Online research will show that Steve Magdaleno’s mixed martial arts career started back in 2006. But more accurately, it started 16 years ago when the Southern Californian’s older brother brought home UFC 2 from the video store.
Watching Royce Gracie dominate much larger competition sparked an ever-lasting interest for the then-15-year-old, and there began a career path and passion for MMA. At the time, the sport wasn’t as accepted as it is now. But luckily for Magdaleno, his mom and dad were completely supportive.
“They were fine,” Magdaleno told GracieMag.com, referencing his family’s opinion of the controversial sport. “They saw Royce beating up people and my dad was excited about it.”
A trip to the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu location thereafter sealed the deal. Fast-forward to now, and the fighter prepares to feature in a co-main event for the BAMMA USA promotion, a regional MMA league based in the Greater Los Angeles area.
With a win over Chris Culley at “BAMMA USA: Badbeat 8” on Friday, March 15, Magdaleno can collect his fourth consecutive victory. If he gets by Culley with a submission or knockout, it will also be his fourth straight finish.
Performances and streaks like these bring attention to a fighter in Magdaleno’s position. The attention not only comes from local spectators, but it also has the capability of catching the eyes of larger promotions like Bellator and the UFC.
For Magdaleno, it’s a teenager’s dream to make it to the UFC ranks — a place he briefly experienced as a cast member on the 12th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
“I really would like to make it back to the UFC,” the former TUF contestant said. “I’ve been following it for a long, long time. This has always been my dream since I was 15.”
And for the last few years, the Jiu-Jitsu black belt has been working on the path to the larger promotions with his training partners at PKG Training Center. The facility, which recently relocated from Culver City, Calif. up the road to Westwood, expanded with its recent move and provided a better training environment, according to Magdaleno.
Training in the new gym with the likes of UFC lightweight Mac Danzig, WEC veteran Chad Goerge and others provide Magdaleno with everything he’s needed to build his current win streak.
“I attribute it mostly to my training partners, first and foremost,” he said, talking about what he owes his last three wins to. “Chad helped me a lot, especially for my first knockout. I was training with him every week, pretty much striking and beating each other over the head for that fight.
“[My team] has helped me a lot.”
The team at PKG keeps Magdaleno active, much like his father did when he was a adolescent in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance. He said growing up in a family with a Spanish background brewed a culture where the men in the family did things like get together for a Julio Cesar Chavez boxing match on Pay-Per-View.
Now, instead of Chavez in the ring, Magdaleno takes his turn in the combat world. He’s no longer the one siting in front of the TV — he’s a part of it now.
“I’m going against guys with winning records, not tomato cans,” he said. “Being featured in the co-main event for [BAMMA USA] is a great platform to show my skills.”