Spent, exhausted and hurting, Roswell’s Andres “The Bullet” Quintana stood across the cage staring at Alejandro Flores — the only man stopping him from winning Copa Combate 2. With the fight being broadcast on Univision, Deportes and the DAZN pay-per-view. Quintana was representing the United States in the second annual one-night, eight-man featherweight tournament, which took place at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California on Dec. 7. The last match was a big deal — the winner would get a big trophy and $100,000.
All of his life the Roswell native had to fight for his dream to be a champion. He had to fight to be in this tournament. Quintana fought Erick Gonzales on Sept. 28 and won with a rear naked choke in 2:41 of the first round to represent the U.S. in the Copa Combate 2.
Quintana likes when the stakes are high and he literally takes his life in his own hands every time he steps in the ring. He feels like he was born to fight and if he has to die, he would be willing to go out on his own terms in the ring chasing his dreams of being a champion. Quintana feels like it is something that he was born to do and he would live no other way.
“Of course I care about my family,” Quintana said. “I am willing to die in the ring. I love the sport that much. That’s exactly what went through my mind in the third fight. I’m not going to be giving up for no reason. There’s no way I would ever give up if I’m conscious or I think there is a way out, I would never give up. As long as I’m breathing, I’m going to keep fighting.”
Move to ABQ
Quintana grew up in Roswell, attending Sierra Middle School and graduating from Roswell High School in 2009. He started boxing at the age of 12. His main coach was Lupe Perez at the Dungeon. Quintana was successful as a boxer where he boxed at 141 pounds. He went to nationals and participated in Ringside National Tournament in Oklahoma City where he was ranked fourth in the nation.
After losing a boxing match in the Ringside Tournament, Quintana felt like he should have won — he ended up fourth. Quintana started to rethink his boxing future, angered and feeling like he should have won the fight. Quintana felt like the boxing game was too political and the best fighter did not always win for whatever reason. It was ironic that the fighter he had lost to went on to win the tournament.
“Ever since I was a young kid,” Quintana said, “I was always infatuated by being the best in the world by fighting and I thought it was super cool. I would watch Muhammad Ali day and night and watch different boxing events. I was really, really into it. There are pictures of me when I was boxing wearing the white shorts with the black trim.”
After his loss in the ringside tournament, he continued to fight locally selling the Civic Center and the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds out. Feeling that he had gone as far as he could here in Roswell, he made a decision to quit his job at Leprinos where he worked the midnight shift and had to work out before he went to work. Feeling like he couldn’t give his all to training and mixed martial arts (MMA), he made a decision to move with Richard Villa and Guto Feliciano — his training partners — to Albuquerque.
“I just took a gamble,” Quintana said. “I felt like if I wanted to compete in MMA, I couldn’t be working all these long hours at Leprinos and train 100 percent and be able to compete at 100 percent. I had to make a decision at that time and point.”
At the time of his move, the Queen City was starting to be the mecca of where MMA fights were held from all over the world. After a fight in Roswell, Quintana was interviewed by DJ San Marco who introduced him to his current trainer Chris Luttrell and they hit it off instantly. He fights out of the Luttrell/Yee MMA and Fitness.
“I didn’t want to put the blame on me,” Quintana said, “or someone else if we won or lost. That’s why I like mixed martial arts and boxing. If I’m in boxing or in MMA, if I mess up, it’s always on me. That’s what I enjoy the most.”
Quintana is not signed to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), but he signed to another company called Combate Americas, which is the Mexican version of the UFC and where he has fought for all 20 of his fights. He holds the Triple-A MMA title and won Copa Combate 2 for 2018.
Winning the title
To get to the title fight, Quintana had to defeat Marlon Gonzales in a five-minute match that would determine who would go to fight. Quintana won a unanimous decision (10-9, 10-9 and 10-9).
“We knew we had to win the first round,” Quintana said. “We went out there and established our jab, and we knew he was a counter fighter, so we would throw our jab and get out of the way. We stayed sharp and we were able to get out with the decision.”
In his next fight, Quintana would have to fight Bruno Cannetti in the semifinal match. In the fight, Cannetti threw several leg kicks to weaken Quintana’s legs. Quintana defeated him with a technical knockout with 2:05 in the first round.
“I got a little bit relaxed,” Quintana said. “I was expecting a shot. I was expecting him to try and take me down. He came out there trying to take my head off. He came out there trying to throw some leg kicks — he caught me with an overhand right and dazed me and I got dropped. He moved in to try and ground and pound me with a barrage of punches. I was able to keep my composure and I got an under hook and he couldn’t hit me and I kept my head really close to his chest and I was able to stand back up. We clinched up and I caught him with a knee as he pushed away. I threw my uppercut and I knocked him out. As he was going to the ground, I followed up with some ground and pound until the referee stopped it.”
Going into the last fight with Alejandro Flores, Quintana felt beat up from the past two fights. Quintana fought for the title on one leg because of the leg kicks he had suffered from Cannetti. Quintana was tired and his hands hurt.
Quintana noticed that Flores was fighting tall to start the championship fight. Quintana crotched down and wanted to fight on the inside because Flores likes to throw kicks. Out of kicking range Quintana threw a check left hook knocking Flores down. Flores bounced back up and continued to throw kicks to keep distance between the two fighters.
Flores hit Quintana with a kick that caught him in the forearm and followed up with a lot of pressure on Quintana. Flores, thinking he had Quintana hurt, threw a one-two combination and as Flores’ right hand grazed Quintana’s shoulder, Quintana shoulder rolled the punch and threw a spinning elbow connecting, perfectly knocking Flores out.
“I felt a shot go through my arm,” Quintana said, “from all of the pressure and force I hit him with. This tournament was one of the toughest things I have done in my entire life. I do not recommend anyone fighting trying to compete in a one-night tournament. It is really rough on your body even if you’re well trained and in the best shape of your life mentally and physically.”
The one-night fight had fighters fighting every 30 minutes until a champion was declared. Quintana believes that training in the high altitude of Albuquerque contributed to him winning his fights. The Copa Combate 2 had eight fighters ranked No. 1 in their country at the featherweight division.
There has been talk about Quintana going to the UFC but he feels like he will fight where he can make the most money. The pay difference between the UFC entry level is $10,000 to fight and $10,000 to win.
Quintana wants to fight as long as he feels healthy and loves it. He trains for a fight all day starting from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. He will do MMA training and after that, he will do strength training, and do yoga training. He will eat, take a shower and nap and then go back and do his boxing training. At 6:30 p.m., he will have wrestling practice and then at 7:30 p.m. training until the end of the night.
“I’m always going to have love for Roswell,” Quintana said. “I grew up there and I have a ton of friends there.”
“Every time I fight, I feel all of the love and support from Roswell. When I fight, I make sure they announce that I’m from Roswell before I walk out to fight.”
After conquering all the fighters that stood before him — Roswell’s Andres “The Bullet” Quintana was all smiles as he clutched the flag in his right hand with it draped over his shoulder and both hands raised above his head. For one night, he was the baddest man on the planet in the featherweight division. With the three wins in the tournament, Quintana’s record improves to 18-2.
“This win felt like a huge relief,” Quintana said. “I was super excited and super happy and very pleased that I didn’t let anyone down. It was like a fairytale ending.”