Tachi Palace Fights 8: "All or Nothing" will be covered live tonight on Bloody Elbow with a main event that features UFC veteran David "The Crow" Loiseau taking on Leopoldo Serao for the TPF middleweight title. Also on the card, Indiana native Steve Lopez steps in as a last-minute replacement for C.J. Keith to face UFC veteran Fabricio Camoes in a lightweight bout.
Moments before the official weigh-in Thursday, I caught up with Lopez for a quick update.
"I took the fight with 10 days to prepare," Lopez said. "I have been in the gym religiously for the past four months so I wasn't concerned about the amount of time I had to train."
His opponent, Camoes, comes into the fight with a background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. With Lopez's wrestling skills, this fight appears to be, on paper at least, a classic styles clash.
"I think he feels he is going to be able to take me down," Lopez stated. "I plan to keep the fight standing, and if he becomes overly aggressive I am going to take him down and work my game from there."
Friday night's fight will be the first for Lopez since he was edged out by fellow wrestler Waylon Lowe in September at UFC 119 in Indianapolis. When a fighter finally arrives in the UFC and is then released, it can be a race to get back or taken as solid experience by a young fighter.
"I'm just taking it one fight at a time right now," Lopez said about working his way back.
Lopez hails from South Bend, Ind., and with the majority of pro gyms located in the Southwest or West Coast it can be difficult for a young fighter out of the Midwest to make his mark. Now that the UFC has visited Indiana and the regional fight scene in cities like Indianapolis has increased, this is a trend that stands to change.
"I definitely think we are going to see more fighters coming out of the Midwest," Lopez said. "There are a lot of solid fighters there and the Midwest has a long history of producing good wrestlers. I think when those wrestlers start to evolve we are going to see a surge of fighters hitting the bigger shows."
With his turn on the scale almost upon him, I had time to ask Lopez one final question. When reviewing his professional record I noticed early in his career he faced an opponent named "The Gooch." I had to find out how this ended up on his résumé.
"That's true," Lopez answered when asked about the strange opponent name. "The promoter couldn't spell my opponent's name because it was a long Muslim name so he just put down his nickname and that is what made it to the official record."
Before ending the interview Lopez made one final statement before making weight for the show.
"I don't have any predictions on how the fight will go but I do guarantee victory," he said.