John Castaneda got back in the win column at Combate 34 last Friday with a win over Marcelo Rojo.
Back in the ‘W’ Column
Castaneda improved to 18-4 on the back of his third-round arm triangle choke. The fight marked Castaneda’s first fight in a year and his first victory since November 2017.
“It feels great, especially after two super close fights,” Castaneda told MMASucka. “I was coming off of two losses, both were split decisions. The most recent one with Jose Alday isn’t sitting well with me. It feels good to be back in the win column especially against such a tough opponent like Marcelo Rojo.”
Castaneda was slated to fight during the midst of his absence against Erik Perez in October, but a staph infection that turned into MRSA led to the bout being cancelled and set Castaneda back for six months.
“Sexy Mexi” feels the time off did him well, though. The preparation for Rojo marked Castaneda’s first time implementing a strength and conditioning program in-camp.
“I didn’t get tired at all,” he said. “I felt like I could’ve gone another five rounds. The only thing was that I did miss weight, but that was something that I think the whole year layoff had a toll. Usually I’m used to fighting three times a year constantly having to make weight. Moving forward, we’re just going to make some minor adjustments and get better.”
Fighting for Combate Americas
Castaneda has long been a member of Combate Americas. He’s fought for them five straight times and 11 of his last 12. The only exception was his bout against Cheyden Leialoha on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, where, despite picking up a unanimous decision, the UFC didn’t sign him. Having fought for Combate since its early days in 2015, Castaneda, a proud Mexican American, has felt like the promotion has been the right fit for his time as an MMA prospect.
“What’s always appealed to me about the promotion is that it’s a Latin American promotion,” he said. “It’s showcasing the Latin American fighter to the Latin American community, and I’m Mexican. It’s nice having my mom, my family being able to watch it. I can kind of be myself and take pride in being a Mexican fighter. Not that I couldn’t do that in any other promotion, but it’s a little bit more special. Most of the fighters are Latin American, and at least one of the fighters in every fight is Latin American.”
Castaneda’s current deal with Combate Americas is coming to an end, soon. He has two fights left on his contract, which expires in August or September. The deal will end once one of those two conditions are met. Castaneda isn’t sure what the future holds, but says there are a couple of fighters he’d like to meet under the Combate banner.
He holds a TKO victory over the promotion’s current bantamweight champion, Gustavo Lopez. A rematch with Lopez for the title obviously intrigues Castaneda. He’s also clamoring for a rematch against Jose Alday, a fight which isn’t sitting well with him.
Castaneda’s next home?
Seeing as Castaneda only has two fights left on a deal that expires late in the summer, it’s tough to know whether he’ll fight both Alday and Lopez or re-sign with Combate Americas. His goal is to fight at least two or three more times this year. Wherever Castaneda signs next, he was adamant that the UFC isn’t the only major organization he’s interested in.
“Moving forward, I would absolutely love to go overseas to RIZIN,” he said. “I would fight for Bellator as well. I love the fact that we could do our own sponsorships and make money that way. [ONE Championship] has a roster full of guys for the smaller weights. Their 125, 135, 145 weight classes are absolutely stacked.
“The UFC, obviously, everybody who fights, it’s been a goal of theirs’ to be in the UFC at least for one fight just to say that they did it. It’s the most well-known and biggest MMA promotion hands down. There’s wins for every single promotion.”
While Castaneda’s future home is up in the air, he plans to return for the last fight on his Combate deal around July or August.