Enrique Barzola will be fighting under a different team banner for his next fight.
The Peruvian fighter recently switched training camps in preparation for his eighth bout in the UFC. Barzola will be taking on Bobby Moffett this Saturday in a featherweight clash that’s set to go down in the opening slot of the main card at UFC Uruguay.
“I’ve done a lot of changes to my career,” Barzola said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “Before, I was training at American Top Team and I made a radical change and moved things to a different state.
“Now, I’m in San Jose, Calif. with AKA. I’ve trained very hard with fighters of great level, many of them being from Dagestan from Khabib Nurmagomedov’s team and other American trainers. So I’ve been working hard, and I feel very good there.”
The switch from American Top Team to AKA wasn’t really a planned one for Barzola. The season two winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America planned to do his training camp at American Top Team like he’s done for his most recent UFC fights. But after staying in San Jose for two weeks and training at AKA, Barzola decided to make the switch.
“After those two weeks, I said, ‘This is the place where I’m staying and doing my camp.’,” Barzola explained. “I then went to Florida to speak with my trainers to be cool and make sure there was no issues, it wasn’t like me abandoning them or anything like that, I wanted to do things well with ATT. I obviously learned a lot of good things in that gym, but in the end, you have to make choices. So I went, took my things and I spent about two months at AKA.”
Barzola’s control and takedowns have been key to his success in the UFC and to his 5-2 record in the promotion. However, “El Fuerte” wanted to add to that existing skill set and training with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has allowed him to do just that.
“Yeah, I’ve been training with him and his team, pushing that pressure that they have,” Barzola said. “The motivation that they have, the Russians, they’re great people and they motivate you a lot and they have a great level in martial arts.
“It’s been fantastic. Obviously, when you train with people of high level there are techniques and little things that you can adapt to your game. I’ve always taken my opponents to the ground and I’ve always tried to maintain them there, looking for the submission or punishing them with ground-and-pound.
“I think Khabib and his team, they have very good techniques for those types of moves, so since that’s already part of my game it’s just a great thing to add to my arsenal. Khabib has some great ties that allow him to punish his opponents. So I’ve learned great techniques on the ground and on the striking as well. Ive been working and doing my striking preparation with Javier Mandes, the head coach, and Javier Carvajal, who’s my main coach and will be corning me for the fight.”
Barzola believes it was time for a change in his MMA career. Although he learned a lot at American Top Team, the Peruvian fighter needed to mix things up to avoid getting comfortable.
“I really needed that change because sometimes a fighter gets too comfortable and in Florida you have all the accommodations to be comfortable in an environment. It has really nice places for you to stay, it’s a very cheap state so you can cover all your training costs, nutrition, and it’s a really nice city. But after some time, the fighter loses his hunger thirst and I feel like that happened to me and I feel like I needed a place where I’m hungrier.
“And it’s not about the money or because it’s more expensive but more about all the sacrifices I have to make. I’m there on my own, making new friends, with new coaches, who are excellent people, and I have a great team that’s like a family. I feel great there and I’m learning a lot new things. And well, American Top Team is also stupendous, but like I said, the circumstances I’m telling you about is why I made the change.”
Although Barzola is with a new team, his career goals still remain the same. Put on more exciting fights for the fans and work his way to championship gold.
“I want to win in a more exciting way,” Barzola said. “I want to be able to show everything that I’ve learned in this camp and the hunger I now have for the victory. I was on a four-fight win streak and then I had the loss to Kevin Aguilar. He beat me fair, but beating Bobby Moffet in impressive fashion could get me a high-caliber opponent next, someone more known, someone who’s also advancing and making his way to the top. And then after that, get in the rankings, advance step-by-step, fight for the world title and become champion.”