Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Isaiah Chapman is weeks away from his scheduled fight with Nate Mango. With a win Chapman would advance to the finals of the 135 pound Amateur series and his chance to repeat and win the title again. Chapman is regarded by many as the top amateur in the sport, but deserves respect for staying as an amateur and not rushing to turn pro. Coming from a wrestling background, Chapman has picked up the other aspects of MMA and become a very well rounded fighter.
Q: Can you talk about how you got started in MMA?
A: I always had an interest in it. I wrestled in middle school, so coming up I loved competition. once I graduated I wanted to keep going and take it further. A buddy of mine asked me to come train with him for a weekend and ever since I started I never stopped. I got hooked on the sport and the competition.
Q: Coming from a wrestling background, was the striking hard for you to pick up?
A: Not at all. I picked it up fairly easy, but i was a lot of practice.
Q: Does being a father make it hard to find time for training?
A: Somewhat on certain days. I take my little girl with me sometimes for the toddler class. With the newborn, it depends on the day. Some training days are cut short. But I got everything balanced pretty well.
Q: A lot of people say you are the top amateur fighter around here. Does that put more pressure on you to live up to that?
A: Of course it does. I appreciate the way I am thought of, but of course it puts extra pressure on you to stay that way in the eyes of others. I am always pushing myself to be better than the fight before, better than yesterday. SO I am always working hard to get to the next step.
Q: Does that put a bigger target on your head, meaning, everyone brings their best to fight you?
A: Oh for sure. The target just gives you incentive to stay in the gym and keep going.
Q: I interview Nichole Long (NAAFS Matchmaker) and we talked about you staying amateur with all you have accomplished. She called it the "right way". Do you feel people sometimes rush to turn pro?
A: I do. As an amateur it's your chance to learn everything you can and sharped all the tools you have to take it to the next level. So before I go pro, I wanna make sure I am prepared and ready. I don't want to just do the minimum and then jump in unprepared. I wanna do my home work and study up on my skills.
Q: Coming up you are scheduled to fight Nate Mango. You beat him once by Rear Naked Choke. Have you seen improvements in him that make him more of a threat?
A: I have seen a couple of his fights. I'll say his improved, but as a fighter, I think everyone improves from their last fight. I am not going into this fight without any caution. He is coming for his rematch, but I will be ready. It's not a fight I will take easily. I will go in like any fight, not knowing what to expect, but I will be ready for everything.
Q: Is there a key for you in this fight. Something you wanna do?
A: I wanna make sure to showcase my skills.
Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: No, not really. I accept a win however it comes.
Q: You have fought people who like to talk. You have never been a talker and some people say they respect that. Is that something you make a conscious effort to do?
A: For sure. It's just the kind of person I am. I am not the type to run my mouth. I train hard in the gym and show my talents in the cage. I think that and running your mouth are two totally different things. I think you are respected more if you show what you got in the cage and not run your mouth all the time.
Q: If you win this its a chance to fight for and repeat as NAAFS amateur champion. What would that mean to you?
A: It would mean a lot. It would be a great accomplishment for me. It is something I want and am working hard to achieve. I see it in my grasp and am going to push for it.
Q: Tyler Saltsman already advanced to the finals. You beat him by decision. Would you rather fight someone you already have a win over or someone knew like a Cody Garbrandt or someone, or does it not matter?
A: It really doesn't matter. I will say, it would be nice to have someone knew. Something different for everyone to say. But like I said, each fighter gets better with each fight, so as any fight, I will train harder and be ready and be a better fighter than before.
Q: You just attended Bellator. Was there anyone or anything that stood out?
A: I liked the heart of a lot of guys in there. A lot of them went in ready to fight and wanting to fight. There were a few fighters I kept my eye on cause that's the next level, so of course I was watching.
Q: How long till you think you are ready for that stage?
A: I wont make any statements haha, but I will be there soon enough.
Q: You train at one of the gyms I really like, Rock Hard, what are the benefits of training there?
A: Training at a gym like Rock hard, you get the moves broken down to you, we are very technical. We get a lot of one on one coaching so we get the moves. We break everything down. Its a good atmosphere, I like the people. Everyone tries to improve their teammate rather than their self cause we all grow together.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: I wanna thank my coaches and teammates, my supporters, my friends and family for being there for me, and thank you for the interview. And thanks to NAAFS for giving me the opportunity.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
So MMA is a "male sport" you say? Try telling that to Nichole Long. Nichole is the matchmaker for the NAAFS and proving that not only is it not a "male sport", but that a woman can thrive in it. Nichole has built up a loyal following amongst fighters who fight for her, and it's easy to see why. It's because contrary to what some people say, after stealing it from her, she is the one who truly is "fighters first". Outside of the sport, getting to know Nichole as a friend, while if tested she will portray the title someone gave her of "MMA Bitch", she is actually a sweet and caring woman.
Q: Can you talk about how you got involved with the NAAFS?
A: Well, I had left a company I was with, and a main player from a team that fought both where I was and for NAAFS told me I should get ahold of Greg and he set up the meeting. Greg (NAAFS CEO Greg Kalikas) and I met and it clicked.
Q: Several big shows coming up. Let's start with Bellator. What does it say with NAAFS that Bellator wants to work so close with them?
A: Truthfully I think that we have a lot of talented fighters in Ohio and are producing a good product. As you see, a lot of our fighters have been showcased on their shows lately. It's a natural transition to have us working with them.
Q: With so many local fighters fighting this Saturday is it a chance to show the country how good MMA is in Ohio?
A: I definitely think it is. Especially with it being on Spike.com now. That's huge for local fighters here to be seen everywhere. In addition, it gets the whole Bellator crew a look at what we have in Ohio.
Q: Is it hard with so many good local fighters to have to explain to a fighter why they didn't get on the Bellator show?
A: It is hard. I got so many calls from fighters wanting to be put on that card. Of course I felt bad that I couldn't' put everyone on it, but at the same time, the ones who have been with us for most of their careers were the ones who got chosen first. It turned out to be a good card, I can't wait.
Q: Next month is the big show at the I-X Center, with two Pro title fights, but it's actually huge for amateurs. Can you explain why?
A: Those are our national semi-finals. Those guys you see have fought with us all year round to get to this. The two winners from each class will move on to Night of Champions. It's huge, those guys worked their tails off to get here.
Q: So fair to say, where with most shows you have potentially a few top amateurs, a night like this, you can see all the top amateur talent in one night?
A: Yeah, definitely. A lot of people work and can't get to every show that these guys are one, but now they are all on this show. It's worth coming out and seeing just for the amateurs. Even if this was an all amateur show it would be huge. Now add on two title fights plus having Kevin Zalac and Adam Milstead, it's a big thing for us.
Q: With the finals in December, do you have any worry about one of the winners potentially being injured?
A: There always is that worry. It has happened. Usually its before the semi-finals. There is always someone we have to pull up from the number 5 ranking or someone that has fought and deserves it. Most of the time the injuries are then. Yes you worry about it being before finals. They can't fight anywhere else so if there is an injury it happens in the gym and they aren't as severe.
Q: Someone like Isaiah Chapman, a top amateur and has stayed amateur to get better. Do you feel some rush to soon to turn pro?
A: I do. Isaiah has his head straight and is doing it the right way. Most of them who stay amateur, take their time and grow as people. Definitely they do better as a pro. Most who have done it that way have won a lot. The guys who put in the mandatory five fights and turn pro to make money, don't have the right intentions. They want money and fame, and that's not what its about, its about the sport. Those guys don't seem to do as well, they can, but as a whole they are not as prepared as someone like Isaiah Chapman.
Q: In November is Eve of Destruction. Why is that so important for you?
A: We did the first one last year, that was my baby. I had wanted to do it for some time and Greg ok'd it. It was my dream come true so to do it again, I am ecstatic. It is a lot more work than a normal three shows put together. I love it, I will put in the time cause its a good thing for the sport and the ladies.
Q: With less female fighters, how hard is it to match-up?
A: The hardest part is a lot of their fights weren't sanctioned, so their records don't show where they stand. We are a sanctioned state and I have to match it as their sanctioned record, so I have to find two girls with the same unsanctioned and sanctioned record. Even with non sanctioned fights, they don't even show in records. That's the biggest obstacle. There still isn't as many female fighters so they come from all over. A lot have kids and jobs and that makes this so unique. its fun, they all laugh and giggle together, its a whole different feel.
Q: Aisling Daly will be back to defend her title. I told her with the class she showed last time, a lot who were booing her will be cheering this time, but she didn't agree, do you?
A: I think that yes a lot booed her, but she won the fans over being so humble and nice and talking to fans. She won the NAAFS fan base over. I think she will hear cheers, and after reading articles people like you put out, people will start to get attached. She's our champ and we and the fans should be proud of her.
Q: Awhile ago, an ignorant person, gave you a nickname, you have embraced it since then, can you explain?
A: Haha, yeah I got called the MMA Bitch. So, I find it funny. If you are gonna call me a name, it doesn't bother me, so I got Bitch tattooed in my mouth by Lettia Suchevich, one of our female fighters, so it was even better from her.
Q: First time I interviewed you, you said you were fighters first, some around here have stolen that and used it for themselves. But you are the one who tries to get fighters fights when shows they were on got canceled. Why is that so important for you?
A: Without the fighter, there is no show. People can say they are fighter first, but show me, don't tell me. That's the way I run everything. I show fighters that I care. A lot of them get hurt, I check on them. Not because I have to, but because I want to know how they are doing and to see if they need anything. Its a big part of this industry that people over look. The fighters are the show. When they steal it like they did from that interview, I just have to giggle.
Q: With so many moving to Bellator, and Stipe Miocic and Donny Walker in UFC, does that make it more important to build local stars?
A: We are always going to be kind of on a building basis. Those were the stars last year and we will build new ones each year. But it means we are doing our job. If that's what happens with fighters, we are doing our job getting them to the next level.
Q: When, for example, Stipe wins the heavyweight title, and then moves to the UFC, say he is a big success and stays awhile, how long before you decide to create a new or interim champion?
A: I varies on how long. Right now we are doing an interim title for 145 on Bellator. We felt it was best with Donny in UFC. You give it a few months, give them a couple fights and see how they do. There is nothing wrong with an interim belt, it means your champ has gone on and done big things. If for some reason it doesn't work out, he or she has a home here. There isn't a specific time line, its case by case. I used to not understand interim champs, but I think its essential to have some kind of champ.
Q: Anything else you want to mention?
A: No, anything else you want to ask me?
Q: Is there something I should?
A: Nope, we covered everything.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: I always always always want to thank the fighters who ever fought for me at any promotion I worked with. Most are very loyal and fight for me and trust me to put them in the cage. Greg Kalikas and everyone who lets me do what I do. You writers who do interviews for the fighters cause it gets their names out there.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Jessica Eye is coming off her first loss, to Aisling Daly. While her first loss was not something she wanted, she learned from it, and it may prove to have almost been a good thing. Because learning will help her in the next step in her career, which begins with her Bellator debut one week away. Jessica is not only a talented fighter, but as I know from experience, she is just an amazing person, always quick to do whatever she can to help others. Jessica has had that "prospect" label attached to her for awhile, now she moves towards the "star" label.
Q: First, for those not familiar, how did you get started in the sport?
A: Basically I fell into MMA, it didn't happen because I decided I wanted to go to a gym. I just so happened to meet Marcus (Marinelli) and the guys training at the gym, not fighters, just guys training there. They invited me to take a couple classes and it just fell into place. I was doing the kettle bell classes, the flex band classes, and next thing you know, I was boxing and grappling, it just happened without being forced.
Q: Your last fight was with Aisling Daly. It was a fight you pretty much controlled. Did you just get caught or something else?
A: I think it was a mixture of a lot of things going on in that fight. I had some personal issues, a lot going on, a lot of people don't know I suffered a major major concussion, and we should have pulled out of the fight and we didn't. I was suffering from head aches and a lot of issues before that. But I wanted that fight for myself, to show I could push through it. I am not making excuses but I feel I was winning that fight and made mistakes because my focus wasn't where it should have been, and Aisling capitalized on that. There were other things, I was having a wardrobe malfunction before the fight, my sports bra kept coming up, I thought I was gonna flash the crowd. I think there were a lot of key things that weren't right that added up and Aisling did a great job of capitalizing on it.
Q: Would you like to fight her again?
A: Most certainly. People ask me if I want a rematch, you gotta wait, you don't get a rematch the very next fight, and to be honest I don't want that. I hope that me and her can help women's MMA by causing a bigger draw and put it back on the NAAFS stage or even the Bellator stage.
Q: Was it hard to put this fight behind you and focus on this next one?
A: I wanna say no it wasn't hard, but it was. I kind of dealt with some personality issues with myself and battled confidence issues cause I never lost before. I didn't show that to anybody. No one would have knows cause I was in the gym the next day, and I stayed on it and this whole summer has been huge for me. I used it as motivation, because if I am gonna lose, I am glad I lost that way. I didn't lose by getting my ass kicked, I lost because I made a mistake and someone capitalized on it. It turned my outlook on MMA and fighting to a different view, I am not a walking time bomb anymore. I can go out and just fight and be a better fighter because of it. I put it behind me, at first it was hard, but now I have gotten to cross train with some amazing females, it instilled that confidence back in me and my team, seeing how wonderful my team has been. Your only as good as your last victory and how you handle it, and your last loss, so if I took a month off I wouldn't have learned from it.
Q: Locally, you are one of the most popular fighters. Is there one specific reason why you think that is?
A: That would be a better question to ask my fans. My fans know that I love them. They are the greatest people, and if I could, I would give them each a day to spend with them and talk and learn about them and see who they are, so they can see who they are supporting. It melts my heart because they are such a motivation for me. They felt my last loss as much as I did, and I know that. I am glad they are here for me and I am here for them as much as possible. I will constantly fight for myself, but I will also fight for the Cleveland fans. As long as they support me, I will represent them in a positive manner. Cleveland had their King of the Court with LeBron, now they need their Queen of the Cage.
Q: You are fighting Casey Noland for Bellator next week, what do you know about her?
A: Other than her being Chuck Liddell's baby's momma, I really don't much about here haha. I know she is from a tough camp, obviously The Pit is a striking camp, they are known for that, they are known for that, they are known to be brawlers and tough people. I have talked to mutual friends and they say she is super tough and I respect her. But the one thing I did miss out on the Aisling fight is I waited for her to make mistakes, and if anyone saw my Marissa Caldwell fight, I didn't wait, I took the fight to her and was the meaner fighter, this time I didn't wand waited to see what she would do. I am going into this fight fighting my fight and people are going to see the Evil that people saw when I walked into the cage for the first time. Whatever her game plan is, good for her, but my game plan is my game plan and she is gonna fall victim to it cause I am not gonna fall into hers.
Q: The fight is close to home, and with you and John Hawk both fighting, you can expect huge crowd support, does that help or affect you?
A: I would have said yes if I hadn't fought in Atlantic City. I love the crowd, but if they aren't there I'd feel their energy from a million miles away. The crowd can be there and I can feel them, and they can not be there and I can be booed. I am excited to one day be booed, because I will use energy in anyway I can, good, bad, happy, evil, whatever it is I will use it. It makes you feel good when you got people screaming your name and roaring. I heard in an interview Bjorn (Rebney) referred to me as Bono, so that was awesome. And I love that, but it's give and take, I will take it for what its worth. If they are there to support me and scream I will feel it, and if they aren't there I will feel it from a distance.
Q: When I interviewed John Hawk, he said when the crowd is behind him, he hears it but doesn't here it, meaning he knows they are there but when he is fighting he doesn't notice it. Is that how you are?
A: Yeah, its like Charlie Brown, you hear it and hear a wah wah wah. You hear voices you key in on like your coaches. I only hear their voices and the crowd again goes to the Charlie Brown voice.
Q: Is this your chance to show you belong with the top fighters in your class?
A: Yeah absolutely. I think even more than with Aisling. I think Aisling helped me realize a lot about me and my career. This is my chance, last time wasn't my chance and I thought it was. This is a bigger chance to show the world class fighter that I am. I am very young in this sport, younger than a lot of the world class fighters right now and that works to my advantage in a lot of ways.
Q: Is their one thing from the Daly fight that you can use to help you in this fight?
A: Don't wear a sports bra anymore haha. That's one of them, but the other is my focus, don't let anything take my focus away. Eye on the prize completely.
Q: Do you have a prediction how this ends?
A: I want a knock out bad, but I will take a victory however it comes cause I victory is a victory.
Q: You have been working this week with Sara McMann who like you is an up and coming fighter. How has that experience been?
A: Oh my gosh its been awesome. Sara is the most remarkable female I ever met. She is flying so under the radar that it upsets me. That girl deserves to be at the top level, on Bellator or Strikeforce. She is a world class woman and it has been a pleasure to have her here. She has helped me with my confidence and just talked to me as a woman. I spend so much time with these guys, and it's so different to have a female here, just her demeanor is empowering and I feed off it. To have her coach me on my ground, I heard her, I heard her voice. Some people I ignore them, but I hear her and heard what she told me to do. I can't wait for her to come back and to help her with anything. She has a phenomenal physique to her, she looks amazing, is amazing, and I think the world of her.
Q: Any idea what you want next, or just focused on this?
A: You know what, I think with the Aisling fight, I was looking past it, so I am not looking at anything but next Saturday. Not even worried about bills to pay, waking up next Monday, just Saturday and being ready and winning this fight.
Q: With you, John Hawk, Chris Lozano and Brian Rogers with Bellator, and Stipe Miocic with the UFC, what does that say about Strong Style?
A: Strong Style has been working their butt off and all the fighters in Strong Style. I have been their 5 or 6 years now and I have watched these guys walk in and do everything possible. It is like college, we have been going to Strong Style college for the past 4 or 5 years, working our tales off and now its our turn to graduate to the bigger level. It was good to fly under the radar cause now we are coming out with a bang. We are up there with Jackson's and Team Quest and American Top Team. We may not have been in people's eyes for the last 25 years or 10 years, but we will be here for the next 10 and 20 years. We are building a new breed in the sport, people will remember Strong Style.
Q: Is this a chance to not only show how good the fighters there are but also the coaches and how good they are?
A: I don't think people realize the amount of talent our coaches have in that gym. We got probably 20 coaches and each has their own style. Every fighter is different, what one coach does for one fighter may not work for another fighter, but we got a coach who will work for that person. They will expand and grow your skill. Marcus is a remarkable man. He is a coach that connects with his fighters. You can't replace him, same with Pablo Castro and Joe Delguyd. They help us when we are confused, and I don't know if other gyms have that or not, but I am not concerned with them, but I will tell you what, my coaches do. They know how to control me and other fighters. If you saw the corner of Chris Lozano, it wasn't "do this do that". It was "let's go, focus", it helped Chris stay connected with himself.
Q: I know from my experience, it's important for you to help people. Is that accurate?
A: Jason, my EYEBelieve came from just wanting to show people they can believe in themselves and be whatever they want. If you have a passion for something and I can help, I will. Fighting has made me more open and see they good and unfortunate bad in people. I love to help people find their confidence. They world can beat down confidence and it's not easy to keep it, and I love helping people with that, with finding their smile, helping them feel good. Someone did that to me, it was Marcus, he helped me and so did my father. if they can do it, I can help others to. It's self rewarding.
Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank?
A: My teammates, my sponsors, B3 Fighter Management Company for taking me under their wing, Greg Bell has done a great job promoting me. intimidation clothing for always hooking me up, Luke (Jernigan) is an amazing man. My newest clothing sponsor BeachOaz, they are new to me but I am excited to work with them. The owner Chris started it from believing in himself and others. Haasz Auto Mall for letting me have a car for a month while Sara is here so we don't have to rent her one. Barley House for putting on me and Johns part, John Lennon for being who he is. He is a remarkable man who helps people get in a better spot in life. My long time sponsor who I will always be a part of Atkinson Candy Company. They were there from the beginning. They are delicious.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
After long deserving it, Donny Walker finally got his shot with the UFC. He lost a close decision to Jeff Hougland. Next week, he gets his second UFC fight, against Ken Stone, a match-up the is really good for Donny. This is a shot for one of Ohio's best to make his mark nationally and show everyone how deserving he is of his UFC contract.
Q: Can you start out just talking about how you got started in the sport?
A: I got started like a lot of people. I started watching the UFC at a young age, 8th or 9th grade. Jason Dent brought in a video and said "Hey watch this stuff", and I started watching it with him, and was like "why that's pretty cool". So that's how I got started, just watching it on tv and being amazed. It was back in 1993 when we got into it.
Q: When you started training, was there something you picked up quicker than the rest?
A: I have always been a hands on kind of guy, so with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I caught on pretty fast.
Q: How long did you train before your first fight?
A: That's hard to say. Technically, once I got a fight, I was like "OK, let's do it", you know what I mean. I didn't really train. Now, these days MMA is a sport where you do have to train, beforehand I just went in and had fun. Now you do have to train, train to be the best.
Q: You had a lot of success with NAAFS, and a lot of people saying you deserved your shot with someone like the UFC. Where you surprised it took so long or expect it sooner?
A: I think it's one of those things, right place, right time. I think everything happens for a reason. When it came, I was excited, I was like "Finally". I didn't know when it was gonna be, knowing that i tried out for the Ultimate Fighter, I knew there was a reason I didn't get on the show. I ended up going straight to the UFC.
Q: Looking back, was it a good thing you didn't get on the Ultimate Fighter?
A: I guess at this point in time, I will say it's a good thing. If you look at it, it would have been good publicity, get your name out there more, because everyone watches the show. Since I didn't get on, oh well, hopefully I can make a name just fighting for the UFC.
Q: For that first UFC fight, how helpful is it to have someone like Jason, who has been there before, going through that with you?
A: Very helpful, and another big helpful part was just Jason being friends for so long. We have been training buddies, we walk around at about the same weight. Its good to have someone like that, that can push you, knows what you are doing, wrong and right. When he came back from the Ultimate Fighter, he brought back a lot of good things, and just helped me improve my game. That's why I made it to the UFC I think.
Q: In that first fight, you lost a decision to Jeff Hougland. Where there any nerves, especially in the first round?
A: You know, I was kind of shocked, in my mind when I fought I thought I won that first round, now I watch the tape, yeah, I lost a close first round. I don't think I was nervous, more like "wow, I am actually here", more shocked and excited. I was too relaxed when I went in there instead of how I usually go in.
Q: Along those lines, the third round was all yours, were you more settled down at that point?
A: Yeah exactly, I settled down, and Jason came to me and said "You lost those first two rounds", and I couldn't believe it, I thought I won the first round. So I knew I was gonna try and finish in the third, unfortunately, I am more conditioned for five rounds, but you only get three rounds. Pretty much, I learned a lesson, give it all you got all three, you can't leave it to the judges.
Q: Looking back, can you pick one thing that cost you the fight?
A: Yeah, that first round. I think I should've been myself more. I remember getting kicked and thinking "Wow, that's all he has". I was shocked I guess, being in the UFC, I figured he would hit harder, and when he didn't I was like "wow, cool".
Q: The next fight coming up is Ken Stone, what do you know about him?
A: Four time collegiate wrestler. he has fought two of the best guys, Eddie Wineland and Scott Jorgensen. He has been knocked out by them both to. He is with American Top Team down in Florida. He has really good hands and is a south paw. A lot of good things and I will have to come out there and be better than him, and I know I can do that.
Q: Is there something from the first fight, you can use for this fight?
A: Yeah, pretty much start out heavy handed. Let him make the mistake of shooting in, and if it goes to the ground, good, if it doesn't I will knock him out in the first round. I am not gonna think in the back of my head, what about the 2nd round, what about the 3d round. I know my body can handle 2,3,4,5 rounds, so just give it everything I got in that first round.
Q: Whats the key for this fight, just keeping pressure on him?
A: Exactly, keep more pressure. He is a south paw and I do good against wrestlers and south paws. The only time I had losses or close wins is against Jiu-Jitsu guys. So being that he is a wrestler I will match up really well with him.
Q: What is the big difference for you between 3 and 5 rounds?
A: Five rounds gives me more time to work. I am more conditioned, I can feel the person out in round one and two, and by the third round I am ready to go and throw. I am trying to be more aggressive in the first round. I usually let them come at me with everything they have, they think they got me and exhaust themselves, its like a chess match.
Q: How does this fight end?
A: I am gonna have to say I will submit him at the end of the 2nd round.
Q: You train at GriffonRawl, one of the top gyms around here. What are the benefits of being there?
A: The benefits is we got some of the best of the best up there. We got good, well-rounded guys who push me day in and day out. We got Jason Dent, George Comer, who is a state wrestling champ. A lot of guys I can roll with and ask questions. We also got Jeff Starr, a Relson Gracie Black Belt. He has brought a lot to my game that will help me in this fight I think.
Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank?
A: My manage and training partner, Jason Dent. Training partners, Dave Osborne and Chuck Shilling. My sponsors, Tim Misny, Clinch Gear, Pro Fighting Fans, Miguel Defina, Intimidation Clothing, Dans Ark, Reets Auto, Dr. Franklin and Equine Specialty Hospital. Also, my wife Breanne and can't forget God for all the blessings he has given me.
September 10th NAAFS held Combat Challenge 15. The under card was loaded with young fighters in their 1st, 2nd or 3rd fight for the most part. While some of the fighters seemed to have cardio problems, for the most part, it was entertaining with some nice finishes. The three main fights were all really good fights with some really talented fighters. A card like this is good cause it gives you a mixture of fighters trying to prove themselves and fights with fighters who have already proven themselves.
1. Amateur Welterweight
John Star (0-0 Bullpen) vs Louis Wiggins (1-2 VIP D-Boyz)
RD 1: Jab and hook by Wiggins. Nice takedown by Star. Star gets the mount. Wiggins lands two shots from the bottom. Star starts landing several hard shots and then does a great job getting an armbar for the tap.
Result: John Star by Tapout (Armbar) at 1:09 of Round 1
2. Amateur Featherweight
Jason Alexander (0-0 Non-Stop MMA) vs Corey Simmons (2-0 VIP D-Boyz)
RD 1: Slam and takedown by Alexander. Alexander gets side control. Simmons pulls guard. Body shots by Alexander. Alexander stands and then drops back into side control, then he gets mount. Alexander throwing shots from the mount. Alexander gets his back and looks for the choke, but Simmons is defending well. Now Alexander is back to the mount and landing shots. Alexander lands two hard shots to end the round.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Alexander
RD 2: Leg kick by Simmons. A slam by Alexander who picks him up and slams him again. Alexander gets side control but Simmons is able to get half guard. Alexander stands and drops back into guard. The ref stands them up. They clinch on the cage and Simmons lands a punch to the body. Simmons hooks a guillotine and drops down. Alexander pulls his head out as the round ends.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Alexander
RD 3: Hard uppercut by Simmons. Takedown by Alexander, but Simmons is right back up. Alexander shoots in and gets a takedown landing in guard. Not much action here. The ref stands them up. Hard cross by Simmons. Alexander shoots but eats punches. He shoots again and gets the takedown. Simmons is landing from the bottom.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Simmons
My score card: 29-29 Alexander
Result: Jason Alexander by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)
3. Amateur Lightweight
P.J. Palmer (0-0 Uniontown Fight Club) vs Keifer Roberts (0-0 Independent)
RD 1: Roberts shoots but can't get the takedown. Both throw wild shots. Palmer gets a takedown and gets his back. Now he has side control. Palmer lands body shots. Palmer gets his back and lands more body shots. Now landing even harder shots. Palmer pulls Roberts head back and lands head shots till Roberts taps.
Result: P.J. Palmer by Tapout (strikes) at 1:50 of Round 1
4. Amateur Flyweight
Donnie Ballou (2-2 Genocide MMA) vs Jordan Gonzales (1-0 VIP D-Boyz)
RD 1: Both throw and miss punches. They clinch and move to the cage. Gonzales lands a knee low but the ref misses it. Takedown by Ballou but Gonzales gets back up. Ballou takes him down again and gets his back. Ballou is looking for the rear naked and trying hard for it but Gonzales defends it well. Gonzales gets up but Ballou still has his back. Nice throw by Ballou but Gonzales gets on top. Ballou looks for a triangle as the round ends.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Ballou
RD 2: Leg kick by Gonzales. Body kick by Gonzales. Nice hook by Gonzales. Gonzales takes him down and tries to get his back. Ballou gets up. Hook by Gonzales. Ballou gets a takedown. Punch by Ballou. Ballou gets side control. Gonzales tries for an armbar. Gonzales is able to get on top and into side control. Gonzales lands punches. Ballou sweeps to get on top. Gonzales tries for an arm. Ballou stands up as the round ends.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Gonzales
RD 3: Leg kick by Gonzales. Two punches by Ballou. Ballou gets a takedown. Gonzales tries for an arm but Ballou pulls it out. He tries for it again but can't get it. Ballou moves to north south position and then side control. Ballou lands a body shot. Gonzales defends well on the bottom. Two punches to the head by Ballou. The ref stands them. They clinch on the cage and Ballou gets a takedown.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Ballou
My score card: 29-28 Ballou
Result: Donnie Ballou by Split Decision (29-28/28-29/29-28)
5. Amateur Light Heavyweight
Luke Gray (0-0 Independent) vs Nick Halkides (0-0 Evolve MMA)
RD 1: Cross by Halkides. Both land hard hooks. Jab by Halkides. Halkides lands a kick ow stopping the action. They resume and Halkides lands a hard hook to drop Gray. He lands ground and pound till the ref stops it.
Result: Nick Halkides by TKO at 1:26 of Round 1
6. Amateur Bantamweight
Victor Angulo (0-0 Dragons Den) vs Yousef Abdel-Salam (1-0 Independent)
RD 1: Cross by Abdel-Salam. Abdel-Salam lands a few punches. Angulo shoots but gets stuffed. More hard punches by Abdel-Salam. Angulo gets a takedown but Abdel-Salam is right back up. Leg kick by Angulo. Abdel-Salam lands more punches against the cage. Now he lands body shots. More hard head shots by Abdel-Salam. Angulo gets a takedown but Abdel-Salam is up quick. They clinch against the cage and Angulo lands a knee. They separate and Abdel-Salam lands more punches. Abdel-Salam gets a takedown and lands two head shots.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Abdel-Salam
RD 2: Leg kick and a jab by Abdel-Salam. Leg kick by Angulo. Leg kick and a jab by Abdel-Salam. Two punches by Abdel-Salam. Abdel-Salam takes him down and gets his back. He lands punches to the head. He gets one hook in and lands more punches. He keeps landing till the ref stops it.
Result: Yousef Abdel-Salam by TKO at 1:48 of Round 2
7. Amateur Middleweight
A.J. Simeth (0-1 Bullpen) vs Andre Jones (1-0 Evolve MMA)
RD 1: Clinch against the cage. Takedown by Simeth. Simeth stands and drops into side control. He gets his back but is too high and Jones is able to get on top. Simeth has a tight armbar but Jones does a nice job getting out. They stand and clinch against the cage. Simeth is trying for and gets a single leg takedown. In half guard Simeth lands body shots. The ref stands them. Kick to the body by Jones.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Simeth
RD 2: Hard hook by Jones. They clinch on the cage and Simeth tries for a takedown but can't get it. He is still trying hard to get the takedown and then picks him up and slams him landing in half guard. Simeth gets the mount and then his back, but Jones defends well.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Simeth
RD 3: Leg kick by Jones. They clinch on the cage and Simeth looks for the double leg. Body shots by Jones. Simeth is still trying to the takedown. Head shots by Jones. The ref separates them. They clinch against the cage and Simeth again tries for a takedown. The ref separates them. Knee to the body by Jones. They clinch on the cage and Simeth again tries for a takedown. Jones lands body shots to close it.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Jones
My score card: 29-28 Simeth
Result: A.J. Simeth by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)
8. Amateur Lightweight
Adam Bosley (2-2 Uniontown Fight Club) vs Marvin Rolles (2-3 Team Plainland)
RD 1: Rolles charges in and they clinch on the cage. Knee to the leg by Rolles. Knee to the body by Rolles. Foot stomp by Bosley. Bosley gets a takedown. Bosley is in half guard and lands short shots to the head. Now he lands harder shots to the head till the ref stops it.
Result: Adam Bosley by TKO at 2:50 of Round 1
9. Amateur Welterweight
Josh Krizan (2-0 Independent) vs Nate Davies (1-0 Instigator)
RD 1: Takedown by Krizan and they get right up. They trade hard shots. Hard hook by Krizan. Takedown by Davies. Davies looks for a D'arce choke. They stand. Hard body shots by Krizan. They clinch on the cage and Davies lands a nice hook. Krizan gets a takedown. Nice punch from the top by Krizan. Davies looks for a triangle at the end of the round.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Krizan
RD 2: They trade hard shots. Leg kick by Krizan. Two hard hooks to the body by Krizan. Three punch combo by Krizan. They clinch on the cage. Body shots by Krizan. A hook by Davies. They trade hard punches. Hard hook by Davies hurts Krizan, but Krizan then lands one of his own. Knee to the body by Davies. Hook to the body by Krizan.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Krizan
RD 3: Kick to the body by Davies. Hook to the body by Krizan. Takedown by Krizan. Action stalls. Nice sweep by Davies to get on top. Davies is in north south position. They stand. Both land jabs. Knee to the body by Davies and then a hard hook. Hook to the body by Krizan. Takedown by Krizan.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Davies
My score card: 29-28 Krizan
Result: Josh Krizan by Split Decision (29-28/28-29/29-28)
10. Amateur Welterweight
Reggie Merriweather (6-4 Genocide MMA) vs Chris Melillo (6-6 Evolve MMA)
RD 1: Takedown by Melillo. Hard body shots by Melillo. Melillo pushes him to the cage and lands more body shots. Merriweather holds him close. More body shots by Melillo. Punch to the head and then the body by Melillo. The ref stands them. Spinning back fist by Melillo. Merriweather lands a couple shots to end the round.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Melillo
RD 2: They trade hooks and then clinch. They move to the cage. Melillo gets a takedown but Merriweather lands on top. Merriweather gets mount and lands shots to the head. Melillo rolls and gets his back but Merriweather gets back on top and lands punches.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Merriweather
RD 3: Leg kick by Melillo. Hook by Merriweather. Merriweather lands hard punches. Melillo drops for a takedown but can't finish it. hard punches by Merriweather and he brings him down and lands in guard. The ref stands them. Hook by Merriweather. They go down and Merriweather lands hard shots. Merriweather stands and lands punches.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Merriweather
My score card: 29-28 Merriweather
Result: Reggie Merriweather by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)
11. Amateur Bantamweight
Kyle Pettit (4-1 Fighters United) vs Tyler Saltsman (5-2 Team Titan)
RD 1: Leg kick by Pettit. Saltsman picks him up and slams him. Saltsman looks for a choke. Knees to the body by Saltsman. Saltsman stands and kicks the legs of a downed Pettit. Saltsman lets him up. Leg kick by Pettit. Slam by Saltsman but Pettit is up quick. They clinch on the cage and Pettit lands a knee to the body. Jab by Pettit. Saltsman catches a kick and takes him down. Hard punches by Saltsman.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Saltsman
RD 2: Cross by Pettit. Pettit gets a takedown but Saltsman is on top. head shots by Saltsman. Saltsman stands and kick Pettit's legs. Saltsman drops back down in half guard. Head shots by Saltsman. Saltsman lets him up. Leg kick by Pettit and another. Cross by Saltsman. Takedown by Saltsman. Saltsman gets side control and lands head shots.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Saltsman
RD 3: Leg kick by Saltsman. Saltsman goes for a single leg and gets it. Knee to the body by Saltsman and then another. Head shots by Saltsman. Punches to the body by Saltsman. More shots to the head and body by Saltsman. Saltsman stands and kicks the legs of Pettit. Saltsman drops back down. They stand and Saltsman lands a leg kick.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Saltsman
My score card: 30-27 Saltsman
Result: Tyler Saltsman by Unanimous Decision (30-27/30-27/30-27)
Submission of the Night: John Star
KO of the Night: Yousef Abdel-Salam
Fight of the Night: Josh Krizan vs Nate Davies
Thursday, September 8, 2011
John Hawk is one of Ohio's most popular fighters, in part because of his style and never being in a boring fight. On September 24th he gets a chance to show more people why he is so popular as he makes his Bellator debut against Allan Weikert. As someone who sees John train on a regular basis, I can attest to his hard work ethic and desire to continue improving. His plan is to put on an impressive performance and earn a shot into Bellator's next 205 pound tournament.
Q: First, can you talk about how you got started in the sport?
A: I wrestled at Kent State University and after I got done, I had nothing else to do and still had a competitive edge in me. So I started with Jiu-Jitsu, and watching the UFC, after a couple years of winning all the tournaments, the NAGA's and all, I decided to pick up kick boxing with Ryan Madigan at Jungle MMA, which is now basically Evolve. I started there, and was at Evolve for about a year and now I am at Strong Style.
Q: Your last fight you lost a close decision to Dan Spohn for the NAAFS Light Heavyweight title, in a decision that could have gone either way. How frustrating was that?
A: It's very frustrating. Dan is a good guy, but you know what, people can call me cocky, call me a poor loser, or whatever you want to. He lost that fight, I controlled the fight, I controlled him, pushed him, controlled the center of the ring, I pushed the action, didn't back up one time. To me, most times judges are retarded, they have no clue what they are looking at. Call me a hater, call me whatever you want, but this ain't the first time the judges went against me. Maybe because of my look, cause I am not a super bodybuilder with a super physique like some of these guys. At the same time, I put more effort and more training in than anyone. It's frustrating because this is my lively-hood. I am one of the best 205 pounders out there, I don't care what anyone wants to say. You can throw any light heavyweight in the country in there and I will stand and bang, and either win or at least make it a great fight. I am not a boring fighter. Granted, everyone says don't leave it to the judges, but at the same time, sometimes you can't knock a guy out. For myself, I have a concrete forehead and so you are gonna have to take me to a decision or tap me out. So for me its frustrating because, when you can't knock a guy out, half the judges don't know what they are looking at. They should have an MMA background, at least have had a handful of fights to be considered a judge.
Q: You were supposed to fight at Rock-N-Rumble, but your opponent backed out late. How frustrating was that?
A: Its very frustrating because we put all this time and effort into training. I cut 30 pounds for each fight and it is frustrating cause you peak your body to be in shape. It's the first time it's happened to me as a pro, but it happened lots as an amateur. At the same time, things happen for a reason and now I get my foot into Bellator.
Q: What was that roller coaster like? Being upset he backed out but then getting a big opportunity with Bellator?
A: It's great because before all these me and Marcus sat down and he wanted me to take time off, bench me to relax. I am a full time fighter. I take less than a week off of training. if he would let me I would be back the Monday after a fight. The roller coaster was crazy, the high and low of feeling that. Going from "Oh my God I am not fighting now, what am I gonna do?" Because I am a full time fighter, I do need a paycheck to continue living. But a few days later, Bellator called, and it was a blessing in disguise and I wanna make the most of it.
Q: On September 24th for Bellator you fight Allan Weikert, what do you know about him?
A: I know he has decent stand-up, he is a decent wrestler. My teammate Chris Lozano knocked him out a couple years ago at Night of Champions. I haven't looked him up that much so I haven't seen what he's done lately. He is a shorter fighter and I hope he is prepared because I am ready to take him out.
Q: You think he will be willing to stand with you?
A: You know what? I hope so, I mean I am good on the ground, but if he wants to stand and bang, my whole thing is he tried to do that with Chris Lozano and look what happened to him. So if he wants to do that with me I am more than willing, but at the same time I am just as good on the ground, so he is welcome to take it there to.
Q: You have a good ground game, but you are known for standing and banging, do you feel your ground game is kind of over looked?
A: Earlier in my career they called it the John Hawk ground and pound cause I could take people down and pummel the crap out of them. Yeah I guess so, cause my whole thing is, if someone takes me down, even if I cant submit you, I can hold you and control you, it may not score points but if the ref is smart it will be stood up in 20 seconds. I am good on my back and if I am on top I am better with elbows, ground and pound and everything. It's over looked, but its MMA, so I am willing to go wherever the fight leads me.
Q: Does having so many teammates who have fought on a big stage like Bellator benefit you?
A: Yeah for sure. It's the quality of opponents, with Stipe Miocic, Forrest Petz, Brian Rogers, Chris Lozano, Nick Duell, the list goes on and on and on. Some people say "I need to go across the country to train with these guys." I don't need to, I have the best partners right at Strong Style, no reason to go anywhere else because these guys are veterans at what they do, we are family and push each other. That's what makes Strong Style so good.
Q: With this fight, whats they key to winning?
A: They key for me is pressure, punches in bunches. A lot of people see me and I am aggressive and push the action. This time I got great cardio, everything is out the window for this fight. I am gonna go out there and be a banshee, throwing knees, elbows, everything trying to finish him.
Q: How does it end?
A: Knockout first round.
Q: Is the goal then to impress the Bellator people and maybe get into the 205 tournament?
A: Oh yeah, definitely. I wanna make a statement and afterwords I am gonna look at Bjorn (Rebney) the owner of Bellator and tell him I am one of the 205 light heavyweight fighters in the country and want to be in that tournament.
Q: With you and Jessica Eye both fighting on this card, you will have great crowd support, does that help you or do you not notice when you are fighting?
A: You know what? It's good I guess because I kinda notice it but don't really notice it, cause I am there, I am in the zone and I don't hear much. But its good knowing I will have fan support and a lot of family around to keep me grounded and motivated.
Q: Assuming you win, you know what you want next or just focused on this?
A: Just focus on this now Jason, cause this is my big foot in the door. This is the first big opportunity i have had and I want to make it count, cause once my foot is in the door I am making it stay. After this fight I would love to be in the tournament and go from there.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Yeah Marcus Marinelli, Pablo Castro, all my coaches at Strong Style, Stipe Miocic, Brian Rogers, Nick Duell, Forrest Petz, all my training partners. My sponsors, John P. Lennon, Intimidation Clothing, Hex Linc, AKI Fight Gear, Cal Crowell, the best Strength and Conditioning coach there is, True Assassin fight gear, they have been amazing to me, he works hard, helps fighters, and I love to help them, Fitness 19 where I work. Me and Jessica Eye have an after party at the Barley House in Akron, so come celebrate after our victories September 24th.
The first time I interviewed Dan Spohn he said "No one wants to be the local fighter forever". Coming off his decision win over John Hawk for the NAAFS Light Heavyweight title, Dan gets his chance to prove he is more than just a local fighter when he fights Dane Bonnigson on September 24th at Bellator in Canton, Ohio. As his war with Hawk showed, Dan Spohn is willing to do what it takes to get the job done, which will surely serve him well in attempting to impress the people at Bellator and try and earn his way into the next 205 pound tournament.
Q: Can you start out talking about how you got started in the sport?
A: I started with traditional Martial Arts and trained in that style for a long time. I met Joe McCall and he is the person who introduced me to cage fighting. I did my first cage for for NAAFS, one of their earlier fights.
Q: Your last fight was a decision victory over John Hawk for the NAAFS Light Heavyweight title, in a fight of the year candidate. Was that your toughest fight so far?
A: I guess with how tough John is and how many rounds it went, it probably could be one of my toughest fights to date.
Q: Do you prefer wars like that or would you rather just get it done quick?
A: I prefer a really hard fight, but like everybody I guess I would like to get my chance to fight somebody that I can put away fast and make it a nice highlight reel.
Q: How did it feel to get that NAAFS title?
A: It felt great. That's been my goal since I turned pro. To win that title and prove to myself that I could do that.
Q: In your last interview you said "No one wants to be the local fighter forever". Was that your first step on no longer being the local fighter?
A: Yeah, definitely. I mean, if you stay around as local fighter forever, you aren't going to go anywhere. I definitely want to move up in my career and go national. That's why its such a great opportunity to get to fight for Bellator.
Q: Speaking of that, you are fighting Dane Bonnigson for Bellator, how did you find out about this opportunity?
A: I found out from Sam Caplan and Greg Kalikas. They let me know they would be coming to Canton and I would have a chance to fight on the prelim card. I look at it as a chance to show the guys at Bellator what I can do and how I can fight. To show them I am worth having on their cards in the future, especially on the main card.
Q: What do you know about Dane?
A: Both of us have fought in the NAAFS for the most part of our career. He was a really talented amateur. He was 9-0 or 10-0 as an amateur. He had a little hiccup in his pro debut and got caught in a choke and his second fight he finished fast. He is a tough opponent and most of his fights don't go out of the first round.
Q; Would you expect him to want to take it down as opposed to standing with you?
A: I'm not really sure what his plans are. He could want to stand and go for a big knock out or anything like that. Everything changes when someone gets hit.
Q: You have more experience in big fights, is that an advantage for you?
A: I think my main advantage is I have had more pro fights and fights that have gone the distance. I am used to knowing what its like to fight through five full five minute rounds. I am gonna try and push the pace and try and make him get really tired, and that will be where I have the advantage.
Q: So what would be the key for you, just pushing the pace or something else?
A: I would say keeping him out of his comfort zone. Anywhere he may feel he has an advantage, I will keep him away from that. Keep him from rushing in and finishing fast.
Q: I know you are not a big prediction guy, but I will ask anyways, how does this end?
A: The only way I can say I see it ending is with me winning. I don't know for sure how, I have been working my Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, and Boxing, and everything. I am comfortable wherever the fight ends up and looking for a finish.
Q: So safe to assume you are looking to impress and get a shot at the 205 tournament?
A: I am looking to at least get considered for that tournament. I think it starts in 2012, that's something I have my eye on and if I perform and do what they are wanting to see, then maybe I will get a spot.
Q: After this fight, any idea what you want next, or just focusing on this?
A: Right now, this is one of the biggest fights I ever had since it's for Bellator. I am just focusing on this and kind of waiting to see what is really an option after this fight.
Q: If Bellator does bring you back, would you like to still be able to defend the NAAFS title?
A: Yeah, I am hoping they work together to where I can retain my title and get to defend it.
Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank?
A: I want to say thank you to all my sponsors for helping me get where I am at, and everybody that has been there throughout the years. My instructors, friends and trainers and people I train with. Thanks to Bellator and thanks to Greg, he is a big reason I was able to get on this card I believe. Thanks to the NAAFS for all the promoting and marketing they do for us. Thanks to everybody that's helped me, I remember everybody and if I make it I am gonna help them to.
Friday, September 2, 2011
Josh Burr is coming off a TKO win over Jake Peterjohn at NAAFS War on the Shore, his first win. With increased confidence on September 10th at Combat Challenge he steps into the cage with Jimmy Mitchell. With a wrestling background, the TKO victory shows he is more than just a wrestler and improving at all aspects of the sport.
Q: First, can you talk about how you got started in the sport?
A: Well I wrestled since I was five years old, fifteen years. Once I graduated, I missed it, and MMA is the next best thing, so I figured I would give it a shot, and I have been going from there?
Q: Was there one aspect of the sport that has been the hardest to pick up?
A: Probably my stand-up was most difficult. Just technique wise, obviously I can stand and bang, but technique punches, straight shots. My straight shots, I am still working on those. Wrestling came naturally, jiu-jitsu starts to come naturally, just a lot of things to it. But basically my stand-up, technique wise.
Q: Are there any fighters you enjoy watching or trying to pick things up from?
A: In the UFC, Georges St.Pierre obviously. Overall he is great in my opinion. But that's about it. He is an overall great fighter. I watch tape from his first fight to where he is now, just trying to pick things up. But that's probably my main inspiration.
Q: At War on the Shore you beat Jake Peterjohn, how did getting that first win feel?
A: Felt great. Surprising, I figured it would be a three round fight. Especially after we finished the first round, it was back and fourth. But it felt great, I can't even describe the feeling of it. It was real exciting, real adrenaline rush. It was a good win, he is a tough kid.
Q: Would you have expected going in to get a TKO?
A: I figured it would be a wrestling match. My game plan going into the fight was to stay on my feet. I knew he was a wrestler, but I figured we would take each other down and then go from there. Didn't expect it to be on the feet as much as it did. Obviously I was wrong.
Q: Your next fight is with Jimmy Mitchell, what do you know about him?
A: He is 1-0, he never fought for NAAFS, he fought for Ohio Extreme Fighting or something, I never heard of them. He choked his opponent out in 20 seconds. He is a Muay Thai guy, I think he is 5'11" and is naturally around 135 so a real skinny guy. He fights out of Uniontown Fight Club out of Pennsylvania, and that's all I know.
Q: Do you expect this one to be standing?
A: My game plan is to feel him out on my feet, and if I feel comfortable take him to the ground. My strong suit is wrestling and takedowns, if I feel comfortable and he will be vulnerable on the ground, I will take it there. I wanna feel him out on my feet first because my stand-up is improving day by day. I wanna fight on the ground, my first few fights have never been to the ground, but we will see how it pans out. My wrestling will be superior by far.
Q: Coming off a win, are you more confident going into this fight than the last one?
A: Oh yea, definitely. Getting the first win under my belt, is a relief takes a lot of stress off. I feel more comfortable and have more cage time which is great. I fight Independent, so I don't always have access to a cage. More cage time is great, going in there and getting punched in the face helps a lot to, getting used to it. getting the first win does give me a confidence boost.
Q: Is there one thing you have to make sure to do to get the win?
A: Probably my straight punches. With Jake Peterjohn I threw a lot of over hands, probably my technique. Chin down hands up basically.
Q: How does this fight end?
A: I am gonna say probably a 2nd round TKO, same as with Jake Peterjohn.
Q: Any idea what you wanna do next, or just focused on this one for now?
A: Just take one fight at a time. My focus is on next Saturday. Once that happens, win or lose, I will go from there.
Q: Do you have a goal for where you want to be in the sport?
A: No, just do the best I can. I am a college student so I have a future other than this. Whether I have a future in this or a job, just do the best I can, just have fun with it. Whatever happens happens, I will be satisfied regardless.
Q: Is there a reason you like fighting for NAAFS?
A: To be honest it's the only organization I knew of, a couple of my buddies fought for them and I heard it was a good organization. After having two fights for them, I realize its a great organization, its a lot of fun. It's easy to, Nichole (Long) is really good at the promoting stuff and getting out contracts. I bug her with a lot of questions and she is real good at answering them. Its easy and enjoyable to fight for them.
Q: War on the Shore was a Pro/Am, this one isn't a Pro/Am, do you care about that at all?
A: No not at all. I fought at Chaparelle's my first fight and it was all amateur. It doesn't bother me at all. I mean its cool to watch the pros fight, a different level of the game, but ti doesn't affect me at all.
Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank?
A: Yeah, my coaches Jason Gehring and Jason Ratay. My family, mom mom, my sisters, my girlfriend Alicia, everyone who supports me, helps with training, and preparing. Its good to have all the help.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Dustin Kempf has fought some of the best in Ohio and beaten some of the best as well. On September 24th he gets that chance again against Frank Caraballo. However this time it's for Bellator. Dustin is getting a much deserved chance to show his exciting style to a big audience. For those attending Bellator in Canton, this is one fight you want to make sure to watch.
Q: First, can you talk about how you got started in the sport?
A: I was at an ex-girlfriends house and her older sister's boyfriend came over and was talking about it. I was being the smart alec and said "I'll fight, get me a fight and I'll fight" and two days later he called and said 'You are gonna be on the Next Level 2 show". So I talked about it so I had to do it. Low and behold my very first fight was against a guy from the Ultimate Fighter, Thomas Hayden, I am his only loss right now. So I fought and just kept on fighting and here I am now.
Q: Up to this point is there a fight you are most proud of?
A: No, not really. Every fight I always have someone come up and say "good fight, I love watching you fight", so if I can get ten fans to do that each fight, I am proud of it, as long as people love to watch me fight, if I can make one person who doesn't like the sport, turn and say I love the sport, I am happy with that.
Q: Your next fight is Bellator against Frank Caraballo, what do you know about him?
A: Frank the Tank. His name speaks for itself, he is a tank, a beat. He has heavy hands, good on the ground, hopefully its gonna be an all out war. I am sure no one will tell us it's a boring fight. I bring it, he brings it, Bellator is gonna love it, Canton is gonna love it, fans of MTV 2 are gonna love it, the only ones who wont love it are the bantamweights cause I am sure we are gonna steal the show.
Q: Safe to say this is your biggest fight?
A: Absolutely. I had a pretty big fight against Donny Walker a couple years ago, but this is Bellator. This is what we all fight for, we all go to the gym for, friends are out partying and having a good time, we cant go out cause we have a fight coming. Bellator is the next step and my biggest fight.
Q: You have taken some time off, do you worry about ring rust?
A: No, I really believe it's all in someones head. I have competed all my life, there is no ring rust there.
Q: What is the key to the fight for you?
A: Dictate the fight. The key to every fight and victory is make it your fight. If I wanna keep it standing keep it there, if I gotta take it to the ground take it there. Without saying my game plan, as long as I keep it my fight and do what I am capable of, I think I can win that fight, and its a good win for me.
Q: Do you expect him to want to keep it standing?
A: Yeah I would say so, but you never know. Frank is an intelligent fighter, a great fighter. He is an elite at 145, not only in Ohio, but in the country, I feel he is one of the best 145'rs. He is gonna have a good game plan and try and exploit my weakness and I will try and exploit his. You never know, its a fight.
Q: His last fight was an eleven second KO over Doug Kulbis, how impressed where you?
A: It's impressive any time a knockout punch is thrown. You know, someone walks in, and you set up a punch in MMA with those 4oz gloves, one punch can change your whole night and unfortunately for Doug it changed his whole night.
Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: I have no prediction. Only thing I am predicting is somewhere along the line, my hand is gonna get raised in victory, the become the 145 pound champion and run the NAAFS at 145.
Q: So is the hope to impress the Bellator people and earn more fights with them?
A: Yeah, this is my time to shine. Seven years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication into fighting and this is my time. When Bellator takes a look at me, I am hoping they say "This kid has a lot of potential". I took this fight on four and a half weeks notice, so hopefully they add it on to that and select me to be in a tournament. I have no problem dropping to 135 if they asked me to be in a tournament, or 145 either one I am capable of doing.
Q: Is it harder to get ready taking a fight that short notice?
A: No, all along I have been doing my best to stay in shape. Everybody wants a beach body, so I have been keeping my diet clean all summer and lucky for me I wasn't too too heavy. My weights on point, everything is on point to peak at the right time. I may switch my training camps to four week camps cause I feel real real good.
Q: You signed a contract with NAAFS, is there a reason you like fighting with them?
A: Greg (Kalikas) and Nichole (Long) are awesome to work with. They are always seeking to build their reputation and organization and if they do that then fighters who fight for them will build to. They are great to work with, everything is good. It's a great company, they give fighters exposure, they got Stipe Miocic in the UFC, Forrest Petz, Jason Dent, Donny Walker, people going to Bellator. They are opening doors for young hungry fighters in Ohio, and the NAAFS is like the CFL of NFL football right now, putting people in position to get big fights.
Q: So its safe to say you wanna keep fighting for them?
A: I would love to keep fighting for the NAAFS. They broadcast people, push them to bigger shows, its an awesome time to be part of the NAAFS.
Q: From having taken a wrestling class with you, it seems you enjoy teaching. Is that true?
A: I love teaching, especially wrestling. I have been wrestling since I was five, I go to the state wrestling tournament every year, I put my little cousins in wrestling, now mixed martial arts is a big deal and I love teaching and educating people in that. Its a great feeling knowing you helped someone get a little better.
Q: Are there any fighters you enjoy watching or picking things up from?
A: I enjoy every fight. Whether its an amateur who throws a slick boxing combo or does something nice, any fight is interesting and you can always learn something from somebody.
Q: Anyone you want to thank before we finish?
A: Yeah, I wanna thank Terry Blackwell, Zach, Aaron, everyone from Victory Martial Arts/ Team Instigator, also Robert Meese and Brian Cadle from Mainstreet boxing, I owe those two gyms the world. True Assassin and Intimidation clothing for helping me out with this fight. Joey Holt, he is also fighting for Bellator, he is helping me, Team Impact, Josh Stansbury, everybody helping me get ready for this fight, I cant thank people enough for this.