‘Young pup’ Molina earning MMA bones
Daniel Molina was just a young pup when he first got into mixed martial arts at 16. Seven years later at 23, he could be considered a grizzled veteran. But really he’s still a young pup.
The 2003 Douglas High graduate is still considered young for the sport, but also has plenty of experience – and has definitely made his mark. Molina is coming off of the International Fight League season in which he competed for the Reno Lions coached by Ken Shamrock, one of the legends in the sport.
The Lions went 2-1, but lost out on the tiebreaker by one point to be among the four teams to advance to the playoffs. Against some of the world’s toughest competition, Molina went 1-2 in his three matches at 185 pounds. Molina has a 9-7 career record.
“The IFC is probably the best thing I’ve ever done,” said Molina while training on Monday at The Stadium in Reno. “They’re the toughest guys I’ve ever fought.”
After the completion of the IFC season, Molina may have turned the corner in his career this summer when he beat highly regarded Chilo Rodriguez by technical knockout in the third round.
Molina called Rodriguez “a really big name guy. That was my turning point in my career that fight.”
There’s the potential of a fight in late September for Molina. But Molina also has to keep training to keep his spot on the Lions as he’s already looking ahead to next year’s tryouts.
“All I do is keep practicing to make sure I get better, to secure my position, to keep ahead of the competition,” Molina said.
All the while, Molina has been going to school off and on and hopes to earn a criminal justice degee.
When Molina was 16, he had just completed the wrestling season at Douglas and there was a tryout with Shamrock in San Diego. Molina had been watching the Ultimate Fighting Championships since he was in the third grade, so he decided to give it a shot along with 15 other fighters who were trying out.
“I thought I was in good shape for the tryouts,” said Molina, having just completed his wrestling season.
Molina admitted he lied about his weight, saying he was 190 when he actually weighed only 170. He also had to go through Shamrock’s brutal and famous – or infamous depending on how you look at it – training regimen.
First there was a four-mile run, then going up what Molina described as a “gigantic hill” doing “everything that you can imagine.” Then comes the fighting which Molina referred to as “no holds barred in the gym.” Then there was more training which included 500 squats and 300 pushups.
“I just threw up everywhere,” Molina said. But Molina most remembers the reaction of the other fighters. “They didn’t even flinch,” he said.
He said he thought to himself, “I’m not sure I want to be here with them.” “They definitely test your heart,” Molina also said about Shamrock’s training techniques.
Molina talked about his admiration for the 43-year-old Shamrock, saying it’s because of Shamrock that he’s gotten as far in his career as he has. While Molina said he’d like to be a world champion some day, he trusts Shamrock with the management of his career.
“Wherever the wind blows,” said Molina when talking about the future of his career. “I’m (still) kind of young for the sport. I want to make a career out of it.”
“He’s still handing my butt in the gym,” Molina also said about Shamrock. “He’s just a phenomenal athlete. Age is not a factor with him. He’s been a great friend and coach. He has shown real faith in me. A lot of the guys feel that way.”
Mixed martial arts, or ultimate fighting as it’s also known, such as the IFL, can be best described as a combination of boxing, wrestling and martial arts. Molina is obviously helped by his wrestling background and he also began taking martial arts lessons when he was 31Ú2.
Ultimate fighting is also still a misunderstood sport that in most cases is strictly regulated. “It’s safer than boxing,” Molina said. “Once you’re knocked down that’s it.”