Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rebecca Gruitza Interview

Q: To start, for those who missed your first interview, can you talk about how you got started in the sport?
A: Well about 8 years ago when I was living in New York City attending graduate school. I signed up my then 2 and 1/2 year old for Tiger Schulmann's MMA, he was a little Tiger Cub, and after about two weeks of watching him take classes, one of the instructors pulled me aside and said "You should try it." So I thought it looked like fun and I wanted to get in shape, so I started training and it turned into more than just a workout. I really got into it and started training 4, 5 sometimes six days a week. I was hooked right away.

Q: Before we talk about your next fight, lets talk about your last one. You got a TKO over Gaily Lapitan. How did you think you did overall?
A: Overall, I wont the fight and got at TKO so I should be happy about that. I am disappointed about a few things. I don't think I showcased my full ability in that fight. I know I didn't showcase my ground ability because I should have submitted her. I had a lot of opportunities to armbar or triangle her. Going back and watching the video, there were a lot of mistakes that were made that I am disappointed about. I feel in the second round, even though I did TKO her, I feel like my punches were short and sloppy. I was a bit tired but I feel like if I had used my true capability I would have gotten a knockout not a TKO. I am happy with the win, but feel I could have done better. So there is pressure now to really show what I can do.

Q: You mentioned being tired in round 2. Do you think spending so much energy for the submissions in round 1 played a part in that?
A: Absolutely, 100 percent. Its funny, if you watch the video you can see the conversation that my coach and I had between rounds. He said "How do your legs feel?", and I said "Like jell-o" and he said "don't kick for awhile", then he said how do your arms feel?" and I said "like jell-o", and he said "well you're gonna have to punch so get over it", and I kind of laughed and rolled my eyes. I kind of played around with her in the beginning of the 2nd round and after about 20 seconds my arms and legs did come back a little bit. So I think I was tired because I was I was pulling and holding those submissions, trying so hard. But I was also resting when I was down there. There were times using my legs to hold her in a certain way, or holding her with my arms and resting my legs. Trying to be smart about it. But I also think she used way more energy trying to escape my submissions and that's why her arms were down and why I was able to land punches. So I don't think it was the punches that won me the fight, I think it was the Jiu-Jitsu in the first round that won me the fight.

Q: You sort of answered my next question. Clearly she had nothing left for round 2, but did you go into that round, knowing you could finish her?
A: Yeah absolutely. I saw it in her face. I saw it in her face when we came up and I put my arm out there showing her my reach. I knew when I showed her my reach and she didn't shoot again that she didn't want to go to the ground. One of her corners, Meghan Joyce had defeated me via guillotine in my previous fight. So I know in their heads they think "she has no wrestling, she has no Jiu-Jitsu, you don't have to worry, you can go to the ground with her", I knew that's what they were telling her. Clearly they had no idea I was going to be that good on the ground, but surprise surprise. I think that when she came out in that second round, her face had fear written all over it. She didn't wanna go to the ground, didn't want to stand, she just wanted to dance around and clinch up a little bit. So I knew she was tired so as soon as I saw her backing up and her hands dropping, I knew I could finish it. It energized me a little bit.

Q: After the fight you got a little emotion. Was there a reason for that, maybe just getting the first win?
A: Yeah, you know I don't like the fact I got emotional and probably will never do that again. The big reason was everything that had gone into the fight with Lauren from my home town with her cancer and we were doing this for her. I'm still bringing her into the cage with me whether I talk about it or not. There was a lot of pressure I brought on myself cause how do you tell a little girl you didn't win. I was just emotionally and physically... just let it all out. I don't like showing emotions so will try and be more solid. But I'm a girl, it is what it is.

Q: Your next fight is Rachael Sazoff. What do you know about her?
A: I try not to look too much into who I'm fighting. I haven't seen any videos, I know there are a lot out there. I know she trains in New Jersey in Ricardo Almeida's gym. So I think Jiu-Jitsu is pretty much her game. I'm not sure, maybe she's a blue belt. I'm not really concerned with it to be honest with you. It's gonna be pretty much the same game plan, if she wants to take me down, we go down and if she wants to try and get around my legs, let her try it.

Q: If it goes to the ground, you are confident you can hang with her?
A: Absolutely. I have been cross training with Team Balance in Pittsburgh with Jimmy Cerra, so I've gotten a little bit more into different Jiu-Jitsu styles, different grappling styles. Ashley Hawkins train all the time, her ground game is solid. Not to mention the guys in my gym. You can never be 100 percent prepared but I'm not afraid of her blue belt. I will be testing for mine in November and we will be even. So I'm not really concerned. I have long legs and she should be afraid of those.

Q: If there was one thing you would say you have to do to win, what would it be?
A: Well, I have pretty much been in fight camp for a year now. Getting read for kickboxing and as soon as it was over, getting ready for my MMA debut, and then another MMA fight. So I got myself in fighting shape. Not going into details, there has been a lot going on in my life, so keeping my head where it needs to be is what I have to do to win. You and I both know, I am having a little problem with weight, and stress has to do with that. I normally don't have to cut weight, I walk around at my fight weight. So I am a little irritable, which might help me when i am in there case I will be a little pissed off. I have a good support system. Coach Bundy knows so well how to work with me and keep my head on straight. Even my mom making me go run or eat healthy. Instead of soccer mom sticker, she should have an MMA mom sticker. Keeping the right people around me this week and focus and cutting the stress. If my head is straight, that's most important. Physically I am there.

Q: How does the fight end?
A: I can see a knock out or submission. I can see her wanting to go to the ground and getting caught. If it goes to the ground like it did before, which could happen, I'm not gonna fight it. Then I can see it ending in a submission.

Q: You mentioned Ashley Hawkins. She fights the same night. Does it help having a teammate go though camp with you?
A: Abso-freaking-lutely. We have been through it all together. We car pool every day, and we get to the point where we are physically and mentally exhausted. We get on the mat and just start laughing. We have a huge support for each other and it makes it easier. It makes it more fun to. Not too many people have that. And we aren't too far off in weight either. We can train together and not many women have that so we are lucky.

Q: So far all your fights are for NAAFS. Is there a reason you stay with them?
A: Well I am lucky to live where I live. Closer to their events. Girls are coming from New Jersey, Maryland, even further. Aisling Daly came from Ireland. They are the best at what they do. Not just locally, but nationally. You see so much locally and regionally of cards being canceled, promotions shutting down, screwing over fighters and NAAFs doesn't do that. All my experiences have been more than positive. They are like family. Nichole Long is an amazing matchmaker. She could find me anybody to fight but she makes sure to find people that will be a good fight and not unfair on either side. If another opportunity somewhere else comes along, I will be leery cause I don't know if I can trust for them. So I want to fight more for NAAFS. After this, probably Eve of Destruction.

Q: So Eve of Destruction would be your goal next?
A: Yeah I think so. Its in September, so there won't be female fights till then. I will do Jiu-Jitsu in West Virginia in August, but as far as MMA I will be gearing up for Eve of Destruction..

Q: You mentioned earlier, and were in depth last interview about Lauren. Can you update how she is doing?
A: She is doing really well. She likes to be kept very busy. She just did Relay for life and was the ambassador. Locally she is a mover and a shaker. She is responding well to her treatments. We are all really thrilled. I am keeping the same walk out gear with Team Lauren on it. So she will be back in the cage with me. I went to see her after my last fight and wanted to get a picture of us facing off with our hands up. Her mom said "Lauren you have to look mean", and she was laughing saying "I can't". We tried for five minutes and she kept laughing saying "I cant cause I am too happy right now." Those words gave me chills up my spine. What an amazing person and her attitude will help her beat her disease.

Q: Before we finish anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: I would like to thank my family who basically make it possible for me to train, my cousin Stacia Guitza. My team and coaches at Team Bundy, and Jimmy Cerra at Team Balance in Pittsburgh. My sponsors, Ron at Scrap Solider, Foundation Fight Company, still keeping my teeth in my face, and they are sponsoring Ashley which is fun. Sun City Tanning for keeping me from being pasty. Nichole Long and Greg Kalikas, and you Jason. There a re still a lot of people out there that still don't give women's MMA any respect, so when we have somebody like the above mentioned who are supportive and get our stories out there, and what we do and that we are athletes, not running around in skimpy gear and throwing pillows, its important to thank them. Jessica Eye, even though I don't get out there often, her and her coaches at Strong Style are amazing. As long as my schedule allows it I plan to go out there more and train. Also a special someone whose name I would rather not put out there, but he knows who he is, for being a special person, supporter, and friend.

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