UFC 156 Winner Isaac Vallie-Flagg: “I Definitely Had Something to Prove Fighting Yves Edwards. Nobody Gave Me A Chance”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Of all the former Strikeforce competitors who were tapped to represent the now defunct promotion in their Octagon debuts, Isaac Vallie-Flagg had to do so against not only one of the UFC’s more experienced fighters, but in the entire sport. Despite the fact he’s fought more than 40 times less than Yves Edwards, Vallie-Flagg managed to work his way to a split decision win over the renowned veteran Saturday.
“I definitely had something to prove fighting Yves,” Vallie-Flagg told Full Contact Fighter. “Nobody gave me a chance. From the betting people to the media, or whatever, I’ve seen some stuff before the fight, so this really motivated me to go out there and win a fight against a guy like that.”
Although Vallie-Flagg was coming off a split decision win over another established vet in Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante last May, as the Jackson’s MMA fighter noted, few observers were picking the 34 year-old to defeat Edwards.
“I went into this one saying that I respected Yves, and I still respect Yves; he’s still a guy that I look up to in the sport. The dude’s fought everybody in the sport and he knocks tough people out, he beats tough people,” noted Vallie-Flagg (14-3-1), who has won five straight fights and is undefeated in his last ten. “So, even to edge out a win against a guy like that is huge for me you know?”
As Vallie-Flagg mentioned, the bout was extremely competitive, and who would be named the winner certainly wasn’t a given as the fighters waited to hear the judge’s decision.
“I felt pretty confident,” said Vallie-Flagg. “I felt like I did enough to edge Yves in the first round with my work pace and pushing forward. Obviously he won the second round, and then the third round, I feel like the third round I definitely won. It was a very close fight, obviously, but I felt like I did enough to win.”
Aside from being taken down in round two, and having to deal with Edward’s top game, Vallie-Flagg moved forward and pressured his 36 year-old opponent throughout much of the fight.
“If you heard Mike Winkeljohn in my corner, and Greg (Jackson), they said nothing but forward movement the whole time,” the New Mexico fighter said. “That’s what I was trying to do.”
“The one thing I wasn’t happy with is I got sick a little bit before hand, so I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in my cardio for this one, so I couldn’t push forward as much as I would have liked to” added Vallie-Flagg, who revealed that he has been battling a respiratory infection as of late. “That being said, I’m happy with the pace that I set.”
In addition, the lightweight reports that he was also able to emerge from his battle with the feared striker relatively unscathed.
“He kicked me to the body one time that hurt me pretty good and I rushed him to the cage,” said Vallie-Flagg. “That was the only time when I really felt like in danger…it was the one where he kicks me to the body and I tried to snatch it, and push him to the cage. That was pure reaction. I was scared that he was going to finish me if he got another shot in.”
Having earned a win over one of the lightweight division’s biggest and most experienced names, one would think that Vallie-Flagg will be facing another notable fighter next.
“I would think so,” Vallie-Flagg said. “That’s cool. Right when I found out I was fighting Yves and in the UFC, I said that I was going to be fighting guys that I respect in the sport and that I look up to. That’s fine with me.”
You can hear the full interview with Vallie-Flagg on this week’s edition of Full Contact Fighter Radio, which will go up Wednesday.