Far From Average: An Inside Look at Greg Soto

Soto is 7-0 in his pro MMA career.

Belmar Fighter Greg Soto Prepares for UFC Debut at Prudential Center

By John Archibald, Resolution Sports

It takes a unique breed of an athlete to have the guts to step into a cage with someone whose only intentions are to consistently inflict pain on you. Not only does it require powering strength in terms of physicality, but it also demands a mental intensity that the average human being just simply does not possess.

“I’ve always been somewhat of a loner,” said Mixed Martial Artist Greg Soto, who will make his debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) this Saturday at UFC 111. “I enjoyed the physical nature of football, but I never really got into any other team sports.”

One sport that Soto got into at a young age and quickly began to dominate was wrestling, becoming a district champion and region finalist while attending Ocean High School in New Jersey. While he had the opportunity to continue his wrestling career in college, Soto opted to attend Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey, to get a degree in Criminal Justice. The lifestyle of a college wrestler was not one that appealed to him, and it was around then that Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) struck a cord with the young athlete.

“What I love about MMA is that you train as a team, but when it comes down to it – it’s just you and another guy,” Soto commented. “If you win, you get all the glory. If you lose, it’s on you.”

Not that Soto would know anything about losing. The New Jersey native is currently undefeated with a 7-0 professional record, and he is looking to keep his perfect record intact when he faces former Ultimate Fighter star Matt Riddle (3-1) this Saturday at the state-of-the-art Prudential Center in Newark.

“I feel like I’ve been getting ready for this my entire life,” Soto remarked. “To be at this point at 23 years old is like a dream come true, and I’m going to make the most of it.”

Not only does Soto look to make the most out of the opportunity at hand, he also views fighting in New Jersey as something he can use to his advantage.

“Being home in New Jersey takes away from a lot of the distractions,” he said. “I don’t have to spend the whole week in a state I don’t know, and that allows me to focus solely on preparing for the fight. I feel very comfortable and can honestly say I’m not really nervous right now. Being in New Jersey will allow me to go out there on Saturday night and perform my best.”

Training under UFC lightweight contender Kurt Pellegrino at his MMA School in Belmar, New Jersey, Soto has earned his brown belt in Brazilian Jujitsu and credits Pellegrino in helping him adjust from wrestling to MMA.

“Being a wrestler himself, Kurt showed me the major pitfalls that wrestlers experience when learning Jujitsu,” Soto reflected. “He pointed out to me some of the obstacles he had when learning Jujitsu, and that helped me make a pretty smooth transition.”

Soto’s opponent on Saturday is another fighter that made a similar conversion, with the platform of Riddle also originating in wrestling.

“I’ve watched a lot of tape on Matt Riddle, and he is a guy that follows the pace of the fight,” Soto said of his opposition. “Therefore, I’m going to do my best to control the pace. When he wants to stand, I’m going to look to take him down. If he tries to take me down, I’m going to sprawl and brawl. I’m looking to take him out of his game plan a little bit.”

While Soto may be looking forward to the atmosphere of a sold out Prudential Center on Saturday, he is quick to note that he is focused completely on the task at hand.

“I’ll totally ignore the crowd until after the fight because I have to take care of my business,” he confirmed. “It’s just me and my opponent in the ring, and I want all of my hard work and preparation to pay off. The only way it will pay off is if my hand is raised at the end of the 15 minutes.”

There’s a famous quote from the movie Fight Club that says “the average man will do anything avoid a fight.” The fact of the matter is most people look to avert the confrontation. It takes an even more unique breed to not only look for a fight, but also make a professional career of it. In the case of Soto - who is undefeated so far in his pro fight career - well, he's at an even higher level.

Far from average, if you will.

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