Four Albuquerque-Area MMA Fighters Set for Saturday Bouts

Sep. 21—Saturday’s a big-time day for Albuquerque’s MMA community. Four fighters who train in the Duke City are scheduled to fight on two of the sport’s major platforms, Bellator and the UFC — three in Las Vegas, Nevada, one in Dublin, Ireland.

Here’s a rundown, more or less in order of appearance:

Dan Argueta

Age: 30

Hometown: Chicago

Residence: Albuquerque

Trains at: Jackson-Wink MMA

Record: 9-1, one no-decision

Weight class: Bantamweight (135)

Promotion: UFC

Opponent: Miles Johns (13-2)

Location: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada

Streaming: ESPN+, 2 p.m. (prelim card)

At stake: Argueta is an up-and-comer whose momentum was slowed a bit when his most recent fight was ruled no contest/premature stoppage. Argueta had secured a first-round guillotine choke in his June 17 fight against Ronnie Lawrence when the referee stopped the fight, believing Lawrence had tapped out. He hadn’t.

A victory over Johns would get the Argueta train rolling again.

Quote (from phone interview): “I don’t see many people in this weight class that are stronger than me — not just physically. I mean stronger-willed, stronger desire to win, stronger desire to win every scramble, every exchange.”

Tim Means

Age: 39

Hometown, residence: Moriarty

Trains at: FIT-NHB

Record: 32-15-1, one no contest

Weight class: Welterweight (170)

Promotion: UFC

Opponent: Andre Fialho (16-7)

Location: UFC Apex, Las Vegas

Streaming: ESPN+, 2 p.m. (prelim card)

At stake: Means has lost his last three fights, and Saturday’s fight is the last on his current five-fight contract. Could this be the end? It could be, but probably isn’t. Means, a popular action fighter, said he and the UFC already have discussed the possibility of “a couple more fights,” and there are other promotions that might be interested. In any case, snapping that losing streak — Fialho also has lost three straight — certainly would be a good thing.

Quote (from phone interview): “It’s just competition. I’ve always been a competitor, and that fire still burns. I still have that dog in me. The last three fights didn’t go my way, but they were still entertaining. … I’m excited about Saturday and the opportunity I still have.”

Aaron Pico

Age: 26

Hometown: Whittier, Calif.

Residence: Albuquerque

Trains at: Jackson-Wink MMA

Record: 11-4

Weight class: Featherweight (145 pounds)

Promotion: Bellator

Opponent: Pedro Carvalho (13-7)

Location: 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland

TV: Showtime, 2 p.m.

At stake: Positioning in Pico’s quest for a Bellator featherweight title shot. Pico is Bellator’s No. 3 contender to the title held by Patricio (Freire) Pitbull but has lost to Nos. 1 and 2 contenders Adam Borics and Jeremy Kennedy (the latter due to injury).

Pitbull underwent surgery for a herniated disc in August and is out until next spring, and there’s been talk (though so far not from Bellator) of a fight for an interim title. If Pico wants to be considered, he can’t afford another loss.

Quote (from Bellator Zoom news conference): “They always say that the Irish are some of the best fans in the world, and I want the opportunity to put on a show in front of them. … I think you guys are gonna see a new Bellator champion very, very soon.”

Michelle Waterson-Gomez

Age: 37

Hometown: Colorado Springs/Albuquerque

Residence: Albuquerque

Trains at: Jackson-Wink MMA

Record: 18-11

Weight Class: Strawweight (115)

Promotion: UFC

Opponent: Marina Rodriguez (16-3-2)

Location: UFC Apex, Las Vegas

Streaming: ESPN+, 5 p.m. (main card)

At stake: Waterson-Gomez has lost her last three fights and five or her last six, yet remains immensely popular (1.6 million Instagram followers). Two of those five losses were by split decision, one against Rodriguez in a fight she accepted at a heavier weight class (125). With her MMA future not in jeopardy, Waterson-Gomez is fighting because she still loves the process — and wants to even the score with Rodriguez.

Quote: “I don’t feel any pressure whatsoever. I think that when you put pressure on yourself in those ways, it’s unhealthy. … I want to win every time I get in there. I don’t think any fighter goes into a fight wanting to lose, or expecting to lose, and if you do, maybe you’re just there for the paycheck. But that’s definitely not what I’m there for.”

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