Danny Castillo is a team player and a man of his word.
Castillo (Twitter: @lastcall155), an upstanding member of Team Alpha Male, will be making his first appearance on a pay-per-view card Saturday at the HP Pavilion for UFC 139 in San Jose, Calif., against Shamar Bailey.
“Last Call” will be competing in his home state, where he has not fought in since his WEC debut in 2008. Since growing up and going to school the Bay Area, Castillo figures to be the crowd favorite against Bailey. That might mean extra pressure to perform on fight night.
“No, not at all, I think that it’s the opposite,” Castillo said on MMA Beatdown Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “I went to college in the South Bay so San Jose is kind of like a backyard for me. It is definitely exciting for me, but not only that, my teammate Urijah Faber is on the card is on the card as well. Team Alpha Male has a ton of support that always comes out and there is going to be a lot of people supporting me, friends and family, so I’m really excited.”
Coming into his bout against Bailey, Castillo is not necessarily impressed with the resume of the collegiate wrestler.
“He went to a small D-3 college,” said Castillo. “Not that there was anything wrong with that, but he didn’t place at the National tournament in D-3, so I’m not really too impressed.”
Castillo’s game plan coming into this fight is simple. He wants to take advantage of his technically superior striking over Bailey and push a pace that cannot be matched.
“I hope it stays standing,” admitted Castillo. “Because I think that I have the advantage in the stand-up game. As far as wrestling, I feel like I’m a better wrestler. He is a big, strong dude. I’m expecting him to tire out and gas as he’s done in his previous fights. Especially coming down from 170-pounds, that weight cut is going to be tough for him to make weight and fight me for 15 minutes.”
Both Castillo and Bailey are coming off of a loss in their respective last visits to the cage.
“A loss is definitely motivating,” Castillo said. “So I just go out there and fight my game plan. The UFC definitely hands out bonuses to guys that are exciting, which also helps give me the motivation to put it all on the line and make for an exciting fight.
“I know that he is coming off a loss as well, so people out there, tune into Facebook because you’re going to see two guys that are coming off of a loss that are looking to pick up another win.”
Joining Castillo on the card, Faber will be making his first appearance back in the Octagon since his “Fight of the Night” loss to Dominick Cruz for the UFC bantamweight championship.
Training with the mentality that pushing your body harder when not training for a fight makes you a better fighter, Team Alpha Male trains year-round in order to stay in peak and fight-ready shape.
Going through the journey of preparing for a fight with a teammate and close friend who is performing on the same night has proven to have advantages for the pair.
“With Urijah and I being on the same card it almost makes it easier because he and I are going through the same things together,” Castillo said. “We’re cutting weight, we’re traveling together, so it just makes it easier.”
Widely recognized as one of the most tightly knit teams in MMA, Team Alpha Male and Castillo share a bond that is hard to replicate. Not only does all the team share the same disciplined work ethic, they also all have the same goal of being the best.
“We are definitely pretty close,” Castillo stated. “Some other people say that they have great camps, like Greg Jackson’s. Yeah, they have a great camp, but people travel to Greg Jackson’s, so they go to New Mexico. We all live in the same place, so I think in terms of a team, we’re definitely closer.”
Back in college, Castillo definitely knew how to have a good time and get down to business. When he wasn’t hanging out at the local bowling alley with his wrestling team mates, he was challenging himself to be the best on his team.
That drive led Castillo into making a commitment that he intends to fulfill.
“I made a promise to my mom when I was wrestling in college,” Castillo confessed. “I was going to be the national champ and I fell short. I took second at nationals so this is kind of my last shot, my last call to give her what I promised.”
With that being said, the rest of the lightweight division has a problem: Castillo has a promise to keep.