Donavon Frelow will be fighting for the inaugural World Series of Fighting Flyweight Title on October 17th, 2015 against Magomed Bibulatov. It's part of the WSOF 24 'Fitch vs. Okami' card at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut that will air live on NBC Sports.
Things have been gone well for Donavon Frelow so far in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career. Since his debut match at King of the Cage in March 2014, Frelow has amassed an undefeated (5-0), quickly gaining a reputation as a promising prospect to watch.
Submissions are Frelow's specialty, accounting for 80 percent of his wins to date, including his most recent bout in World Series of Fighting (WSOF). Indeed, Frelow wasted little time submitting Carlos Garcia at WSOF 22, polishing him off with a guillotine choke in less than three minutes into the first round.
With WSOF looking to crown an inaugural Flyweight champion, Frelow was an ideal candidate for the main card of WSOF 24: "Fitch vs. Okami," which takes place at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., on Oct. 17, 2015. His opponent will be Russian prospect Magomed Bibulatov, who is also undefeated (9-0) and making his promotional debut.
Today, MMAmania.com sits down with Frelow to talk about his first-ever title fight, his MMA career to date and how he plans to become a champion little more than one year into his professional career.
Needless to say, Frelow is excited about the opportunity.
"Off the top I thought of it as being a humongous blessing. A lot of people have to fight a lot of fights in order to get a title shot, but out of the two people in that division in (World Series) they said I was one of the most entertaining and they chose for me to be the guy who goes for the title. I just feel that's a blessing and it's also an honor."
With that honor comes the blessing of fighting a fighter who got a first round knockout in his last bout, who has just as many submissions on his overall record as Frelow.
"To be honest I haven't really done too much pondering on him. I know his record and I know just a little bit of background about him, some wrestling, and I'm pretty sure most of the guys from out there have a sambo background and whatnot. I know that he's considered to be a tough fighter, but so am I. I don't really focus too much on him, all I can really do is focus on what I do when I go in the cage."
Speaking of that focus, Frelow has only had one fight in his career go the distance, so cardio for what could potentially be a five-round title fight has to be something of a concern.
"Oh man, I'm ready for five rounds. I am ready. I've upped my cardio training, also my muscle endurance and things of that nature, so we're gonna ready man. This is gonna be fun. We're gonna have fun, and let things flow, and hopefully it doesn't go five rounds."
Frelow was introduced to MMA by watching Wanderlei Silva have crazy fights in Pride FC, so when he found out "Axe Murderer" had a gym right there in his home town of Las Vegas, Nevada, he wandered in to the gym just a little star struck.
"I was like, 'No way! He has a gym like in Las Vegas, a gym, the Wanderlei Silva, the one we watch on TV, the one I play on the Sega Dreamcast?' So I went there one day and I walked in, they were about to do a training session, I was sitting down in the bleachers just watching the whole gist of it, watching people doing jiu-jitsu and whatnot, and some big guy just came and sat next to me. I did a double take and looked and it was actually Wanderlei Silva! And he was like, 'Hey, how's it going?' I'm like, 'Oh, whoa! No way! Wanderleil Silva!!' He was saying, 'Hey you want to jump in this class and get a little bit of training in?'"
The rest is history, and although Frelow is rolling with Syndicate MMA these days, he's still got the Team Wand tattoo and still hopes that we'll see Silva fight again in the United States.
"I would love to see him again, at least a couple more times, but as of now I'm not sure. Whatever problems he does have with the UFC and whatnot, he's probably just worried about enjoying his time with his family and his gym and enjoying life. That's what I would do -- enjoy life and travel if I wasn't planning on coming back."
For Frelow that's not a problem, since he's got a young daughter who is the apple of his eye, and fortunately for him, he's at a weight class where he can do some activities other fathers can't.
"I'm a big kid so, I like going to the park with my daughter. I'm probably the only adult that goes to McDonald's and climbs up the little apparatus -- I'm in the playground -- I'm that guy! The dad that's in there being stared at by all the other parents, running through the thing. I fight Flyweight, I'm not the biggest guy in the world, so I can fit in the little playground like she does."
Family life is clearly very important to Frelow, so I asked him if his family ever gets worried during his fights.
"They believe in me so much! They share with me the natural worry that comes up, but I wouldn't say it's too much, they're just concerned because they know what the sport entails. When I go in they're super excited always. My daughter goes to all my fights that I have locally (and) actually she's been to a couple of fights out of town. They love sitting in the crowd. They're nervous as I-don't-know-what, palms sweating and all that, but they enjoy being part of this journey. It's not just my journey, it's our journey."
Follow Frelow's journey to potentially becoming a Flyweight champion on Oct. 17, 2015, airing live on NBC Sports Network. Complete audio of our interview is below and complete WSOF 24 coverage can be found right here on fight night.