For the mixed martial arts fans that don’t already know of “The Assassin” Chris Lozano (6-0), they will soon enough. MMA Gospel’s very first Young Gun has set the welterweight division ablaze in his only year-and-a-half long professional MMA career, racking up six consecutive wins – all via KO or TKO – and having yet to feel the sting of defeat. The 28-year-old Cleveland, Ohio native began his foray in the world of martial arts when he took up wrestling at age five; after many dedicated years in the sport, Lozano parlayed his natural athleticism and new-found combat prowess into successful studies in Tae Kwon Do and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, for which he is a red belt and blue belt, respectively. Then, MMA called his name.
The Cleveland “Assassin” made his professional MMA debut with the North American Allied Fight Series (NAAFS) in June 2009, knocking out fellow newcomer Marcus Kruck (0-1) in just 37 seconds. His sophomore effort two months later resulted in a 47 second knockout with Lozano again on the winning side, prompting the organization to offer Lozano, now only two fights into his pro career, a shot at their middleweight title then held by WEC veteran Allan Weickert (6-8). Just six months after his debut, Chris fought for the NAAFS Middleweight Championship and won, dethroning the champ via first round knockout. He followed up his victory over Weickert with another knockout, this time in the Freestyle Cagefighting Fighting (FCF) promotion, then returned to NAAFS to successfully defend his title by TKO’ing UFC veteran “Dynamite” Jason Dent (21-11). “The Assassin” clearly was making his name in the local circuits and quickly rising to superstar status.
Proceeding his triumphant stint in NAAFS Lozano was recruited by Chicago-based MMA promotion Bellator Fighting Championships (more commonly referred to as Bellator or BFC) as the newest member of its growing welterweight roster. His first task in the promotion was a tall order: taking on a Shooto and UFC veteran in fourth degree Judo black belt “Zenko” Yoshiyuki Yoshida (11-6). Lozano performed impressively in his promotional debut, battering the esteemed Japanese Judoka for two full rounds before a stop was called to the contest. Now, with a half-dozen consecutive victories and a championship title to his credit, Lozano steps up even further in the ranks with his participation in the Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament, which premieres this Saturday at 9pm ET on MTV2. In his quarter-finals match-up “The Assassin” squares off with the most recent former Bellator Welterweight Champion, “Cyborg” Lyman Good (10-1). Lozano faces undoubtedly his toughest competition in Good.
MMA Gospel Editor-in-Chief Mallory Mejia was given the opportunity to talk to Chris Lozano before his big fight at Bellator 35 this Saturday. Here, “The Assassin” candidly shares his thoughts on his strongest assets as a fighter, Bellator and the Season 4 Welterweight Tournament, and the biggest fight of his career to date.
We already know what got you into MMA – but what is it that has kept you in MMA? What motivates you to move forward in this sport?
I just want to find out exactly how far I can go. I want to be champion. I want to be considered one of the best in world. I love the fact that in the pursuit of these things, I can also make a great living. This is my job, my dream, and my life.
If you hadn’t pursued a career in MMA, what do you think you would be doing right now?
If I wasn’t in MMA, I don’t know what I’d be doing. I have done many things in my life, but nothing did I love more than this. I was searching for something like this before I began. I guess I would be doing something that gave me the same satisfaction and quality of life that I get from MMA.
What aspect of your fight game/style do you think has evolved the most in the past year?
In the past year, my Jiu-Jitsu has come so far. I have so many people to thank for that, but most of all, Pablo Castro and Marcus Marinelli of Strong Style Martial Arts.
What do you consider to be your strongest assets as a fighter?
My heart is my strongest asset. I’m unbreakable, mentally and physically. I mean, don’t get me wrong… I can’t swim the ocean, or run for days like Forrest Gump, but when it comes to fighting, there is something in me that is stronger than most. I haven’t always been the most technical fighter when I was in the cage, or the strongest, or even in the best shape, but I always find a way.
You’re known for being very disciplined and focused on your success as a professional mixed martial artist, without letting ego obstruct your path. To what do you attribute such a mindset?
I attribute my longing to make a better life for my family to the mindset that I have. Nothing is ever good enough for me because they are still struggling. Until the day I see my mother living like the queen she is, or my brother able to afford his M.S. medication, enough will never be enough.
What fighters’ styles do you most emulate?
I think my style is very unique. I don’t think I emulate any certain fighter. I am a mixture of everything I have ever learned, seen, or wanted to be. I may take one move from a guy, and another from this guy, but I don’t believe I emulate anyone.
Describe your mindset when you’re standing across the cage from your opponent before the opening bell.
My mindset right before the ref says, “FIGHT”, is a mixture of things. I’m thinking about my family, my training, my coaches, etc. I’m thinking about this one man and what I have to do to beat him. I’m thinking about victory.
How long is your training camp before a fight? Do you always stay with Strong Style Fight Team or do you ever rotate through camps?
My training camp is always different. A lot of guys follow the eight-week camp theory. I don’t get caught up in specific time frames. As long as I have time to be ready, that’s all I need. As far as training with other camps, I have cross-trained with other camps and other people, but Strong Style is where I do the majority of my training. I’m blessed to have everything I need to become a better fighter, right there inside of that building, but sometimes I like to pick other people’s brains as well.
Other than your own, of course, what camp would you like to train with? Any coaches in mind?
I have had a chance to train with “the best”, and the greatest lesson I took from “the best” coach in MMA was, as long as you have a good coach and you are surrounded by tough guys with the will to get better, you can be great. There is no secret, or no one man with the secret answers. This is an individual sport. A champion isn’t born, he is made. Knowledge is power. It takes the right combination of a combination of things to become great. There is no one coach, or one camp I would rather be a part of, or train with. I have a team full of guys who would die before they gave up on their dreams and a coach that would follow us to the grave before he gave up on his, and his dream is for us to be champions. That’s all I need.
You were chosen as the man to face Bellator’s most recent former welterweight champion – clearly your competition is becoming progressively formidable. Do you take this as a sign of Bellator having increased confidence in your skills?
It is a privilege and an honor to be apart of the first ever Bellator Fighting Championship show on MTV2, let alone the main event! This is a great honor Bellator has placed upon me. I definitely think they are confident in my skills and they believe I will give Lyman Good the fight the fans would love to see. There are so many other great fighters in this organization, from top to bottom, and to have them choose me to be the in their first ever MTV main event is definitely a sign of confidence and respect. I plan to repay Bellator and the fans who will be watching by making sure I don’t let anyone down.
How do you feel going into possibly the most important fight of your career thus far?
I feel excited, happy, and ready. I feel like a plan I laid out for myself, not long ago, is taking shape right in front of me. I have the least amount of fights out of anyone in the tournament. I’m basically the rookie compared to the rest of these dudes. To have this opportunity with only six wins as a pro is something to be thankful for. It is a blessing, and I’m just smiling and enjoying life!
What challenges does Lyman Good pose for you as an opponent?
Lyman Good poses many challenges. He’s a monster at 170, the most devastating striker in the tournament, and just down right tough. He will be the biggest test of my career and the toughest person I have ever fought.
Give us your predictions for how you think your fight against Lyman Good will play out. And the tournament?
I can’t predict anything because anything can happen. I’d like to see me standing victorious and Lyman unconscious when the fight is over. I’d like to see me make my way to the finals of the tournament and then win the chance to fight Ben Askren for the Bellator Welterweight Championship belt. I’d like to be champion when this is all said and done.
Who do you foresee being your biggest competition in the Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament, or even just the promotion’s 170lbs. division?
That’s a tough question because there are so many solid fighters in this weight class. Every guy in the tournament is a BEAST! Anyone of them dudes can send you home early. I think Dan Hornbuckle and Brent Weedman are the toughest guys in the tournament besides Lyman Good. Not taking anything away from the rest of these dudes, but those two are both are extremely dangerous.
Hypothetical question – You’re in the tournament finals. Who would you want to see standing across the cage? Would his initials be J.H. perhaps?
I would fight Jay Hieron anywhere, anytime. The guy is not going to win the tournament. There are at least four or five guys in the tournament I would give a better shot at winning the tournament before him. But, if I make it to the finals and he is standing across the cage from me, I won’t be upset. (smiles)
Thank you very much for your time! MMA Gospel stands behind you 100 percent in the upcoming Bellator tournament. In closing, is there anyone you would like to thank?
Thank you. I support MMA Gospel 100 percent as well. I would like to thank everyone in my life who has supported me and helped me get to where I am today. I would like to thank Strong Style Martial Arts and head coach Marcus Marinelli for providing the perfect combination of what’s needed to become a champion. I want to thank my coaches Joe Delguyd, Pablo Castro, and Victor Ventresca for putting in the time and effort necessary to help a person hone the skills necessary to become a good MMA fighter. I want to thank my teammates for helping each other reach our dreams and goals. I want to thank DOM Fight Gear for being the most amazing MMA gear company in the world. Check them out and I highly recommend their gi’s. Enter “assassin” in the promo code to let them know you support me! I want to thank Musclespeed, Bas Rutten MMA Systems, John P. Lennon, and D. Daniel Productions for proudly sponsoring me, as I proudly represent them. Most of all, thank you to the fans and the people like MMA Gospel, for helping the sport we all love to grow and become what we all know it will be.
Be sure to catch Chris Lozano take on Lyman Good in the Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament quarter-finals – Saturday, March 5 at 9pm ET on MTV2.