Emilio “The Honey Badger” Urrutia just delivered a performance to remember.
Last Friday, 26 January, at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES in Manila, Philippines, he stopped two-time BJJ no-gi world champion Bruno Pucci inside the opening round to make a real statement to the rest of the featherweight division.
The Phuket-based Floridian went into the bout with a combination of confidence and composure. He dominated proceedings from the first bell, taking the center of the cage and imposing his powerful striking game on the man called “Puccibull.”
Urrutia stopped the Singapore-based Brazilian with strikes at the 3:33 mark of round number one, earning the first pure knockout victory of his career, and pushing his professional record to 11-4 in the process.
“It was a great match. I was due a KO,” the 31-year-old says. “I have always had good striking and good power in my hands, and it was good to have the opportunity to display it, so I was really excited about that.
“I had a little January curse where I have lost twice in the month of January in previous years, and one of those was in Manila. So I am glad to have broken that curse, and I am looking forward to a big year.”
Despite his impressive win, Urrutia is not getting carried away.
“The Honey Badger” is extremely proud to get the knockout win, and his second consecutive victory in ONE Championship, but after watching videos of the bout, he spotted plenty of room for improvement. He will undoubtedly return to Tiger Muay Thai & MMA in Phuket, Thailand, to continue honing his craft.
“Overall, I was really happy with it. But there are always things to fix. For all my opponents out there, I just need to make sure I let them know that I am looking at the same things they are,” Urrutia explains.
“I wanted to go out there and make a statement. In our last interview, I said that I felt I was on another level, and I wanted to show that. I wanted to win, but I also wanted to win decisively to take me to that next level of competition that I am looking for, and eventually, to the main goal – a world title shot.
“It was my 15th professional bout to date, and it was probably my cleanest performance. This was a big win, and a good one to solidify myself in the division. I believe I was destined for this, and the way I won was exactly as I predicted before the bout. So everything is on course.”
That course, Urrutia says, has been plotted to intercept the kingpin of ONE’s featherweight division, Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
However, with the Australian currently dropping down a weight class to challenge ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes for his belt at ONE: IRON WILL on 24 March, “The Honey Badger” knows he will have to take at least one more bout — and deliver at least one more spectacular performance — before he is considered a viable contender for the world title upon Nguyen’s return to featherweight action.
With that in mind, Urrutia would relish the chance to take on a top-ranked opponent such as Pucci’s soon-to-be brother-in-law Christian “The Warrior” Lee, or former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov, both of whom he regards as two of the very best in the division.
Also, after spending a period of his career living and teaching martial arts in Singapore, he would love the opportunity to compete in the country he once called home.
“Hopefully in the next couple of months, we can have something lined up. Hopefully a big name match-up that is going to have a lot of eyes on it,” the Thailand-based American says.
“I’d love nothing more than to go back to Singapore, where I have a huge following, and compete against either Christian or Marat. They are right at the top of the division, and I only want to face the best guys. If it is not one of those two guys, I will take the guy right under them. I am on a four-bout win streak now. Let’s make it five with somebody big, bad, and scary.
“Whoever the matchmakers feel is the best match, I am going to take with a smile on my face. My name is already as good as signed; you just have to put the opponent down. They do not need to ask me. They just need to put the name down, and I will sign the agreement with a blindfold on. It does not matter.”
As well as his performance in victory over Pucci, the other big takeaway from Urrutia’s Manila appearance was his happy-go-lucky, relaxed attitude.
In addition to being driven towards his professional goal, “The Honey Badger” is also determined to enjoy the journey that has taken him from Florida to Phuket, as he has chased his martial arts dream of becoming a world champion.
“That is what it is all about,” he explains.
“Once event week starts, I know that all the hard work has been done, and that was my mindset going into this competition all week long. When I got to Manila, I just enjoyed the process, soaked it all in, and loved every minute of it. From backstage, to the warm-up, to the walkout.
“This was just a faraway dream for me a few years ago. I just wanted to try out at Tiger Muay Thai. To make it this far, to do what I love doing — and on top of that, doing it at the highest level — I have already won. So that was my mentality all week long.”
Urrutia will continue to improve upon his game, and he will attempt to deliver more thrilling performances for fans all across the world. He is already living his dream by training with world-class martial arts veterans in Thailand, but ultimately wants to fulfill his destiny and claim the ONE Featherweight World Championship.
As 2018 progresses, “The Honey Badger” hopes to get matches that will bring him closer to a championship opportunity, and he plans to make the most of the next 11 months.
“I want the belt,” he states.
“I want to compete for the world title, and I want any match that is going to get me closer to that world title. That is the reason why I signed with ONE. I want to be the world champion of the featherweight division, and that is going to be my goal for as long as I am walking this earth.”
“Hopefully you will get to see a lot more of me in 2018. I am in the best shape of my life, I am at the peak of my career, and I am ready to go. It is time to shine.”