Driven to Succeed: Joe Soto

Jun 3, 2009
(PRESS RELEASE) -- Joe “the Hammer” Soto is driven to succeed. The 145-lb California native has already displayed his ferocious competitive attitude to MMA fans in the past few weeks with stunning victories within the Bellator Featherweight World Championship tournament. The young striker, aptly nicknamed “the Hammer,” has already won over MMA fans in Florida, Texas and the rest of the world with two hard fought victories over international competitors Ben Greer and top ten world ranked Featherweight Wilson Reis. With just one more match remaining in the first-ever Bellator Featherweight tournament, Soto will turn his focus to defeating Tijuana, Mexico native Yahir Reyes. Soto will compete against Reyes to capture the $100,000 Champions purse and the first Bellator Featherweight World Championship title at the Citizens Business Bank Arena on June 5 in Ontario, California.

“Joe is a tremendously talented fighter who was given a chance early in his career and has taken complete advantage of it. Joe’s exactly the type of fighter I was looking for when I started recruiting fighters for the first tournament”, said Bjorn Rebney, CEO Bellator Fighting Championships.

Reyes will put Soto’s dream of staying undefeated and capturing a championship title to the ultimate test. Reyes is a very talented submission artist who has proven he can unleash bursts of power at any moment - as seen with his “knockout of the year” nominated backfist against Estevan Payan at Bellator VI.

“I thought it was a pretty cool knockout,“ said Soto, “but I don’t think it’s one of those moves you can always hit, it’s not a high percentage move. “

Unshaken by his rival’s recent display of power, Soto is confident that his recent tournament experience has proven just as valuable, if not more, as he heads into the final bout. In his most recent win, Soto upset the favored Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu star Wilson Reis in a three round dog fight that ended with a unanimous decision in Soto’s favor. The semi-final win landed Soto an additional $50,000 and a shot at the first ever Bellator Featherweight title.

“I thought I did pretty good, stamina wise, I felt pretty good. I didn’t really trip on it, I thought it was a good experience for me to go all three rounds,” said Soto.

With the Bellator Featherweight World Championship title match just days away, Soto is stepping up his training and harnessing his focus for what will no doubt be the most difficult fight of his young career at Bellator X on June 5 in Ontario, California. The Featherweight Championship matchup will be broadcast exclusively in primetime on ESPN Deportes Saturday June 6.

“I’m getting better with each fight. I think I’m going to improve so much more, I’m excited about the future,” said Soto.

What the Bellator Featherweight Title means to Joe Soto

With Bellator X right around the corner, Featherweight title hopeful Joe “the Hammer” Soto is determined to win. As the youngest title contender of the Bellator tournament finalists, Soto has taken the time to pause and reflect on the opportunity that lies ahead of him on June 5 in Ontario, California. The 22-year-old striker has hurdled onto the mainstream of MMA fighting with two uncanny tournament victories in the last two months. Now with just one more win to go, he has the chance to claim the first ever Bellator Featherweight World Championship title and the $100,000 purse in his home state of California.

“A Bellator title would mean a lot to me, I think winning a Bellator championship would get my name out in the open and get everybody to notice me,” said Soto.

This is an understatement - the former All-American wrestler has been nothing short of stunning with his budding pro career. Sporting an unblemished record of six wins and zero losses, Soto hadn’t needed a fight to go to the second round until he faced heavily favored, top ten world rated Jiu-Jitsu ace Wilson Reis in a Featherweight Semi-final bout at Bellator VI. Soto was able to outlast the powerful Brazilian through three 5 minute rounds and picked up a 30-27 unanimous decision win to advance to the finals.

“Joe’s a perfect example of what I was looking for when I created Bellator”, said Bjorn Rebney, Bellator CEO/Founder. “ I was looking for world class fighters who were just on the brink of stardom but who hadn’t been given the opportunity to really shine on the world stage”

Soto’s opponent for the Featherweight title is the dangerous Yahir Reyes. The Tijuana-native is prone to grappling but displayed his versatility when he unleashed the YouTube sensation spinning backfist for a KO against Semi-final opponent Estevan Payan.

“It was just one of those things where everything had to go right and it was good for him,” said Soto of Reyes’ spinning backfist KO. Soto will meet Reyes on June 5th for the Featherweight World Championship title bout at Bellator X in Ontario, California. The winner will receive $100,000 and will hold the first ever Bellator Featherweight title. The championship match will broadcast in primetime on ESPN Deportes Saturday June 6.

“Coming where I’m from, not too many people do big things, I wanna be somebody big. I think a lot of the kids around my neighborhood look up to me. I just want to be a positive role model for them and accomplish big things so they can have someone to look up to,” said Soto.
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