MMA4Real is back again, promoting the sport of MMA in North Carolina as well at its fighters. We were able to catch up with featherweight Justin Dalton a week before he makes his pro debut as the youngest fighter to do so in North Carolina. Justin talks to us about how he got into MMA, his upcoming fight, who'll win Faber/Brown 2, and much much more. Let's get right to it:
Kelvin Hunt-Justin, let's start off with you telling us a little about yourself, and how you got into MMA?
Justin Dalton-I was born on 5/7/1990 and I started wrestling when I was 5 years old. My mom is my hero because she fought to be the best mom and to give me and my brother what she never had. In 1997 my dad owned a lot of MMA videos and I watched them on a regular basis. I grew up wrestling and I fought my way to be the best and excel at the sport. Wrestling was my life, and to be honest I didn’t care about anything except the sport of wrestling.
Kelvin Hunt-I understand that you have been wrestling since age 4 or 5, and have had quite a career in high school. Tell us a little about that, and is MMA something you knew you would be getting into as you got older?
Justin Dalton-Yes, I've been wrestling since age 5 and have won many national tournaments. The man I look up to the most in wrestling was my coach Charley Crowley. He coached me from age 5 all the way up to my middle school years. In middle school I was coached by Lamart Stockton where I was undefeated all through my middle school years winning many tournaments as well as matches, and duals. In high school I was coached by Emanual Brown were my record was 163-8 grades 9-11. My senior year I gave up the sport I had loved for so many years because my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I started MMA when I turned 17 years old and I was in the 11th grade. My parents had to sign many papers and releases. So I could live my dream and hope to make it to the big leagues.
Kelvin Hunt-Wow, those are impressive numbers. Did you quit wrestling once you started MMA, if so how was that transition?
Justin Dalton-No I didn’t quit wrestling when I first started MMA. I was in the 11th grade when I first started MMA and I thought I could do both wrestling and MMA, but I quickly found out that I couldn’t and I had to choose. My heart kind’ve started to drift away from wrestling when I first stepped in to the cage. I gave wrestling up at the end of my junior year of wrestling to focus on MMA and making something of my life. My senior year I couldn’t find it in myself to let wrestling go, I wrestled off for the 145 varsity position and tech falled the guy that was trying to take my position from me. I quit wrestling about four days after and I had to look at another guy put on my wrestling singlet. At the end of that year the guy that I tech falled in our westle off went on to be a district champ, region champ, and placed 2nd in the 3A state wrestling championships. It was sad to see the last year of my wrestling career gone.
Kelvin Hunt-You are still in high school right? Are your peers aware that you are a MMA fighter, and do they come watch you fight?
Justin Dalton-Yes, I'm still in high school and im about 7 weeks from graduating. Everyone in the school knows I fight. Most of the kids at the school look up to me and many of them keep up with my career and come to the fights if they are close.
Kelvin Hunt-I'm tell you congrats on graduation even though you haven't officially graduated yet, so finish up strong! You've had over 15 fights over the past year and a half or so. What have you learned about yourself during this same time frame?
Justin Dalton-For awhile I was undefeated and I thought I couldn’t be beaten. When Rusty Cook handed me my first loss it brought me back down to earth and made me realize I’ve got train for every fight as if it was the last one or as if I was defending one of my belts.
Kelvin Hunt-Right on...What's your favorite part of MMA?
Justin Dalton-My favorite part of MMA is stand up or ground and pound. Sure I know Jiu-Jitsu but the feeling of imposing your will on your opponent and having the referee rip you off is the greatest feeling in the world.
Kelvin Hunt-You have your first pro fight coming up on April 25th at the CFP "Clash At The Coast II" event. How are you feeling physically and mentally?
Justin Dalton-I am feeling great and focused and ready to go 15 minutes if I have to. I'm in the best shape of my life and I only have to know 2 things for this fight one I've done everything in my power to win this fight and two I will not quit.
Kelvin Hunt-You'll be fighting Rusty Cooke and you have a loss to him as you mentioned earlier. Most of his wins have come via submission. What else can you tell us about him and what's going to be different about this fight?
Justin Dalton-Yes I'm fighting Rusty Cooke and in our first bout against each other I was not prepared at all. To be completely honest, I didn’t train one day for the fight I just thought I was going to show up and walk through him but as you can tell it didn’t work the way I thought. I got caught in a rear naked choke and I just freaked out and tapped . I was young and I didn’t train. Rusty is a great fighter and I'm not the same Justin Dalton as I was the last fight. I've matured and I've been training my butt off to avenge my loss to him. When he beat me in February of 2008, it ate me up and it has been on my mind ever since. I'm ready, focused and I'm coming for him. When the cage door shuts April 25, 2009 its going to be a fight to be remembered and it's going to be on.
Kelvin Hunt-I heard that! Who's been involved in your training camp and where do you do most of your training?
Justin Dalton-I train at Southside Combat Club in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where I train jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing, kick boxing, and muay thai. I'm trained by Dell Sapp and I'm managed by Ryan Hayes.
Kelvin Hunt-I have to imagine it's pretty tough going to school and then training in MMA afterwards. Talk to us a little about that and what else does Justin like to do in his spare time?
Justin Dalton-Yeah it pretty tough going to school and then training afterwards. But, I do what I've gotta do to be not only the best fighter I can be, but to have as much knowledge as possible and to have something to fall back on after MMA. On my spare time I like to chill with friends and spend time with my girl friend Laken. I also like going out and just being a normal kid.
Kelvin Hunt-You fight at 145. Who's going to win the Mike Brown/Urijah Faber re-match at WEC 41 and why?
Justin Dalton-I think Mike Brown will win the rematch because I don’t think Urijah can stand up with Mike. I see the fight staying up on the feet and Mike Brown winning a decision. However if it goes to the ground I think Urijah Faber will have a slight advantage. In my honest opinion I think its going to be a close fight and it could go either way but I'm pulling for Mike Brown cause he likes to smash your face in and hes the underdog even though he has the WEC Featherweight Title.
Kelvin Hunt-Hmm...I don't know. I think a lot of people are aware that Mike Brown is for real now. You're right though, it should be a great fight. Do you have any parting thoughts and/or anyone you would like to thank?
Justin Dalton-No, I don’t have and parting thoughts but there is a few people I would like to thank. Ryan Hayes, Dell Sapp, Angela and Bill Dalton(Parents), Totally Naked Tattoos, American Stand Up, all my training partners at Southside Combat Club, and Noe Quintanilla. Thank you MMA4Real for taking the time to get questions together and interview me. Hope to see everyone April 25.2009 at the Schwartz Center for CFP "Clash At The Coast II" Dalton vs. Cook 2.
MMA4Real would like to thank Justin for taking the time out to speak with us, and we'd like to wish him good luck in his fight this coming weekend.