Welcome back fight fans, it’s been a quick second since our last #10for10 but when you are able to get a guy like Manny Walo to sit down you take that as quick as you can. For those of you that don’t know about Manny Walo (@mannynwalo), he is currently riding a nice 5 fight win streak while amassing a 12-2 record, was a face and champion in the CFFC during his time there and is a fighter that is getting a lot of buzz about a possible debut in the top promotions like Bellator and the UFC. He is for sure one of those guys you want to get to know because he will be in one of the promotions in no time and you don’t want to be the person asking “who is that guy” when he takes a belt! So sit down and get to know the man behind the gloves!
Hey Manny, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us here at ArtofMMA.com again. It’s been a while since we have got a chance to feature you. There has been a lot of things going on with you so catch us up on what’s new in your world?
Walo: Well, for the most part everything is pretty much flowing the same. Just happy to be back competing again. Before it was just training to stay in shape or training for a potential fight, but once you get a name and a date, then the training becomes more urgent. But that’s pretty much it.
Now speaking of change, the last time we spoke you were still part of the CFFC and the welterweight champion. Since then we have seen you have successful debuts in World Series of Fighting and CES MMA where you won both via decisions. Talk to us about that change and do you feel it was a step forward in your career?
Walo: CFFC was and is a great promotion. It aided greatly in my development into the fighter that I am now. There were some behind the scenes things that went on and we both decided it was in the best interest of the parties involved to move on. I’m very happy and was very fortunate to fight for two great organizations back to back. My first fight out of CFFC I fought Andrews Nakahara in the WSoF, who competed on the ultimate fighter and I beat him. Then, I followed it up with another victory inside of the CES cage against former UFC fighter Jon Manley. I’m on a roll right now and life is good lol.
Man you stole the next question right off my paper haha. So you said it, as soon as you stepped out of the CFFC you went to the WSoF where you previously fought (WSoF 13) and drew the ultra tough Andrews Nakahara (TUF). The fight was a war and we saw you take a split decision win (your closest decision in past 5 fights). Talk to us about that fight, did he do anything different in the cage and what was your though entering that decision, did you feel it was yours?
Walo: That fight was tricky for me because I was coming off a very long layoff, think 13 months. I haven’t face an opponent like that before and I was unable to get myself going. He was a lot tougher than I anticipated and he scouted me well and knew what I like to do so I had to improvise on the fly. I really enjoyed the fight but at the end of it I had no clue man. I was there nervous just thinking like I wish I had done more, pushed a little further, committed more to my takedowns. And when it was announced it was one of those things I was happy that it went my way but I wouldn’t had been mad if it went the other way because it was that close.
That makes sense especially after that layoff, but it was not only a good win for you to come back to but huge for your career! After that win you returned to another promotion in CES MMA, the spot where you suffered your last defeat 2 years ago. You beat up a solid fighter in Jon Manley, who was in the UFC for a quick minute and took home the decision win. Talk us through that fight and what did you learn? Was it nice to get a win in that promotion or was that not even on your mind?
Walo: First of all CES is a great promotion. I was treated very well and with respect, so that made the fight itself less stressful and fun again. I knew Jon Manley was a great opponent because he’s been where I’m trying to get to which is the UFC. He did very well on The Ultimate Fighter and made it to the semi-finals and fought in the UFC against Neil Magny. I knew this would be my opportunity to show that I’m one of the best guys out here and people should know it too. I knew going into his fight that his only chance of winning was to maybe get me down and force a submission but I also knew that grappling is one of my strengths. I have really good wrestling and can keep a fight standing or take it down if I choose. I am fortunate and blessed to have a team of coaches and teammates that I do with Team Renzo Gracie where we have lots of black belts, therefore I was use to rolling with high level grapplers. Going into that fight I was relax and calm, perhaps too calm because I felt like if I pushed a little more I would had got the finish but it’s cool I got the win.
It was really nice to get a win in a great promotion and on television too. I’m happy man.
You said it best there my friend, it’s cool to get the win! Also having a team like Team Renzo Gracie in your corner is always an advantage! So that’s 5 in a row now and in today’s MMA that is a pretty big achievement. What does it mean to you as that is the longest streak you have been on in your career (counting the draw in 2013). Do you feel this should open some eyes in the top promotions like Bellator and the UFC?
Walo: I take pride in this win streak because it’s a testament to my hard work and dedication as well as the coaches and teammates who supported me. I think, well I know I’m ready to mix it up with those guys in the UFC. So I’m just waiting for my moment. At the end of July there is a UFC card in Long Island so I would love to get on that… and if that don’t work I would love to fight for CES again. Right now I have something which I didn’t have before, which is options. There are so many new promotions popping up, it’s easy to get work as a fighter. Matter of fact, before the weekend was over I got contacted by a promoter wanting to put me to work on their show in June. I’m just happy to be back doing what I love.
Man that is awesome! Now I have to ask as you know we are huge fans of the CFFC, any chance of seeing you in the CFFC or WSoF (now the Professional Fighters League) cages again or have you moved on? What’s next?
Walo: I go where opportunity presents itself. I will come fight in your backyard if that’s where the opportunity was. I’m just loving doing what I’m doing.
Bro, I got a nice yard for that and we know how people like to fight on Youtube… I think you might be a step above that now though haha. Now you mentioned your teams before and you don’t just work with one team like many fighters, you have a huge team. Your part of All Star BJJ, Driven (in Woodbridge) as well as Edge Wrestling in Hoboken and also a part of Master Renzo Gracie’s Academy. How important is each faction to you and what is your favorite part of each?
Walo: My success in the cage comes from my team. My coaches and teammates. If you watch my fights you see that I’m very calm and relaxed and that’s because I been there before. I train with the best guys in the world so it’s just another day for me. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. Every piece is unique and when you put it together you create a beautiful masterpiece. That’s what I am man. I take good things from all my coaches, and teammates and put it together… the cage is my canvas and everything I get in there I try to create a beautiful masterpiece. I’m very blessed and beloved. I’m very blessed.
I couldn’t agree more! So what is your overall goal in this game and what else do you feel you need to do to take the next step?
Walo: Overall goal, get to the UFC. Climb the ranks, become a contender, make money, travel and see different places while fighting, compete and win the title. Also something I been flirting with, maybe start an international charity in Africa where I open up different MMA gyms where kids could come and learn and train and help escape the day to day struggles, free of course. That will be something cool I will be looking forward to doing. Man I tell the younger fighters in the gym like man you have to enjoy this. People often time always focus on the destination and never enjoy the journey. You have to enjoy the journey along the way because some people never reach that destination which is to be a world champion or some people it takes such a long time that they lose that drive and hunger. And the small select few that makes it, sometimes they get there and are so miserable and what not that they can’t truly enjoy it. I enjoy it all.
This weekend going up to Rhode Island and riding and cracking jokes with my coach on the ride there, fighting, winning, interacting with fans, seeing my folks come up there and be happy and support me, riding back home with them, it was all fun and made the experience more memorable.
I love that response man! From telling the younger guys to appreciate and enjoy it all the way to showing how this is more than just fighting… It is like a family, people don’t get that. Now I got a chance to see the recap of your last fight and seeing you live is awesome, not only for the actual match but your fan base is awesome! What do they mean to you and if you could say one thing to them what would it be?
Walo: They are the world to me. During the long layoff I had I was constantly getting messages of when I would return and when I finally did the response was overwhelming. I think people gravitate towards me because of my calm and cool and laid back demeanor. I don’t really get wild up and what not. And if I’m annoyed or something it’s briefly and I’m over it. People like that I’m an average guy and I work hard to accomplish what I have. I didn’t wrestle or box or did Taekwondo or karate growing up. I started all of this when I came from Iraq in 09… so I’m relatively new to this sport. But I have been successful because of my commitment and I tell people, if me a regular kid from Jersey City, NJ could become a MMA world champion and live his dreams of fighting professionally then you the regular guy or girl could live yours. Don’t set limitations on yourself and break out of the sheep mentality, the norm, dare to be different. I love the people who support me and I truly appreciate them.
I love it man, now I know your time is short so before we let you go, are there any people or sponsors you would like to mention?
Walo: First I would love to thank all the people that supported me throughout the years. I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates for making me the fighter I am today. I would like to thank my sponsors, Eat clean bro, Hayabusa, lana eggs whites, nutrition zone oak ridge. I would also like to thank you guys for taking out the time to talk with me and get my thoughts and words out there. Follow me on Facebook @MannyWalo, Instagram (@armyfighter05) and Twitter at @mannynwalo …and stay tuned to see what’s next with me. Thank you all beloved.
There you have it fight fans, Manny Walo! Keep your eyes on him because he is already on the rise and will be a future champ in this sport!