Interviews

Dana White’s Contender Series Contract Winner Angel Pacheco on His Emotional Conversation with Dana White: “I won’t fail, I won’t lose”

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Angel Pacheco’s journey into MMA is a tale of unexpected inspiration, family influence, and a deep passion for the sport. In a recent interview with Mike Kachan on the Couch Warrior Podcast, Pacheco, a Dana White’s Contender Series Contract Winner and now a UFC fighter, shared his come up story and shed light on his experiences in mixed martial arts.

DWCS Alum Angel Pacheco Talks Come Up and UFC Future

Pacheco’s fascination with combat sports began with the world of professional wrestling. Watching WWE (formerly WWF) events, he developed an early interest in the physicality and drama of the sport.
However, a pivotal moment during his teenage years truly ignited his passion for MMA. At 13 or 14, Pacheco’s father introduced him to a real, unscripted form of fighting by showing him a recorded UFC event. While initially, Pacheco was not sold on the sport, the fight that captured his attention featured Yves Edwards versus Josh Thompson, showcasing a blend of grappling and stand-up striking. Pacheco vividly remembers when Edwards took Thompson’s back, executed a mat return, and finished the fight with a head kick and ground strikes. This sequence left a lasting impression on Pacheco, sparking a desire to pursue MMA and become a champion.

Motivated by this newfound passion, Pacheco approached his father and asked to be taught boxing. His father then laid the foundation for his striking skills. Pacheco later joined the high school wrestling team and explored various martial arts disciplines, including Jiu-Jitsu.

The journey continued as Pacheco moved to St. Cloud, where he eventually crossed paths with Brock Larson, his future coach and a pivotal figure in his MMA career. Training under Larson’s guidance, Pacheco’s skills evolved, and he developed a well-rounded approach to the sport.

Reflecting on his early experiences, Pacheco shared how he met Brock Larson after accepting a fight on short notice in two weight classes above his own. It was his first fight, and he didn’t know that his opponent cut weight to get to 170 pounds. Although he lost the fight, Larson, impressed by Pacheco’s resilience and raw talent, invited him to train at his gym. This marked the beginning of a mentorship that greatly influenced Pacheco’s growth as a fighter.

As the interview progressed, Pacheco delved into the emotional aftermath of his recent fight against Danny Silva that took place on Dana White’s Contender Series 2023 Week 8. After facing defeat in a closely contested war of a fight, where his ear was hanging off by the final bell, Pacheco revealed the intense disappointment he felt, perceiving himself as a failure in that moment. Expressing his vulnerability, Pacheco acknowledged the weight of the missed opportunities and the impact on his family and mentors. He reflected on his conversation with Dana White after the bout, where he asked Dana to call him if a short notice replacement was ever needed and told him “I won’t fail, I won’t lose”. 

However, the story took an unexpected turn. While still in the hospital, Pacheco received the news that Dana White had awarded him a UFC contract despite his loss. While Dana has given contracts before to those who lost their Contender Series matchup, he doesn’t do it often. Despite that, it is difficult to think of anyone who deserved it more than Pacheco. The emotional rollercoaster continued as Pacheco experienced a mix of relief, gratitude, and excitement, realizing that his dream of fighting in the UFC had indeed come true.

When asked about his time training at the New England Cartel with guys such as Rob Font and Calvin Kattar, Pacheco felt that training at such a high level gym helped prepare him for his DWCS fight that ultimately was a war.

Looking ahead, Pacheco discussed his upcoming fight against Coalan Loughran, scheduled for March 30th in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Expressing confidence in his abilities, Pacheco analyzed Loughran’s style, emphasizing his own strengths in striking and grappling. Despite acknowledging Loughran’s athleticism and explosive movement, Pacheco believes his pace and versatility will be the determining factors in the fight. Pacheco, while admitting that Loughran is a good wrestler, felt that he’s trained with higher level wrestlers before and is more than ready for such a matchup. 

Pacheco shared his dream matchups in the UFC. Highlighting fighters like Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt, Pacheco expressed admiration for their accomplishments and styles. These dream matchups symbolize Pacheco’s aspirations to compete against elite fighters and make his mark in the bantamweight division.

Angel Pacheco’s journey is a testament to the resilience, passion, and growth that define a fighter’s path in the world of mixed martial arts. From early inspirations to the emotional highs and lows of competition, Pacheco’s story serves as an inspiring narrative for aspiring fighters and fans alike.

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