Coming off a loss to Dan Dubuque at CES 70 in September of last year, featherweight Nate Ghareeb was looking to get back on track when he took on Antonio Castillo Jr. at CES 71 in November.
Following two rounds of action, Ghareeb was able to secure a submission win over Castillo and pick up his fifth win in his last six fights while also claiming the CES lightweight championship in the process.
“Honestly I thought the fight went great,” Ghareeb told MMAWeekly.com. “I’d made a lot of adjustments for that allowed me to fight at my maximum capacity. I felt like I showed a wide array of my skillset and handled (Castillo) pretty well.
“I thought I shut him down in every way shape and form. I hit him with a lot of different techniques. It’s my first submission my pro record, so I couldn’t be more happy with the outcome of fight. To add a cherry on top I won the 155lb belt, so it was an excellent experience and a great opportunity.”
Ghareeb hasn’t been one to sit on his success, but rather continue to push himself when it comes to developing his game. In order to do that, he made the move to American Top Team, and he feels it’s been paying off in a big way.
“I’ve had a lot of changes,” said Ghareeb. “I moved down to South Florida and started training at ATT in Coconut Creek. I’ve been working out with some great coaches every day. I feel like I’m definitely levelling up.
“My confidence (has leveled up) knowing where I stand with some of the best fighters in the world. I’ve been grappling a lot, and that’s something I haven’t shown a lot, so I feel like I’m rounding out my skillset as a complete mixed martial artist.”
Ghareeb (7-2) will look to pick up back-to-back wins when he takes on Damion Nelson (4-1) in the 145-pound co-main event of CES 72 on March 18.
“You definitely want to know who you are fighting and what they’re capable of,” said Ghareeb of Nelson. “For me it’s more about the things I’m not so great at and areas I need to work on, focusing on those things.
“At the end of the day it’s not a matter of what he’s going to do; it’s what I’m going to do. It’s laying traps for him to react to the way I want him to move. You want to be ahead. You want to be the first to move, make them move the way you want them to, bait their reactions and execute the game plan you set forth for the fight.”
Having achieved as about as much as he can on the regional scene, Ghareeb is looking to take the next step of his career in 2023.
“My overall goal is to get to the UFC this year,” said Ghareeb. “I wanted to get there in 2022, it didn’t happen, but a lot of my goals end up coming a little bit after I expect them. So 2023 is a great opportunity for me.
“I want to put (Nelson) away, and if the call doesn’t come right away just keep fighting. I prefer to stay active and hope to get another fight after this and fight as soon as I can. Ideally I’d like to get another three or four fights in this year and get as much experience as I can.”
Nate Ghareeb hopes CES 72 win will lead to UFC opportunity