Some athletes in combat sports claim that they will deliver a show for fight fans, simply for the sake of saying it. Others take it upon themselves to actually follow through on that promise. These men typically do not like to go to decisions and, in fact, distrust the judges to no end. Their “kill or be killed” mentality often ensures that anyone watching their fights will not leave disappointed with their performance.

Those who require further evidence of this should look no further than 16-2 Albuquerque native and former King of the Cage bantamweight champion Frank Baca, who adds his name to the ranks of Bellator MMA’s 2013 Summer Series bantamweight tournament. Baca holds wins over the likes of Isaac Colon, Marvin Garcia, Jeremiah Castillo and others under the KOTC banner. He finishes the majority of his fights, only winning by decision five times in 16 pro wins. Very few saw Baca coming, but from a young age, he knew of the opportunity in front of him and decided to take it.

“I wrestled, so I had a base,” Baca told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview, “and my wrestling coach, who was Thomas Schulte at the time, he’s a veteran of the sport. He brought me down the gym. I took into it, I wanted to learn, I wanted to do well, and four years later, I’m here and I’m ready to show the world what I can do.”

Baca (James Meinhardt/Sherdog)

With a 20-9 record as a mixed martial artist and being a veteran with stints in KOTC, WEC and Bellator, Schulte, along with Shad Olvera, introduced Baca to FIT NHB. Baca remains with the camp, where he and Schulte also experience the techniques of Donald Sanchez, Monica Lovato, Tim Means and others who aim to hone their craft inside the cage daily.

Baca will look to test the mettle of his craft when he meets a tough individual in former WEC and Bellator veteran Anthony Leone.

“He has beaten some tough dudes,” Baca said, “and I’ve beaten some tough dudes. I want to challenge myself. I want to challenge myself against the better dudes in the world, you know?”

On his way towards a potential shot at Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas, Baca views Leone as one of those challenges. What makes Leone such a threat to Baca, though?

“He’s a well-rounded fighter and that’s what makes this a tough, fun fight,” Baca said. “Nothing stands out too much, but he has a lot of experience, some big-show experience, and I know he’s going to come to bring it. I know he’ll be legit everywhere.”

Like Leone, Baca owns a total of five submission victories in his career, but the two differ when it comes to finishing opponents with strikes. Leone does not own a knockout win of any kind, whereas Baca has six victories by some form of knockout. Still, don’t think that means that Baca will look too far past Leone. Sure, the proverbial “pot of gold” at the end of the tunnel—the title shot against Dantas—crossed Baca’s mind, but in a sport where even one quick word about someone else can take an athlete’s mind off of the competition in front of them, Baca steers clear of talking about a title shot before it’s a done deal.

“[Dantas] crossed my mind, but I take fights one fight at a time,” Baca explained. “I can’t think about that. I just have to focus on the task at hand, and after Leone, we have another tough fight between two Brazilians—we’re talking two of the best undiscovered guys in the world right now.”

Baca (top) controls his opponent (James Meinhardt/Sherdog)

Those two men would be Rodrigo Lima and Rafael Silva. They take part in the second half of the bantamweight semifinal round, with the winner facing either Leone or Baca in the finals. Lima is a former Bellator bantamweight tourney competitor in his own right, and Silva rides an impressive winning streak which features runs in promotions such as Octagon MMA, Centurion MMA and Apocalypse FC.

Baca knew of Silva’s record and he needed only to see Lima’s performance against Ronnie Mann to know that Lima is a dangerous adversary as well, but Baca does not prefer one Brazilian over the other as his next foe. Baca is taking it one step at a time, and no matter who stands across from him in that cage, his desire remains the same.

“My whole career’s been a build up to this. I’ve taken tough fights since I could remember. I’ve worked my ass off to do it, to be able to take these fights, and the opportunity came and I’m ready. When the fans come to see me, I want them to know I’m bringing 110 percent and a win in this fight. I just want them to be excited.”

Photo: Frank Baca (R) (James Meinhardt/Sherdog)

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.