On Dec. 30, 2012, Dustin Pague and his wife Jackie welcomed a new member to the family as six-pound Asher Jaxson Pague was brought into this world.

Since then, the 25-year-old bantamweight has gained another job aside from fighting: being a father. But Pague says the father role hasn’t impacted training for his fight at UFC 161 this Saturday, and in fact, he has benefited from it.

“It has given me a little more fuel, kind of like an extra push to want to drive harder to be able to provide and do well for him,” Pague told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “Plus, I got that daddy strength now.”

But becoming a parent isn’t the only change that has taken place in Pague’s life.

Pague and his family moved to Texas prior to his most recent training camp. While he has been bouncing around among gyms, Pague has had the opportunity to train with a couple of UFC competitors, one of which being a top contender.

“I’ve been working with Johny Hendricks and the guys at Team Takedown in Arlington. I’ve been going there pretty much every day for this train up,” Pague said. “I’m also working at Fitness Fight Factory with Johnny Bedford and Pure Fit Sports Performance Gym, with my programs from Chris Merritt and Beyond Strength Performance.”

“I moved out to Texas to surround myself with high-level guys who can really push me and help me become a better fighter. The instructors there—Mark Laimon and Steven Wright—are just phenomenal. I got a good group of guys around me.”

The year 2012 was an interesting one for Pague to say the least, as he fought three times all in a span of three months. After a win over Jared Papazian on June 8, Pague took a fight weeks later against Ken Stone in which he lost by split decision. Pague had expected to take some time off following the loss, but the UFC called him once again to take on Chico Camus in August at UFC 150.

Pague dropped his second-straight fight with another decision loss, but fatigue as well as injuries certainly played a role in those bouts.

“I had two herniated disks in my back. I was just fighting through the pain and needed the money so I took the fights, but probably not the smartest decision,” Pague explained. “I did about six to eight weeks of physical therapy, but it continued to get worse so I had back surgery in October of last year.”

“But now I’m back in action baby, better than ever.”

With the back-to-back losses, Pague’s UFC record is now 1-3 since coming out of the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter. This is without a doubt a must-win situation for Pague, but is trying to put that in the back of his mind and stay positive on what’s ahead.

“I’m trying not to think about it that much. Obviously, it’s reality and it’s kinda the chopping block for me, but I feel like I perform my best when I just realize I’m using the talent God has given me and doing something I love to do,” Pague expressed. “I’m more so focused on putting on a good performance and not so much the make or break of this fight.”

On the opposite side of the cage in the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada will be Yves Jabouin, who is 3-2 in the UFC. However, “Tiger” is coming off a knockout loss to Brad Pickett in September of last year, so he is in need of a win just as much as Pague.

Jabouin is known for being a great athlete who mixes up his strikes very effectively, totaling 11 knockouts in his career. Even with that said, Pague believes he matches up very well with Jabouin and will make for an entertaining fight.

“He’s a striker, I’m a striker, so we both enjoy staying on our feet,” Pague said. “He’s a little more unorthodox than I am, [though]. He likes to throw spinning back kicks, kind of like a karate background. I like going up against guys like that, feeling them out and putting on a good show.”

“I’m really going to put the pressure on him. He doesn’t do too well when he’s pressured. I’m in the best shape of my life so I’m going to pressure, pressure, pressure for three rounds, knock him down, and maybe get the submission.”

The deck is stacked against Pague on Saturday, as Jabouin trains out of the Tristar Gym in Montreal alongside Georges St-Pierre and head trainer Firas Zahabi. Jabouin is of Canadian descent, as well as Haitian, and will undoubtedly be the crowd favorite.

But Pague is focused on one thing, which is doing everything he can to return home to his family with the biggest win of his career.

“Obviously, he’s going to be the favorite of the crowd and I’m sure I won’t get too many cheers. But it doesn’t really bother me,” Pague added. “I’m focused on the fight and don’t even really hear the crowd during a fight, but hopefully they give me a good cheer after the victory.”

Dustin would like to thank his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, his wife Jackie and son Asher, his family and friends that support him, all the guys at Team Takedown, Fitness Fight Factory, Johnny Bedford, his manager Bryan Hamper, Scott Howard, Chris Merritt, and sends love to everyone else who has supported him along the way. Follow him on Twitter: @DustinPague

Photo: Dustin Pague (MMA Junkie)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.