This Saturday, November 11, at the Westchester County Center in West Plains, New York, a formidable and potential star of the Flyweight division will step inside the cage at the highest level of the amateur ranks.
In a Flyweight championship main event for Aggressive Combat Championships, Daniel “Flashanado” Maldonado will look to earn his second amateur title as he takes on Edwin Solis. Maldonado is a Flyweight competitor who trains out of Pure Hart Training Academy in Astoria, New York and happens to be ranked among the top ten in the state in his division. Knowing what potential he can deliver to the division, Maldonado knows he must impress upon the viewing audience as well as himself when he competes this weekend.
“I feel like I’m better in every area,” said Maldonado. “He’s not the toughest fighter I’ve fought but he’s the most skilled.”
Maldonado (3-2) has already competed three times this year, with this weekend bringing about an additional fourth contest to his amateur resume. Currently riding a three fight winking streak, Maldonado has had to learn the hard way the struggle that is mixed martial arts combat after losing his initial two bouts, both of which occurred back in 2015.
“When I first started to compete I rarely trained for it. First fight I ever had I got my ass kicked. In my second fight, it was a close fight but again I didn’t train for it. Once I started training and getting the feel for what real training is like, I’ve been unstoppable since. I needed to lose. It took me being at the edge of me quitting to realize what I needed to fix.”
Two years is a lot of time for one to ponder if such a demanding sport is the right path for them. But for Maldonado, a sense of belonging always lingered.
“I took some time off. I had competed at an earlier age and took that time to see if this was something I really wanted to do. Once I got back in the game, I started winning again and now I feel like now is the time to finally dive in (professionally). I’m ready.”
Maldonado made the paramount move to train at Pure Hart two years ago. A move that has seemingly paid off in dividends. As he remains unbeaten since the decision to dedicate himself to the proper training.
“My coaches, I trust them. I train with a lot of good guys. My coach Matt Kaplan, he trains with Gordon Ryan, he trains with Garry Tonon. Jonathan Calestine, it’s the same thing. But Kaplan, he’s fought in mma before and his grappling is great for mma and he’s just a very good coach. Nicholas Robyn, my striking coach has such a diverse style. He’ll throw in karate kicks, then we go to straight boxing so I have a lot of open minded coaches that help me grow.”
“The proof is in the pudding. If I’m winning with these guys then it’s clear that they’re helping me and I’m doing all the right things.”
Maldonado’s gym, Pure Hart Training Center has only been around a few short year’s but is not lacking in talented coaches and fighters. Matthew Kaplan and Jonathan Calestine are both highly ranked Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu grapplers, while Daniel’s striking coach, Nicholas Robyn, has trained alongside Ray Longo for much of his career.
“Jonathan Calestine, one of the best grapplers in the world. It’s good to train with these guys, especially Jon. He’s got a similar body type like me. He’s teaching me all these new tricks that you don’t see. I’m using these in my fights. Plus he has a really good top game. He’s such a high level athlete so it’s good to have that push, to have somebody drive you, beat you up in the gym and that all culminated into me developing into a better fighter.”
“”When I started training at Pure Heart, I had always heard of Matt from the jiu-jitsu scene. I would compete a lot against Matt’s teammates. Way I met him was I would beat most of his teammates in competition. So when I joined their gym, already we knew each other. Since then the relationship has grown. We have a love-hate relationship. Sometimes I hate Matt, sometimes I love him…Sometimes he’s a piece of s**t. Hah!
“One thing I can say is that he keeps it real. Sometimes he keeps it too real, but it’s because he cares. But yeah most of the time I hate Matt.”
As far as training partners go, Maldonado also finds time to put in defining work with one of the hottest up-and-comers in the UFC’s Featherweight division, Jared Gordon.
“I’ve trained a few times with Jared Gordon. He’s 2-0 in the UFC. He’s a very talented fighter that overcame a lot of adversity to get to this point. I’ve felt his strength, I’ve seen his drive, he is a work horse. That’s motivation right there for me to keep training hard and to keep pushing it because I know if I do I will be great, just like he is.”
Maldonado is high on the belief that he brings to the table a new wave of excitement to mma’s Flyweight division that is only now being realized. With UFC Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson making waves following his record-breaking title defense win in October, Maldonado doesn’t see why he can’t encompass that same light of success in his career so long as he remains a dedicated student of the game.
“He’s (Demetrious) well rounded. He’s not cocky, he’s confident. He’s humble too and every time I get in there I feel like I have that confidence too. I want to be well rounded like him but I have my own style and trademark. But to be well rounded like that is every fighters dream. I want to be just like that. I bring well rounded skill, plus some personality. I feel like I’m a funny guy, I like to talk s**t,” says Maldonado laughingly. “But I’m also humble. I like to bring exciting fights too. I feel like the Flyweight division needs me. Someone who can dominate, be entertaining, entertain the fans on the mic. I feel like I have the personality and charisma to do that. Obviously I want to be a UFC champion. I want to be that dominant champion like a Demetrious Johnson. It’s obviously possible. I want to make the Flyweight division a division that people want to see. But I want to fight for the Bantamweight title as well. I know that in the long term I’ll be a big 125-er. I want to be a two-weight champion and take over.
“It’s going to be an exciting fight (this Saturday). I’m going to beat the hell out this guy, I’m going to have a dominant performance, I’m going to be a two-time amateur champion, and I’m going pro.”
ACC 17 takes place this Saturday, November 11 at the Westchester County Center in New York. Click HERE for tickets and check out “Flashanado” highlights below.
Daniel Maldonado vs. Mamdou Nasr at Triton Fights 1