Victory Saravia is on a run. With three exciting wins in the early stages of his pro career he’s well on his way. I got to take some time to talk to the fighter of Muay Thai America Gym out of North Hollywood before his bout on Lion Fight 23.
How did you get started doing Muay Thai?
When I was in high school I fought in the streets for money. I knew a guy that was doing Brazilian jiu jitsu and he said I should visit his gym, which had jiu jitsu and Muay Thai. He said to stop what I was doing because it was dangerous.
So I went. I first tried out jiu jitsu. It was cool and everything but I stayed a little while and saw the Muay Thai. I fell in love with Muay Thai and not jiu jitsu. I tried the class and loved it. They were charging just $8 a month because it was a weight lifting gym with a small little room to train Muay Thai. I started fighting with my trainer John then he brought me over to MTAG and that’s when my career started.
How did you get into fighting in the streets for money?
I wanted to make my own money. I just wanted to make it more fun. The only it was gonna work was if I fought the taller guys because I’m short the taller guys would want to fight me. “This guy is small so I’ll fight him.” We’d fight for $10 to $20. We’d wear MMA gloves and fight in parks and sometimes people’s backyards. I had a group of friends that were into it and that’s how I was introduced to it.
I was pretty good at it so it was fun. I’m sure if I had gotten my ass kicked I probably wouldn’t have done it so much.
I’ve been here at MTAG for 2 and a half years, almost three. I was 11-3 as an amateur.
What was your amateur career like?
I feel I was pretty fortunate as I know a lot of amateurs wouldn’t get money. When I was fighting top level guys as an amateur I was getting money on the low for my fights.
I didn’t like the scoring on it though. I’ve changed my training and how I do things now that I’m professional.
How do you feel the scoring was different?
The scoring was the same. What I took away as an amateur though was that you couldn’t leave it to the judges. They would always pick the favorite or the hometown guy. That’s what I’ve taken from my amateur career. The sparring from amateur to pro is the same.
What keeps you motivated?
I came from a rough neighborhood. I moved here to North Hollywood six or seven years ago. Every amateur fight I had my grandma would call me, “I hope everything goes okay and that you win.” I promised her that I would become a champion. After my first pro fight she passed away. I want to keep that promise to her.
Seeing how hard my mom works also keeps me motivated. I promised her that I would be a champion. I would become something great in the sport.
My mom is a housekeeper and she came here from Guatemala at the age of 16. She’s a single mother for three kids. I’m in the middle. I have an older sister and a younger brother. We all fight. My oldest sister is a cosmetician while my youngest brother is in community college. My youngest brother fought for a title and won recently.
What do you think about when you fight?
I think about the promises that I made to my grandma and I think about what my mom goes through every day. I don’t think about anything crazy. I try to stay as calm as possible. I just think about the things they go through and I want to make them proud and make a future for myself.
When I actually fight I feel like I’m playing checkers. When they make a mistake I counter right away. I try to stay as calm as possible and to see the mistakes my opponent is making. As soon as I get mad I can’t see as clearly and that’s when my opponent starts to successfully attack me.
Do you feel like that ability has gotten better?
I feel like my ring intelligence is getting better. Doing a lot of sparring helps. It’s something that I just see. I feel like you should always have a plan B. Always be confident about your plan A but always have a plan B as you never know how things are gonna go. I always try to adapt to whatever they have. After the first round if things are going as planned then I stick to my plan A but if I see that my opponent is doing something different than what I thought they would do I try to adapt as I could.
How did that factor into your bout with Sam Poulton?
I didn’t expect him to come forward right away. We knew he would come forward no matter what but I didn’t expect him to do it in the first and second round as we thought he would gas out but he didn’t look like he was gonna gas out.
It makes me feel good that I had that sort of challenge early on in my career. I know the different things I have to deal with in fighting. Anthony Castrejon he uses a lot of angles and now if I fight someone who uses angles I know how to fight them. Andy Singh was a very technical fighter and now I can adapt to that. Sam Poulton was a very aggressive fighter and I adapted to that. I’m happy that I’ve had these experiences early on in my career.
What did you do to adapt to Castrejon’s angles?
I cut the ring. I tried not to follow him and attempted to prevent him from moving a lot.
There was a moment when you and Sam Poulton went back and forth with spinning back elbows in your bout. What were you thinking at that point?
I was trying to showboat a little. We didn’t really practice spinning elbows but it worked.
What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses?
I have strong hands. Every fighter has a weakness. That’s why you can never stop learning in the fight game. That’s why I am happy that I’ve had multiple experiences in my career. A lot of people get too confident and say “I’m the best ever.” Everyone is a human being though. I’m sure there are mistakes that I’ve made that I don’t know.
What’s your training regiment like?
I come into the gym around 10am and hit pads, do strength and conditioning and then go home to take a nap. I return around 1-2 and run about 506 miles and do more pad work.
When I’m not fighting I come in a little more occasionally. Sometimes once a day, sometimes twice but I’m always running, always staying shape. I don’t want to overeat or stop working out. This is my career so I need to be in shape all the time and need to be ready if something happens.
You fight at 122lbs. What weight do you walk around at?
Normally I walk around at 150lbs. Right now I am 146lbs but am trying to stay down around 136lbs. I naturally go up to about 150 but am trying to stay down at 135lbs.
What do you do to cut weight?
I try to eat as clean as possible. I eat 6 times a day. My last fight against Sam Poulton I went vegan which helped a lot.
Are there any opponents you are looking forward to fight?
I am ready to fight anyone. I want to fight the best so I can challenge myself.
What’s your plans for your career?
I want to go down in history. I want to fight as long as it takes.
A few of your first fights were knockouts – Andy Singh and
Anthony Casterjon. What were you thinking about with those bouts?
I knew that I was gonna be able to do it. Since the day I was told that I would be fighting Andy and Anthony I kept saying to myself “You’re gonna knock them out. You have the power.” I kept repeating that over and over. It happened because I believed it.
Did you think the same thing with Sam Poulton?
I sort of thought I would knock him out but he was a really tough guy.
How would you describe the Muay Thai scene here in so-cal?
I’d never heard of Muay Thai before I started fighting but now it seems like it’s getting bigger. People are really nice and polite.
Would you ever transition into another combat sport?
Maybe later on in the future but right now my focus is on making history.
*Thanks to Jack Ratana for the photos!
Want more Saravia? Check out Striking Corner’s podcast with the fighter.