Kevin Aguilar (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)

Contender Series’ Kevin Aguilar: Painting the Canvas Red

Ask 10 different people what a pile of garbage represents, and you will receive 10 different responses. However, if you ask enough people, someone will inevitably provide some artistic explanation. An eclectic thinker might say the pile represents something about humanity or waste. A photographer might find some piece of the pile, or the pile itself, to have the perfect photographic composition. A pile of garbage could be just a smelly mess to some and street art to others.

Art, by definition, is very subjective. The practice of art can serve many different purposes. For many, art is a release.

Longtime Legacy Fighting Alliance featherweight champion Kevin Aguilar is an artist of sorts. He does his fair share of painting the fight canvas red, too.


“My girlfriend [Lacy] and I started painting together,” Aguilar told Combat Press. “She’s a painter, and she got me into painting — oil painting or drawing. We just like relaxing together and getting in some downtime. Right now, it’s just a bunch of superhero stuff and whatever. I’m really trying to get better at it. I’m not that great.”

Aguilar’s moniker is “The Angel of Death,” which almost sounds like something out of a comic book. If there was a featherweight MMA-fighting superhero, Aguilar could easily fit the bill. He has held that LFA title for over two years. He’s defended it three times and has finished 11 opponents in his 14-1 pro career.

Aguilar’s last outing was at LFA 40 in late May. It was a fight that, on paper, he was picked to lose. However, he didn’t. Aguilar was fighting a very game Thanh Le, and he knocked out Le around the midpoint of the very first round.

“My coaches always say that fundamentals win fights,” Aguilar said. “I proved it that night. Thanh Le came in there the favorite with all those flashy kicks and all those knockouts. Everything was primed and set for him to win that fight, but my basic fundamentals took over, and I won the fight that night.”

After an eight-year pro career and only one loss to former WEC standout Leonard Garcia, Aguilar was starting to wonder if the bigger shows were ever going to pick him up. With so many title winners getting premature contracts to organizations like the UFC and Bellator, why wasn’t he getting the call?

“It went through my head several times,” admitted Aguilar. “I wondered what I had to do to make it to the next step. I was thinking that I’m just going to keep fighting, keep on the grind, keep winning and then they have to bring me up.”

It turns out that the win over Le was exactly what Aguilar needed.

“I found out shortly after the fight,” Aguilar said. “We went up to Vegas to meet with [UFC President] Dana White and a couple UFC representatives, and we told them we were ready to fight any place, any time. A week later, they called and said they had a spot in the Contender Series at 155 pounds. I told them any place, any time, so I said I would be there.”

On Tuesday night, Aguilar gets his chance to showcase his true art. He faces Joey Gomez in the headliner of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. The only catch is that he will be fighting as a lightweight, a class above his normal home at featherweight. Aguilar hasn’t fought at 155 pounds in over eight years.

“It’s not my first choice, but we’re not going to turn down a shot at the big show,” Aguilar said. “It’s win or go home. 155 is fine with me, so I’ve got no problem with that.”

Gomez is coming in with an undefeated record and a lightweight title from Prime Fighting that he has yet to defend. He has some good wins on his record, but he has not fought anywhere near the level of talent Aguilar has been running through.

“From what I’ve seen, there’s not much on him,” Aguilar said. “He’s 7-0, fights out of Hawaii, 155 pounds, and likes to throw a couple good combinations and then [go] straight to the ground. He likes to wrestle them and finish with ground-and-pound. He’s got a couple knockouts on his record, but, for the most part, he’s a blood-and-guts wrestler.

“Honestly, it’s a good match-up for me, because I’ve beaten the best wrestlers and best jiu-jitsu guys that they’ve put me up against. I’m ready to go against another wrestler. I’ve beaten the Muay-Thai-kickboxer guy; I’ve beaten the taekwondo-karate-kickboxer guy; I’ve beaten a jiu-jitsu guy; and I’ve beaten some wrestlers. I’ve beaten them all. That’s always at their best game. I’m ready to go against this wrestler.”

Aguilar has been chomping at the bit for a shot at the UFC’s Octagon. Now, he gets that opportunity with the full focus of the boss, White. He already has 15 fights under his belt, but this is just the beginning of his career.

“I’m not looking past my opponent,” said the native Texan. “He’s the most dangerous opponent I have faced, and this is the most important fight of my life to date. 2018 is the year I’m going to put my stamp on the UFC. I’m not going to relax when I’m in there. This is when the real work begins. The hard work and dedication never ends. I’m not in there to get a t-shirt and my 15 minutes of fame. I’m there to climb the ranks and make it to the top.”

On Tuesday night, Aguilar’s wait is finally over. It’s time for his shot at the big show. All eyes will be on him as he seeks to paint his latest masterpiece with Gomez’s blood.

Aguilar would like to thank all of his coaches and training partners, his girlfriend Lacy, family, friends, fans and sponsors. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinAguilarAOD