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Claudio Puelles (@claudiopuelles) is a professional MMA fighter from Lima, Peru with a record of 9-2 who currently fights in the UFC (2-1). He was the runner-up on season 3 of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, a reality show from the UFC.

I first met Claudio six years ago and we became teammates and training partners at the Pitbull Martial Arts Center in Lima, Peru. In this episode we discuss what it was like training under the legendary Peruvian fighter Ivan “Pitbull” Iberico. One small gym in Peru produced three fighters who wound up in the UFC (Claudio, Enrique “El Fuerte” Barzola, and Jesus Pinedo) and one in Bellator MMA (see my episode with Ben Reiter). This is way off the charts for a South American MMA gym, but Claudio and I discuss why that may be.

Claudio lived in Florida for one year as a teenager, and we talk about that experience. What it was like learning English and being in a foreign country. And how he initially became involved with MMA after visiting American Top Team to train.

One of the things that always impressed me was that Claudio’s career started so young. When he was 12 he knew he wanted to fight in the UFC and by the time he was 18 he had already become a pro fighter with a string of wins.

In this episode he shares stories of what it was like on the UFC’s Reality Show The Ultimate Fighter and how it wasn’t an ideal place for him. The advice that Enrique Barzola gave him before the show. And what it was like living in the house during that time.

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