In a fight where the deck was stacked against him, Chepe Mariscal (14-6 MMA, 1-0 UFC) made good on his UFC debut when he won a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Trevor Peek (8-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC).
Mariscal took the fight on 10 days’ notice, up a weight class and in a venue in Jacksonville where Peek had a lot of support from those making the trip from his native Alabama.
Mariscal said he likes beating undefeated fighters, especially those like Peek who have a 100 percent finishing rate. He entered the bout with an attitude of “This is my time to shine.”
“Machine Gun” didn’t have a lot of time to watch film on Peek, but he said his corner did a good job analyzing his opponent’s tendencies.
“The moral of the game plan was to make him wrestle and grapple because we haven’t seen him grapple or wrestle,” Mariscal told MMASucka. “We thought putting some weight on him would be good, some pressure and keeping him going backward would get him tired.”
Mariscal didn’t immediately pursue the grappling, as he wanted to strike with Peek to get a feel of his angles and shots.
“He has one of the craziest looping punches I’ve ever faced,” Mariscal said. “I obviously don’t have any training partners like that. I was learning as I was fighting against him, but I felt like I obviously had the upper edge.”
Mariscal’s experience and technique won the day as he bounced Peek from the ranks of the unbeaten with 30-27 judges’ scores across the board.
Mariscal, a natural featherweight, enters the UFC with a sneaky good resume, having fought several fighters who are now succeeding in the Octagon. He holds wins over Pat Sabatini and Youssef Zalal – Sabatini is 5-1 in the UFC, while Zalal went 3-3-1 before being cut.
Mariscal also fought Gregor Gillespie (formerly ranked at lightweight), Bryce Mitchell (No. 12-ranked featherweight), Joanderson Brito, Steve Garcia and Sean Soriano, who have all fought in the Octagon. A ground-and-pound TKO over Guilherme Faria earned Mariscal his shot.
Mariscal believed his chance would come after his win over Zalal, but it took him seven more fights and three straight wins.
“A lot of big promotions want that undefeated record,” Mariscal said. “They want dudes who are going to make the promotion look better. Fans love undefeated fighters. Me, I like the seasoned fighters. Like the ones who have lost and who are able to lose, come back and really put on a show and actually be a fighter. They’re not just going out there just throwing whatever. I wanted to be that example, like, ‘Man, I’ve lost to some of the greatest dudes in the UFC, who are ranked and everything else.’ I’ve beaten some of those dudes. My career is not perfect record-wise, but everything else can be put in a display as how I want to be known as a fighter. I know [the UFC] likes people on the mic and people doing great things outside of the UFC, like helping others. They already got a little taste of who I am, and hopefully, I get that respect I deserve for the next one.”
Mariscal said he wants to get his losses back, even going up to 155 and rematching Gillespie. But he would also be open to rematching someone like Sabatini.
“Even those guys that I beat, I’ll give them an opportunity, but if we’re ranked. If we’re getting paid for this stuff,” Mariscal said. “Man, I just love the fight game. I love the competitiveness. Like, ‘Oh, they want to hunt me down?’ That’d be great, because outside of the UFC, I was doing more of the hunting. Like, ‘Hey you want to fight me? You don’t? Darn.’”
Mariscal hopes the win over Peek will propel him toward the upper echelon of his natural weight class of 145 and the rematches that await there. But he knows he has work to do first to catch up to his fellow competitors who have had head starts in the UFC over him.
“If they do want to fight, that’s cool. Hopefully we get on a main card or I have an opportunity where I can get ranked. A lot of things have to fall into place for the rematches to be there. I know featherweight has a big division. I know if I keep racking up these wins, I’ll eventually run into those guys.”
Mariscal doesn’t have anyone in mind for who he’d like to fight next. But he is open to squaring off against anybody.
“I’m not scared of fighting anybody. I’m ready to go out there and do what I’ve gotta do. I’ll fight who’s down to fight with me.”
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