Derek Villegas is only 17 years old, and is fast becoming a Capital MMA superstar! He joined Capital after his older brother Kevin brought him in one day for a Muay Thai class, and he hasn’t looked back since. During the Thai Boxing Association (TBA) CLASSIC – Muay Thai World Expo, from June 20-23, he won the Boys’ Junior Light Middleweight Division. Capital sat down with Derek for a post weekend Q&A. Shoutout to Musa Visual Media, LLC for the amazing picture!
When did you start at Capital and what motivated you to be part of the Muay Thai team?
I started training at capital a little over a year ago and had my first fight along side not one but, both of my brothers in November at the USMTO Tournament which I was able to come away with the win. I started training with my brothers but never took It seriously until I started at Capital. I was welcomed to join the team when I switched high schools as it was rough at first and didn’t have many friends yet. As I began to spend a lot of my time with my brother Kevin he took me in to watch a class, without thinking I was ever going to train there, Kru Roger invited me in and has helped me tremendously ever since. It was the beginning of the new chapter of my life.
What were your thoughts/feelings going into the TBA Tournament?
Attending the TBA Tournament for my first year I knew it was very reputable and big in the United States so the talent pool would be a lot bigger than past events. Knowing there was going to be competitors from all over the United States and Canada, I knew This tournament would not be easy to win and that I had to put all of my time and effort into my training so I can come more than prepared! I always told myself I need to work harder because my opponents were out training their hearts out so I knew I had to 1 up them. Waking up before school to get a run in, running after school and going straight to the gym was my daily routine for many weeks. I felt confident knowing that I was training with top level fighters and backed by my coaches!
Tell us your experience at the TBA Tournament itself.
I competed in in the Boys Junior Light Middleweight Division which was composed of 3 other U.S. fighters and 1 residing from Canada. In the first round of fights, I was able to take home the win by Round 3 TKO. It was a great feeling and confidence builder going in to the Finals. I was happy with the win but knew that I had to stay focused on making weight for the finals and competing the next day as well. Going into the championship round I knew that it would be a little tougher of a challenge but not one that couldn’t be done. The biggest challenge of all was not being with either of my brothers. They are always by my side so not having them around made it tougher to stay in the right headspace. Ever since first watching my brother Kevin fight, I was always amazed by his sweeps in the clinch and how effortless he made them look. In the first few seconds of the fight I noticed a pattern in his strikes, leaving an opening in his clinch and I was able to execute one myself! It left me knowing I would be able to be successful clinching during the fight. Kru Roger spent a lot of time with me and my clinch and I was very happy to be able to see how comfortable I was in the clinch, even scoring an 8-count in this fight as well. As the last bell rung I raised my hands in the air as I knew I had done enough to bring home the win and the belt for my Capital family!
Is there anybody you would like to thank or anything you’d like to add?
I would like to take a second to thank my parents and family for supporting me and this crazy sport that I love so much, my Capital teammates who made this trip possible by donating to my fundraiser and for pushing me past my limits to send me off ready for war, not mentioning all the rides given so I can be in the gym. Kru Roger for spending so much of your time and knowledge to help us get ready and not expecting anything in return but just doing it just to see us become successful! Small Joel, Janine, and Sarah… Thank you for going out there with me to show what Capital Muay Thai is capable of and for looking out for me not just over the weekend but continuously. Kevin and Alec, I don’t have to say much but I love you guys to death and would be nothing without you, thank you for shaping me to be the man I am today. You mean the absolute world to me. Big Joel, thank you for always being there to talk to me and to bring me up at my lowest points. You are greatly appreciated and can’t wait for the return of the Hammer! And last but absolutely not least my man Raff. Thank you for coming all the way to Iowa being the only corner we had. You are in the gym everyday helping each and every single one of us improve in all aspects of our game. Thank you for giving me the confidence to step in the ring not once but for the 5th time. You took the role of my Muay Thai Father for the weekend and made me feel beyond good about my self leading up to the fights. You are truly one of my best friends and I can’t thank you enough.
What’s next for you?
My goal from here is to compete internationally by the end of the year. It will show where I stand with the rest of the world and be a stepping stone in my career. I have worked hard and will represent the United States overseas!