First things first. How did this MMA thing come about for you?
I wrestled grade school, middle school, high school, and in college. When I got to Purdue University I met Tom Erikson who was one of the coaches there. He had fought down in Brazil and in Pride and that was always interesting to me. So towards the end of my senior year, I noticed that my desire to compete was still there. Fortunately, I chose fighting.
What would you be doing if you didn’t choose fighting?
I was looking hard into that Eco Challenge stuff. It was pretty big when I was in college. I remember thinking ‘man, us wrestlers could do something like this.’ I even went as far as to gather up some guys to start pursuing it further. But, I stuck with fighting.
That seems to have worked out well so far!
I can’t complain one bit.
Sounds like “fighter” is the only occupation you’ve ever had.
Yeah. I was lucky. I won a scholarship called the Red Mackey award from Purdue. They give it to three seniors every year. It gave me a free year of grad school at Purdue. I knew I didn’t want to start teaching, so I became a volunteer assistant coach for the wrestling team. It was during that year that I really decided to devote all my efforts to fighting. ed note: The Red Mackey scholarship is an award that honors a player voted most deserving by both the coaching staff and fellow team members. Recipients demonstrate positive attitude, outstanding competitive spirit, loyalty, honesty, generosity, tenacity, self-discipline, dedication, hard work for the best interest of the team and a willingness to help others.
What is it like training at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)?
It’s fantastic man. We have such a strong stable of guys right now. It’s taken us a while, but we have some fighters here now. Not the guys that want to go to a bar and tell chicks that they’re a fighter. Real fighters. We’ve got some up and coming guys that push us to the limits daily. It’s just awesome.
Who is the toughest guy in the gym?
Well, if we all had to fight, it’d have to be Cain [Velasquez]!
Who can drink the most beer?
That’d have to be me. I don’t drink that much anymore, but I’m half Irish and I’ve got a little bit of Indian somewhere in there, so I can put ‘em down.
What do you do for fun when you’re not at AKA?
Video games. I’ve got a Playstation 3 and an Xbox. I’ve got a membership to Gamefly, which is like Netflix for video games. So I’ll get a game, beat it, send it back, and get a new game. It’s great.
You play the UFC game?
Yeah, but it’s hard man. I get frustrated when I play that game!
Do you play as Jon Fitch?
I have, but I created a little fat 155 pound guy as my main character.
What’s your game of choice right now?
I like Grand Theft Auto type games. Right now I’ve got a game called Prototype that is pretty cool. You should check it out.
What’s the last book you read?
It’s called Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. It talks about all the factors that go into making people successful that you never would have considered. It’s a super interesting book.
Tell us about the “Fitch Face” and where it came from.
Part of it was like working at bars and stuff in college – I was there to do my job, make money, and go home. I mean, I was training. But the people who were going to the bars don’t understand that. So, the drunken girls would ask me why I wasn’t smiling. Why don’t I smile? So, I’d give them the Fitch Face. Part of it came from that. The other part is just showing my teeth, trying to be intimidating.
What’s up with AKA and Matt Hughes?
It’s just we’ve all asked for a fight with him for a long time and nothing has ever materialized. He says he’s still in the mix for a title shot – well, so are we. So with three of us asking for the fight, we just can’t see how it hasn’t happened yet.
You, Swick and Koscheck. Three top ten welterweights in the same gym. How is that all going to play out?
We’re teammates first and foremost. I am where I am because of the people around me and the teammates that I have. One fight is not worth throwing away everything that we’ve built up. There’s no benefit to it right now. We know what it’s like to fight each other. We fight each other every day!
Where does Jon Fitch sit in the welterweight division?
I truly believe I’m number two behind GSP. I think I did better than anybody else has against him. I think I’ve proven myself and I’m just waiting for another shot right now.