Isaac Vallie-Flagg On Making UFC Debut vs. Yves Edwards: “I Got One Of The Tougher Dudes I Can Think Of”
By Kelsey Mowatt
With the Strikeforce era now officially over, many fans will begin turning their attention to how the latest veterans that have secured positions in the UFC perform in their Octagon debuts. One of the more recent additions to the ZUFFA owned property is lightweight Isaac Vallie-Flagg, who like many of his counterparts, will not face a fellow UFC newcomer, but an established vet in Yves Edwards.
“I think it’s very cool, especially if you base it on who I just beat in Strikeforce,” Vallie-Flagg told Full Contact Fighter recently, while discussing the fact he will battle the 60 fight plus vet Edwards next, after defeating another well traveled fighter in“JZ” Cavalcante. “I beat another legitimate contender who was ranked pretty high up in the world a few years ago, so to be brought over and fight a guy like Yves I wasn’t surprised.”
“I was thinking that I would get a tough guy right off the bat,” Vallie-Flagg furthered. “I got one of the tougher dudes I can think of and someone who I’m a real fan of.”
Although Vallie-Flagg hasn’t fought since May, 2012, due to Strikeforce’s reduced schedule, the 34 year-old likely grabbed the UFC’s attention by defeating Cavalcante and extending his undefeated record to 11.
“I think it was extremely important,” said Vallie-Flagg about the split decision win over Cavalcante. “I think the fight against JZ did a lot for my career and started to get me looked at not only now, but it was getting me talked about for title shots in Strikeforce and stuff too, so it was by far the biggest win of my career.”
Of course, the spotlight that came Vallie-Flagg’s way because of the victory came courtesy of Strikeforce, and provided the Jackson’s MMA fighter a path to his new home in the UFC.
“I’m excited to be in the UFC for sure, and ultimately that’s where I wanted to be and I think I started to say that a while ago, but it was a cool experience for me,” said Vallie-Flagg, while reflecting on his time with the now defunct promotion. “Seems like everyone is saying negative stuff about it and I understand why some people would, but as a fan, there was some really good fights in Strikeforce. I don’t understand why people would talk negative about it.”
“As far as being sad, I don’t think I’m sad, I think mostly it afforded me the opportunity to get in the UFC,” the lightweight added. “It really launched me out to where people started to know my name a little bit.”
Now, Vallie-Flagg will focus all of his energy on Edwards, who the New Mexico fighter will meet on February 2nd at UFC 156 in Las Vegas.
“I stay in shape for fights; I love training and I was also starting to help Clay Guida and Cub Swanson get ready for their fights, so I was in the gym and was in shape,” noted Vallie-Flagg, whose bout with Edwards was only announced recently. “So when the opportunity arose it wasn’t like ‘oh sh–, here we go,’ it was kind of more, I was already expecting something.”
Although Edwards was also sidelined throughout much of 2012, due to injuries and a fight postponement, the feared striker closed out the year in memorable fashion by knocking out Jeremy Stephens on December 8th.
“He still has my favorite knockout of all time against Josh Thomson,” Vallie-Flagg said while crediting his next opponent. “I’m trying not to make too big a deal of it, because it’s just another fight, but I know it’s a big opportunity.”
“All around Yves is good,” Vallie-Flagg furthered. “The cool thing is that we’ve had a few guys at Jackson’s that have fought Yves and bring some knowledge to the table in terms of what to do and what not to do…A lot of dudes have seen Yves which is kind of an advantage for me; I know he changes every fight, but it’s still, kind of makes it where we know Yves’s tendencies both standing and on the ground.”