It’s safe to say that 2018 didn’t work out the way that bantamweight John Castaneda would have liked it have.
In April of last year Castaneda suffered a close loss to Jose Alday at Combate Americas 20, and then spent time near the close of 2018 on the shelf dealing with health issues.
“(The fight with Alday is) a fight that still doesn’t sit well with me,” Castaneda told MMAWeekly.com. “I thought I did enough to win that fight. Regardless of it not sitting well with me, it’s time to move forward.
“I was supposed to fight in October, but I ended up getting an infection in my leg and it ended up taking me out for a month. It really lit a fire under me. I started working with a strength and conditioning coach, which I had actually never implemented into my camp. Now I feel a lot stronger, a lot faster, and in better shape.”
While he hadn’t intended on taking a year off, Castaneda isn’t worried about his most recent break, and in fact feels like he used the time off to his advantage.
“I’ve taken a year off from fighting as well – not deliberately – but just due to circumstances, and came back and felt sharp,” said Castaneda. “I don’t believe in ring rust. I think if that you’re doing the right thing in the practice room you can avoid it.
“Working with my training partners, my coaches, I’ve been getting better every day; still being able to keep that high pace, high energy, high level of technique, and just keep advancing every single day in the room practicing.”
This Friday in Los Angeles, Castaneda (16-4) will look to get back on the winning track when he faces Marcelo Rojo (15-5) in the 135-pound co-main event of Combate Americas 34.
“Marcelo is a super-tough opponent,” Castaneda told MMAWeekly.com. “He usually likes these big overhand rights and powerful kicks. I think I’m a lot quicker and a lot faster than a lot of the guys he’s fought. He’s very talented and he’s very well-rounded, but he hasn’t fought the level of competition that I’m going to bring to him.
“I have the advantage in the Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling game; I think our stand-up is pretty even; so it’s going to come down to conditioning and me pushing the pace on him.”
Having spent the last year out of action, Castaneda is looking forward to making up for lost time and having as busy of a 2019 that he can have.
“Of course I want to have a hectic year and have three or four fights this year,” said Castaneda. “I’ll be fighting for Combate (next), but after that we’ll see if we’ll re-sign with the promotion or move on to other things.
“I want to take it one fight at a time for now, but I would absolutely love to have three or four fights by the end of this year.”