ByJuan Archuleta, writer at Creators.co
Official Creators profile of Juan Archuleta, three-division King of the Cage world champion.
Juan Archuleta

After winning three King of the Cage titles in 2016, this year is all about defending my belts. First up, a 155-pound title defense on March 18.

A lot of guys think they know what I’m gonna do on fight night. Really, it’s no secret. I’m gonna go in there, and I’m gonna push the pace.

One thing no opponent can ever account for, however, is my ability to make adjustments during a fight. It’s not just about going out there with a gameplan and executing it.

My opponent, Brandon Hastings, definitely brings a style that I haven’t fought competitively, yet. He’s a counter striker with a karate style who throws a lot of volume, kind of like Lyoto Machida. He’s going to wait for me to come in, and if I don’t, he’s gonna blitz in. It’s a lot of in-and-out stuff.

The point-fighting style may cause a bit of a problem for me early on, but I’m good at making adjustments. I’ve always been good at making adjustments, and we’ll figure out his motion in real time and be able to solve his puzzle.

Everyone tries to prepare for a wrestler, or even prepare for a striker, but until you get in the ring in real time, you don’t know how fast this guy really is, you don’t know how he’s setting things up. In my last fight against Derek Mandell, it was never my intention to knee his legs in the second round, but we just so happened to change the gameplan in the middle of the fight to take his base out from under him because he was so damn strong.

My opponents can know my gameplan because ever since I was young I was able to make adjustments. I’m not really worried about it, guys can work for me all they want. I just have to make sure not to get frustrated if I don’t land my first takedown. I just have to keep going forward.

I set my takedowns up in so many ways that I don’t look to go out there and force it. I just let it happen, and that’s the difference between getting ready for me and getting ready for someone that’s inexperienced.

One thing I’m definitely looking to implement in this fight though is the front headlock. There’s been some changes to the MMA rules in 2017, and this wrestling technique has a whole new significance in the cage now.

For those who don’t know him, Dave Schultz was a wrestling icon. He won a gold medal at the , was a world champion, and an all-around legend. And, I’ve been working on one of his signature moves where I get an underhook on my opponent snap it down into a front headlock.

From the front headlock, I can either go for a takedown or I can go to my Dave Schultz lock, which is an arm-in choke, but you don’t jump into the guillotine. You actually have the front headlock with his arms across his body and my shoulder in his ear to cut off the jugular and choke him out.

Some guys kind of panic and start to get a little reckless and careless, but what I’ve been implementing is getting off the knees and keeping one hand on the mat. With the new rules regarding a grounded opponent, I can actually look to strike with my knees from that position, so this is gonna be the first fight I’m gonna be able to try to utilize that new rule.

I love that front headlock because you can either take the back and work your submission game or you can work your ground and pound. The Dave Schultz lock has been my bread and butter transitioning from wrestling into MMA, and I’m excited to get out there and use it when I defend my lightweight title on March 18.

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