FORT WAYNE – Anton Talamantes runs a gym that teaches a smorgasbord of combat disciplines, has a more than nodding acquaintance with boxing, kickboxing and No-Gi jiu jitsu, and just signed a deal with Bellator, the No. 2 mixed martial arts circuit after UFC.
Yet he knows the handle everyone puts on him.
I’m known as a wrestler, says Talamantes, whose first fight for Bellator will be on the Bellator 83 card in Atlantic City, N.J., on Dec. 7.
A guy who wins state titles at Bishop Dwenger in two different weight classes, then goes on to wrestle in junior college and at Ohio State, is going to get that tag slapped on him, and Talamantes understands that. He’s even OK with it.
But there a few things everyone who sees him as Wrestling Guy don’t know, starting with this: The family passion was never wrestling. It was boxing.
My dad was a boxer, Talamantes says. One of my older brothers was a boxer. My other older brother, Rico, was a Toughman champion. So I grew up around boxing.
Then again, he also grew up around his mother, who, after watching two sons go into the family business, put her foot down. Enough pugilism was enough.
And so my younger brother and I never got to box, Talamantes says. I got to be around it; I got to learn a little about throwing combinations and working the bag, but I was not allowed to box as a child.
So that left me wrestling.
Which he started at the age of 7, when his first coach was former North Side wrestling and current Bishop Dwenger football coach Chris Svarczkopf. That led to football and wrestling at Dwenger, and then at Ohio State, and then, during a four-year hitch in the Army, to picking up kickboxing and boxing and jiu jitsu – the son of the boxer returning to his combat roots, if you will.
Everywhere I went, I basically found people to train with and learn from, says Talamantes, who along with Rico runs Ultimate Training Academy on Industrial Road, which schools everyone from children to adults in wrestling, boxing, kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu. I picked up things here and there, and they’ve all meshed together.
That is, of course, pretty much a description of mixed martial arts, which Talamantes has been doing for seven or eight years. In keeping with his meticulous nature, however, he’s only been competing in the sport for three years.
I was never going to be one of those people that was just going to jump in and do it, says Talamantes, who won his state wrestling titles at 215 and 189 pounds but competes in MMA at 205. I’ve definitely done a lot of training, because I wanted to be well-rounded. I don’t do it for the brutality of it. I do it for the competitiveness.
And he got his big break last month, when he took a fight on short notice with an undefeated champion in Atlantic City.
He lost 29 pounds in 13 days, then beat the guy on a unanimous decision.
They were kind of grooming him to go to the next thing – Bellator, UFC, whatever, Talamantes says. They had no intention of me winning; they just thought it was going to be a fight for this guy to prepare. But I won the fight, mainly because of my wrestling background, and it opened some doors.
And Talamantes stepped through. Next up: The Dec. 7 bout, which will be telecast on MTV2.
It’s a good organization, he says, adding that he’s looking for local sponsorship. They travel, they take care of their people. Next six or seven years, it would be nice if I could do this for a living.