Looking back on her pro debut in February, strawweight prospect Itzel Esquivel feels like she did pretty much everything she set out to do in picking up a second round submission victory over Fatima Mallett at Fury FC 15.
I feel like I did well for my first pro fight,” Esquivel told MMAWeekly.com. “I feel like I used my fighting style very well compared to (Mallett’s) fighting style. We knew she was going to very tough. I went out there and did what the game plan was and ended up with the victory.”
After spending the past couple years building a name for herself in the amateur circuit, Esquivel knew it was time to jump to the pro ranks in 2017 after picking up a title in her last bout of 2016.
“I won an amateur belt for Garcia Promotions (Cage Combat) and I think that’s what motivated me to go pro,” said Esquivel. “I think because of the way that I won is what led me to want to be pro. There was obviously going to be more opportunities for women in MMA, so it was time for me to jump pro.”
Esquivel notes that in the pro ranks the competition is tougher because now fighters are more focused about their careers and that every bout counts.
“The women are stronger now,” Esquivel said. “I feel like they already know what they want to do with their MMA career. They already know where they want to get to. I think that in amateurs, a lot of people are trying it out and seeing if they want to do it, but (in the pros) everyone is more serious.”
Esquivel (1-0) will look to pick up her second straight win as a pro when she makes her Legacy Fighting Alliance debut on Friday night in Houston, Texas, when she takes on Brandi Narvaez (0-0) in a main card 115-pound bout.
“I feel like I have to use my striking to the best of my abilities and just keep (Narvaez) at distance and stuff like that,” said Esquivel. “As far as I know, she’s well-rounded, and a southpaw – so I have to watch out for that. Pretty much I feel my striking will lead me to the win.
“I think it will be a great test for me because it will show me how prepared I am for this level and how progressed I am in this sport.”
While she would like to see herself at the top level of MMA in the not too distant future, Esquivel’s main focus for the remainder of 2017 is establishing herself as a pro and building a strong fan base.
“I really want to keep a winning streak throughout the whole year,” Esquivel said. “Obviously I want to make it to the UFC if I can. I just want to fight well and impress the crowd and make everyone supporting me very proud at the same time.
“I have to show to the crowd (Friday night) that I belong there, that I’m meant to be in a big promotion like (the LFA). You see so many people out there, cheering you on, and you want to make everyone feel happy about you being there.”