UFC light heavyweight Ike Villanueva didn’t have to speak to the press during this week’s UFC Vegas 41 media day.
Rather, he wanted to.
“Any time you get the opportunity here at the mecca, the UFC, let your boy be heard. You worked so hard to get here, let everybody know you’re here for a reason,” Villanueva (18-12) said during his impromptu media appearance on Wednesday. “Don’t shy away from it. You worked so hard to get here, you talked to all your social media, let the media know.”
It’s that sort of attitude that has quickly won “Hurricane” Ike a growing following since his arrival in the UFC in May of last year.
“It’s amazing to finally get here and showcase my skills, and build a fanbase. Win lose or draw, I’m building a strong fan base,” said Villanueva. “They love the way I fight, it’s the blue collar mentality. You pay to see me fight, I’m going to put on a show. I’m not going to drag you to the ground, hold you down, I’m not that kind of style.”
Villanueva went on to add that “I still carry that UFC 1 background, like tournament style, where you got the boxer versus the wrestler.” It’s what got him into the sport, in fact. “That’s what got me into the UFC, watching that, it motivated me.” And yes, he does have a well-rounded style, Villanueva continued, “but I love that machismo of ‘hey, I’m going to stand in front of you. Throw your best shot, I’m going to throw my best shot, let’s go.’ It’s just that mentality, I love it. Because that’s what it’s about. Everybody in the world is watching, you’re going to make a name for yourself. How bad do you want it? I’m excited.”
At UFC Vegas 41, Villanueva is paired up with Nicolae Negumereanu, a 10-1 fighter who Villanueva believes benefited from questionable matchmaking outside the UFC.
“This guy, he got lucky. He got a good padded record coming into this game. You see when he finally got tested, it got ugly,” Villanueva stated. Prior to entering the UFC, Negumereanu had faced back-to-back opponents with losing records, at 2-15 and 10-13. That’s a stark contrast to Villanueva himself, who dealt with tough competition, plus several fighters who failed drug tests. “When I got here, I got tested, but I got tested with some failed drug tests in everybody else that I fought. But it didn’t stop me, I still stepped up.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 41 media day appearance by Ike Villanueva above. More coverage can be found below. The event takes place this Saturday, October 23 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.