If there’s one thing his four-fight UFC tenure has taught Frank Camacho, it’s to embrace the journey as it plays out.
“The Crank” has had his fair share of highs and lows since signing with the UFC in 2017. He finally got his shot in the Octagon four long years after he lost an elimination fight to Neil Magny in an attempt to get on The Ultimate Fighter Season 16.
Camacho is just 1-3 in his four UFC appearances, but he recently signed a new four-fight deal with the company. A fighter getting an extension on a 1-3 skid might appear surprising on the surface, but when Camacho steps into the Octagon, action is guaranteed.
He enjoys bringing the pain, but he knows that if he doesn’t get into the win column soon, his spot on the roster could finally be in danger.
Frank Camacho’s next chance at victory comes against Nick Hein at UFC Fight Night 153 on June 1. He spoke to John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock about bouncing back from defeat, his approach to fighting and life, as well as some of his endeavors outside of the cage.
Recovering from a tough loss
In his last fight, Frank Camacho was on the wrong end of a devastating head kick knockout. Welterweight prospect Geoff Neal fully shut his lights off, something Camacho had never experienced in MMA before.
His first thoughts after the second-round stoppage were a little different than other fighters.
“I was like, ‘Whatever I do, don’t say ‘What happened?”” Camacho recalled in an interview with The Body Lock. “I always see people after they get knocked out, and you see – you read their lips: ‘What happened? What happened?’ and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m not going to be that guy.'”
Good news quickly nullified some of the pain brought on by defeat. The Neal fight was the last on Camacho’s contract, and after that result, he was pretty certain he’d lost his chance at a long, fruitful UFC career.
Much to Camacho’s surprise and joy, the UFC contacted his management team “within hours” looking to strike up a new deal. Being an action fighter paid off.
Frank Camacho vs. Nick Hein
Frank Camacho’s fight with Nick Hein will be his first of the new contract, and Camacho plans on starting this one off on the right foot.
“We’re both kind of on the same boat,” Camacho said of himself and his opponent. “We’re on losing streaks, and we’re trying to get a ‘W’.”
Hein is a seven-fight veteran in the UFC’s lightweight division, sporting a 4-3 record for his efforts. He dropped his last two Octagon appearances to Davi Ramos and Damir Hadzovic, respectively.
Camacho himself is coming off of back-to-back losses in welterweight fights, against Drew Dober and the aforementioned Neal.
Camacho comes into this fight looking to make some changes. First, he says he needs to tighten up his diet to make 155 pounds easily, which he failed to do in his last trip down to lightweight. Second, he plans to take a more calculated approach to his fight after training with Colin Oyama and Team Oyama for this camp.
“I just need to be a little bit more tactical with him and tactical with my fights, and be more strategic,” Camacho said. “But then again, man, you just never know, dude. I just kind of make it a fight. Make it simple; make it a fight.”
Camacho’s willingness to throw strategy out the window in favor of brawling is partially due to the fan base he has developed. In reading a Reddit thread regarding his fight announcement, he saw how excited his friends and fans on the site were for his fight. Camacho knows they’re expecting this fight to be a war, so he hopes to find a balance between his kill-or-be-killed style and being smart enough in the cage to get another win in the octagon.
“I have a second opportunity with the UFC and to prove myself,” Camacho said. “We’re going to go out there and give it all I got to get that win.”
Frank Camacho’s approach to life
One of the reasons Camacho believes he got his second chance is good karma coming back around to him. Throughout his tenure with the UFC, he says he has made an effort to be respectful and kind to everyone he encounters, whether they’re UFC employees, USADA, or even his opponents who are trying to take his head off.
“Being true to yourself and just being true to what you represent means more than anything to me,” Camacho said.
Camacho is a husband and a father to two young boys. Above all else, he wants to set an example for them through his own actions and words.
“When I’m all retired, you know, am I going to be proud of what I said; what I had done in my career?” Camacho said. “I want to be, like, a good model that they can look up to, and maybe even surpass me and be better.”
His time as a UFC fighter has taught him a couple of lessons — some harder than others — but the one that sticks out to him most is learning to be grateful for the process. Making the trip to Sweden for his fight on June 1 helped put things into perspective.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Camacho said. “You’ve got this little island boy from Saipan, from Guam… People said that ‘You couldn’t do this, you couldn’t do that,’ but, man, I’m traveling the world, and I’m seeing the world through fighting, you know? I’m meeting amazing people.”
As is the case for any fighter, one day Camacho’s career will come to an end. At 30 years old, he’s not expecting to hang up the gloves any time soon, but that doesn’t stop him from living in the moment.
“I try not to forget to enjoy every second of it, you know, and be grateful for every second of it.”
Outside of fighting
When he isn’t focused on fighting, Frank Camacho can be found behind a camera. When he began pursuing MMA, he needed to find other sources of revenue, but also wanted to try his best to launch his career. He found a happy medium in photography and videography.
“I had to figure out a way how to, like, market myself,” Camacho said. “I had to figure out how to make myself a website. I had to learn how to get sponsors, and I couldn’t hire graphic designers; I couldn’t hire photographers; I couldn’t hire videographers.”
Camacho started doing it all himself. Soon enough, it became his second passion.
“The coolest thing is that every single person that I’ve ever taken photos of, or videos of, there’s some sort of greatness that each person has,” Camacho said. “I’m just so fascinated by capturing that greatness within everyone’s story.”
As a native of the Mariana Islands, Camacho also recently dealt with the terrible effects of Typhoon Yutu. The Category 5 storm was the fifth-strongest storm ever recorded upon landfall, according to Weather Underground.
Camacho was sidelined by medical suspension at the time, but he took it upon himself to help out the community he calls home.
“I just felt like, man, I’m blessed to be in a position to be able to help,” Camacho said. “It was just something that I just had to do, and I’m sure others would have done the same if I was in [need].”
Through the devastation, Frank Camacho saw people join forces and strive toward a common goal, which stuck with him.
“It was so cool to see the community come together and help each other out,” he said. “That was a really humbling experience.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.