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Frank Camacho explains how he once ended up fighting his uncle

Frank Camacho
Frank Camacho
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

All one has to do is watch Frank Camacho’s first three UFC scraps to get an idea of the kind of fighter he is.

Though he’s won just once in the Octagon so far, Camacho (21-6) joined Yoshihiro Akiyama and Justin Gaethje as the only fighters to kick off their UFC careers with back-to-back-to-back consecutive Fight of the Night performances following a unanimous decision loss to Drew Dober in January. He can break the record if he snags the award this Saturday when he takes on Geoff Neal at UFC 228 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Camacho’s all-action attitude isn’t new and prior to joining the world’s largest MMA promotion, he’d long ago established himself as a star and a pioneer of the sport on his home island of Guam. It was early on that he became known for taking on literally anyone, even his own family.

In his second pro bout, Camacho somehow ended up going toe-to-toe with his uncle Mike. It wasn’t a friendly sparring session either. “The Crank” knocked Mike out in 76 seconds.

“My Uncle Mike is my dad’s second cousin, so what happened was I was 16,” Camacho told MMA Fighting. “I had a fight, he had a fight, we were both on the same fight card. My opponent got injured and his opponent pulled out and he was just like, ‘Hey, boy, do you want to fight?’ And we’re like, ‘Okay, sure, let’s do this.’

“We agreed to the fight two weeks later and if you watch my highlight reel, he was the guy that I was kneeing. I got him in the clinch and I just started throwing all these crazy knees. I was a huge Pride fan at the time and the Wanderlei Silva highlight just came out on Sherdog and it was like dial-up and I left my computer on all night and I freakin’ downloaded it and I was like, holy s**t I’m going to try this next fight. So I did. I did fight my uncle.”

Asked for further clarification on how one ends up pummeling a blood relative inside of a cage, Camacho had a simple answer:

“Island life, bro.”

Frank Camacho (right) could become the first fighter to start his UFC career with four straight Fight of the Night awards
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

It’s not as if Camacho plans to go wild when fight night rolls around.

Heading into his 28th pro bout, Camacho understands the importance of being well-rounded and having a strategy and setting up his strikes. But in each of his UFC fights so far, there has been a point where something snaps and Camacho starts to brawl; more impressively, he’s able to coax his opponents into brawling with him.

It happened with Li Jingliang. It happened with Damien Brown. And it happened with Dober.

If it happens again against Neal, they could both be walking out with a fat bonus check.

“My past three fights I had this whole orchestrated — the whole fight I’m going to slip this punch, I’m going to throw this right hand, but at the end of the day a fight is full of chaos,” said Camacho. “Dominick Cruz hit it right on the spot when he was commentating on my fight against Drew Dober, I just keep it simple.

“I’m going to get in your face and I guess that’s my autopilot. So I’ve been really working on my autopilot and just fine tuning that. But just make it simple and make it a fight.”

Camacho doesn’t find any pleasure in getting punched in the face, but he was excited when the contract to fight Neal was sent his way. The Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series contract winner is on a hot streak, having won five of his last six fights, all inside the distance. With plenty of finishes of his own, Camacho is hoping that this is where his run of decisions ends.

Everyone around him is hoping he can get a quick stoppage and avoid another three-round war too. As enjoyable as it is to watch Camacho do his thing, the 29-year-old and his wife Sarah recently had their second child and he’s no longer the carefree, uncle-punching “Crank” of old. He has to consider his health, not to mention wanting to get back in the win column.

The seven-month span between UFC on FOX 27 and UFC 228 marks the longest stretch that Camacho has had to catch his breath since joining the promotion and he hopes that the time he’s spent in the gym will yield dividends against Neal.

“My last three fights were all pretty close together. I didn’t really have time to work on stuff. June, and then it was November, and then January right off the bat,” said Camacho. “So I’m really blessed to have the time off and of course, everyone here in Guam is telling me, ‘Man, Frank, it’s okay to step back a little bit.’ Really just take everything that I’ve learned in the last three fights and I’ve had time to work on it and to dwell on it and to work with my team and my coaches.

“I throw my hands all the time, but I have other tools in the toolbox. I’m always bringing a knife to a gun fight. At the end of the day, it’s MMA and I just can’t wait for that to finally click and you see a full Frank Camacho.”