Joe Soto has worked from the ground up at every stop in his career, so why would his UFC run be any different.
Soto has won three consecutive fights, including two via submission, and heads into a December 1 meeting at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale with Brett Johns feeling confident once more.
In Mach, Soto (18-5) topped Rani Yahya in Brazil following wins in Mexico over Marco Beltran and Canada vs. Chris Beal.
“Being on a three-fight win streak and just beating Rani, who was ranked No. 14 in the world, I feel like I’m back on track and up there with the top guys in the world,” Soto told FightLine in a recent interview. “Training has been great, just trying to improve my game everywhere. I’ve been constantly trying to improve my techniques and be dangerous from every position.
“I was pleased with the win. Anytime you get a victory and suffer no serious injury, you gotta be happy. Obviously I would of liked to have finished Yahya, but that’s why we go back to practice and try to improve.”
Between practice sessions and fights, Soto has been learning at home. Along with his wife, Rocio, the couple have two children.
“Having a family has had a big impact on my perspective of life and fighting,” Soto said. “I’ve realized fighting isn’t everything. And there’s more to life.
“But having a family to provide for has also given me more motivation to work hard and to push through the tough moments in the cage.”
Soto captured the Bellator featherweight title back in 2009, winning a tournament to become the first holder of the belt. After defeating Wilson Reis in the semifinals, be bested Yahir Reyes in the finals.
Soto won his first nine pro fights, including eight via finish before a loss to Joe Warren in 2010. A year later, he decided to move up to bantamweight and won six in a row to earn his shot in the UFC.
Scheduled for a fight on the prelims of UFC 177, Soto took a fight with TJ Dillashaw for the UFC title that day the event went down, battling Dillashaw to the fifth round.
“I have no regrets (in my career),” he said. “I’ve always done everything I’ve wanted and I’ve always gave it my best in and out of the cage.”
He is also a former Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight champion and was a runner-up and third-place finisher for Iowa Central Community College at the NJCAA Wrestling Championships.