Paulina “Firefox” Granados discusses her comeback and how the mood at Alliance MMA has helped prepare her for the fight with Sheila Padilla at Combate Estrellas 1.
This is the first time we’re seeing you since the Queen Warriors card back in December. I’d like to go back to the fight with Kyra Batara for a minute. Did it surprise you what she was able to do on the mat?
“No, I was actually prepared for it. But, everybody has a bad day. Just like sometimes I have bad days in training. Fortunately for Kyra, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day. I just couldn’t put things together. I was defending incorrectly. I did a lot of wrong things that I look back now and think ‘Why did I do that? That’s not who I am. That’s not how I fight.’ But I’ve already moved past that. I’m just focusing on Sheila Padilla. I’m sure she has a game plan now that she’s probably seen the fight with Kyra but that fight wasn’t me and I’m ready to show the fans what I’m really made of.”
When you say you “woke up on the wrong side of the bed” was there something different about fighting at home that changed how you usually approached fight week and affected you on fight night?
“Fighting at home is always a lot of pressure. Fight week always sucks because everyone’s always trying to reach me. It’s always a lot of commotion. When I win it’s really nice. But all of my losses have come at home. I feel better when I fight on somebody else’s home turf. I’ve been doing this for ten years. When I fight at home it’s just where I always feel the most pressure. It’s nicer when you’re at peace and you’re at your hotel room with nobody bothering you.”
We saw the picture of you and Kyra with the Snickers after the fight. There was a lot made of the rivalry, is the bad blood over?
“There’s not really bad blood. We fought it out and she had a Snickers and I thought it was pretty funny. That was a funny moment that she was prepared just in case she won. After I fight somebody, I don’t feel what I felt before. But I do want a rematch. I do want to prove to Combate, to the fans, and to myself that I have what it takes to beat her. Not really bad blood but I do want a rematch.”
I have to imagine that if you’re going to be part of a team to help get back on track after a loss, Alliance MMA would be the place to be right now. You have several of your teammates like Jeremy Stephens, Angela Hill, and Darrion Caldwell coming off big wins. What is the mood like in the gym at Alliance?
“It’s just good energy. Jeremy (Stephens) has like this mentality where he walks in the gym and he’s just like spitting inspirational quotes all the time. He keeps everybody motivated. Angela (Hill) is the same way. The other day I was hitting pads and I’m my own worst critic. I was like ‘Man I did horrible.’ And she was like ‘No dude! You did awesome!’ They knew that I was down about that last fight. They just have this good energy and I’m definitely feeding off of that. Darrion (Caldwell) too. He’s amazing. When I do something in training he’s praising me like ‘oh wow!’ And I’m like ‘Whatever, you’re a bad ass! I’m trying to be like you!’ It’s definitely inspiring to be in a room full of those kinds of people.”
Everyone knows the biggest name at Alliance is former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. What kind of advice did he give you after your last fight, especially considering he’s a guy who’s experienced his own share of setbacks.
“He’s one of the first people that I actually opened up to about the fight. We watched it and we’ve been working on defenses that I should have been using on the ground and during the takedowns. He’s been opening up my mind to new techniques that I haven’t learned before. Growing up in a small town in Texas, we didn’t have wrestling. We didn’t have jiu-jitsu. We didn’t have these martial arts. Kyra had that advantage. So he’s trying to take me back to stuff that I never really learned. He’s super inspirational too and he’s super motivated. He has had a lot of stuff happen to him and he’s just staying positive about it. Moving forward, we’re all learning and advancing together as a team.”
You’re now facing Sheila Padilla who is looking to bounce back from a loss as well. What do you feel is her biggest threat to you as an opponent?
“I’m assuming she’s a ground girl. Two out of the three times I’ve seen her fight she’s gotten her ass kicked in like the first minute of the first round. But then, she also arm-barred Alyssa Garcia in like the first round as well. I feel like there’s not a lot of tape on her. She does have a lot of grappling videos on YouTube that I’ve looked over. If grappling is all she has, then that’s not gonna be enough to beat me. The best grappler in the division was not able to submit me. I train with black belts. I train with Jessica Penne and she’s a bad-ass black belt. I feel like I’ve been giving her trouble lately too. Maybe I haven’t been the one super offensive on the ground but I will not let anybody arm-bar me or choke me out. My defense is solid. I’m not really worried about her grappling game, I just need to know that I need to get my ass up. I need to get up and keep the fight standing. That’s where I like to be. They like to see bangers. That’s what the fans like to see.”
You’re still one of the top women in the Combate Americas atomweight division. Do you feel that a win over Padilla gets you a shot at the winner of Kyra Batara and Lisbeth Lopez Silva coming up?
“I mean I would hope so. But, the thing with both of those girls is that they keep talking about championship match and blah, blah, blah, but neither of them have made weight. Lisbeth Silva when she fought in Cancun came in at 109 and that’s worse than what Kyra did to me. So the commissions are going to have to say ‘hey, you’re going to need to make weight. This can’t be a championship fight unless you make weight.’ Thankfully the state commissions are there to enforce that rule. But good luck to both of them making weight. They’re both bigger girls. I’m surprised how much bigger than me Lisbeth was when I saw her. I mean, she was wearing heels but she’s a pretty big atomweight if that’s what she considers herself. I would actually like to fight her before I fight Kyra because I need to work on things that Kyra has over me. But Lisbeth likes to throw down and she TKO’d Sheila Padilla. I don’t have quit in me so I’d like to see her try because it’s not happening. I think it would be an exciting fight for the fans too. She’s wild. I’m wild. People like to see those kinds of fights.”
Fans really enjoyed your Selena walk-out for the weigh-ins for your last fight. Can we expect to see some Bidi bidi bom bom for this next fight?
“I don’t know if we’re gonna see some Bidi bidi bom bom or some California swag. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet. But I’m going to keep it interesting. I like to keep you guys on your toes.”
Finally, how do you see the fight with Sheila Padilla going on April 13?
“Due to what I’ve seen in her past. I feel like it’s going to be a TKO, punches or a knee. In the second round. That’s usually where I’m stronger.”
Paulina “Firefox” Granados all take on Sheila Padilla at Combate Estrellas 1 on April 13 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.