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Tapia on the rebound

Story by Jose E. Santiago

A flamboyant figure of Mexican pride, Manny Tapia often enters the cage sporting flashy trunks, and dyed hair displaying the colors of the Mexican flag. After suffering his only MMA loss at the hands of bantamweight king, Miguel Torres in December, Tapia is looking to get his career back on track on April 5th at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago with a victory over relatively unknown but dangerous Akitoshi Tamura.

With regards to his preparation for Tamura, Tapia says that training is going well.

“I feel good,” says Tapia. “Things started a little slow but they’ve picked up and I feel great and ready for whatever Akitoshi brings to the table.”

“To be honest I don’t know much about this guy. I’ve seen a couple of his fights on the internet. I know he’s a great grappler, and has nice leg kicks. Other than that, I don’t know much and I’ll have to find out when we step into that cage.”

With regards to the setback of losing to Torres, Tapia admits it was a little tough to deal with at first.

“I was a little down at first, I just couldn’t believe it.”

He now takes the loss in stride and looks to move forward “Miguel is a great guy and a great fighter. I now look at that fight as a learning experience.

“I knew it would happen (losing) at some point, but when they called me for this fight against Tamura I was quickly motivated to come back and fight.”

Using the loss as motivation the Chino, Calif. native uses his experience as the tool to get better.

“I look at the fight with Torres and I seen some flaws, flaws that Miguel was capitalizing on. My feet were coming together when I’d step back . . . something I should never be doing in a fight. There are other things that I seen that I’ve been working on as well.”

With regards to the amount of good fighters in the 135 pound division Tapia sarcastically says, “Man, with so many great fighters coming out of the woodwork in this division, I might have to move down or up in weight.

“This weight division is very stacked with guys like Brian Bowles, Damacio Page, Joseph Benavidez . . . there are so many guys that on any given night they could be at the top.”

When asked about his display of Mexican colors in the cage Tapia made it clear that he’s not necessarily looking to draw Mexicans to the sport but simply out of his pride.

“I’m just proud to be Mexican,” says Tapia. “My parents are straight from the Rancho and I’m not afraid to show how proud I am. I don’t only do it in the cage when I fight. You’ll often times see me wearing cloths outside the ring that shows my pride as well.”

Unlike other fighters, Tapia’s mentality just before a fight begins is of a defensive approach.

“To me it’s all about not getting hit . . . survival. Hit your opponent and try not to get hit by someone who like me is training to knock you out.”

Discussing how he sees the Tumura fight ending, Manny keeps it simple and to the point: “First round knockout!”


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