After a successful 2015, UFC veteran Efrain Escudero (25-10) looks to continue his good fortune with his first fight of the year against Kevin Lee (11-2) at UFC 197: Jones vs Saint Preux this Saturday night.
Escudero’s mixed martial arts career has been a roller coaster of a ride up to this point. He burst onto the UFC scene in 2008 as a contestant on the UFC’s hit reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. He went on to win that season, becoming the first fighter born in Mexico to have a UFC contract. “When I first came into the UFC, I was a big fan of The Ultimate Fighter,” said Escudero. “Being a Mexican born in Mexico, I never thought I would be picked for the show. For me it was a dream.”
After riding the wave of winning TUF, Escudero hit a slump later in his career like most fighters do, losing four fights in a row and contemplated hanging the gloves up. “There was a time that I wanted to call it quits,” explained Escudero. “I stayed away from the gym for one month but something drove me back.”
Escudero began training again and shortly after that was asked to be one of the coaches for The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 2. “I couldn’t believe I had a chance to be the coach of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America,” exclaimed Escudero. “Now I was helping mold the new generation coming in.”
Escudero would go on to lead his team, Team Escudero, to victory that season. “Now when I retire, I can say that I won the Ultimate Fighter, I coached a team that won the Ultimate Fighter and coached someone that won the contract.”
And instead of focusing on his opponent for his fight on Saturday night, Escudero looks inward in his preparation. “I like to study myself,” said Escudero. “I ask myself, ‘if I were to fight myself, how do I beat myself’?”
Eight years in the sport of mixed martial arts is a lifetime and except for winning a division title, Escudero has accomplished just about all you can in this sport. And with no signs of hanging up the gloves again anytime soon, looks forward to his fight on Saturday and beyond. “I’m going to get the W this weekend,” said Escudero. “Then, spend time with my family and then get back to training, get better and move forward and continue to do what I love to do.”
Efrain Escudero and Kevin Lee will fight on the UFC Fight Pass portion of the UFC 197: Jones vs Saint Preux card, live from the MGM Grand Arena on Saturday, April 23rd. 10pm ET/7pm PT