Thursday, December 18, 2014

Eric Luna talks fight career, future plans, and more

Eric Luna is one of the best new pro fighters in the North American Muay Thai scene. Fighting out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Eric had an accomplished amateur career that included him representing the United States at the 2009 IMFA’s and winning a gold medal. Eric’s fan friendly fighting style makes him an instant crowd favorite when he fights and his skill makes him a fighter to watch in the upcoming years. Eric was kind enough to sit down with Muay Thai Authority to talk about his fight career and a few other things.

You can also follow Eric Luna on twitter @ericakamuaythai.

MTA: Eric, you are one of Muay Thai's newest pro talents. How is it that you got involved with Muay Thai?

Eric Luna: Well, years ago I went and watched UFC 57 for my 21st birthday. Paul Buentello was on the card and won by TKO. I was a fan of his and other guys from AKA like Mike Swick because they were from San Jose. Right when I got back home from Vegas, I went through a really rough time and personal problems and just found myself making the drive to AKA to check it out. I ended up signing up right then with the goal of fighting. I didn't know whether it was going to be boxing, MMA or Muay Thai. Once I started with Muay Thai, it was love from the beginning. It became my passion from the get go. That was February 2006.

MTA: You weren't very active this year, is there any particular reason?

Eric Luna: No, no particular reason really. I think maybe just a lack of opportunities. I'm the type of fighter who's always training and I was always available to take fights. I look back now and I'm ok with not being as active as I'd have liked. I added a lot to my game this year and I feel I improved a lot. Hopefully I'm more active this next year so I can show the fans.

MTA: What are your plans for 2015, anything scheduled already?

Eric Luna: No fights on the schedule yet, but hoping to get a couple during the first quarter of 2015. I'm planning on going back to school in March with the goal of being an EMT and Firefighter, but even then I'll still be training and open to any fight opportunity that comes up.

MTA: You represent AKA, how is it training at a renowned camp like that?

Eric Luna: It's great! Everyone knows AKA as one of the top MMA gyms around, but we have some solid Muay Thai fighters there and who I think is one of the best coaches, Derek Yuen. The gym is a great facility with a lot of tools available to us. The best thing might be that we get so much focus from our coach and the owner of AKA, Javier ensures that we're set with anything we might need.

MTA: Who would you say are your influences in Muay Thai?

Eric Luna: Wow, there's quite a few there. #1 will have to be my teammates and my coach. We're very much like a family and they influence me a lot and have helped me grow into the fighter I am today. But I think outside of them, it's actually other coaches from other gyms. Rudi Ott, Kirian Fitzgibbons, and Jongsanan. They were my coaches when I fought at IFMA in 2009 when I won gold and they influenced me so much and still do. It's always great when I see them.

MTA: Before everything is said and done if you could make sure you face one opponent in particular before your career is over who would it be and why?

Eric Luna: That makes me think! Well I know a few passed opponents of mine like David Huerta, Ognjen Topic and Joe Cox, have made the jump to the pro rank and I'm sure that we'd meet again eventually. Which I think is funny because I've become good friends with them. But when it's all said and done, I would love to share the ring with Ognjen again. He gave me my first loss as an amateur in what was a FOTY candidate and is still my favorite fight I've had. I've become a big fan of his and I know we would be able to give the fans and ourselves an equal performance.

MTA: Like with many fighters it's not easy making a living simply fighting Muay Thai, do you have a full time profession?

Eric Luna: At the moment no. I left my last job basically because I was unhappy with the environment. I don't regret it because I was able to focus 100% during camp for my last fight as well as figuring out my school situation. But throughout my fight career, I worked a full time job, had a 1hr+ commute and still made it training every day.

MTA: Where do you see or anticipate your fight career in 10 years?

Eric Luna: Well considering that I'm turning 30 on 12/20, I don't think I'll be fighting at 40. I know that I still have a lot of years left in me since I've never suffered any serious injuries and I've always felt great, physically. But I can actually see myself being a coach. I hope to share my knowledge and experience in the fight game with future fighters.

MTA: Are you considering at any point crossing over to MMA or is Muay Thai strictly what you will be focusing on?

Eric Luna: I've actually been asked that quite a bit. MMA is really popular and since people see I train at AKA, they always seem to bring it up. When I first started training, it was an idea but I fell in love with Muay Thai. The whole culture, history and experiences I've had are what make me stick with it.

MTA: As a fighter and member of the American Muay Thai community what do you think needs to be done to see the sport flourish here in the United States?

Eric Luna: I think first off would be more support from the public. The more fans that we, the Muay Thai community, can bring to shows will help the growth. Whether it's in the local, regional shows or the bigger televised shows. More fans equal more shows and more opportunities to fight.

MTA: Outside of Muay Thai what are some of the things you like to do?

Eric Luna: I like visiting my family and my dog, who lives with them, as much as I can. Family is a big part of who I am, so I make sure to see them often. For the most part, I just mix in trips to the shooting range, going on dates with my girlfriend and being a big kid when I can.

MTA: To fight fans not familiar with you can you describe yourself as a fighter, your style, values, etc?

Eric Luna: If I were to describe myself as a fighter, it would be as one with a fan friendly style. I don't have a traditional Thai style, more of an aggressive style that keeps the pressure on my opponent, while still being sure that I don't get reckless. Regarding the values I have, I would say that in my career, I've always been respectful to my opponents. I'll be friendly with them, shake their hand and wish them luck before the fight. When we're in the ring, it's a different story. We're both in there with the goal of taking the other's head off. After the fights though, win or lose, I'll go back to paying respect and I'll offer to buy them a beer.

MTA: Any words for your fans and supporters?

Eric Luna: Well without the fans, our sport wouldn't be growing like it has been recently, so I'd like to thank all of them. I've had the chance to meet a lot of new fans at all the shows I've fought on, whether they were here in the Bay Area, down in Southern California, up in Seattle and definitely out in NYC. I love meeting people, and always welcome them to come say hello.

Mostly, I need to thank my family who have been supportive since day one and my girlfriend who has been cheering me on since my 2nd amateur fight. Love them.
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