HOUSTON, TX, August 29, 2011 – What kind of person turns twenty-one, goes to Las Vegas for his birthday, and then proceeds to work out and talk MMA rather than completely obliterated beyond belief? Well we’ve been to Vegas and we can tell you with absolute certainty that it’s not us. We’re more likely to roofied and wake up next to a sleeping tiger or get punched in the face by Mike Tyson than do all those healthy things.
Regardless of our own indiscretions, there is a person out there that has in fact survived Vegas unscathed, and actually come back in ever better shape than he was in before.
And that person’s name is Alex Morono.
Turning twenty-one just a mere eight days ago, Alex has forgone the life of a typical irresponsible young adult to pursue his passion of being a martial artist. It wasn’t long ago that Alex was just a typical overweight high school kid but through dedication, he’s transformed himself into the Muay Thai expert and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt he is today. And did we mention he is one hell of a fighter?
As an amateur Alex went up against some of the toughest competition he could find, including names like Justin Murray and Cody Phillips. Turning pro last December Alex won his first pro bouts before dropping his first loss to supercop Jeff Rexroad in a fight many said he took way too soon. Alex couldn’t help it. He loves challenging himself and he’s all set to do it all over again against another gifted up-and-comer in Evert Gutierrez.
That’s why he’s sitting on the exercise bike instead of the craps tables for the portion of the time he’s in Vegas celebrating his 21st. We’ll see if all that work pays off when he takes on Evert Gutierrez at Legacy FC 8 on September 16th.
For now here’s our prefight interview with Alex as he took the time to talk to TXMMA while in Sin City.
Alex, thanks for taking this interview before your fight at Legacy FC 8. How are things going for you at Gracie Barra?
Things couldn’t be going better. We have over 15 guys fighting soon so there are a lot of guys in camp alongside myself. Its making training a little less repetitive and more fun. I also finished up my summer job at AAM.Co building pools and started teaching at the gym every day. My 8 week fight camp is only half through and I could fight tonight of I had to. I feel great.
Anything else going for you outside the cage?
Ha. With the exception of getting in some online gaming in-between training or teaching there’s not a lot going on. I’m in the gym more than I’m at home and I couldn’t ask for a better lifestyle.
I know you recently turned 21. How did you or are you celebrating?
Funny you ask. I’m actually in my room at the Hard Rock Casino in Vegas right now. This is hands down best birthday ever. My dad flew my brother and some friends down. Only bad thing is I have to stay on the diet and not let my weight get above 195. <laughs> …but thankfully they have an amazing gym here so I’ve been there twice a day doing sprints. My friends think I’m crazy working out here and I’d actually have to agree with them.
Oh damn. Talk about commitment… As far as training back home, I know Ratinho is over there with you guys now along with Jody, Robo, and the rest. Explain to us what your training environment is like and what’s driving you to excel at this sport?
Training couldn’t be better man. The hardest part about it is having to choose between different sessions to train in. I recently got my brown belt and I’ve never felt so solid on the ground. And I think I’ve done more wrestling in the last 6 months than I have in the 5 years I’ve been training. It’s been phenomenal. Strength and conditioning sky rocketed since I’ve started. We have two great wrestling coaches, Jody and Kody, guys 30 lbs lighter who can still get me on the ground faster than I can fall. And we have a new Muay Thai coach in Michael Chase Corely who was perfect to fill the spot of Daniel (Kim). Working with he and Matt Wald is unparallel to anything and I also work with Gerardo Abadie for MMA and sparring. Again, everyday is so challenging and different. I’ve never felt this well-rounded in the sport.
At this point, what do you feel your biggest strengths are as a fighter? What aspect of your game do you need or want to improve most?
My strengths are definitely my kicks but now that I am wrestling and scoring a lot of takedowns, including one on Todd Moore, it actually happened. I feel comfortable everywhere. I play almost nothing but top game now which compliments a good guard. And I really needed to work on wrestling and I did just that. After the April 9th fight I started and haven’t stopped.
Your school, or at least your coach, has also been polarizing as of late. How do you feel about the naysayers that always have something bad to say about Chad Robichaux?
Good timing on the question. I’d follow any teammate to hell and back, especially Robo. For a gym owner to compete as much as he does especially considering his age gives me so much to look forward to as a young competitor. No other coach in the area competes as much as Chad and if I’m speaking honestly it does get under my skin when people talk bad about the gym but it only gives me more fire to shut them the f**k up in the ring so it’s not all bad. <laughs> But looking at a lot of the guys who are the non-competitors yet MMA experts makes me feel kinda bad for them …so if bad mouthing successful fighters is all they can do then go for it, I’ll be at the gym having a great time with the guys while they think of the most clever thing they can post.
What are your MMA goals in the next year or so?
I’m taking it one fight at a time. Anyone who knows me knows break everything down into percentages and looks at most logical way of probability. I’m already teaching more than before and of course it would be amazing if I can make it on the national circuit and I’ll take every advantage and opportunity I can but if I can make a comfortable living teaching and fighting I’ll do that happily.
Talk about your last fight with Jeff Rexroad. That was your first loss. How did you feel after the fight and what did you take out of it? Any lessons or highlights?
Wow. As bad as it makes me look I absolutely hate losing. No joke. I think about it every day but I’m also very optimistic and take every bit of knowledge I can muster from an experience. I had very different expectations of Jeff, no offense at all to him. I thought his stand up would be tougher to deal with and I thought he would have a very GI based submission style game from what I saw from his last fights. My plan was to counter and keep it standing and if taken down work from closed guard like I was comfortable with. I was hoping it would be all standing like the Talavera fight but he executed his skills in a very smart MMA way. My respect went way up for the Jeff. He’s a good guy and if things go well for me after this fight perhaps a rematch could be in store. I would love the fight him again to challenge myself and see where I stand now with him. Another huge thing I learned on the April 9th card was when watching Daniel Pineda fight. Tenacity and going for the kill is huge in MMA. A technical match is necessary in many match ups but mixing it with that ferocity can be key in winning fights on a decisive manner. If I even get a hint of weakness from my opponent in a fight in going to jump on it.
What do you think about your next opponent, Evert Gutierrez?
I have seen him fight before and watched quite a few videos on his jiu-jitsu game. He’s a very game opponent and again I’m looking forward to the challenge. I have a solid game plan already and feel comfortable everywhere. And thankfully I have had good training partners similar to Evert’s height. I cross train at Team Tooke a bit and those guys are always great training partners.
Any idea on how you guys may match up as far as strengths and weaknesses? Do you feel an advantage anywhere or think about anything specific you have to worry about?
I know he is a very successful competitive grappler but I’d say my submission defense is my strongest aspect while grappling. He also has quick hands but I feel best standing in any fight against anyone.
Any comment how you like to win this fight ideally?
If you had to give last words to your opponent before this fight, what would you tell him to expect?
Pain. (Clubber Lang quote)
What’s next for you after this fight?
Yes. I plan on fighting on the next few Legacy cards if things go well. However, with the team’s blessing, I’ll take any opportunity that proves a gain for my career.
Any last words? Anybody you want to thank?
All of my sponsors. Check the website to see them at alexmma.com. Also thanks to all of my coaches and training partners. It wouldn’t be the same anywhere else. Thanks to Mick and everyone at Legacy and TXMMA and TCD for the coverage. Back to the casino! Then the treadmill…
YOU can help us grow Texas MMA! Please make sure to LIKE TXMMA on Facebook when you get the chance and let us know if you have any feedback on how we can serve you better!