By Lisa Teichner
Dylan Clay is the current 170lb X-1 Champion and has yet to defend his belt, so why is his upcoming fight against Oahu’s Falaniko Vitale for the 185lb Championship Belt?
This was one of the questions we wanted to know the answer to. Clay answers this question and shares his thoughts on his upcoming match with Vitale in Champions III on March 12 at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu.
Maui Now: It has been almost 9 months since we saw you fight last in Hawaii when you defeated Brandon Wolff for X-1’s 170lb Championship belt. Why have you not yet defended this belt and why do you think they asked you to come up to 185?
Clay: They called me and offered me a fight at 170 against Niko and I said It’s funny you mention that because I was thinking of challenging him for his belt at 185. As it turned out he couldn’t come down to 170 because he’s fighting in Bellator at 185 so they gave me what I asked for.
Maui Now: Since Vitale is a much larger fighter and cuts weight to get to 185 and you are a 170 fighter, what are you doing to bulk up and get closer to his size?
Clay: I walk around at 190 these days so I don’t need to put on more weight. I want to keep my speed so I’m not trying to get up to 200.
Maui Now: What do you feel will be your greatest challenges in this fight?
Clay: The weight difference. Niko is a bigger guy. He is also an intelligent and experienced fighter. He has fought a lot of good fighters, I won’t be able to surprise him as easily perhaps as some of the other guys I’ve fought . He also has good ground unlike the other fighters I’ve faced. It will be tricky. He’s probably the toughest guy I’ve fought so far. It’s a test for me.
Maui Now: What will be your greatest strengths in this fight:
Clay: I’m taller, I have more range and my cardio is the best it’s ever been. I’ve been training in the mountains for last couple of months. I figured X-1 would be calling me come the new year so I started training in December, running in the mountains at 11,000 feet.
Maui Now: What school have you been training at?
Clay: Durango Martial Arts. It’s not the most technical school I’ve trained at but it is the best cardio school. I can’t make my partners tired.
Maui Now: Wow, that’s definitely a change, when you were training here on Maui, you were always the guy who had the best cardio.
Clay: Yeah, these guys are hardcore mountain men.
Maui Now: I know at times you are very dedicated to fighting but sometimes you’ve said that you want to pursue other things in your life. Where are you today and what do you hope to achieve in your MMA career?
Clay: I have heard a lot of promises from people like “I can get you into Strikeforce” and “They want you on The Ultimate Fighter”. Well it hasn’t happened and I’m 32 already, I need to look at something else. I was watching Nick Diaz on YouTube talking about his fighting career. Talking about how he wants to get back what he puts in. We are blue collar athletes, you can’t make enough money to make it your job or qualify to get a loan. It’s almost not worth it. In your 20’s it’s worth it because you can train harder and you’re filled with piss and vinegar. At this age, even good fighters aren’t being paid well, unless you’re the very elite. Diaz said he just wants to be able to take care of his coaches, buy his mom a house. MMA fighters are not treated like other types of professional athletes. My intellect tells me it’s time to look elsewhere.
Maui Now: So is the plan to go to nursing school and just fight once in a while when you get the urge?
Clay: I have to fight, if I don’t fight in the ring, I’ll be getting into bar fights. I need to beat someone up or get beat up or at least once a year to stay sane. I’m kidding about the bar fights. But I do have to fight. So yes, I will keep fighting when I have the opportunity.
Maui Now: Who else do you think you should be fighting? Who would you like your next opponent to be at 170?
Clay: Whoever they put in front of me. I don’t really like to call out people, I’m not trying to fight anyone particular. This fight with Niko is a win-win situation for me. If I win, I get 2 belts and more fights. If I lose, I have my 170 belt to defend. I am not worried about losing, I don’t feel that pressure but I will be fighting to win. The pressure is really on him to not lose his belt to the 170lb fighter. It will be an entertaining show. Of course I’m going to try to win. I’m not going to respect him in there, he’s the guy who’s trying to hurt me. He’ll come in like a beast with an S on his chest. If he’s the better fighter that night then he will win but I am going to train my ass off and we’ll see, everyone will see, who is the better fighter that night.
CHAMPIONS III, March 12, 2011. Blaisdell Arena, Honolulu
Tickets are going fast! Buy on Ticketmaster.com or at the Blaisdell Box Office.
(Maui boys are noted)
185lb X1 World Title: Niko Vitale vs Dylan Clay (CO/MAUI)
155lb X1 World Title: Harris Sarmiento vs Max Holloway
145lb X1 World Title: Ricky Wallace vs Eben Kaneshiro
135lb X1 World Title: Russel Doane vs Van Oscar Penovaroff
185lb X1 State Title: Collin Mansanas vs Sale Sproat
145lb X1 State Title: Dustin Kimura vs Kurrent Cockett (MAUI)
170lb X1 State Title: Zane Kamaka vs Jordan Kekino (MAUI)
135lb Womens State Title: Raquel Paaluhi vs Nicole Johnson
HW X1 State Title: Lolohea Mahe (MAUI) vs Puka Bell
155lb X1 State Title: Steven Saito vs Will Shutt
HW X1 Amateur Title: Paea Paongo vs Kala Koa (MAUI)