Friday, July 8, 2011

Brett Gruber Interview

Q: Can you just start out taking about how you got started in the sport?
A: I've been in martial arts since I was 11 years old. I started out in Tae Kwon Do. I was little and smaller than everyone else and my folks wanted me to be able to take care of myself. It grew into a real love for the sport. It just kinda steamrolled into what it is today.

Q: Was there something specific that made you decide to fight?
A: Actually once I moved to Ohio I decided I wanted to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I was very taken with that art, I was very taken with the ability to be able to submit you're opponent and not damage them. To just make them want to quit and tap out. When I found Chris Chard I fell in love with our gym, the coaches and training partners. I started going every day and just loved it. They were doing the MMA stuff and Muay Thai to and said "Hey why don't you come up to an MMA class" and I said "alright" and started going. Like 4 months after doing MMA Chris was like "We gotta put you in the cage".

Q: That first fight, were you nervous at all?
A: Actually I was pretty ready for it. I grew up playing ice hockey and soccer in front of a lot of people. I knew what to expect, I had walked out to the cage many times, I knew what I was getting myself into. I had to wait a little longer than most guys at our gym because of a severe neck injury I sustained, so I was ready to go. My first fight didn't go so well. It only lasted 17 seconds and I didn't get the W that day.

Q: Next week you fight Nate Mango for the NAAFS. What do you know about him?
A: I'm pretty familiar with Nate. I've seen a couple of his fights. He fought a training partner of mine, RJ Buck. So I know a little about him. I know he likes to box and is pretty adept on the ground as well. It should be a great fight. I'm expecting it to be a real test for me. I am looking to go pro after this fight, so I think it's a step in the right direction for me. I'm not taking him lightly, but I don't think he's fought anybody quite like me. I know we have a number of opponents in common and it should be a great fight.

Q; The new NAAFS rankings have him ranked 4th. How big a win would that be for you?
A: You know I'm not really looking towards the rankings this year like I did last year because I intend on going pro after this fight. But every guy I fought last year was Nationally ranked to. So it doesn't scare me, I'm not afraid of that, I think it's great he got himself in the rankings at his new weight like I did last year. I really think it will be a hell of a fight, I really do. I'm sure he's training hard just like I'm training hard. As far as the rankings, its good for him, it would probably put me in the rankings even though I haven't fought this year, but I'm not concerned with that.

Q: If there was one thing you had to pinpoint that you have to do to win, is there that one thing?
A: I'd say I need to keep my head on a swivel and be ready for anything. I don't know if he is gonna prefer to box with me or prefer to go to the ground. With that being said I'm comfortable wherever. Everybody has labeled me as a Jiu-Jitsu guy, and there's no doubt I like to finish guys on the ground, but I'm not afraid to stand there and bang either. I bang with guys that are 30, 40, 50 pounds heavier than me at the gym. I've done a lot of sparring this training camp with Nick Duell, my striking coach, and also Forrest Petz and those guys are much much bigger than me, have more experience than me, and are top of the heap around here as far as I'm concerned. So I'm unafraid wherever the fight goes.

Q: That leads to my next question. People refer to you as a Jiu-Jitsu guy, so with striking, does that lead to your advantage?
A: I think maybe a lot of people underestimate my stand-up, maybe rightfully so. But a lot of my fights I haven't need to use it as much as other guys. But my fight against Bhrandon Poindexter I proved I will stand there. I will take a good shot, put myself in harms way to set myself up to get the W Cause I am a guy who always looks to finish, it doesn't matter where the fight is, where it goes, how hurt I am what round it is, how tired I am. I'm always looking to finish and put on a good fight for the fans cause they spend hard earned money to come watch us do what we do. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be there.

Q: Any prediction on how it ends?
A: I'm not much for predictions. I plan on getting the W obviously and train accordingly. But we will see how it goes. It could end quickly or be a three round bar burner. I'm kinda known for both. I'm not afraid to go three rounds. I've gone three rounds a number of occasions and most of his fights have ended in the 1st or 2nd round. But we'll see. I'm excited though. It's been awhile since I've fought. I haven't fought since December when I fought Isaiah for the belt. I took some time off, re-tooled some things, worked on holes in my game. I'm excited to get in there and shake the rust off so to speak.

Q: You mentioned not fighting since December, which is a lot of time off. After this would you like to be more active the rest of the year?
A: Yeah, I'd really like to go pro and fight again in September. That's my goal at this point, but we'll take one fight at a time for now.

Q: A lot of fighters say there style is more made for pro rules. Do you think that applies to you?
A: Yeah. I'm a boney skinny guy. I've been working on the pro rules since December, which is why I was nervous to take another amateur fight. I like to kick, there's no problem, I like to kick. And I am excited to throw elbows some day. I'm a pretty good boxer to, I will box with guys. I'm pretty well rounded at this point, I train in all areas, boxing, wrestling, kick boxing, Jiu-Jitsu. I like to do it all, I like to train it all, I like to train out of bad spots in the gym. There's not anybody you throw me in the cage with whose gonna put me in some spot I've never been in. A lot of guys like to train where they're strong, I like to train where I'm weak, where I'm gonna get beat up the worst. So I'll be ready.

Q: This fight is for the NAAFS. What about them makes you like fighting for them?
A: I've had nothing but good experiences with them. A major part of my success I attribute to Nichole (Long), she's always had faith in me, always given me tough guys who will push me. When I got started that's what it was all about, to see how far I could take this. She's a huge part of why I am the fighter I am today. Greg (Kalikas)and everybody has always treated me well. They are established, well recognized, and they are a proving grounds for guys who want to make a career out of this and go to the next level. That's why I wanna fight for them. I love fighting for them and will always fight for them. But obviously if I ever get called up to the bigger show, UFC, I would obviously take that opportunity. But I never forget where I come from and take it to heart that they always treat me well and will always fight for them.

Q: Everyone knows everything I do with the interviews I run by Nichole. When I told her I was interviewing you, her response was "Such a nice guy". Is that something you make a conscious effort to do?
A: Yeah, I always try to be an ambassador for our sport, my gym, the NAAFS, in and outside the cage. Because we do have a bad reputation and don't deserve it. Most of the guys that I've fought, that I've met, that I've become friends with, we're not a bunch of meat-heads. Most of us are well educated, grounded people who like to compete and do our thing. I don't consider myself a fighter per se, I consider myself an athlete and Martial Artist. That's how I try and carry myself everywhere, in and out of the cage. I'm very honored to fight for the NAAFS, I'm very honored to fight for Ohio BJJC, Chris Chard and Nick Duell. I try and compose myself at all times so people will look up to me, because at the end of the day, people see me fight and they will want to come to our gym. And some day I would like to teach as well, and that's the best way to do that. Get your name out, people see you, see how good you've become, see where you came from, and they wanna train under you as well. So I always try and be an ambassador for our sport.

Q: You mentioned Ohio BJJC, a respected gym.What are the benefits of training there?
A: We have top level guys on the ground, we have a lot of strong tough guys who like to strike and wrestle as well. A lot of people don't realize, we've had somebody nationally ranked and fight for our belt, I wanna say the last six years in a row. We take that to heart, we train hard. We're not a big gym, we don't have a huge pool of guys to choose from when it comes to MMA. But we get enough guys in there and have enough equipment that we make the best of it. We really value our time in the gym and all train hard and push and support each other. That's a huge thing for me is support. I don't have much of a support system at home, so I get it at the gym. I love my family very much and they understand why I do it, but they don't necessarily agree with it though. Support is a huge huge thing for fighters and you gotta have some kind of support system, whether you get it from you're gym, or family, or a wife or girlfriend. It's a huge part of it.

Q: Let's say next week someone is going to see Brett Gruber fight for the first time. What can they expect?
A: Well hopefully they can expect to see a good show, a good fight, cause that's what I aim to do. My first fight was booed, and I took that to heart. They weren't booing me personally but it didn't make me feel good as a martial artist and fighter. So hopefully they feel fulfilled, that they spent their money wisely and had a good show. I always like to please the fans, so hopefully they get a good show from my fight. Win or lose I come to put on a good show. I don't feel bad shedding my blood, sweat or tears for the NAAFS and the fans. I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it.

Q: Hard to predict the future, but say, two years from now, where do you see yourself in the sport?
A: Hopefully still fighting. I'm not as young as a lot of these guys anymore. But I plan to stick in it as long as my body will hold up. Hopefully making a little bit of money at it, if not a lot. You can never plan for that, you never know, but I think there's enough talent and I have enough years left that I can make a little money at it. But I'm hoping..... hoping maybe someday UFC will have a Bantamweight Ultimate Fighter show. I would love to try out for that and would jump at that opportunity if ever given to me. I'm the type of guy that I take what's given to me and try and make the most of it and try and seize the day.

Q: Before we finish anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: Yeah, my coaches at BJJC, Chris Chard, Nick Duell, Rob Justine my conditioning coach. Brecksville Rehabilitation and Chiropractics. If it wasn't for them I couldn't do this. Beyond that, my family, and all the fans that come out and buy tickets, cause like I said if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have anything to do.

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