When it comes to Strikeforce’s lightweight division, current champion Gilbert Melendez and perennial contender Josh Thomson are sort of like the Batman and Robin of the organization. Melendez might not drive fast cars and own a multi-million dollar company and Thomson probably doesn’t swing from trapeze in his underwear (although I have heard rumors) but the two have certainly become synonymous with the 155-lb weight class for the organization.
Recently, Melendez and Thomson completed an epic trilogy with the Cesar Gracie-trained Melendez successfully defending his strap once again. The bout and the three fight series itself was nothing short of classic but on the very same card another lightweight star continued his ascension.
Isaac Vallie-Flagg, a fighter and instructor out of Greg Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, NM, defeated formerly top ranked Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante via split decision. After a slow start in the first round, Vallie-Flagg turned up the heat and clearly won the final two rounds against a fading Cavalcante.
Ultimately, many feel the decision over Cavalcante should have been unanimous.
“I wish it would have been a unanimous decision as well and I felt that it should have been but I was extremely happy that I won that fight,” Vallie-Flagg said in an exclusive interview with Fightline.
“’JZ’ was a huge step up for me and at one point in time he was ranked in the top of the division so just to beat a guy like that was an incredible feeling.”
The win extends Vallie-Flagg’s winning streak to ten consecutive victories and sets him up for a bigger fight in his next trip to the Strikeforce cage. The MMA community is certainly starting to take notice of this lightweight on the rise but most fans are probably still asking who he is.
So who exactly is Isaac Vallie-Flagg? The short answer; he’s a bad-ass bruiser originally from Michigan that, when away from the gym, spends most of his free time watching cartoons or chilling with his chain gang and he also has a slight fear of motorcycles.
“My hobbies are pretty boring, I like to sit in front of the TV and watch Family Guy or hang out with my buddies,” Vallie-Flagg said.
“I’m too scared of motorcycles to try anything of that stuff so when it comes to things like that I’m kind of a boring dude because I’d rather sit in bed and watch cartoons.”
You’ll learn more about him very soon though because he’s only getting better with each fight. Vallie-Flagg trains on a daily basis with the real-life “Avengers” known as Team Jackson-Winkeljohn and enters each fight with a masterful gameplan.
He wasn’t surprised that Cavalcante started to lose steam in the later rounds because it was all part of his strategy.
“That was the gameplan we knew that we were going to get ‘JZ’ tired in those later rounds and I would get stronger so I wasn’t surprised [that he started to fade]. That was the plan all along and it played out exactly how we wanted it to.”
Vallie-Flagg is also one of the main instructors at the new Jackson’s Martial Arts and Fitness Academy in Albuquerque alongside the likes of John Dodson, Buddy Roberts, Michele Waterson, Julie Kedzie and other top level athletes.
“Biggest thing that I’ve taken from teaching is that it’s really good to be confident in my skill set. When I first started teaching [at Jackson’s MMA] I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence but the more I started teaching the more I became confident going into fights that I have a good set of tools to use from training.”
“That’s another thing [that I love about Jackson’s MMA] is that it’s cool for the students. Not just me but we’ve got guys like John Dodson, Buddy Roberts and a lot of high caliber guys teaching you guys and I think that’s a really cool thing about Jackson’s, it’s a cool experience.
The future is undeniably bright for Vallie-Flagg and whether he is matched up with a top level opponent like Thomson, a rising prospect like Caros Fodor or the cast of Glee, one thing is certain and that is you are guaranteed to see an entertaining bout.
“When it comes to fighting, I just want to be remembered as being an exciting fighter. I’m a firm believer that the way we carry ourselves in life is what we should be remembered by not just because we can fight or whatever so at the end of the day the fighting stuff doesn’t really matter and hopefully people will remember me for being a good dude and that I treated people well.”