For the casual fight fans, MMA is all about the big names and the main events. But for diehard MMA fans, it’s all about getting in on the ground floor of the next big thing. In MMA, that means paying attention to the hard-working, up-and-coming fighters on the amateur circuit.

Guerrero (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

Guerrero (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

A fighter everyone should be keeping their eye on is a 19-year-old flyweight fighting out of the Grudge Training Center. His name is Joe Guerrero, and he will be taking the cage for his third amateur fight at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 14 on Friday, April 11, at the Cheyenne Ice and Events Center in Cheyenne, Wyo.

“My goals heading into this fight are to sharpen up the techniques I’ve been working on for the last two fights,” Guerrero told The MMA Corner. “My goal is just to be as crisp as possible, have fun and get the ‘W.’”

Guerrero is taking on fellow up-and-comer George Martinez in the opening bout of the evening. Guerrero is very confident and credits the gym he trains at for much of it.

“It’s been great,” he admitted. “It’s a blessing to be able to walk into this gym not knowing anything about MMA, let alone be able to train with the guys that are at the big stages—the guys who have been there. It’s just amazing. That’s the advantage being here at Grudge—having guys at such a high level knowing how to deal with first-time fighters.

“Some of my biggest mentors are Justin Salas and my main coach is Luke Caudillo. The biggest thing I learn from them is the work ethic. They see that I put in the work. They give me the little things you don’t really get from smaller gyms. This is a big gym and they know the details.”

The details between training too hard and not enough, for example. Or the little tweaks in technique here and there. Those are the details that turn young fighters into future champions.

Although his first two fights have primarily been decided on the mat, Guerrero is looking forward to showing off the evolution in his striking game.

“As I am evolving more in the sport, I’m definitely looking forward to standing up more,” said Guerrero. “I know my wrestling, and I am confident in my wrestling. My last two fights were pretty much fought on the ground. My first fight was on the ground with the other guy in control. My last fight, I took the fight to the ground and controlled it. As I am evolving and learning more about the sport, I’d love to be on my feet and use all of the standing techniques. When it comes to wrestling, I’m pretty confident I can fare pretty well on the ground.”

Even though Guerrero is still very young and new to the sport, he is thinking about the future and the journey ahead of him.

Joe Guerrero (R) (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

Joe Guerrero (L) (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

“About three months ago, my coach and I were talking. He was telling me he would like to get six fights,” Guerrero said. “I completely agreed with that. Six fights as an amateur, then look at going pro by 2015.

“That’s the goal—to go pro by 2015—but I have to be confident in myself just a little bit more. I have confidence, but I feel like I want to get a little more experience and give myself that confidence that I know I am ready for the next level.”

But it doesn’t just stop there. Guerrero has a plan and a goal.

“I set a goal when I first started this sport at 19 to be in the UFC by 23,” he revealed. “I have a very fortunate blessing from my parents. I don’t have to work, all I have to do is come to the gym and train and they support me. The five-year plan is definitely to be in the UFC.”

It’s amazing to think that this journey and that dream all started with a video game.

“I’ve always liked the sport,” Guerrero said. “I was born in 1993, so I was born at the start of it. It’s almost like I was born into the sport. I’ve been a wrestler, and when the UFC came out and started hitting TV, I was watching. And I’d see guys like Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, and I used to dream of doing that, but I never took it serious. In high school, my dad came to be about boxing and possibly doing MMA, and I said, ‘No, I’m doing wrestling and that’s all I want to do.’ Then I got out of high school and my grades weren’t good enough to get into college, so I bought a video game, the game happened to be UFC. I started playing by myself, and my mom and dad came home one day and I told them that I really wanted to try this sport. You essentially could say that I got my start off of a video game.”

Joe would like to thank God first and foremost. He would also like to thank his parents, his sponsors—Brawlin Combat Gear and Western Upholstery, his coaches and all of his teammates at Grudge and 303 Training Center. Follow Guerrero on Twitter: @MaMushka125

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.