and brawl dec.
Adam Schindler: I’m going with Jon Jones with a TKO in the 3rd… He is in great condition, unorthodox and long, has great wrestling. I could see Shogun coming out on top too but I’m going with ‘Bones’ Jones on this one.Man, I really don’t want to pick against Kamal, but this one is tough…. I really like Jim Miller and I think he is much better than Jamie Varner or Bart Palaszewski… He has great submissions and good crisp boxing. That being said, I think it will only go to the ground if Kamal chooses. If he can catch him with a shot he wins, if not, I think Miller out points him on the feet… Either way, I’ll definitely Be Rooting for one of those Big overhands from Kamal to land cleanly!
Andrew Chappelle: I’m going with Jones and Miller. I think they are all really good but Jones is just such a stud! He has been blowing through game opponents like he was a varsity athlete senior beating up a brand new freshman. He’s special in the aspect that he is just superior over guys who are on already on top. I think his strikes will be land more, and be more effective, his greco is solid, and I do not see Rua taking Jones down, and even though it’s hard to say who would be better on the ground technically, you still have to give Jones the edge because he is such a freakish athlete.Miller is a stud. Mean, in shape, technically sound. I like Kamal as well. He is also a stud, but I just don’t think he has the tools to finish and dominate like Miller does. I am sure they will both be in excellent conditioning, I see Miller having the better endurance. Miller has more technique in all aspects of the game and is just as good of an explosive athlete as Kamal and can go longer.
Ryan Larson: Jon Jones is gonna shock the world, rd 3, tko. Jons reach and wrestling will confuse Shogun who will not be able to work offensively.
Kamal Shalorus is gonna wreck Jim Miller, rd 1, tko. Kamal always blitzes guys early and he is very prepared for this fight. I expect him to overwhelm Jim and crack him early.
—So what are your predictions for UFC 128?
Main CardMauricio “Shogun” Rua (205) vs. Jon Jones (205)Urijah Faber (135.5) vs. Eddie Wineland (135.5)Nate Marquardt (186) vs. Dan Miller (185)Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (229) vs. Brendan Schaub (245)Jim Miller (155) vs. Kamal Shalorus (155)Preliminary CardLuiz Cane (205.5) vs. Eliot Marshall (205)Edson Barboza (155.5) vs. Anthony Njokuani (155)Ricardo Almeida (170) vs. Mike Pyle (171)Kurt Pellegrino (156) vs. Gleison Tibau (155)Joseph Benavidez (136) vs. Ian Loveland (135)Nick Catone (194) vs. Costantinos Philippou (195)Raphael Assuncao (145) vs. Erik Koch (145)
I was fortunate to catch up with Ryan Larson (6-2) who has been getting ready @ Jacksons MMA in Albuquerque, NM to make his STRIKEFORCE Challengers Debut. I actually had to pull over to continue with this, so hang on, sit down and read on!!!
sPidA: Ryan, how are you bro? Hope not to take too much of your time… I do appreciate this.
Ryan Larson: Not at all, I really do appreciate you interviewing me,thank you for that.
sPidA: Are you training at Rodrigo Pinheiro’s gym with Pete Spratt?
Ryan Larson: I live in San Aantonio and I train out of Pineiro’s Gym, just wanted to concentrate on nothing but MMA with no distractions. Just eat, sleep and train you know. So I’m in Jacksons Camp right now.
sPidA: Thats awesome, any names you can throw at us, maybe some of the guys you’ve been training with since you’ve been there?
Ryan Larson: Awe man, lets see, I was training with George St Pierre this moring but also Carlos Condit, Melvin Guillard, Diego Sanchez. Also Cowboy and Jon Jones who both fought at UFC 129 (they both won).
sPidA: Wow! Nice bro, I know they’re all in Jacksons Camp but didnt think people could actually get to train with all of them.
Ryan Larson: Me neither man, its been awesome having them all in the camp. There’s also some local guys that are just tough dudes. Everybody’s careful training hard but smart.
sPidA: Thats great man! So let me ask you, how did you go about getting on the card? Did they contact you or did they contact your manager?
Ryan Larson: Funny how it all came about but I was actually on my way home from training here at Jacksons Camp when I got to El Paso, I got a call from my old coach, Phil Cardella. He told me Strikeforce was looking for an opponent to fight Eric Apple at 170 and he had thrown my name in the box. Later the match maker calls me and its a go from there.
sPidA: Thats awesome that you have great guys looking out for you. Phil’s an awesome spokeperson and definetly represents his camp and Texas very well. Do you keep in touch with your past opponents, I mean is there a commoraridity after the fight?
Ryan Larson: Yea bro, I mean, we need to fight somebody and after my fights win/lose or draw I usually offer them a beer an sometimes even train with that person. I have tons of respect for all of my opponents.
sPidA: I’ve seen you fight twice and I’ve seen you use both your stand up an ground game. Would you say you have a preferance when you do battle?
Ryan Larson: You know, I have great wrestling and Jiu-jitsu but I’ve also had pro boxing experience. Been learning a lot the past few years with Aaron Rosa and Pete Spratt. Lately, my striking has gotten much better man. I usually have a strategy for every occasion but sometimes, like my last fight, I jumped into a guilitine late into the round and just went off my game plan. Wanted to keep the fight on my feet.
sPidA: You’ve done your time in the grappling circuits and in the cage fights here in Texas Promotions. Looking back would you have guessed this would be happening, getting to fight not only for STRIKEFORCE but also have you fight aired on live TV?
Ryan Larson: Man, I would have never guessed it would have happend this quickly. I mean, it’s what we all want but fighting’s a crazy game. With injuries and what not but I am blessed and I’m very pleased to be able to showcase my skills on STRIKEFORCE.
sPidA: So will you be there in Jacksons Camp till the day of your fight or are you planning on coming back to San Antonio?
Ryan Larson: Well, STRIKEFORCE is planning on bringing me out a day before the weigh ins so I”ll be here till then. Afer my fight I’ll be back in Texas for sure.
sPidA: That’s great man! We will be there with the rest of Texas supporting you and the other Texas guys. I do appreciate this bro. Any last words, people you’d like to thank to end this interview?
Ryan Larson: I’d like to thank all the people from San Antonio and Austin. Rodrigo’s gym, Phil Cardella and everybody that I have fought and trained with. My family who has been supportive of me though my ups and downs in my fight career, couldnt have kept doing this without my fiances and family. Also I would like to thank Unrival, they’ve been my sponsors from the beginning. Awesome people and also Ron Hernandez from King of Kombat who has always been good to me. And of course, you guys. It really means a lot to me!
On Monday night I met up with former UFC welterweight, Pete “Secret Weapon” Spratt for a quick interview before his fight this Friday. Pete is a pretty relaxed guy but his confidence and determination shines through as he wants to “reinvent himself” as a fighter. At this stage in his career he’s not wrapped up in all the hype but more concerned with reaching his personal goals that he’s set for himself. His next fight is scheduled for this Friday October the 2nd at The Maximum Fighting Championship – “MFC 22 Payoff” up in Canada. Available via HDNet Fights.
Texas Fighting: So how’s Pete Doing these days?
Pete Spratt: I’m doing good man, I can’t complain. I’m just training, training hard trying to get prepared for my fight this Friday. I’m having a lot of fun, just trying to reinvent myself and I’m having a lot of fun. I’m making my second run for the title, whether it be MFC or whatever organization – I’m going to have fun doing it. I enjoy having fun training with my guys and doing all the other stuff that I’m doing as far as teaching, managing, training my guys and all that good stuff.
Texas Fighting: You’ve been around and done that, is this fight just for fun – what motivates you to fight these days?
Pete Spratt: Well my motivation these days is to get back to the top. I was at the top in 2003 when I beat Robbie Lawler and that’s my motivation to get back to the top and seeing where I can go in the later stages of my career. For me, my record is 1-0, starting from now. The official second half of my career started in June when I won by submission so for me – I’m 1-0 and I’m just looking to get better.
Texas Fighting: Congratulations on the win! Who did you fight in June?
Pete Spratt: I fought Alan Woods at Steel Cage MMA.
Texas Fighting: Your next fight, is it in Canada?
Pete Spratt: Yes, it’s in Canada at the Maximum Fighting Championships (MFC). It’s a stacked card, you’ve got myself, Travis Lutter, Jason MacDonald, Luigi Fioravanti, John Alessio, Carlo Prater, Antonio McKee, I mean the card is stacked with a lot of events.
Texas Fighting: Who are you fighting?
Pete Spratt: I’m fighting a guy named Nathan Gunn. He’s from Canada so we’ll see what happens. It’s another one of those situations where I’m fighting one of their up and coming guys who’s trying to use my name to be a stepping stone but you know, we’ll see what happens.
Texas Fighting: Well you look good, what does your training consist of these days?
Pete Spratt: Well my training really consisted of a lot of rehab being that I had knee surgery 7 weeks ago. I’ve been trying to get my knee ready and get prepared to fight. Up until my surgery, I was still training, lifting weights and all that good stuff so I feel pretty good where I am. My cardio is great, I feel really good right now.
Texas Fighting: So lately you’ve just been focusing on this fight or do you have some other projects you’re working on?
Pete Spratt: Naw that’s it, just preparing for this fight. This is my next step, the evolution of my new career, that’s been the main focus, preparing for this fight.
Texas Fighting: You’ve got quite a bit of experience, how many fights have you been in during your professional career?
Pete Spratt: Total fights, probably about 60. Mixed Martial Arts, I’d say about 36 or 37 fights MMA. I’ve had 18 Kickboxing fights and 10 amateur boxing fights… (chuckles) I’ve had quite a few fights.
Texas Fighting: So when are you headed up to Canada?
Pete Spratt: I’m leaving Wednesday night.
Texas Fighting: Are you excited?
Pete Spratt: Oh yeah. I’m excited to get back in there, I’m excited to redeem myself from my last showing I had at the MFC with the whole Ryan Ford debacle. I’m looking at wiping my slate clean and getting that bad taste out of my mouth and seeing what I can do for the MFC.
Texas Fighting: Well I know you have quite a few fans so for an upcoming Mixed Martial Artist, do you have any tips and advice for them to make it to where you’re at?
Pete Spratt: The only thing I can say is just to train hard. Be sure to surround yourself with the right people and train hard.
Texas Fighting: I watched a video not too long ago where GSP (George St. Pierre) said that you’re the hardest kicker he’s ever fought. How would one train to get leg kicks like you?
Pete Spratt: Practice. It’s hours upon hours of perfecting that one particular technique. I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to kick with my Thai trainer and he’s trained me quite well on how to kick. You know, it’s just been good for me and that’s quite a complement that came from GSP but it wasn’t anything I didn’t already know. At the same time it’s not that big of a deal but everyone makes it a big deal because it was “GSP” who said it but everybody in the gym can tell you that my left kick is not something that you want to taste. And they get to taste that quite a bit here at the gym. It’s nothing new for the people that know me and the people that are from around here but everybody else makes a big deal about it. It’s really not that big of a deal.
Texas Fighting: What kind of an upbringing did you have as a kid?
Pete Spratt: I wouldn’t necessarily say I had a rough upbringing but I would say that I’ve experienced things that a lot of people probably hadn’t experienced but at the same time, I can’t really say that I was deprived or had to fight all the time as a kid. Although I had my fair share but for the most part I had a good life bro. I did use to get kicked out of school a lot and was a pretty bad kid up until high school until I got under my coaches wing. He put me on varsity track so he could kinda keep an eye on me while I was in high school but other than that It’s been good overall. I was a troubled kid a little bit, you know my grandfather died when I was in 2nd grade so I think that messed with me mentally and of course growing up we all had our trials and tribulations as kids trying to find ourselves but I think I did quite well for myself.
Texas Fighting: I stumbled upon some of your music, do you have any more coming out or is that something you just play with here and there?
Pete Spratt: It’s just something I play with here and there, I’ve got a couple friends in town that I may eventually start doing something with but that won’t be until after the fight. Fighting is what pays the bills and puts food on the tabl. Music is something I like to do on the side and if it blows up it blows up but if not I enjoyed it and had fun doing it.
Texas Fighting: Do you have any sponsors for this fight that you’d like to give thanks to?
Pete Spratt: Awe man yeah, I’ve got to say thanks to Full Tilt for jumping on board in the last minute, I’ve got Performance MMA, Trigger Point Therapy, Alamo Cross Fit, Sprawl of course for giving me my shorts, Affliction, man I’ve got a lot of sponsors for this fight, ToeZup Fight Gear, BTX Fight Gear. Oh and I can’t forget, ever since I started wearing my hair balled, I got HeadBlades as a sponsor and I can’t forget them for sure. I think that’s about it.
Texas Fighting: Anybody else that you’d like to give a special thanks to?
Pete Spratt: Of course my team mates, I’ve got Aaron Rosa who fights in Strike Force, Isaias Martinez, Rodrigo Pinheiro, Diego Sierra, all the guys here at Rodrigo Pinheiro Brazilian Jujitsu, of course my manager Sven Bean, also the guy that does all my sponsorships Oren Hodak out of Dallas. There’s quite a few people that are behind me but of course my family, my wife and my daughters.
Texas Fighting: You’re also training guys right?
Pete Spratt: Yeah.
Texas Fighting: Do you have anyone that’s going to be fighting soon?
Pete Spratt: Rodrigo is supposed to be fighting pretty soon, Diego should be fighting pretty soon, I’ve also trained Ryan Larson, he’s suppose to be fighting soon, Isaias Martinez, he’ll be fighting soon. Just about all the competitive guys in my gym will be fighting. Aaron Rosa will be fighting in Strike Force either November 7th or November 20th so we’ve got him getting ready for that fight as well.
Texas Fighting: Well awesome, I appreciate your time Pete.