How Joe Lauzon Shaped Yorgan DeCastro's Career

It’s been a long road to the UFC for Yorgan DeCastro, who makes his debut Saturday at UFC 243. Born in Cape Verde, he left his home country looking for something more. 

While wealth and prosperity was at the heart of what he was looking for, he discovered a love for combat sports as well. 

“I moved from Cape Verde to Portugal, of course, looking for a better life and more opportunity,” DeCastro said. “Then from Portugal I started kickboxing.” 

 

Although he found an avenue that led his down a very different career path, it didn’t lead to the new life he wanted. He wasn’t changing his fortune in the way that he envisioned; Portugal wasn’t quite the place for him to make it to where he wanted to go. So, he changed that plan and headed towards family, this time in the US.

“I was doing kickboxing, but I wasn’t going nowhere,” he recalled. “My uncle, my mother and all my family were here in America, so I moved here to chase the dream with the hope that one day I could make it big.”

But even that that stage the dream was not about MMA. In fact, it could not have been further from his mind. Then a chance encounter with a famous UFC fighter and their gym got things started. 

“My dream was kickboxing - it was never MMA,” DeCastro said. “When I moved out here, I was living in Brockton [Massachusetts] and my uncle was connected to Lauzon MMA. So he brought me there and I started to do kickboxing and they made me do jiu jitsu and wrestling.”

And while that may have been his first foray into mixing martial arts, it didn’t take him long to dive full blown into MMA. After 6 months, he made his amateur debut, a TKO victory on a local Massachusetts card. That success was short-lived though, as his time with the grappling arts began to hinder his career. 

“I failed as an amateur. I lost 4 fights where guys were able to take me down - dominate me on the ground, and I couldn’t get up,” he said. “[Now] my jiu jitsu is not that bad. I can defend a submission, I can get up - but at the beginning it was really rough.”

A lot of that progression is in thanks to advice Joe Lauzon gave him early in his career. Lauzon didn’t try to make DeCastro into something he wasn’t, but rather tried to show him how his weakness could aid his biggest strength. 

“From the moment that I walked in there, to Lauzon MMA, he told me ‘your career is going to be all about defending the takedown. As an amateur my kickboxing was already good, but he said ‘you’re not going to find too many people who wants to stand with you,” DeCastro recalled noting the changes he eventually made. “As a pro I told myself that this can’t happen to me. I’m going to look for the best wrestling around, I’m going to wrestle my ass off.”

Now DeCastro trains at Regiment Training Center in Fall River, where he credits the wrestling advances to his coach Dan LaPage. He also notes that grappling with Bellator-veteran, Pat McCrohan, and Brown University wrestler, Ian Butterbrodt, have been pivotal to his progress. 

Still, even though he is much better than he once was, it doesn’t mean he really enjoys that part of MMA.  

“I hated it at the beginning. I’d get home in pain, all my body was hurt. Like ‘wow, what the hell was this?” he recalls. “I’d [still] rather do 2 hours of kickboxing than do a half hour of jiu jitsu.That’s a whole different game right there.”

DeCastro is likely to get his wish to kickbox this weekend as he takes on notable Australian striker Justin Tafa on the pay-per-view portion of UFC 243. 

Alexander Volkanovski: "I'm One of The Greatest 145ers Of All Time"

You might imagine that a fighter in his first title fight, his first UFC fight scheduled for 5 round even, might find himself with a bit of pressure on his shoulders. In fact, first time challengers have from time to time remarked that having additional media obligations has made their first shot all the more difficult. However, Alexander Volkanovski feels right at home. 

Top Turtle MMA Podcast: Featuring Alexander Volkanovski + Chase Hooper

UFC 245 is crazy loaded and so is our show this week. 

Cody Stamann: No Respect For Champ Cejudo

Since capturing his fight title, and even more so after winning his second, Henry Cejudo has turned up the theatrics. From calling for a fight with Valentina Shevchenko to cringe-worthy videos promoting himself as “Triple C”, his push to get more attention for himself has certainly been successful. 

Top Turtle MMA Podcast: Featuring Yana Kunitskaya + Cody Stamann

 Finally, the UFC has come back to us and the boys from Top Turtle have the content you’re looking for. 

Dominick Reyes Is Ready For Jon Jones

After 27 fights by which he is functionally still undefeated (yes, I realize he has a loss on his record), we’ve heard pretty much everything when it comes to why this challenger will be the one. Especially since he’s become champ, it seems like every challenger that pops up has something that fans who want to see Jones go down latch on to and others write off. 

Top Turtle MMA Podcast: Featuring Dominick Reyes

This week was a big one for fight announcements, and Top Turtle might have one of the biggest guests when it comes to those announcements. 

High-Level MMA Card Set For XFN 26

XFN 26 is bringing an assorted card of mixed martial arts action this weekend live on FloCombat. 

3 Title Bouts Headline V3 Fights 77

V3 Fights is back with another installment of action this weekend on FloCombat.

Top Turtle MMA Podcast: Featuring Paddy Pimblett + Christian Edwards

There may be no UFC card this weekend, but the boys from Top Turtle MMA never sleep.

Bellator's Christian Edwards Is Ready For Top 15 Guy

It may have been his second bout in the promotion, but the head kick KO finish by Christian Edwards at Bellator 223 was his introduction to a lot of fans. The kick went viral through the various chains of social media, appeared on ESPN and had every MMA pundit talking.