On May 13th, Raul Castillo will make his MMA debut at Ground N Pound I in Portland, Oregon. Representing Team Pierini, the 22-year-old submission expert and Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is ready to take his fighting to the next level. Winning his last submission fight in 54 seconds, he is ready to put it on the line in a new arena.
Rick: When did you start your martial arts training?
Raul: I started when I was 5 years old, back in 1989.
Rick: What styles have you trained in?
Raul: The style of Karate I trained in was Kami-do-Ryu. Since then I have studied boxing, Kickboxing, and of course, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Rick: Did you do sports in high school?
Raul: No, not really. I played a little bit of hockey with my friends, but other than that I was kind of a couch potato. I quit training in Karate and gained a bunch of weight. Then at age 15 I started working out, running, swimming, and dieting. With the help of my P.E. coach, I lost the weight, got in shape, and then renewed my love of martial arts.
Rick: What is your training regiment with Joao like?
Raul: It is very involved. I am there morning, noon, and night. I help out at the school any way I can. I teach the kid's class, I help with the adult classes, and I do any other odd job that Joao needs me to do for him.
Rick: What do you like most about training with Joao?
Raul: The greatest thing about Joao is, that he is my friend. He is like the big brother I never had. Besides being the best instructor in the world, I can go to him for advice about things outside of martial arts. Also, He took me to Brazil with him, where I met his family and his instructors. I got to see where he trained and learned a lot about his life growing up. He is a very disciplined man and I have a lot of respect for him.
Rick: How many days a week do you train?
Raul: I am there 6 or 7 hours a day, 6 days a week!
Rick: Does Joao have you on a special diet?
Raul: Oh yeah! No chips, no bottled drinks, no fat of any kind. I eat mostly fruit, vegetables, multi-grained bread, and the only meat I eat is chicken or fish. Also, I take amino acids, protein powder, and multi-vitamins.
Rick: Who is your main stand up teacher?
Raul: Eloy Ramirez and Eugene Jackson are my boxing and kickboxing coaches. They have helped me a lot in developing my hands.
Rick: So, this is your MMA debut, what made you decide to go into MMA as opposed to submission grappling?
Raul: I have always wanted to fight since I was young. I have more than 350 awards for Karate and BJJ, and have often beat more experienced opponents. I am very confident now, so naturally I am ready to take it to the next level.
Rick: What rules would you like to see changed in MMA?
Raul: Actually I think the rules are pretty good at this point. The only change I would like to see is longer rounds, like the old style UFC rules, or the Pride rules. But, the fighters these days are extremely advanced and you have to be at the top of your game or you will definitely lose.
Rick: Where was your last submission grappling fight and how did it go?
Raul: It was in Oakdale, California, on February 25. I won the fight in 54 seconds!
Rick: Where do you see yourself in a year from now?
Raul: In another year I will be an unstoppable monster. I am in the gym everyday, I listen to my trainers, and I am getting better all the time. I can notice a difference in my cardio about every three days. I will only get more explosive and more potent over the next year. I hope to be up to UFC level by then.
Rick: What would you say to a young person who might be thinking about a career in MMA?
Raul: Be ready to sacrifice everything. You will have very limited contact with your friends or your girlfriend. It is a way of life. No TV, No nightclubs, no partying, you gotta eat, sleep, and live for training. There is no half-way for a martial arts career. Like Mr.Miyagi said, if you don't train 100%, you get squashed like a grape in the ring!
Rick: Who would you like to thank for helping you prepare for your fight?
Raul: I would like to thank my parents for all their love and support. To Coach Pierini, the best coach you could ever ask for, and to all of Team Pierini.