Interview: Steve Magdaleno - Pancrase Neo-Blood Champion and MVP 2008

Saturday 6 September 2008

Time for my second interview, really wish I had more time to do them, but anyway. I have seen Steve fight twice and been impressed both times. He also sticks around after the fight to talk with fans and it makes the whole experience more memorable.

Last time, after he won the Neo-Blood tournament, he was nice enough to agree to answering some questions. For those of you that are searching for up and coming fighters, look out for this guy! Also, make sure to check out his homepage (take a look at the "Fight Record" section).

So for the interview:

-Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, an introduction to those who might not know who you are?

My name is Steve Magdaleno and I’ve been fighting Pro for the last three years. I have a Pro record of 5 and 0 now. I have been doing martial arts since I was a kid. I started with Tae Kwon Do at ten, then at fifteen I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling. I have a brown belt in Jiu Jitsu under Carlos “Caique” Elias and I also picked up some Thai boxing and boxing along the way. Before fighting pro I mainly just did a lot of grappling competitions around the states, mostly around southern California. Personally, I love Japanese culture, anime, and can speak a bit of Japanese too, but am not fluent yet. It’s one of my goals along with MMA of course.

-How long have you been training MMA, and how did you get into it?

MMA, not too long actually, just about three years. I had been doing jiu-jitsu and wrestling since high school, and was going to college at the time for screenwriting if you can believe it. I was thinking about graduating and getting a job but MMA was always at the back of my mind. It was something I had always wanted to do but it took me a little time to take that leap of faith on myself. In the end I think it was perfect timing, I stared to train at R1 in El Segundo and met some great people that helped me get ready for my first fight.

-How did you end up fighting in Japan?

That’s a story, I had visited Tokyo twice before way back when, and I really liked the culture and the respect they showed MMA fighters there. Back then MMA wasn’t embraced in the states like it is now, especially lightweights. Anyway I loved Japan so much that I decided I wanted to fight there. So when I finished college I got a job in Japan and was eventually able to fight there too.

t took a lot longer than anticipated though. First I had to find a team that I really felt at home at, which is why I ended up training at Sakaguchi Dojo. I had been introduced to the gym by Olympic Wrestling silver medalist and Dream fighter, Katsuhiko Nagata who I had met in the states. After training there for a bit it just felt like a good fit. Before becoming a team member I felt a little lost in japan with not too many friends. I really didn’t speak too much Japanese either at the time so that was a bit of a hurdle as well. Anyway I was scouted later on by the then Pancrase president, Mr. Ozaki at a practice, and given a slot in the Neo Blood tournament and that was that. Pretty long story and that’s just the cliff notes version.

-You had 3 fights in order to get to the title, which win felt the most satisfying, which was the most difficult and why?

Well, the most difficult was definitely the semi-final because of the knee injury I sustained early in the fight. It twisted up pretty bad when I was defending a takedown against the rope and from then it was just an uphill struggle to get the win by decision.

The final was probably the most satisfying because it was the culmination of everything, all the hard work. Winning the final really meant a lot to me. It wouldn’t have been worth it if I couldn’t win the entire thing at Korakuen hall. But the semi-final was pretty cool too, I think there was more drama that time, so that’s a good memory as well. Drama without injury though I think is the best for me, ha.

-About the knee injury, I remember you telling me about that after the semi-final, was that a factor going in to the final?

Yeah it was bit of a factor. After that fight it took me a long time to get back into the swing of things training, probably around a month and a half. The knee took some recuperation time and even when I did start training I had to be real careful at first about not twisting it the wrong way. I was worried for a bit that it wouldn’t heal in time but by the time I got to the actual fight it finally felt pretty good.

-I know you have moved back to the States now, what does the future hold for you? Will you continue MMA, if so, where and what are your goals?

For what the future holds I’m not entirely sure, but I want to continue MMA for as long as I possibly can. It’s something I really love to do and I want to see how far I can go in it. I want to give my all and hopefully find some light at the end of the tunnel. I just won the Neo Blood so if possible I would like to continue progressing in Pancrase till I can get the belt. The fans are really great there and I have a blast every time I can fight in front of them. From there hopefully fight in Sengoku or somewhere big in the states.

-Where are you training now?

Currently I am training MMA over in El Segundo, California at VMAT with Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko. I really like his coaching style, it’s a great fit for me I think. With him watching over me I’m sure I’m giving my best every time I train. No slacking off which is vital for me, especially so early in my career.

-How does training in Japan compare to other places you've trained?

I don’t really think it differs too much actually. It all really depends on the gym you train at I think. I’ve trained at a couple places in Japan and they are all a little different in regards to training, but that’s same in the States I think. The trainings definitely hard in Japan. I don’t think that part ever changes anywhere I train, and it really shouldn’t.

My time in Japan though I know for myself I really focused on the striking aspect of my game. I trained at Cesar Shootboxing Gym in Asakusa and also I got to train with Eriya Matsuda who also fights in Pancrase over at Sakaguchi Dojo. Striking wise, Eriya is really phenomenal and I got to learn a lot from him my time in Japan.

But now I have Vladimir watching over, and I think just the workload I have on myself has taken a step up now. Just really a lot more conditioning now, a lot of good stuff I never really done before with circuit weights. This last fight I think it really showed. I had the conditioning to just go really hard with the ground and pound. It really helps when you have a big Vlad screaming at you every day in practice, ha! I can be sure I’m giving my best!


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