This isn’t a story from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. In fact, training under the tutelage of Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, N.M., probably doesn’t make anyone a Jedi knight, but don’t tell that to 34-year-old Isaac Vallie-Flagg.

The lightweight—and self-proclaimed Star Wars buff—will make his UFC debut on Feb. 2 at UFC 156 against veteran Yves Edwards. After plying his trade and mastering the use of “the force” under the Strikeforce banner, the fighter is thrilled for the chance to become a household name.

“It’s exciting; I’m moving to the UFC. I don’t know what else there is to say,” Vallie-Flagg told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “I’ve been wanting to fight in the UFC for my whole career and now I have the chance to do that. I couldn’t be happier.”

A big reason that Vallie-Flagg finds himself fighting tougher competition than Imperial Stormtroopers is his 11-fight unbeaten streak dating back to 2007. In his last outing in May of last year, Vallie-Flagg bested former top-10 fighter Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante.

Vallie-Flagg (MMA Junkie)

“That will forever be one of my favorite fights,” proclaimed the lightweight of his split decision victory. “I’ve always been a fan of JZ. I think I was +480 in the betting odds; I was a huge underdog. I watched film on him, and I knew I was going to win that fight.

“The frustrating thing was that I feel like it should have been a unanimous decision. JZ is a super tough dude. I knew finishing him was going to be a pretty tough task.”

Now, after hiding on the moons of Endor for the past eight months while Strikeforce was destroyed by the Death Star, Vallie-Flagg finds himself facing off with one of the most experienced fighters this side of Tatooine in Edwards.

“I come to fight no matter what. I’ve been training the whole time; practicing, getting better. I had a long layoff before the JZ fight and I showed up for that one,” he said with a laugh.

“I would’ve like a little more time to prepare for Yves, but that being said, I was starting to get Cub Swanson ready for his fight, so I was already in shape. We told [Zuffa] we wanted to be ready at the end of February, but they said be ready for the beginning of the month.”

Against the man known as “Thugjitsu Master,” Vallie-Flagg won’t quite be facing a powerful Sith Lord, but that doesn’t mean the fight isn’t a tall order for the Jackson’s MMA product.

“He’s a good counterstriker and he’s well-rounded,” acknowledged Vallie-Flagg. “It’s going to be a good fight no matter where we go. He presents problems everywhere.”

Luckily, even Edwards doesn’t possess an arsenal of force chokes or a light saber, giving the New Mexico fighter a fair chance when the cage door shuts.

“There’s some stuff that Yves does consistently in every fight and that’s what I’ll be looking to take advantage of,” he explained. “Because he has so many fights, Greg [Jackson] and Wink [Mike Winkeljohn] have put together a good game plan to exploit some of those things.

“That’s the one good thing about fighting a guy with so much experience: everybody in the world has fought the dude. I’ve gotten a lot of insight from teammates who have beaten him and lost to him.”

Vallie-Flagg (L) battles "JZ" (Laron Zaugg/MMA Weekly)

Although he’s far from a Padawan after fighting for nearly a decade, Vallie-Flagg is still surprising his opponents with his output and cardio. He doesn’t credit carrying Yoda on his back through the Dagobah swamps, but the Albuquerque altitude may be a factor.

“I always train to push the pace,” he stated. “I like to set a pace on guys and push as hard as I can. I feel that when other guys are starting to slow down a little bit is when I’m starting to catch my stride.

“I think that showed in the JZ fight. He started to fade, but I just kept getting stronger. I like to finish, but I always train to go the distance.”

That resiliency might come in handy while battling a Rancor or someone as skilled as Edwards. But it’s not a life-or-death scenario that motivates Vallie-Flagg to step into the cage.

“I just like to win,” proclaimed the UFC newcomer. “I love the game of fighting. I think it’s the coolest form of competition there is out there. It’s truly one-on-one competition to see who is the best athlete and who is the best fighter.”

So what’s the most important thing on the scruffy-looking nerfherder’s agenda, aside from rescuing a Rebel Princess?

“Win!” he said emphatically. “I’m just trying to win my first fight in the UFC at this point. I’d like to look impressive doing it, but all I want is a win.”

If Vallie-Flagg exits the cage on Saturday after having his hand raised in victory, he may give fans “A New Hope” in the lightweight division.

Isaac would like to thank Venum Fight Wear and all of his teammates at Jackson’s MMA. Follow him on Twitter: @ikevallieflagg

Top Photo: Isaac Vallie-Flagg (Sherdog)