ByJohn Castaneda, writer at
Combate Americas Bantamweight
John Castaneda

For you to understand how and why I found myself back at , you need to know what happened after I fought last year.

When I fought Gustavo Lopez in New York back in October, it was supposed to be for the belt, but I missed weight. Even though I won, I was not given the title.

Following the victory, I was considered a free agent. I had fought the five fights I had been contracted for and won them all. I did what I was hired to do, and I did it well.

Then the promotion asked if I would agree to a rematch with in Mexico. After speaking with my management and coaches, I realized that the fight would do my career no good. It would not advance me since I already had a win over Gustavo, and there was no point in accepting a fight that I wouldn't benefit from.

Unfortunately, Combate Americas wasn't willing to negotiate another fight for me, and announced that I had been cut — even though I was technically a free agent.

In the meantime, I signed with a new management team (Iridium Sports Agency under Jason House) and was dealing with some other opportunities.

I was offered a last-minute fight in the UFC, but I was too heavy to make the weight in a healthy way. I would have had only nine days to cut about 30 pounds, and I knew that even if I made the weight, I wouldn't be able to perform the way I knew I could. I wasn't about to make my UFC debut under those terms.

It was hard to turn the fight down, but it lit a fire under me to stay closer to my fight weight in case the opportunity presented itself again.

So for a while, I sat on the shelf. It was tough, but I believe that everything happens for a reason.

Then, one day I got a call from Campbell McLaren, the CEO of Combate Americas, who was being interviewed live on the radio. He admitted that he regretted not negotiating another fight for me, and asked if I'd ever want to return to the promotion.

Of course, I said yes.

I made my return to the promotion last weekend in Ventura, CA, but to the outsider, it may have appeared that I wasn't welcomed back — which isn't true.

I was fighting the hometown guy, , who was on and fought in the UFC. Before I walked out to the cage, Campbell and Combate's president Alberto del Rio pumped up the crowd by telling the fans how I had let the promotion down in the past. When I walked out, they booed.

But honestly, I could care less. I understand that they were trying to get the crowd invested, and I am not bothered by their comments in the least — especially because I got the second round TKO and silenced everyone.

I only signed on for one more fight, so I'm in the same position I was in after New York — I'm a free agent. I'm not opposed to signing with Combate Americas long term again, but I need to be compensated and treated in a way that reflects my record. I have 13 wins — six of those with Combate Americas — the most wins in the promotion's history.

For now, I will just be patient and see what offers I get and who wants to snatch me up long term. I'm ready to continue winning fights in exciting fashion.


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