Arizona Open: Daniel Madrid wins brown belt absolute open

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Daniel Madrid came to the 6th Arizona International Open looking for gold, and he got his wish in the absolute, but only after inflicting some revenge on his opponents for beating him in his weight class.

Madrid shares a non-competitive moment with his rival of the day, Benson Henderson. Photo: Deb Blyth

This medium heavyweight brown belt from Grace Fighting Systems started his day with two matches in his weight class. Because there were only three guys in his weight class, he had another fight after his first loss. “I ended up taking third place,” he says, “In my first match, I lost to Ben Henderson who beat me with a cross choke and ezequiel (forearm choke), and then in my second match, Phillip Aguilar beat me on points.”

The three met up again in the absolute, and the results were completely opposite. “I beat the two guys who beat me in my division,” he says, “In my first match, I beat Phillip Aguilar with a guillotine choke, and in my second match, I beat Ben Henderson by points, 6-4.”

“My final was a good match,” he says, “It was a really steady pace. We were guessing about what each of us was doing. Ben was doing a lot of ankle picks, so I had to square up my defense. It caused me to be slower.”

Madrid says Henderson had him in his guard at the end, but Madrid was able to roll and mount him to get to a score of 6-2. “I had a cross choke on him but couldn’t finish because of his wonderful locks of hair,” he laughs, “I didn’t want to pull it.”

From there, Henderson swept Madrid and got two points, closing the gap between them. “We got up to our feet,” he says, “He tried to push me back down. It was a scramble. He tried to get knee on belly to get the 3 points, but I was able to hold him off for the remaining five seconds.”

Madrid, who only received his brown belt a couple of months ago from his professor, Israel Juarez, says he competes a lot, and that this is not the first time he’s fought Henderson. “I lost to him in the open before,” he says, “Ben is an awesome fighter. One of the best people I’ve ever competed against. He’s in your face all the time. If you’re unprepared for him, just stay home.”

Like Henderson, Madrid also fights MMA as a professional and his record currently stands at 9-2. “My MMA career is my first priority,” he says, “I’m trying to make it my career. I’m trying to make my way to the UFC. I did ‘Art of War’ in China and fought Daijiro Matsui. I finished him with an inverted reverse triangle choke.”

Daniel and Friends / Photo: John Cooper

Madrid trains in both gi and no gi. “I believe if you train gi, it makes your no gi game so much better,” he says, “I want to become a Jiu-Jitsu black belt.” Although MMA is his priority, Madrid says he loves Jiu-Jitsu and that it’s changed his life. “It kept me from a path I didn’t want to go down,” he says, “It’s kept positivity in my life.”

Along with training and competing in Jiu-Jitsu, Madrid also instructs on the mats. “Jiu-Jitsu has allowed me to understand how to teach the gentle art as well as continue to better my own technique as well. I like to teach. It’s challenging and rewarding at the same time.”

As for the 6th Arizona International Open, Madrid says the tournament is a really great way for him to get some high-level competition experience. “This tournament is really good,” he says, “The structure gets better and better each year. I’m proud and honored to say I can be a part of this. Thank you to Gustavo Dantas for putting it on and letting us compete at the highest level.”

You can follow Madrid on Facebook and twitter to keep up with his MMA fights and Jiu-Jitsu tournaments.

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