CALEXICO, Calif. - The fight is on! Armando Murillo, Jr, Calexico mixed martial arts fighter, made his professional televised fighting debut at Citizens Business Bank arena in Ontario on Saturday.
“It’s my biggest fight today,” Murillo said.
Murillo trained hard for the event.
“There’s much more than fighting behind the mixed martial arts part. The discipline of getting up at 6 a.m. to condition. After that, head home to shower real quick, eat something on the go, then go to work 8 hours – 10 hours - get out, go train again,” Murillo said.
There’s lots of pain and sweat in the training.
“Pushing myself to higher limits. It’s part of the game,” Murillo said.
Coach Bryan Walker, from the El Centro Five Animals Shaolin School, worked on flexibility and conditioning.
“He’s up for new things. He’s up to learn new things and try things that he hasn’t tried before, different combinations, different kicks,” Walker said.
Calexico boxing coach Bardo Gutierrez worked on improving Murillo’s punching power.
“He’s dedicated. Very motivated. And I see the way he just picks up things ever since we started from day one. From where we started before to where he’s now it’s a big progress,” Gutierrez said.
Murillo fights in the light heavyweight division.
“My division. Big boys. Two-hundred and five pounds. And we’re hitting with bad intentions,” Murillo said.
There is a spiritual side to Murillo that comes out before every fight.
“All I do is pray for both of us to go home to our families,” Murillo said.
He got his start in the Police Athletic League program.
“I started boxing when I was 15 – or 16 – at the PAL. I started pursuing martial arts when I was about twenty. I fell in love with the sport, with the craft, and the discipline that comes behind it,” Murillo said.
He wants to put Imperial Valley on the mixed martial arts map.
“Myself and a couple of other fighters are trying to do that, and just show the world that even though we come from a small population that there’s a lot of talent within us,” Murillo said.
For Murillo, just stepping inside the fighting cage on Saturday is a great achievement.
“It’s a lot of hard work, lot of discipline, like I said. Getting up, going for your runs. It gets tough. Especially when you work a full-time job,” Murillo said.
On Saturday, Murillo’s fight had to be stopped in the first round. Murillo had dominated the fight, but then his opponent received an accidental knee to the groin area and couldn’t continue. Judges declared the fight a “no-contest” or a draw.
For now, Murillo goes back to hard everyday training as he waits for his next fight.