All rising athletes want to grow into their own and become the best in their sport, but even the best in the world find their wills tested at some point in their career. Sometimes, they suffer an injury that could potentially jeopardize their long-term career. Sometimes, the sting of a loss in their debut proves to be an obstacle in itself. Ultimately, though, there comes a point when the evolution of an athlete leads them to look back on those injuries and losses as blessings in disguise.

Grudge Training Center flyweight prospect Joe Guerrero can attest to that. A student of former UFC and Strikeforce veteran Luke Caudillo, Guerrero took his first amateur fight when the Resurrection Fighting Alliance came to Broomfield, Colo., last November and lined him up with Joe Espinoza, who also debuted on the card. Being a member of the famed Grudge camp means training with the likes of not just Caudillo, but also Brandon Thatch, Justin Salas and one of MMA’s most well-known coaches, Trevor Wittman. Guerrero had no problem finding his comfort zone. Little did he know, however, that he would in fact hit something of a roadblock after three rounds of action with Espinoza.

“To be honest, I felt completely comfortable and underestimated the atmosphere of this sport because I’ve been wrestling since I was four years old,” Guerrero told The MMA Corner. “I’ve won competitions and I’ve wrestled on some pretty big stages, nationally and going from state to state, but I didn’t take it as serious as I probably should have, atmosphere-wise. But it was a good lesson to learn, because I was a little too comfortable going in, and then as soon as the cage door closed, that’s when all the nerves hit me. I thought it was going to be more like wrestling, and that leads to my biggest takeaway.

“Never underestimate your circumstances or your area, and always understand where you are and what the atmosphere is going to be like. My biggest takeaway from that fight, I would say, is to always keep a level head and never underestimate any part of this sport.”

In talking about blessings in disguise, it’s necessary to take a look back at Guerrero’s amateur debut. That fight gave him a better idea of what to expect from the field of competitors that awaited him, and it also gave him incentive to keep his core strength—his wrestling game—in his back pocket, just in case he ran into someone who carried a wrestling game similar to his own. The loss to Espinoza, which came at RFA 11, lit a fire under Guerrero, who went on to first defeat Aaron Flores in Paramount Prize Fighting earlier this year and then submit George Martinez a little over three months ago at RFA 14.

Thanks in part to Caudillo, now the manager of the young upstart, Guerrero is now set for his third amateur bout in the Resurrection Fighting Alliance promotion. This weekend at RFA 16, the hungry flyweight prospect draws Terry Van Hoosear, who currently holds a 2-2 record.

Guerrero knows Van Hoosear is a tough opponent and welcomes the opportunity to face him when the cage door shuts.

“All I knew was that I got the name, and that my coach told me he was a tough opponent and it’s not going to be an easy fight,” Guerrero admitted. “So, that’s all I really knew about him. I’m definitely expecting everything, but ‘I don’t know what to expect’ is what I’m really trying to say, so that’s the best way to word it. I’m definitely expecting the unexpected. I’m just going to go in there, keep my chin down, my hands up and have some fun.

“It’s about the crowd as much as it is about us fighters, so I’ll put on a show, perform, and you don’t want to miss it.”

Joe would like to thank Luke Caudillo, everyone at Grudge Training Center, the RFA for the opportunity to compete for the promotion, his coaches, training partners and sponsors, and everyone that supported him for this fight. Follow Guerrero on Twitter: @MaMushka125

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.