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Frank Camacho: 'You're going to see 'The Crank,' baby!'

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Just over three years ago, Frank “The Crank” Camacho made his UFC debut and has been entertaining fans around the world ever since. With multiple Fight-of-the-Night purses, his all-around fighting style has made him one of the fiercest competitors ever to step foot inside the octagon. 

Win or lose, for better or for worse, while Camacho’s seven-bout UFC career has created some of the most memorable moments ever caught on film, it has also left some lasting impressions — like the one Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal’s left foot made when it connected with Camacho's right cheek and knocked him out cold during UFC 28 in September 2018. With a career peppered with tremendous wins and frustrating losses, experience has made Camacho a better fighter.

 

Frank “The Crank” Camacho will take on Brok Weaver in UFC Fight Night on Sept. 13. 

Photo from Frank Camacho’s Facebook page

 

Camacho, looking to avenge his latest defeat, a 41-second first-round knockout during UFC Fight Night to last-minute replacement Justin Jaynes in June 2020, will take on Brok “Chata Tuska” Weaver.

The lightweight bout is scheduled for Sept. 13 at the Apex Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The ol' switcheroo

Two days before the Jaynes fight, Matt Frevola, Camacho’s scheduled opponent, tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was scratched from the fight card.

Camacho, facing a new opponent, a Covid-19-fueled empty arena and a safety-inspired, socially distanced eeriness leading up to the brawl, didn’t adjust to the circumstances and vows not to let that happen again.

“I was getting ready for Matt Frevola who is a wrestler/lefty, and then you get all of the emotions of testing positive for Covid,” Camacho said.

“‘Is he OK? Do I have a fight?'” Camacho recalled asking himself. 

“If anything, I was just so stoked and so happy that we were able to get a fight, you know?” Camacho said. “Justin Jaynes took the fight on two days notice, and he came out guns blazing, kind of just like what we expected.

"It was a tough loss, to be honest. It was a great learning experience," Camacho said.

Camacho, back in the days when he was busy making a name for himself in Trench Wars and Pacific Xtreme Combat, Guam’s now-dormant MMA promotion, was able to draw from the crowd’s energy, switch modes, and pull off even the most improbable victories.

Against Jaynes, it wasn’t business as usual and Camacho succumbed to the environment long before the cage door slammed closed.

“Really, looking back at everything, back to the environment, it was just an environment that I was not used to, nor was I expecting, like fight-week-wise,” Camacho said. “Fight-week was just very different. Training camp was just very different. We had to train in a little bubble with a small group of guys. The energy levels were different. … Everything was just do different. And, I think, if anything, I didn’t adapt to it being different like that.”

There are so many should-haves, there are so many would-haves, so many could-haves, he added.

“Man, it’s the fight game,” Camacho said. “It’s really a fight of millimeters and milliseconds. He level-changed, I dropped my hands, and I got cracked, and that’s all she wrote.”

Fighting through the funk

 While Camacho still described the environment as “eerie” and “funky,” he knows what to expect against Weaver. 

"I at least know what to expect," he said, sharing that taking center stage in a fanless arena feels more like a “glorified sparring match.”

“It’s kind of funky, but it is what it is,” he said.

Camacho, growing up in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, always envisioned himself becoming a great fighter with thousands of fans celebrating and cheering as his fists and feet caught an unsuspecting opponent clear on the jaw.

“I always dreamed of 15,000, 10,000 people in the arena just yelling and screaming," he said. “I love that energy.”

Against Jaynes, the only sounds he heard were from his opponent, the corners, the camera operators and the announcers.

“It’s so clear,” Camacho said.

"While the fight is going on, you can hear people’s conversations," he added.

“They don’t even have to be yelling,” he said. “It’s even to the point where the cameras are picking up the fighters’ breathing, just the inhale and the exhale, you’re just like, ‘whoa!’

“When you’re actually there, you can hear what the cameramen are saying. You can hear what the commentators are saying. There was an instance where the commentators were saying things that the fighters should (have) been doing, and then the fighter was doing it.”

After the fight, in the postfight interview, Camacho recalled when a winner said, “‘Thank you, Daniel Cormier, for saying that and I heard you, and I did it, and it helped me win the fight.’”

Camacho, with two straight losses, and in the last fight of his current contract, feels a sense of urgency.

“I would be lying if I said that there was no pressure,” said Camacho, adding that his training camp has centered around focus.

"I can focus on what I can control. I can’t control Covid. I can’t control him, or his corner, or my corner, or if I ever get Covid," he said.

"At the end of the day, I can’t control the outcome of the fight, but I can control how I can show up, how I train, and being focused at the task at hand. I will be blocking everything out, and all of the stuff that would usually worry me," he added.

"I’m only human, but I will be focusing on what I can control. I will show up on Fight Night at my best and let my hands fly," he added.

It's 'Crank' time

Missing his wife and two kids, and with fewer sponsorship opportunities due to the precarious, Covid-inspired economic downturn, and without the usual fanfare that normally leads up to a professional fight, Camacho has studied his opponent's past fights and is handling the situation like a champ.

“The more that I did research on his culture and his tribe, the more respect I have for him and his warrior culture, and the more I owe him a harder, and bigger, and grittier fight,” said Camacho, referring to Weaver’s Choctaw Indian heritage.

If there’s anything that I do have over him, on paper, it’s experience. I’ve just got to bring all of that to the table, he said.

“You’re going to see ‘The Crank,’ baby!” Camacho said, adding, “that’s all I’ve got, and that’s all I know.”

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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