GLORY 10 takes place tonight (Sat., Sept. 28, 2013) at Citizens Business Bank Arena, in Ontario, California (watch live stream on MMAmania here). In addition to the main event between Robin Van Roosmalen vs. Shemsi Beqiri, a one night, four-man Middleweight tournament is also in the works.
Joe Schilling is currently the No. 5-ranked GLORY middleweight, and will be matched up against No. 6-ranked Kengo Shimizu in the opening round of the tournament later this evening. Schilling has plenty of experience in fighting more than once in a given night.
It just so happens, he gained all that experience as a teenager.
"The last time I was in a one-night tournament, was a 'Tough Man' contest back when I was 17," Schilling told MMAmania recently. "It's been a while. I'm from Dayton, Ohio," he continued. "When I was coming up, every fight in Ohio was in a bar and it had "Man" on the end of it. It was either 'Rough Man' or 'Tough Man' and I did about six or eight of those tournaments when I was just starting out."
A troubled kid who was kicked out of several schools, Schilling was told by his mother to find a hobby. He chose fighting.
"I said I wanted to fight, so she took me to a kickboxing school," he explained. "I was pretty much grounded from everything except the gym. I spent a lot of time at the gym when I was 15. I think I had my first fight at either 16 or 17. It was cool. I was grounded from everything. All of a sudden there were these fights at bars and I wasn't grounded if I was going to fights so I could fight and hang out at the bar. It worked out pretty well for me."
Even though he was beating up the likes of "drunk construction workers" in those "Tough Man" tournaments as he described them. "It was a good experience," he says.
At first it was just something he liked to do, keeping him out of trouble, too. Then it turned into a career and way of life.
"It's really become a career and 100 percent of my life," Schilling said. "Now I'm a partner, I own "The Yard Muay Thai," which is my main source of income and helps take care of my kids and pays my bills. Muay Thai and fighting in general has been a 100 percent of my life for the last 14 years."
The Yard -- a gym he co-owns with his trainer Mark Komuro -- gets its name from a previous gym in which the two used to train on the fifth floor of the old Lincoln Heights Jail in downtown Los Angeles, California. Schilling said the gym that hung up bags where prisoners cells were was, "awesome, dirty, grimy and really good for training because you knew what you were there for."
Schilling said he and Komuro also liked the "crazy looks" they would get when they told people they trained there, as well as the one-word prison reference, so "The Yard" became a reality.
Another realization for the fighter at times in his career was the lack of fights, which led him into other combat sports to stay active.
"Up until the like the last three years, kickboxing in the United States was kind of a dead sport," Schilling explains. "For a long time there was only like one or two promoters and it was really hard to get fights. The only reason I started doing MMA was just to stay busy. You can't consider yourself a professional fighter if you never fight."
Schilling also "took a couple of professional boxing fights." He is 1-0-1 as a pro boxer, while sports a losing record in MMA. "I'm 1-3, so it obviously hasn't worked out too well," he said.
The 29-year-old Ohio native may have a losing record outside of is comfort zone, but when he has been there, he has amassed a 13-5 record with 10 career knockouts. With GLORY making a big push in the U.S. with a television deal with Spike, kickboxing may finally break through and become more popular than ever domestically.
"It's very exciting," he said. "Sometimes it's really hard to stay motivated and passionate about something when doors keep getting slammed in your face," he continued. "You kind of feel like you've been wasting 12 years of your life sometimes. Now there is some light at the end of the tunnel. I'm days away from fighting for $150,000 dollars, that's a pretty incredible thing for a white kid from Ohio. It's up to me to handle business on the 28th, and that is exactly what I intend to do."
The three-time WBC Muay Thai champion earned the nickname "Stitch ‘em up" from his opponents having to be sewn up after being cut by his knees and elbows. After winning via technical knockout in his second pro fight, his opponent, Gary Wheeler, needed "33 stitches," Schilling said.
"Every fight after that I was winning by knockout, they were all from either a knee to the face or elbow," he explained. "It was just more stitches, more stitches. I don't even remember who said it, but someone said you should you should change your name to ‘Stitch 'em up.' I was like ‘that's kind of cool.' It's a lot better than some of the cheesy nicknames other guys use."
While some fighters speak of being cautious in the first fight of a one-night tournament, "Stitch em' up" will not be bringing that approach when he steps in against Shimizu in the opening round.
"I have no intention of fighting any different or being cautious or careful in the first fight," Schilling admits. "If you focus too much on the second fight and not doing your job in the first fight, there won't be a second fight. I intend to fight hard and take out Shimizu in the first round of the tournament. Hopefully, in the first round of the fight."
Schilling's stand up is lauded by many in the mixed martial arts (MMA) community, and has been sought out for training by several of the best in the sport: Nick Diaz brought in Schilling to prepare for Carlos Condit, Tarec Saffiedine brought him to help train for his title fight against Nate Marquardt, while others who have brought in Schilling include Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida, Sokoudjou, Justin McCully and Shane del Rosario.
Schilling may have a losing record in MMA, but he said, "If this kickboxing stuff doesn't work out, striking wise, I feel very comfortable with a lot of the top MMA guys, in kind of the higher weight classes than I'm used to."
It isn't so much that his Muay Thai style will give him an advantage over kickboxers in GLORY, he feels it's the fact that he doesn't have a "traditional Muay Thai style" that's been an "advantage" for him, he said.
From the "Tough Man" days, up until now, Schilling says, "I've used what you would call my own unorthodox style that has worked so well for me, so I'm very used to it. I think that the GLORY rules ... My style works perfectly for that and I think that's my biggest advantage going in these fights."
That, and the high percentage that more stitches may be coming for his opponents.