We always hear that fighting is a young man’s game. The saying has reached a level of cliché only matched in overuse by when aged, worn-down fighters say that they feel “the best they have in years.” As commonplace as these truisms are, they are by no means always true.

Fighting being a young man’s game makes sense, though, right? Younger means faster. Younger means stronger. Younger means hungrier. For the most part, yes. But what people fail to realize—often because they are young—is that younger can also mean stupider.

Escudero (R) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Escudero (R) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

For UFC veteran Efrain Escudero, getting older has not only translated to a smarter approach to fighting and training. Getting older has also brought about a maturity that transcends all aspects of his life, making him a better father and a better overall person.

“Back in the day, I used to go train, I used to go home, I used to play video games. I’d get ready, and we’d go out and drink,” said Efrain Escudero in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “We used to party, and it was ‘ho’s this, ho’s that.’ Now, my daughter goes to bed, and I’m like, maybe I should get a nap.”

A younger Escudero might have shuddered at the thought of calling it an early night, but the wiser, more mature version can realize the perks of being a family man. The results speak for themselves: the lightweight is on a three-fight winning streak.

It came as a shock to many when Escudero, The Ultimate Fighter 8 lightweight winner, went on a four-fight skid. This was a man who had started off his MMA career 12-0 before tasting defeat for the first time against Evan Dunham.

Escudero attributes personal problems and the pressure of adapting to life with a newborn to his subpar performances. In his second stint in the UFC, he lost to Jacob Volkmann and Mac Danzig, both by decision, before being released again by the promotion. The losses continued to pile up. Escudero dropped two more decisions, first to Tyson Griffin under the Resurrection Fighting Alliance banner and then to Jorge Patino in Escudero’s one and only fight in Brazil. It was certainly a puzzle, considering the level of training he received at The MMA Lab alongside former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.

However, like many problems in life, sometimes all it takes is a little bit of time to solve the issue. It was ultimately a change in perspective that Escudero believes has led to his newfound success. He went from treating fatherhood as a burden to thinking of his daughter as motivation to train hard every day.

“Now, I am family oriented and am able to manage being a father, being a family man, and I manage my time well,” said Escudero. “It’s been paying off every single day I step in there in the cage, and I go and I train. Every single day I train with my training partner, it’s ensuring that I am a better fighter inside and outside.

Escudero (R) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Escudero (R) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“Now, when I go home, I’m a family man, and it allows me to push myself even harder.”

Escudero hopes his rejuvenated career will land him in the UFC for a third time. With plans for an UFC event in Mexico in the works, Escudero would love nothing more than to face the world’s toughest competition in his motherland in front of his countrymen, friends and family.

The journey to realizing that dream continues when Escudero faces Dakota Cochrane at RFA 13 later this week. Cochrane sports a 15-5 mark and, like Escudero, he has spent time in the TUF house.

“I know what he’s good at. I know what he’s going to do. I know he’s a big, strong guy, but at the end of the day, he’s fighting me,” said Escudero. “Why should I be worried about what he’s going to bring?

“I do take into consideration what he’s good at, but I’m not going in there to fight his fight. I’m going in there to make him fight my fight. If I want to take him down, I will take him down. I will put him on the mat, and if I want to stand with him, I will stand with him.”

With his All-American wrestling pedigree and a greatly talented team of training partners, Escudero doesn’t expect Cochrane to present any challenge he hasn’t dealt with before, and that’s just talking about practice.

“I train with Joe ‘Diesel’ Riggs, and there’s nobody that has hit me harder than Joe ‘Diesel’ Riggs,” Escudero said. “At the end of the day, whatever Dakota thinks he’s going to bring to the table, trust me, I have seen way better.”

Efrain would like to thank Fight For Something, his training partners, his coaches and everyone at The MMA Lab. Follow Escudero on Twitter: @effyescudero and on Facebook.

About The Author

Zach Miller
Staff Writer

Zach is a Boston native and has had a fascination with martial arts since playing Mortal Kombat at five years old. He was introduced to MMA after watching The Ultimate Fighter 5: Team Pulver vs. Team Penn. A recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Zach seeks to one day become a full-time MMA journalist. In addition to watching the sport, he has also trained in Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, and tae kwon do. Zach has also written for NortheastMMA.