INTERVIEW WITH ARTURO " ZICO " ATUNES
Arturo "Zico" Atunes
HOw does it feel to be back ?
Arturo "Its great to be back, the org is huge now compared to when I was champ here, but its over 3 years since I have fought for this org and it has changed a lot. It was sad when I had to leave, I was asked to vacate the title by the orgs owner because he didn't feel it was fair on the rest of the roster. I made 6 defences though so it was a sad day."
Steel "Yeh we have good memories, his debut fight at 17 against another striker the 25 year old K Rad. It was a tourney and we had no choice who Arturo fought but we were worried we had thrown him in too soon, but he demolished Rad and went on to dominate."
How did you get into MMA?
Arturo " I played soccer as a kid, and visited a gym with my brother and it went from there, but it wasn't until Mr Steel asked me to move to New York at 16 that I thought about having an MMA career."
Steel "Yeh, well in those days I was working with Jeff Ramirez, now the SFC boss and we took Butch Harris to Rio on a talent spotting holiday. Its common knowledge Jeff loves trannies so we didn't see too much of him, and Butch got arrested in a bar fight, so I wondered into a kickboxing gym and I see this scrawny kid holding his own against some big scary guys and actually rocking them, and I'm like, holy cow, this might be the one."
You have some great wins on your record but 2 surprise losses too, talk us through the highs and the lows Arturo.
Arturo "The Miller fight in May 14 was huge, Miller had beat Diego Aragon who I trained with then, so beating Miller was big. That guy is a talent for sure."
Steel "Yeh that was big but for me the Sackett fight was the one. I was trying to get Arturo a fight with the Umbrella champ managed by Sami Assasi, but even though Arturo was the SFC champ at 185 they said he hadn't beaten anyone! So I said to Ramirez, fuck this, give us Sackett, we will show everyone Arturo is the real deal.
Arturo demolished Sackett."
You made the decision to go to Hilo and fight Lopette, their 185 champ, another risky move?
Steel "We wanted another test, Lopette is top draw, a real stud, but it didn't work out, I feel we underestimated Lopette, and also got a bad decision."
Arturo "Yeh, I could have done more, I thought I could knock him out, but he was tough. He got some takedowns which he did nothing with, but the judges must have been impressed with lay and pray down there and he got the split. So I came back to the SFC and defended against Stapleton."
Steel "The 2nd Keller fight was much like the Lopette fight, I think we get complacent and that night Arturo got out worked, but we put that right in the Jangles fight."
Arturo "Yeh the Keller and Lopette losses made me realise I gotta take it these guys, make sure the judges have it clear, so in the Jangles fight I brought it."
What are your goals for 2015?
Arturo "I beat Styles and then take out Renato at 205, I become the world ranked number one fighter at 24 years old."
Steel "It a no lose situation, remember Arturo is 23, that's right just 23 years old and he has a fight with a legend like Styles! That's ridiculous. If Arturo loses, the world will know his name now and they will still say, what a talent, only 23 fighting Styles, already beaten Keller, Sackett and Jangles. Jangles is managed by Lance, he is at his peak and Arturo beat him. He can give Styles a fight, you better believe it."
Why did you call Styles out?
Arturo "To get noticed, Styles is a beast, him and Renato are the super stars of the sport. I beat Styles and I am elevated in one fight."
Steel "That's right, say we sign with EVO, we wont get a shot straight off, Arturo would be a kid in the ranks, and who knows, it might never happen for him.
This way everyone will know who Arturo Atunes is, that's the kid that 23 year old with 15 title fights, a 3 org champ across 2 weight divisions that has the balls to call out Devin fucking Styles. That's a fighter, 23 and not hiding in ID restricted orgs."
How is training camp going ?
Arturo "I am ready now, 2 or 3 weeks means nothing. Styles is ready now, we could go tomorrow."
Steel "This is history in the making, Arturo is ready, Styles will be a huge favourite, but its about fame. Arturo Atunes steps up on March 7 to create one of the biggest upsets in Tycoon history. Do not miss this!"
Do you have a message to the rest of your weight class?
Arturo "Yeh, man the fuck up. Am I the only fighter willing to take a risk? Take a look in the mirror, no one knows who you are for a reason, and most likely no one ever will."
Will we see you back later again at NYFN ?
Steel "Bjorn, if you can bring him the big fights then he will be back. If he wins, you get him Renato at 205 or Stormcrow at 170 and he will be back. Gain weight or cutting it, Arturo will fight them all."
Arturo "Yeh I would like to thank Styles for taking this fight, he is a true champ giving me this opportunity, and thanks to NYFN for putting this together."