local lifeguard wins second pro MMA fight | Sports

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A lifeguard from the town of Oro Valley is making a name for himself in the mixed martial arts community after winning his second professional match in the first minute of the first round while battling for an international MMA promotions company.

Lightweight professional MMA fighter Levi Escobar (2-0-0) subdued his opponent, Mario Lopez (0-1-0), by bare back choke in 1:01 minutes of the first round during Univision’s Global Combate on August 8. The 25-year-old said he was surprised by the quick finish, but his years of training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing and other martial arts disciplines allow him to see the weaknesses of his opponent seconds after the opening bell.

“At the time, it was surprising. I got up and I was like ‘Dude, did this happen?’ But honestly I was ready for a first round finish because that’s the level we trained at, ”said Escobar. “I knew that if I pushed myself and stayed sharp, I would have a quick finish.”

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt said he hoped the fight would have lasted longer so he could practice the punching skills he’s been working on for the past five years with legendary local MMA trainer Chris Valdez.

“I didn’t even get a chance to play ground and pound and I was really ready to drop a few shots,” said Escobar. “But it was all jiu-jitsu on the ground because I started to pass his guard right away. Then he tried to turn away from me and turned his back on me. It was his mistake and all I could think of was, “Time to go.”

Valdez said he felt great about his student’s ‘quick and decisive victory’, although he hadn’t had the chance to use the striking strategies they have practiced over the years. . The coach believes Escobar is reaching an elite level in MMA, but still needs a little more experience and bigger fights before he achieves his goal of fighting in the UFC.

“The experience will come. Right now I just want it [Escobar] to get very technical. Kick and punch a top professional, ”said Valdez. “He can always improve with his strikes and kicks, but he’s focusing on how to be a complete martial artist.”

The fighter’s father, Martin Escobar, is also his head trainer. The elder Escobar began practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the 1990s and is the owner / founder of one of Tucson’s first jiu-jitsu studios, the DeBrazil Jiu-Jitsu Academy. He said he was surprised by the quick victory, but also happy that his son didn’t have to take a lot of physical punishment to achieve the victory.

“[The fight] was really, really good. Levi had prepared for a war and this is how we prepare every time, ”said Martin Escobar. “I was pretty surprised at the end, but I knew if the fight hit the ground … Levi has so much experience there that I knew he would end and that’s exactly what happened. pass.”

Levi Escobar made his professional MMA debut in 2018, but a back injury coupled with pandemic restrictions sidelined the fighter for a few years. He took time away from MMA to rehabilitate a herniated disc in his back through yoga and swimming, which ultimately led to his post as a lifeguard at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center, he said.

“I had a herniated disc after a weightlifting accident at age 21 and it was a tough thing to deal with,” Escobar said. “But I do yoga, I get chiropractic, massage, and I use swimming as part of my training routine and it really helps with my movements. So I managed to overcome it.

His father was concerned that inactivity would work against Levi in ​​his last fight with Lopez, he said.

“It’s been a layoff of almost two years for him and I expected a lot of ring rust,” said Marin Escobar. “But Levi had trained really hard, devoting time and effort to his kicks, punches and wrestling. I know this because I ride with him every day he is in class.

The elder Escobar said he started exposing his son to jiu-jitsu techniques at the age of 2 and started training him in his academy at the age of 7. In the early years, Levi lost a lot of his competitive games, his dad said, but hit a milestone with his training when he was around 12 or 13. It was then that he knew his son could truly become a great martial artist, he said.

“When he was young, he lost a lot of matches. But the thing with Levi is that he wouldn’t be disappointed and upset about it. He was asking me when he was going to start over and I should tell him he’s out of the tournament, ”said Martin Escobar. “So he learned that if you want to stay in the tournament, you have to win. I felt sorry for the kids when he faced them a second time because he just turned it on.


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