Robert Drysdale continues his transformation from World Champion BJJ practitioner to full-fledged mixed martial artist this Saturday night at Armageddon Fighting Championships 4.
Even before the mixed martial arts boom following the success of The Ultimate Fighter there have been numerous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champions who have made the crossover to MMA.
The first one that comes to mind is Royce Gracie who showed the world that bigger isn’t always better when he won 3 of the first four UFC tournaments beginning in 1993.
Two of the men that are prominent today are UFC middleweight contender Demian Maia who fought for the organizations middleweight title. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is currently the Strikeforce middleweight champion and was also a finalist for the Dream middleweight Grand Prix and middleweight title.
As everyone knows being a superb BJJ practitioner doesn’t always mean you will be a great mixed martial artist. Fighters are now forced to deal with strikes and getting punched in the face is not something grapplers are used to.
That is why it will be interesting to see how multi-time world champion Robert Drysdale progresses now that he is working on becoming a full fledged mixed martial artist. Drysdale began training in jiu-jitsu in 1998 and since then has gone on to become one of the most successful grapplers in the sport.
Now as he prepares to take on Clay Davidson at Armageddon Fighting Championships 4: Revelation, Drysdale knows that he still has a lot of work to do on the other intricacies of mixed martial arts before he can began competing with the big boys.
“I feel good right now, I want to give myself plenty of time to prepare and adapt from the sport of jiu-jitsu to MMA,” said Drysdale.
“I know I am still green and I have watched a lot of other guys in the past jump in way too early. I think that is a mistake and I want to make sure I feel comfortable inside a cage. I can say today that I feel like I am at home not only technically, but on the mental level as well.”
The benefit of being such a distinguished grappler is that fighters from all over the world come to train with you. Drysdale has no shortage of workout partners who can help him with his striking, wrestling and other aspects of MMA. It also gives him an opportunity to sharpen his MMA jiu-jitsu as he helps many of those same fighters tighten up their grappling.
“I am currently working on my boxing with Gil Martinez, he trains a lot of pro-boxers,” Drysdale explained.
“My Muay Thai trainer is one of the best in the business. Shawn Yarborough is a world class fighter and has helped me immensely. I am lucky enough to have a lot of division 1 wrestlers training at my school and I work with them a bunch on my wrestling.”
Some refer to Drysdale as a sort of teacher to the stars as he has trained some of the best mixed martial artists in the business. He sees it as a win-win situation as he is able to get just as much out of their training sessions as they do.
“John Alessio is in here every day as is Martin Kampmann, Phil Baroni, Jay Hieron and Tyson Griffin. The list goes on and on. I am always happy to help and share whatever knowledge and experience I have in jiu-jitsu with all of them.”
“I rely on guys like Mir and Forrest a lot. They are always giving me advice on what parts of jiu-jitsu will work well in MMA. I help them out with the jiu-jitsu and they share their experiences with me. Forrest is probably one of the best guys I roll with, he is very athletic. I have a harder time with him than I do with many world class wrestlers. You can’t go 80% against him because he will make you pay for it.”
One would think that with his name, background and connections there must have been numerous organizations looking to get him under contract. For Drysdale it wasn’t about money, it was about going to a place that would allow him to grow at his own pace.
“I went to Vegas in 2008 and my plans were to begin preparing to fight in MMA. I had an amateur match in 2008 with Tuff-N-Uff which is based in Las Vegas,” Drsydale told Go Fight Live.
“I had some health issues in 2009 that prevented me from fighting, but in early 2010 I made a promise that I would fight as much as possible. I met up with Jason Heit in California at a nightclub and he expressed a sincere interest in having me fight for AFC. He made me an offer and I signed with them, they have treated me really well. There were other organizations expressing interest, but Jason was really cool with me and that was a big influence on me.”
Saturday night’s fight in Victoria, British Columbia will be his second professional MMA bout. He defeated Bastein Huveneers via triangle choke just 1:12 into the first round of their bout in July. Drysdale has yet to determine a time frame or number of fights that he believes will be necessary for him to make the jump to a bigger organization such as the UFC.
“I have actually had offers to fight for some of the bigger promotions, not the UFC, but some other ones,” Drysdale is quick to point out. “Personally I feel as though I don’t have enough experience yet. I’m not doing it for the money so that’s not what motivates me.”
“I probably could make more money, but I feel gaining more experience is more important than making a bigger payday. When I started training BJJ, I made a natural progression as my skills and experience got better. I feel as though MMA shouldn’t be any different. I want to get as many fights as possible. I plan on fighting a few more times for the AFC and then maybe I will talk to Strikeforce or the UFC. I would even consider going on The Ultimate Fighter.”
As Drysdale makes his way up the ranks there may come a time when he’s asked to fight someone who he has trained with. Being that is one of the hot button questions in MMA today; it felt only natural to see where Drysdale stood on this issue.
“It depends on how the relationship is between us. I can’t say no that I never would, because you never know what is going to happen in the future,” explained the 2007 Open Weight Champion of the ADCC’s.
“People who I consider my friends and train with every day I would rather not fight. I have had to fight my friends in BJJ in the past and I didn’t like to. My thing is if I have to hurt you to win I will. If I have to break a limb to win I wouldn’t think twice, that is not something I would want to do to a friend.”
With only a few days remaining until he takes on Davidson, Drysdale begins to envision himself inside the cage. In fact it is something that he has done since an early age and he finds himself doing a lot of. His opponent is somewhat of a mystery to him, but he knows everyone is to be respected.
“I don’t know much about my opponent, but I don’t underestimate anyone. I take this fight very seriously,” said Drysdale. “As far as his skills I know very little about them, but I know what I am capable of and that is what is important to me.”
“Visualization is something I can remember doing as a kid. I am preparing my brain to act the right way so when the moment comes I am ready. I am a huge fan of visualization, I do it when I am eating and when I am in the shower. I have an idea of what is going to happen in this fight, but I can’t share that with you right now.”
As with many other martial artists, Drysdale stays true to his roots and is very loyal to those who have helped him get where he is today.
“My family is great, but I especially have to thank my mom. My mother believed in me when no one else did, not even myself. My friends, students and training partners are all awesome; they really care what happens when I fight. They really want me to do well. Suffer Clothing and Hayabusa have made a lot of this possible by sponsoring me.”
To find out more about Robert Drysdale you can visit his website here.