MMA: Valdez, 27, isn't yet a pro, but he's patient - Albuquerque Journal

MMA: Valdez, 27, isn’t yet a pro, but he’s patient

It might have been the 2007 fight between Georges St-Pierre and Matt Serra, won by Serra in a monumental upset, that lit the fire.

It might have been the 2008 return match, won by St-Pierre, one of MMA’s all-time greats.

All Albuquerque’s Billy Ray Valdez knows is that, since then, he’s wanted to be a professional MMA fighter.

“It’s my life’s goal. It’s my dream,” Valdez said on Wednesday in a phone interview, four days before his scheduled heavyweight fight against Hobbs’ Erik Jimenez on an all-amateur FightWorld card at FIT-NHB, his home gym.

Yet, at 27, Valdez is a patient man. He won’t turn pro, he said, until he and his coaches at FIT decide he’s ready.

In the meantime, his job as a delivery driver for Walgreens pays the bills.

Billy Ray Valdez (courtesy of Billy Ray Valdez)

“First things first,” he said. “I need to focus on this upcoming fight and win, have a good performance here.

“(My coaches) would like to see me have a couple more (amateur) fights before turn I pro, just so we can work out a lot of the kinks in my game so when I do turn pro I’m not trying to figure it out.”

The Valdez-Jimenez fight is one of 16 scheduled on Saturday’s card. FIT-NHB coach and matchmaker Jon Judy said every active gym in the Albuquerque area is represented, plus others from the Rocky Mountain-Southwest region.

After watching one or both of the St-Pierre-Serra fights, Valdez whetted his appetite for combat sports while wrestling for Atrisco Heritage in 2011-12. He later did some amateur boxing. He brings a 2-2 amateur MMA record into Saturday’s fight but is riding the wave of his Oct. 9, 2021, victory by second-round TKO over previously unbeaten Tyrique Ransom on a King of the Cage card in Niagara Falls, New York.

“That win taught me a lot of valuable lessons,” Valdez said. “Keeping my composure, being smart and tactical in my performance.

“I believe I’m capable of a lot of great stuff when I’m in the ring. It’s just making sure I don’t get emotional when I fight.”

Valdez said he has lost some 30 pounds since weighing in at 265 pounds for the Ransom fight.

“I just feel tip-top,” he said.

Jimenez, Valdez’s scheduled opponent, has no listed record. But Valdez expects a tough go.

“(Judy) said he’s a roughneck, so obviously you have to be a tough guy to work that type of job, working on an oil rig,” he said. “There’s nothing I’m overlooking. He’s gonna be a tough fight, and it’s gonna be fun.”

SHE’S OK: Albuquerque UFC strawweight Michelle Waterson (18-9) is booked for a July 16 card, site to be announced, against Brazil’s Amanda Lemos (11-2-1).

In March, Waterson withdrew from a scheduled fight against Brazil’s Amanda Ribas – explaining emotionally on Instagram that she’d suffered an undisclosed but potentially career-ending injury.

Now, Waterson says, it’s all good.

“Go time baby!” She posted last week. “July 16th!!!”

FIGHTING MOMS: Waterson is a parent with husband Joshua Gomez of daughter Araya, 11. She’s not the only New Mexico combat-sports mom who’ll be fighting in upcoming weeks.

• Albuquerque’s Amanda Lovato is a parent with ex-husband and MMA fighter Ray Borg of 4-year-old Anthony. Lovato (0-1-1 as a boxer, 2-7 as an MMA fighter but riding a two-fight win streak) is scheduled to face Randee Lyn Morales (4-4) in a six-round flyweight bout on a pro boxing card in Denver on June 4.

Morales is a Rio Rancho High graduate who lives in Denver.

• The night before in Salt Lake City, Bosque Farms boxer (and single mom of three boys) Katherine Lindenmuth (1-0) is scheduled to face Utah’s Maryguenn Velinga (3-2-2) in a flyweight fight.

Lindenmuth is 32. Velinga, twice a national Golden Gloves semifinalist as an amateur, is 40.

Home » From the newspaper » MMA: Valdez, 27, isn’t yet a pro, but he’s patient

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