If you’re looking for a fighter to go into hostile territory for a fight, look no further than Oregon’s Vince Morales. Although he has only been in the UFC for less than a year, he’s already preparing for his third fight on hostile ground.
In his UFC debut, he was tasked with fighting super prospect Song Yadong in his home country of China. He quickly followed that up by facing Aiemann Zahabi, brother of Tristar Gym owner Firas, just a quick drive from the famed gym.
This weekend, he’ll head to Sacramento, home of Urijah Faber and Team Alpha Male to take on one of their own, Benito Lopez (on short notice mind you). However, Morales says that the hostility doesn’t both him at all.
“That’s where half of my pro career was back when I was fighting in Front Street Fights in Boise, Idaho,” Morales told the Top Turtle MMA Podcast on FloCombat. “I was always the outsider coming in, fighting their prospects and their hometown people.”
However, it’s not just that Morales is used to the pressure. Morales actually prefers to fight in someone else’s backyard and for a number of reasons.
“A lot of the pressure is off of me at that point. It’s kind of all on the hometown guy,” he explained. “I just like to play spoiler I guess.”
When he does play spoiler, as he did in Canada against Zahabi, Morales usually finds that his pressure forward, strike-first style makes fans out of enemies.
“Usually what happens is I wind up turning the crowd on my end,” he said. “They end up supporting me at the end of the day.”
Before he gets to attempt to turn some of that Faberville crowd to support him, though, he’s had to deal with another type of opposing fan. Through Instagram messages, fans of Lopez sent him numerous messages about how much money they are planning on betting against him and how they cannot wait to cash their tickets. Although used to the enemy crowds, this was a new one for Morales.
“It’s the first time I’ve had somebody try to antagonize me a little bit,” Morales said with a laugh., “But it doesn’t bug me at all.”
Just like the hometown crowds he’s fought through his whole life, Morales is sure that he can win over the Instagram crowd as well.
“I like to just chill them with a little bit of kindness, and roll with the punch,” he said. “Eventually they’ll be on my side.”