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Caceres: “I’m always looking for the next best challenge”

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Alex-Caceres

It is hard to think of a fight announcement that has surprised more people in recent times than Urijah Faber and Alex Caceres, but in truth it is not as outlandish a match up as one might think. Faber’s title fight curse is the subject of much writing, and after his latest loss to Renan Barao in February the future has never been more uncertain for the 35 year-old California kid. He faces a battle for relevancy, and how better to do that than by taking on a young fighter on a hot undefeated streak?

Enter Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres. Last seen in a tough fight with the younger Pettis sibling Sergio, Caceres has quietly amassed an impressive record since dropping to bantamweight. With six wins, one of which was overturned due to a drug test failure for marijuana, and just one split decision loss, Caceres has one of the most impressive records in the division.

After the two called each other out in a less than serious exchange on Twitter, the fight was made.

“I never really think about challenging anybody,” Caceres told MMASucka. “I was just game for whatever they had to throw at me. When the suggestion was thrown out there, I figured it was an opportunity I would have been a fool to pass up so I went for it. I didn’t necessarily see myself fighting Urijah any time soon but he was definitely one of the people I would have wanted to fight in the future.

“Of course I understand his capabilities, he’s a very accomplished fighter, but it’s what I wanted anyway or what I wanted eventually. Me having it now doesn’t really make too much of a difference. I’m in this sport to fight the best and if I can be offered the best the sooner the better, then I can see where I am.”

Caceres also revealed that he was originally offered Erik Perez as his next opponent, but medical issues stemming from the Pettis fight left him unbooked.

After being unfavoured in a number of his recent wins, Caceres is very definitely against the more experienced Faber. Despite this, Caceres is unfazed by any sort of “underdog” tag.

“To me it doesn’t matter, I really don’t follow all that stuff,” Caceres said. “It’s just about the person that’s in front of me and dealing with the here and now. The only thing that matters is that I favour me, the rest is just betting odds.”

In the fight with Sergio Pettis, many felt he was losing the fight before achieving the last minute submission victory, but Caceres does not feel he was ever really falling behind in the fight.

Caceres said: “According to the statistics and the numbers on strikes, takedowns, reverses, submission attempts…I was definitely ahead on the scorecards. I didn’t feel like I was behind, we were definitely close. I’m always trying to put on a good show and finish the fight, I never felt like I was losing. I never felt really in danger of being harmed.”

In the aftermath of the Pettis fight Caceres took home $100k in disclosed bonuses, making that his largest fight purse ever by some margin. While some fighters blow their bonuses on fast cars and loose women, Caceres says he is looking for something  “deeper”:

“It doesn’t make a difference at all,” Caceres said. “I’m still living life the same way, I don’t necessarily need that much or desire that much. I’m just doing the same things – buying good food, being with good people. I guess to have it sitting there just in case anything happens is good, but I’m just putting it away for later. Hopefully soon I can build from it and make it last. It’s all superficial, it really doesn’t make a difference. I’m not going to take any of it with me anyway. All of these things don’t last, I’m looking for something a little bit deeper. Materialism is not up my alley, it doesn’t really appeal to me. “

What does it do for me? Okay, I’ve got a nice car – but what does that do for me? If I just have a cheap and economical car what difference does it make? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

If Caceres is able to overcome the odds and beat Urijah Faber, there is no doubt he will be a top contender in the division. There are fewer fighters of higher stature in the bantamweight division that Caceres could conceivably fight next, so does he see himself challenging for the title?

“I definitely see myself challenging for a title,” Caceres said. “If I’ve been on a win streak and then beat Urijah and continue the win streak, I don’t see why I would fight anyone else, I don’t see it making sense. Urijah is number two or number three, if I beat him I think it would be good to get a title shot. Whether I get it or not isn’t up to me.”

With current champion TJ Dillashaw, former champion Renan Barao and top contender Raphael Assuncao all jostling for position at the top, does Caceres have a preference?

“To me it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’m always looking for the next best challenge. I’d like to fight whoever is the better man.”

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