PDG Prospect Watch: Eli Tamez – The Tomahawk will Swing at Legacy FC
By Christopher Jester
If you haven’t seen an Eli Tamez fight and you’re a fight fan, you are missing out on one of the best prospects in the bantamweight division. “The Tomahawk”, a proud Texan, a 135lber fighting for Legacy FC is preparing for his second battle against Nelson Salas. In this exclusive Prospect Watch for PunchDrunkGamer.com, Tamez details how he began his MMA career, what it takes to be a successful pro athlete and his hopes in becoming a fighter for the UFC!
PDG: You’re 6-0 in your young mixed martial arts career, what do you think has contributed most to that record?
Tamez: Definitely my team and my coaches. I think we have the best group of guys in Texas. We have some guys my weight and seize that benefit me in getting better and improving every fight. They definitely have a lot to do with my record.
PDG: How did you get started in mixed martial arts?
Tamez: I actually had a group of friends that fought as amateurs. They trained on a mat in a garage and just kind of here and there. I would watch the fights and I liked the Brazilian jiu-jitsu aspect of it. I just started training with them to help them with fights and I just got good quick. One of my coaches there was like, “We should get you a fight.” And I was like okay that would be cool. I just tried it out one time and I won. I have been hooked ever since.
PDG: To the audience that do not know who you are, describe yourself as a fighter and what you bring into the cage.
Tamez: Well, it is different every fight. It definitely depends on who I am going against. I always have a different gameplan and mentality for every fight. I try to get better every fight by not having one single aspect. I think it is kind of hard trying to put a gameplan together against me because I am pretty well-rounded everywhere.
PDG: It has to be encouraging that you are already in one of the more prolific mixed martial arts organizations with several fights underneath your record. What do you think Legacy FC saw in you when they recruited you?
Tamez: I think I have a pretty big fan base around here. I usually sell a lot of tickets and I know a lot of promoters like that. I think it was the exciting fights that I bring. My last fight with Eliazar Rodriguez got Fight of the Night. Every fight I try to go out and give the fans what they want to see. I know everybody likes that.
PDG: Your next opponent, Nelson Salas, has had a couple of rough losses. Do you think that will make him more desperate and do you think that will give you an advantage or make him more dangerous?
Tamez: I fought Nelson before as an amateur and I beat him. I caught him in a triangle choke early in the first round, like a minute and a half. Both of my teammates have fought him and beat him. I know that he’s coming back and probably training harder than ever. I am not taking him lightly at all. I know he is way more dangerous than he was the first time I fought him and he is going to be more dangerous since his last two losses. I know he doesn’t want to go out there and lose again. So, this is going to be the best Nelson Salas that I’ve fought and that we’ve seen.
PDG: Since you defeated him as an amateur, what do you think he has done to change his game?
Tamez: When we fought the first time, it was only a minute and a half in. I think he said it before that he underestimated me at the time. He was on a good win streak at the time. He was 3-0, I believe. I think he was going on a tear and beating all his other opponents. He underestimated me and didn’t know who I was. He ended up getting caught.
PDG: Has it gotten harder for you now that you’re at the professional level? What exactly has gotten harder? Is it the training camps, the opponents, or is it just your mindset?
Tamez: Yeah, way harder. Since I’ve been pro, I have been with Octagon MMA. Before that I was kind of bouncing around other gyms and training out of garages. No real professional training. So, when I got with Octagon MMA, it took about a year before I got my first pro fight. I had to prove myself. That is what took a year. I had to learn a lot of things that my coach wanted me to learn before I became pro. But it definitely benefited me, as I was able to grow as a fighter. When I was amateur I would work and train once a day; maybe if I was lucky. I did not take it seriously. Like my diet. I really did not know how to diet. Since I have become pro, I have mandatory practices that we have to be at. Now my diet is right. I have perfected it. I feel great at training and I train a few times a day. I do something every day; seven days a week. I feel good and I am better than ever.
PDG: You were speaking about your diet. You are pretty decent size for your weight class. What has contributed to that?
Tamez: I am not able to take a lot of short notice fights. One, because I don’t think it is ever a good idea to take a short notice fight. Two, because I cut a lot of weight. I like to have at least five to seven weeks to eat right and get my body healthy. I am Mexican, so I like to eat. Since my last fight, I have been trying to cut down and keep my diet better. I just need to stay on top of it.
PDG: You mentioned earlier that you have a good fan base. What do you think it is going to take for you to become a household name?
Tamez: I think me just doing what I am doing. Eventually it is going to be my turn and I just got to keep putting in the work and training hard, Hopefully that time will come sooner than later.
PDG: What encouragement would you give amateur fighters looking to go pro?
Tamez: I have a lot of people writing me on Facebook and Twitter wanting to fight. A lot of people don’t understand that it is a hard life. You have to dedicate yourself to training, your diet, and everything else that goes into the sport. People are constantly getting better, every day. If you’re an amateur fighter and you want to do big things to become a pro, you have to take it seriously. Some of these people just go in and fight. They have a bad record, they don’t care. But if you want to do anything or be anything special in life, no matter what it is, you have to give a 110%. There is no slacking in it.
PDG: How do you think you’re going to have to evolve in the next year or so to become a better mixed martial artist?
Tamez: Just keep on doing what I am doing. Before my last fight I picked up a stand-up coach to start training me and work on my stand-up a few days a week. I also picked up a jiu-jitsu coach that is working with me. I think it is just these small little details and me just wanting to learn so much that is making me a good fighter and getting me on this winning streak.
PDG: And where do you see yourself in a year? What are some of the goals you have laid out for yourself?
Tamez: Well, in a year I want to be in the UFC by then. As long as I keep winning and doing what I am supposed to be doing. That is my hopes. Hopefully after this fight, I’ll be 7-0. Hopefully they’ll be knocking on my door soon.
PDG: We appreciate you taking out the time for this interview. Is there anything you would like to add? Shout outs to sponsors and fans?
Tamez: First, I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do and being there keeping me injury free. To my wife, Crystal, and my two kids for being so supportive. To my team and coaches at Octagon MMA for always making me better. I have a sponsor, Lease Locators, who is amazing. They have helped me financially and have always been there for me whenever I need anything. I want to also give a shout out to REVGear, my church, KoReps for hooking me up, Maximized Living, AmmoToGo, MyFinalClean.com, RBP, and Colburn Roofing. Also don’t forget add me on Twitter @tomahawkmma.
*photos courtesy of www.txmma.com
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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