Though he wasn’t as busy as he had been in previous years, overall 2018 turned out to be a positive one for flyweight Juan Puerta.
In two bouts in 2018, Puerta was able to pick up victories in both, including claiming the Titan FC 125-pound championship to close out the year.
“I only fought twice the whole year, but I got two finishes; a knockout and a submission finish; so last year was a very good year,” Puerta told MMAWeekly.com. “It was really frustrating (to only fight twice), but once you get to a high level, 20-something fights, you have to make sure the fights are right, and also it’s harder to find fights.
“Last year after I knocked out (Gustavo) Balart, I was waiting for Titan to put me into a title shot, so I really didn’t want to fight for another promotion and miss my opportunity to fight for the title, so it was a chess game of waiting. It worked out for me; I ended up fighting (Kazbek Ashimov) in Kazakhstan and won the title.”
Currently Puerta finds himself on a five-fight winning streak. Puerta credits his success to a change of gyms and finally finding synergy with his new training situation.
“I’ve been down to American Top Team almost three years now, and the progression wasn’t there at there at first, but now I can really see (my improvements) and if it’s the UFC, ONE, anywhere I end up, I know I can compete with the best in the world,” said Puerta.
On Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Puerta (16-6) will look to pick up his sixth win in a row when he faces challenger Claudio Ledesma (16-7) in the flyweight championship main event of Titan FC 55.
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“Honestly I have the utmost respect for Claudio, and I’m expecting the toughest fight of my career in this fight,” Puerta said. “He might not have been signed with the UFC, but he’s fought some of the toughest dudes on the roster. The guy’s been tested and I know how good he is.
“He’s a great kicker, he’s got amazing Jiu-Jitsu, so it’s an amazing test for me and a great way for me to go out there and showcase my skills.”
After being sidelined for the first half of 2019, Puerta is looking to stay as active as he can be to close out the year.
“I’m fighting this month, then I’m planning to fight the next month and the month after that,” said Puerta. “Titan is having a card here in August, so if I can get on that card it would be amazing.
“I’m not looking past anything right now. I just really have my eyes focused on this fight right now because this fight is going to be so tough, so I’m staying focused on this first.”