Jose “Froggy” Estrada is the unquestioned face of Combate Americas. But with that lofty role comes plenty of pressure. MMAUncaged caught up with “Froggy” ahead of his featherweight debut on September 15.
You’re making your featherweight debut on September 15. How does your body feel different going into this one compared to your other fights?
“The big difference is that I’m not fighting somebody at 55. I’m fighting at a smaller weight class. With my whole new training program and my whole new diet, my whole body feels good. My energy levels feel good. Everything’s going as planned, just like a normal camp. Everything has been intensified, but everything feels good. I feel more ready than ever.”
This is going to be your third fight in eight months, how do you monitor your camp to avoid burnout considering how active of a fighter you are?
“I told myself the same thing. ‘Oh wow, this is gonna be my third fight this year.’ It has been my goal to fight as much as I can every single time. It’s like I tell people all the time, I did my hard work already. My hard work was construction. That was hard work to me. Being 20 feet underground, crawling inside pipe, carrying pipe, putting pipe together, being in trenches, making concrete and not getting lunch breaks. That’s the reason I train as hard as I do now because I don’t have to worry about carrying a 90 pound bag of concrete every day or having to be twenty feet underground laying pipe. That was my hard work and that’s what motivates me to stay on the fighting grind.”
Assuming you were to finish this fight early and without injury, do you plan to fight again before the end of the year?
“For sure, I take it one fight at a time. But if there’s a chance, I want to fight again one more time this year. Whatever I gotta do, come out of this one nice and strong, have a little down time and back to the drawing board. I want to step into the cage at least one more time before the year ends.”
The result did not go your way after your last fight, but notably the entire venue continued to give you a standing ovation and cheered your name following the fight. As a guy who has just four fights in his professional career, what is it like to have that kind of support so early?
“That’s the thing that just motivates me. Not just my family but the friends and fans that support and travel from far away. I mean, this one is in Redlands and people are still gonna make the drive. That’s what motivates me, knowing I have all these people behind me and having my back after that tough loss. I fight to represent everybody that follows me. It kept me up, those first couple weeks hurt for awhile. That was the one that sparked me up to become a better fighter and a better person in general to take this sport on 100%. Even more so than I already thought I was. That just made me realize that losing sucks but it makes you feel good not having to worry about holding on to that zero anymore. Now I get to just continue and have fun.”
You’re easily the face of Combate Americas, right down to having your picture being the first one on their website. What is your favorite perk of being their company man?
“My favorite perk of being the face of Combate is doing the things that I get to do. Just a couple of weeks ago they flew me out to Miami last minute. Campbell actually called me and he thought I was already out there. I was just sitting at home. I had just gotten done training and he said there was one thing he wanted me to do: He asked me to get on the first train from L.A. to Miami and that’s exactly what I did. I was here in Oxnard and I found a way to get out there. They take care of me really well. I get to do these social media obligations outside of Oxnard and Filmore where I grew up. Traveling to Miami has always been in mind. Traveling to Mexico City. They see the hard work that I put in and the hard work pays off in La Jaula.”
On the other side, I’m sure there are some drawbacks. Several fighters call you out being aware that it would be a high profile fight, the most obvious being Erick “Ghost Pepper” Gonzalez. How do you line up opponents considering many are also just looking to add shine to their own careers?
“Me and “Ghost Pepper” have a little history. I wouldn’t have minded scrapping him if I had taken that W on Cinco de Mayo. That was the next guy I had in line. I really wanted to fight him. But it is what it is. It’s part of the fight game. I’ll say ‘what’s up’ to him now. I wish him all the best on the rest of his fighting career and whatnot. If it came down to it and he dropped down to 145, we can make it happen. Right now, I’ll keep it cool with “Ghost Pepper.”
I see posts. Everyone wants a piece of me, everyone wants to get on that high pedestal that I’m on right now. Everyone wants to take that from me. Same thing like Conor McGregor, everyone wants to take that high pedestal away from him. That’s where I see myself. I put myself up there because of the work I put in. I see why everybody wants to take that away from me. Like I said, I take it one fight at a time. If it was up to me, line em up. We’ll do it old school. I get done with one person, take a break, line the next one up. We’re professionals, that’s why I leave it up to my manager who does the decisions. They talk it out with Combate Americas to make those decisions to see who I fight next and to see if they deserve a spot to fight me.”
For fans who aren’t familiar, how did you get the nickname Froggy?”
“I got that name in the fourth or fifth grade. I was playing football and I was the kicker. Being short and stocky as a kid, with my shoulder pads and all I had no neck. So I would do my hops when I kick the football and they would call me the bullfrog. The bull got eliminated and the frog just stayed. They’ve been calling me ‘The Frog’ ever since the fifth or sixth grade. Even in high school, the teachers would call me Froggy. They wouldn’t know my real name, all my paper work would just say ‘Froggy’ Estrada. I’ve kept that name throughout high school and throughout college and it lives on. Steven Padilla, back in the fifth grade gave me that name.”
How did you get into MMA? Was there a fighter you watched or how did you get into it?
“It was my uncles. They told me, ‘We don’t want you to fall into the same things we did.’ Getting into fights, drugs, gang banging, that’s the big thing nowadays. That’s what the homies like to do. My uncles told me if they ever caught us doing that stuff they would beat our ass before anyone else does. If it wasn’t for my uncles, my brother and I probably wouldn’t be fighting.”
Was there any other influence on your career?
“My grandpa. He’s the one I have tattooed on my chest. I thought I was going to be a boxer. I really liked boxing. Growing up Friday and Saturday nights, that’s what we would do. We would sit down and watch either MMA or boxing. He was the one who taught me in spanish. ‘Miralo! miralo!’ Watch him. He doesn’t hit hard like you do. One day you’re gonna be right there. Keep working hard and one day you’re going to be on tv. I wish my grandpa was here to see me now fighting on TV. Fortunately, my family does get to see me. They do see me on Azteca. My grandma will call and say ‘hey we saw him on Azteca TV. His commercial is all over the place out here.’ We want to visit him, we want to meet him.’ Keeping my grandpa in mind and knowing he’s watching me every day. I wish he was still around to see all the success I have going on today.”
Your upcoming opponent, Izic Fernandez, is on a bit of a tough skid. He’s lost his last two fights. How do you evaluate him as an opponent?
“I never talk crap to any opponent. I never look down on them. Much respect to Izic for taking that fight. It’s an honor to share the cage with him. Come fight night, one man has to win. I’m looking to go out there and make a statement at 145. I know he has a lot of heart in him, I know he has a family that he has to take care of. I know he’s gonna try and take my head off. He’s a tough opponent. I’ve seen him, he has some decent boxing and some decent wrestling. Pretty much whatever he brings on September 15, I’m going to be ready for with my team.”
What is your final prediction for how the fight with Izic is going to go?
“It’s not going to be in the first. If it does it’s because I’m heavy handed. He’s the one looking to take me to the ground. I’m ready for whatever he brings to the table. I want to drag this fight out as long as I can. I don’t want it to be a first round finish. I don’t want it to be a first round knockout. I want to show Combate and I want to show the world that I’m a well-rounded fighter. Whether we keep it standing or on the round, when the time is right that’s when I’ll finish him. You guys will see when the times right and you’ll see the Frog light up. Like I said, much respect to Izic Fernandez but I have something to prove.”
Jose “Froggy” Estrada will be fighting Izic Fernandez in the main event of Combate 17 on September 15, 2017 on AztecaTV.