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Fighter Interview – Chris Davis

June 13th, 2009 1 comment


Leading up to his fight with MMA Ironman Jeremy Horn, Chris Davis from Headhunter Combatives took some time out of his training schedule to talk about his preparations leading up to his fight on Saturday night at Adrenaline MMA in Birmingham, AL.

Next MMA Fighter : Tell us a bit about yourself, how you got into Mixed Martial Arts and why you decided to train at Headhunter Combatives?

Chris Davis : A little over 2 years ago I was selling advertisements for a company and I was walking down the street when I saw a sign on a door that said grappling. So I walked in, and I told the guy there that I would really be interested in doing this if I could train for free because I couldn’t pay for a gym membership at the time. I told him that if he would let me train for free there that I could get him an ad in the phone book. So when he agreed, I said let me call my boss to make sure that’s ok. So I called my boss and said “Can I give this guy a free ad for a 1 year membership” and he said “Sure” so I started training at this place which at the time was called Guerilla Grappling. I continued to train at this place for about 6 months until they shut down and I knew I needed to find a new place to call home.

By this time I had fought about 5 fights as an amateur and started looking for a place to train when I started dating a girl who lived in Tuscaloosa. So when I woke up one morning, I went over to Headhunter to train 1 time and from that moment, I knew it was the place I needed to be. Mike Taylor was my head trainer down there and he has an extensive background in Combatives and Mixed Martial Arts and used to fight back in the day when they didn’t have gloves. As a matter of fact his first fight, was against a guy named Carlos Newton.

Next MMA Fighter : That’s awesome, have you ever convinced Mike to try and get back in there and meet up with Carlos who is trying to make a comeback right now?

CD : I’ve tried to get Mike a few times to get back into shape for one fight because everyone in Tuscaloosa knows how Phenomenal of a fighter he is and as good of a fighter that he is, hes an even better coach.

Next MMA Fighter : I read that you come from a military background, so I wanted to ask you how you use the discipline you learned in the service in your everyday training routine?

CD : I think obviously it transfers really well, because in the Marine Corps you get up early and it becomes a habit, plus we even had a combatives program although it was mostly weapons oriented. During this training, it helped me develop that leather skin that helps you get used to having a bruise, a twisted ankle, a hurt toe or a bad joint to name a few so when I started training MMA, which is a very physical sport, it was easy for me to adapt.

My discipline helped make it easy for me to get up early in the morning for my cardio, train late at night and always be ready to continue even when I was beat up, so I credit the Marine Corp for that toughness. While I was in the Marine Corps, I had a good military career and I learned a lot as far as discipline goes and I got used to getting up early in the morning and getting it done.

Next MMA Fighter : We are a website that is dedicated to finding the next great fighter in MMA, so what do you think sets you apart from the rest?

CD : Since I have turned professional I have had the opportunity to travel alot as I’ve fought down in Florida, up in Tennessee and I lived in California for a few years. During those times, I met a lot of guys that are in MMA just to be in the sport and wear a shirt that says they are a fighter. They really just want to live the lifestyle and be able to tell their friends they are a fighter.

I feel that the people that are able to separate themselves from that are able to make to the next level be it the UFC, WEC or even Adrenaline MMA and they get there because they are driven by something else more powerful. You really have to have something that drives you from your heart and for me that’s my daughter. I have a little girl named Layla and she is absolutely my world, she gives me the inspiration to continue with my cardio even when I am about to vomit because I want to do everything I can to provide for her the way I want to.

Next MMA Fighter : What do you think best describes your fighting style, and is there a signature move that we should look out for on Saturday?

CD : A lot of fighters I have met and even a lot of fighters in my camp including Brandon Powell and Barry Clifford who are fighting on this card, have that pedigree background that defines them and for me I didn’t really have a background, I came up strictly in MMA.

As much as I don’t like to mention it, I did my fair share of street brawling, so when I picked up MMA I definitely kept some of the street style in me and my trainers always mention that I am very ballistic and explosive. When I am fighting, I am always moving forward or laterally and there is no backward movement so I guess that best describes my style. As far as a specific move goes, I follow what one of my training partners Barry Clifford likes to say and that is to just listen to your body because it never ever tells you anything wrong.

Next MMA Fighter : What do you think is the one moment in your young MMA career that you will always remember?

CD : When I fought down in Tampa at the XFC event, I fought a great fighter named Donavin Hawkey and the fight went great. The thing that I will never forget was when I first came out of the tunnel and I looked up to see about 8500 to 9000 people and this was the largest crowd I had ever fought in front of. When I was preparing to walk out I really questioned how I would handle it, but once the adrenaline took over and I started feeding off the crowd it was at that moment that all the nerves went away.

There’s a good friend of mine at Omega Attire that takes care of our guys and when I was walking out at the same XFC event that they were sponsoring they got a picture of me on Omega Catwalk and that was something that was really cool that I don’t think I will ever forget. If you ask me this question 2 weeks from now I might have to change that moment to when my hand was raised after I beat Jeremy Horn.

Next MMA Fighter : In facing a pioneer of the sport in Jeremy Horn, how do you prepare yourself mentally to fight against someone with so much experience.

CD : What I have done up until this point that has worked well for me is I draw from my coaching. I think a big mistake that an up and coming fighter might make is they get intimidated. If you can push aside all the hype you can realize that it’s just you getting in the cage with another man and he doesn’t have lead in his hands, hopefully. The key is stay calm, not get intimidated and stick with your process. As my grandfather used to say “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and that definitely holds true for me.

When I prepare for a fight, I try to keep my routine the same in the way I eat and train but I might do a few things different such as picking up my cardio a bit and watching more tape. But when it all comes down to it like I said, its two guys getting into a cage that are going to get into a fight, and I have been in a whole lot of those.

Next MMA Fighter : Earlier in the day on Saturday UFC 99 is going to take place in Germany. As an up and coming fighter in the 205 weight class, who might find one of these guys in the future, who do you think is going to win in the main event of Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin.

CD : Ive been out to Vegas a few times and trained at Randy Couture’s where I have stood next to Wanderlei and I didn’t think he was anything particularly impressive physically. But I will tell you what, that man is absolutely ballistic and I think that you could hit him with a sledgehammer and he would keep fighting you. If I had to pick a winner I would have to go with Wanderlei because he’s my boy, I watch him a lot and he’s a great fighter.

Next MMA Fighter : Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today Chris. We want to wish you the best of luck on Saturday and can you tell us who you would like to thank for getting you ready for this fight?

CD : Buddy Vail with Shady Oaks Landscaping down in Tuscaloosa, not only has he helped me out a lot but he is a great friend. I would also like to thank David Elder of Tera Lane Salon and Spa, Brent Tidwell of Tidwell Chiropractic, all of my training partners and absolutely everyone down at Headhunter Combatives/Crossfit MMA. We have a great camp down there and helping me get ready for this fight was Barry Clifford, Brandon Powell and of course John Salter. We have all trained real hard and just finished a tough couple of weeks with our cardio.

Last and most importantly, I’d like to thank Mike Taylor my head trainer who is a great guy and has helped me so much. I really can say that I consider Mike more of a brother then a trainer to me and I would go to war with that guy.

Thanks again to Chris and his gym Headhunter Combatives for talking to us about his training and we will look forward to his fight on Saturday night against Jeremy Horn at Adrenaline 3 “Bragging rights in Birmingham”

UPDATE : Chris lost a hard fought Match to Jeremy Horn at Adrenaline MMA 3. We look forward to Chris’ next fight and have no doubt that he will rebound and continue to his winning ways.

Fighter Interview – John Salter

June 12th, 2009 No comments

John Salter

John Salter is a fighter I had the pleasure of speaking with today as he makes his final preparations for his second professional career fight against highly respected UFC veteran Roberto Traven. Traven hasn’t fought since 2005, but John isn’t taking him lightly. Salter has a strong wrestling and grappling pedigree, which includes a 2007 National Championship along with an undefeated record in both the amateur and pro ranks, and I think after this fight everyone will start taking John a lot more seriously.

Next MMA Fighter: First, tell us a bit about yourself and your gym, HeadHunter Combatives.

John Salter: I started wrestling when I was 12 years old. I won a state title in high school, went to college, wrestled at Lindenwood University for four years in St. Louis, MO, and when I was a senior in college, I won the Nationals. It was then that I decided I didn’t want to stop competing, so I got into Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing and [then] got into MMA. A couple months ago, I started training in Tuscaloosa at HeadHunter Combatives and started getting ready to fight anybody – getting good coaching and great training partners. We’re ready.

Next MMA Fighter: We’re a website that’s dedicated to finding the next up-and-coming stars in Mixed Martial Arts. What do you think sets you apart from the rest?

JS: The big thing I think that I have is that I’m a National Championship wrestler. There have only been three from Alabama ever, so I feel like I have that over anybody else that’s around here, and I feel like I can take anybody down whenever I want to. I’m a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but I have beaten people like Roan Carnerio, who’s a black belt in the UFC, so I feel like I can hang with anyone on the ground. And I feel like my stand-up’s not bad, but I can decide when a fight’s on the feet and when the fight’s on the ground, and I think that helps me in all my fights.

Next MMA Fighter: What’s your signature move or particular fighting style that you think best describes you… without giving away too much of your game plan for Saturday, of course.

JS: I’d say that what I usually have that you can depend on is that I hit a single leg, and everybody knows I’m gonna do it, but I think it surprises everybody at how good I am with it. I’m pretty efficient at what I do, and I haven’t had anybody stop a shot yet in a fight. And I’ve had eight fights, so I feel like I can get that pretty much any time.

Next MMA Fighter: What is the one moment in your MMA career that you will never forget?

JS: Well, my pro debut was for King of the Cage, and I won in the first round by armbar, and it was a Pay Per View event, so that was pretty exciting. The thing I’ll never forget in my career was winning the Nationals in college – that was probably my biggest accomplishment. That wasn’t really MMA, but I’d say that was my biggest accomplishment.

Next MMA Fighter: Since we live in the Southeast and focus most of our coverage on this area, how do you feel the sport is developing in this part of the country?

JS: It’s definitely developing slowly but surely. When I was attending college up in Missouri, there was so much going on there all the time with MMA, and in Atlanta there’s a lot going on all the time. In Alabama, it’s slowly, behind everybody else, but it’s coming up. I think in the next five years, it’s going to be really big down here. I think it’ll be here like it is in the Midwest, and there’ll be shows where 10-15,000 people show up every weekend.

Next MMA Fighter: In fighting someone like Roberto Traven, who is a highly decorated Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and UFC veteran, how do you prepare yourself for what will likely be the greatest challenge of your young career?

JS: Well, I think with Traven, we both know each other, and we both know what each other has done in the past. I met him when I beat Roan Carnerio, so he saw me do that and he knows what my strengths are. Obviously, I know what his strengths are. So Mike Taylor, the coach at HeadHunters, has put together a really good game plan for me that I think will really throw Traven off at the beginning and make him have a lot of trouble mentally with the rest of the fight. And I think that’s the big thing, to keep him guessing the whole time. I know that if I go down there and play his game, you know, just lay in his guard, that’s what he likes. As long as I move and stick to my game plan and keep him guessing at what’s coming next, I think I’ll have the mental edge on him, and I don’t think he’ll be able to keep up with it.

Next MMA Fighter: You come from a strong wrestling background and have a spectacular record as an amateur. With an outstanding pedigree in wrestling, what other styles of MMA did you find to be the easiest to learn?

JS: I would have to say Jiu-Jitsu. It seemed like the first time I trained in Jiu-Jitsu, I got submitted pretty quick by one guy, and I thought, “Whoa, I gotta be able to figure this out.” So then I got to where a couple weeks later he couldn’t submit me any more, and I just kept with it and kept with it until I was submitting him all the time. I think my stand-up is coming along, but it’s not anywhere near the level of my ground game. I would always watch these wrestlers who would go take everybody down and then get submitted from the guard. I never want to be that guy; I never want to be the wrestler who gets caught in a submission. I think the ground should be my strongest point, seeing as how that’s where I’ve spent most of my career already, and I should be good enough there to never get submitted. So I spend a lot of time making sure I can handle anybody on the ground.

Next MMA Fighter: Now that the main event has switched from boxing back to MMA, do you have any thoughts on who will win this matchup between Mercer and Sylvia?

JS: The whole time we were debating whether or not Sylvia would be able to keep Mercer away with his reach and everything. Now that it’s gone to MMA, I feel like Mercer’s walking into something he’s probably not ready for. I don’t mean that in any disrespectful way, because he’s obviously a very accomplished boxer, but this is something where he’s walking right into the specialty of Tim Sylvia.

Next MMA Fighter: Switching gears a bit, what is the fight at UFC 99 that you are most looking forward to as a fan?

JS: I think the Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva fight will be good, but I don’t think Rich Franklin can handle Wanderlei’s style. Marcus Davis is always exciting for me to watch, so I can’t wait to see that one as well.

Next MMA Fighter: Well, John, we wish you the best of luck this weekend, and really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today. In closing, is there anyone you would like to thank?

JS: First and foremost, I’d like to thank God for helping me to stay healthy throughout training. Mike Taylor my great coach, my training partner Chris Davis and everyone at Headhunters… there’s too many to name. I’d also like to thank our sponser Omega Attire, Barry Clifford and Brandon Powell, who are both fighting on this card as well and helped me get ready for this fight.

Be sure to watch for John on the Adrenaline 3 Main Card this Saturday from Birmingham, AL, and thanks again to John’s camp @ HeadHunter Combatives, whom you can visit here. HeadHunter Combatives website.

UPDATE : John Salter won his fight last Saturday by finishing Roberto Traven in the first round and looking very good in doing so. We wish John the best of luck in his future fights and look forward to covering him again.