It's very rare that you see a guy cut from the UFC come back as quickly as Joey Beltran. After a pair of back to back losses, including his first knockout loss, Beltran was cut in early February. Despite past comments of not having a desire to drop down to light heavyweight, Joey reevaluated his career, and decided that it was the right move for him. He successfully made the cut, and exactly three months to the day, later, Joey won his first fight at light heavyweight. The UFC has since re-signed him, and this Wednesday night, we'll all be treated to Joey Beltran 2.0 on the UFC On Fuel TV 4 card. In a recent TapouT Radio interview, Joey gives some insight as to his mindset leading into his fight with the hard hitting Aussie, James Te Huna.
*Note: Interviewer is either my co-host, Evan Shoman of TapouT Radio, or myself. When I don't conduct these interviews by myself, I just put "Interviewer" to eliminate having to bounce back and forth between three different names.
Interviewer: You had an incredibly fast turnaround from the point you were released to the point of re-signing with the UFC. What was your time away like?
Joey Beltran: I knew that I had no Plan B, the same way it was when I threw myself into becoming a professional fighter. I just said, 'Well, I'm going to be a UFC fighter.' People laughed at me back then, and I made it, so when I got cut, I knew I had to rethink and reevaluate what I was doing. I knew I had to change weight classes to get this back on track.
I had plans for a real busy summer, and I had a couple fights booked already for the month of June. I had just planned on working my way through the summer, making a little bit of money here and there to survive, and eventually fighting my way back in.
Interviewer: You've always been talked about as being too small for heavyweight. Now that you're down to light heavy, do you think you'll stay there, or maybe even take it a step further, because it's not unreasonable to surmise that you could make 185 with minimal issues.
Joey Beltran: Especially now, being down here at 205 and walking around every day at 220, I definitely could see 185 in the near future, but I'm going to give it a go at 205 and see how that works out. I would like to retire at 185, though.
Interviewer: You were pretty much known for having an iron jaw and had never been knocked out prior to your fight with Lavar Johnson. Did that affect your confidence any at all? Do you still go in with your brawler mentality, or do you go in a little more cautious?
Joey Beltran: Ya know, in the weeks leading up to my fights, I would never talk to anyone, not my coaches or my wife, about fears or concerns coming in. If anything, I would puff my chest out more, and talk about how confident I was, when in reality, I was nervous. The, I'd be backstage, about to walk out in front of 15,000 people, and everything would hit me all at once. All my fear was right there. If you watch my fights, I'm frozen for the first few minutes. I'm not doing sh*t. I'm just taking hits. Then I would wake up, and realize that I'm in the middle of these brawls, these wars. Everybody liked them, but in reality, I know that I've never shown the skills that I have.
With that being said, I took the necessary measures to correct it. I got with a sports psychologist. It's the same one that my good friend Dominick Cruz went to see. It really helped me put things in perspective about who I'm really fighting for and why I'm really fighting. The first time I saw him was before my last fight, which was my debut at 205. It was the most fun I've had since the Gladiator Challenge days. That's when I was whipping people's asses in a parking lot. I'm really excited to get back in there, and show everyone what I've got.
I always said I was never going to cut weight unless somebody bullied me at heavyweight. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way, and it happened. I'm not changing who I am as a person. I'm always going to come out to scrap. I'm not coming there to run around, dodging punches. You're going to have to beat me up, or I'm going to beat you up.
Interviewer: Do you feel like you'll have the advantage over Te Huna because you have always fought hard hitting heavyweights?
Joey Beltran: I don't know if that's going to benefit me all that much. I do know one thing. When they say James Te Huna is a big 205er, I don't really give that much thought. If you want to see a big man, look at Stipe Miocic or Lavar Johnson. Those are big guys. Somebody that's 6'1 and 220 pounds on fight night doesn't really stress me out.
Follow Joey via his Twitter, @Mexicutioner760