For The Madera Tribune
Maderan Joel Lopez gets his arm raised in winning a decision over Phillip Hattersley after a June 9 MMA fight to earn him a top amateur ranking.
For many, a New Year’s resolution can often be a challenging endeavor. Too often goals and hopes for the upcoming year go to the wayside over time, but for some, that goal burns like a torch and only when it has been accomplished will they be satisfied.
For Madera resident Joel Lopez, who is now ranked as the top amateur fighter in California, a simple New Year’s resolution turned out to be a career-altering move.
“My resolution was to fight for a belt and become the top ranked fighter in California before the summer ended and I actually accomplished that right before it began,” Lopez said. “I set my focus to achieving it and I’m happy and ready for what’s next.”
Lopez defeated Phillip Hattersley on June 9 at the Visalia Convention Center for the title.
The championship fight started way before stepping into the ring for Lopez. Intensive, specific training aimed at beating his opponent paid off as he won the fight.
“I knew my opponent was a wrestler, so I brought some high caliber wrestlers to help me out,” Lopez said. “Mostly defense and I pretty much wanted to defend the takedowns. I was picking him apart in the middle of the cage and it went to a decision, which I came out on top.”
For Lopez, his dedication and work ethic before fights gives him a sense of confidence. Even though he expected to finish the fight before the final decision, the win is most important.
Both fighters came into the fight both ranked in the top five in the state. Now that Lopez has the distinction of top amateur fighter in the state, he now sets his focus to a new challenge.
“After this, I’m going to go pro,” he said confidently. “The next step is finding management to help me look for pro fights. For me, I just have to take it to the next level.”