Southern MMA’s Michael Robinson!

By | June 1, 2012 at 10:58 am | No comments | Fighter Interviews

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Southern MMA’s fighter Brad Mountain, and now I’m fortunate enough to work with another of their fighters, Michael Robinson. I do not know much about Michael coming into this except for that he has a fight this week (tomorrow) in Jersey! Let’s dive into this and see what information we can get out of him!

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JP: Michael, thanks for taking the time to sit with us and discuss your career. I know we are fighting during crunch time and you even may be cranky due to weight cuts as you have a fight coming up shortly… but let’s try to make this as painless as possible! Care to share a bit about your life growing up and what led you into the world of MMA?

MR: Well, my life growing up was actually similar to what I’ve heard about some other fighters recently. I grew up a skinny little kid, a little socially awkward, and picked on… a lot. I did my best to fit in, but I was never popular. I tried sports, but I was never confident enough to even try to succeed. Confidence was a huge issue pretty much my whole childhood as a matter of fact. This led to a ton of arguments with my parents. I have no delusions of who was wrong though and I know I never made things easy on them. Thankfully, I joined the Army right out of high school, and it helped me out so much. My confidence began to shift the moment I began basic training. One of the key moments was when we did a little bit of combatives. I noticed how much I enjoyed grappling, and how natural it felt. This laid a future path for me, regardless of the fact that I never wrestled before. As time passed in the Army, I married, had children, and deployed. I was successful in my career, but always looking for an athletic hobby. I was interested in MMA, but a bit clueless as to what it really was. I had done combatives a few more times which only served to remind me that I enjoyed grappling, and furthered my interest in competing. After returning from my second deployment, I joined a small MMA team at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I volunteered for my amateur debut… a month and a half after I began training. Needless to say, this was not the best decision I’ve ever made, and I took quite a beating. However, I still loved everything about it, and went right back to training. I won my second fight, and moved onto a very long amateur career from there.

JP: I completely relate to that. Im probably one of the most self confident people based on personality, but lack it in competition. I’m confident, but not arrogant to believe I’m better than anyone so competition anxiety always thwarted me from actually doing a lot myself… But you seem to have overcome that and finally did what many are incapable of; stepped in the cage. Regardless of the initial outcome, you continued. What was it that sparked the continuance? Was your initial mma training experience strictly mixed or did you excel at one certain aspect at the time?

MR: The factor that kept me coming back to the cage was my continual growth. From fight to fight, I felt better; I could see that my skill was constantly improving. After my fifth fight, I went to Fort Jackson, and my military career forced a layoff from training for around 8-9 months. I began training at a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school called Gracie Barra. Until that point I had only done MMA, and had never been to a real BJJ school. I thought I was a good grappler, but I quickly realized I had little skill at all. That experience showed me that if I took the time, my grappling could reach a whole new level. The big event that changed everything for me was when I finished 2nd at the Army Combatives Tournament in 2009. My coaches Vince Salvador and Ryan Larussa pushed me hard, and I only lost to BJJ black belt Pedro Lacerda in the finals (I was a new blue belt at the time). There were some really great fighters at the tournament who said that I had good potential. It really meant something to me, and let me know that I could be a great fighter.

JP: That’s fantastic man! I’ve heard of Gracie Barra [I suppose anyone in the scene has] …which is definitely good. …Those who don’t come in cocky and infact aim to LEARN are the ones that succeed. Hell, I believe I’m a great fighter [brawler], but I’ve never stepped into the cage, I’m sure an experience like that would humble me… it’s things like that – knowing you can always improve – is what makes people better at this sport. So between an MMA training facility and Gracie Barra, you’ve developed skills as an amateur – what was your amateur record at what weight?

MR: Yeah, being humble was what allowed me to go and get my butt kicked and not quit. If I was too prideful I would not want to go back, but my desire to succeed was way too strong. A lot of guys, even military people, cannot handle that humble pie they eat when they get on the mat at a real BJJ school. However, I knew that it was part of the process, and that I would get better by sticking to it. My first three fights were at 170 and I won two of those, but I noticed that the guys were pretty big so I began fighting at 155. I really had no idea about how to cut, which made everything a painful adventure. I fought twice more at 155 splitting those two, making my record 3-2. That was when the break in training occured followed by beginning what I would call my “real” training (when I started at Gracie Barra). I took a couple years off to get better, took second at the Combatives tournament, and finally fought amateur two more times, winning both. That put my final amateur record at 5-2. Not a ton of fights, but it was over a span of 4 and a half years.

JP: So you’ve went pro after that, correct? 5-2 may not be an extensive record for the switch, but 4 and a half years is definitely a long frame of time. How has the switch been for you? Did you stick to 155 at this point?

MR: Some unimformed people may have questioned my decision, but I knew that I was ready, and started seeking opportunities for pro fights. This was a huge pain actually. I was not established enough in the local area, so promoters were wary to even pay me as a pro (they wanted me to be able to draw in some fans to balance out my pay). They would always let me know that they had plenty of options available to me as an amateur. However, I stayed patient, and after signing on with Southern MMA Mangement, I picked up my first pro fight. It was a tough fight, but I came out on top. I felt like I was on top of the world at that point, because I had dreamed of becoming a professional fighter ever since the day that I began training. I then won my second fight a few months later, and I feel great. My game is still evolving, and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to show off my skills as a pro. I’m definitely staying at 155, that’s probably the perfect weight class for my size and skillset right now.

JP: Nice man, so you’re currently a 2-0 pro and have an upcoming fight coming up soon – care to share some details on that one?

MR: Well, this fight was originally supposed to happen in February, but the show was postponed to this weekend. My opponent is an American Top Team fighter if I remember right. He’s got good wrestling and competent standup, so this looks like my toughest fight so far. We’re both 2-0 fighters, so someone is coming out on top at 3-0 and the other leaving with their first loss. I’m an all-around fighter; I can win the fight wherever it goes, so I’m confident the skillset that I bring into this fight. It’s a long haul for me to get from South Carolina to New Jersey, but my wife squared all the travel details for me, so I feel like everything is on point and I’ll be able to focus on the fight.

JP: Hats off to the wife! Where is this event care to share some details?

MR: It’s called Rock Out Knock Out, and it will be at the Asbury Park Convention Hall in New Jersey. This show is pretty unique in that it will also be featuring live bands, headlined by Fuel. It should be an fun event, and I hope that I can go out there and win then celebrate while watching some live music. I’m looking forward to this opportunity, as this show has some great fighters on it, and should have an excellent turnout.

JP: That’s great and we hope to make it to this event as well since it’s local to me! …Do you have any other tricks up your sleeve in the MMA circuit once this event is through as of yet?

MR: Well, no contracts are signed, but I may have a potential local fight in August which would be great after going all the way to NJ for a fight. Either way, I plan on taking some time off to rest a little after this fight, but if the fight goes through for August, I’ll be back in camp soon enough. Other than that, I have a few amateurs and pros that I train with, so I’ll probably be at least getting them ready for some upcoming fights, and even cornering a few of them.

JP: Excellent. Well, definitely keep me posted! …As a fighter and a fan of the sport, whats your current view on the state of MMA? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

MR: Well, I think the current state is really good for MMA. The UFC is seeking constant expansion nationally and globally, which is great for MMA. There are some other things I’m not totally in love with like having their programming on FuelTV (shrinks the demographic they reach), and TUF (needs to be less frequent, oversaturated), but they obviously know what they’re doing so I can’t complain. I would also like to see every state regulate MMA, states like New York look like they’re stuck in the stone age by banning it. I would like to see fewer injuries; there have been a lot of good fighters, including two current champions, put on the shelf right before a big fight. As for my career, I hope to be on a “big” show in the next five years. At the very least, I would like to build a respectable record, and earn my black belt in BJJ. From there, I’d like to have my own local school, or maybe even better, be working at a large MMA school. My idea is that I’m putting tons of time into this, and if I never make the big show, I can at least train other fighters to achieve greatness.

JP: That’s awesome, Michael! It seems you have a really broad plan for your next 5 years and not just simply stating, ‘fighting in the UFC’ – shows your character and determination for the overall being of the sport! …What would you say is the MOST DIFFICULT thing about being involved in this sport?

MR: The most difficult thing is balancing the rest of my life (especially family) with my training time. My constant training and traveling has caused a ton of friction in my life, and I have tried really hard to make sure that my family receives the time they need while I can maximize training. It is not easy, not by a long shot, but I have definitely got a lot better at it. It’s a growing experience for my wife too, as she has become much more patient and supportive of it.

JP: I know I nipped at this question similarly in the beginning of our conversation, but what would you say is your key motivator at this point in your career?

MR: My key motivator is simply trying to never stop improving. I am one of those guys that thinks that if I do enough repetitions, I can add any technique to my toolbox. I want to be strong at all aspects, which is my big motivator even when I’m working on something I don’t particularly enjoy.I’m not going to lie though, as I’m always looking to bring money in for the family, so by winning fights and building a reputation, I increase my bottom line. That’s just reality.

JP: Very good; again – this is the things sponsors, fans, promoters and generally every involved in the come up of the sport note and look out for; If someone were to contact you about upcoming fights and/or sponsorships – who can they reach?

MR: To contact me, all they need to do is contact Molly Hoskinson over at Souther MMA Management. She handles all of my sponsorships and contracts, so everything needs to be filtered through her first. She does a great job, and I’ve been receiving great opportunities because of her. Her website is: http://southernmma.net/index.html

JP: Awesome man, thanks! I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of you! …I don’t want to hold you up as your big day is tomorrow; let’s get to our fun little twist – the trademark question. Who is your favorite super hero and why?

MR: That’s fairly easy. One of my favorite cartoons as a kid was an X-Man show they had on in the early 90s. Wolverine became my favorite, and it has stayed that way (regardless of how bad the Origins movie was, haha). The new Avengers movie was awesome though. I’m probably going to watch that again after this fight. I can’t wait for the sequels, and Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman is excellent as well.

JP: Yes, origins was horrible – I’m still waiting for the Gambit movie though! He still stands as my favorite X-man, haha. Lastly – I just want to give you the floor and allow you to say your piece, whether it be special thanks and/or shoutouts.

MR: Big thanks to my family for their support. My kids have to deal with my constant stress, and I love them so much. Thanks to my wife who brings in a lot of income for the family, and busts her butt every day for us, and does her best to stay patient. Thanks to my sponsors, Ranger Up and Revgear. Thanks to all my training partners and coaches at Sor Sumrit Muay Thai, Gracie Barra, Athlete’s Arena, and Ridge Pointe, as well as other gyms in the area that support me. Thanks to Molly at Southern MMA for helping to build my name, and finally thanks to you for this interview.

JP: Great; I’m sure everyone is real proud of what you’re doing and we hope to see more Michael Robinson fans come out of this. I have your facebook (which can be viewed HERE) …do you have a twitter or any other outlet in which you can connect with the fans? After this, I swear I’ll let you go! Thanks a lot for your time Michael and good luck tomorrow!

MR: Nope… I don’t have a twitter, but I’ll probably have one soon, so stay tuned. Thanks for your time, and I hope to see you at the fights!

 

Jason Przewoznik is the owner of KnockoutLounge.com. KnockoutLounge.com was created to provide a haven for up and coming Mixed Martial Artists to share their stories and their careers with the fans; Supporting ALL fighters on the rise in a not-for-profit community.
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