UFC Vegas 74’s John Castañeda: Expects Best Self, Now Healthy and Full-Time

John Castaneda and Eddie Wineland, UFC Vegas 19
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 20: (L-R) John Castaneda punches Eddie Wineland in a bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

After his short notice debut did not go his way, John Castañeda got his UFC career rolling for real in a big way. Back-to-back stoppages of Eddie Wineland and Miles Johns had people talking about the ‘Sexi Mexi’. However, in October of 2022, Castañeda ran into his first real setback. After a quick start against Daniel Santos, the fight started to slip away from him and resulted in his second loss in the UFC.

While there were some things in the cage that he would have liked to do differently, Castañeda said that his biggest takeaways from that fight were that things out of the cage needed to change.

“Up until last year – November – I was actually working full-time. I was working 45 hours a week and I was training full-time as well – probably another 35 hours a week,” he explained. “Between the two, 80 hours a week.”

And it wasn’t just the time crunch, but the hours that his other job was cutting into. Night shifts and a lack of sleep caught up with him and started to eat into his work in the gym.

“It was also a job where I had late shifts, so I was getting done at 4am and sometimes 5am, then sleeping very minimally and trying to wake up for pro team practice at 10am,” Castañeda said. “Trying to balance those to and trying to still be able to perform at practice at a high level, recover at a high level – you know all those things. I think the biggest thing I took from that fight was that I can’t be juggling two things at once.”

The lack of balance in his life made recovery the hardest thing. Just three weeks out of that fight with Santos, Castañeda has strep throat. The antibiotics made it harder to cut weight and necessitated a catch weight.

After recovering from that, he still did not feel like his full self.

“I actually fought with an upper respiratory infection,” he shared while making a point not to take anything away from the solid performance from Santois. “Within minutes of the actual competition, I felt a sharp burn in my lungs, shortness of breath. I was like ‘let’s just get through this regardless… After the fight, I couldn’t recover. I still felt that sharpness in my chest.”

The next morning, an urgent care doctor would diagnose him with the aforementioned upper respiratory infection.

Now having quit his second job and spending more time investing in his own recovery, Castañeda feels like a new fighter. He looks forward to showing the best version of himself when he takes on short notice replacement, Muin Gafurov at UFC Vegas 74. That fight takes place this Saturday on ESPN+.

You can listen to the entire audio of this interview at 2:20.