Friday, February 23, 2007


By Mick Hammond

Since becoming one of the IFL’s original four teams, the Renzo Gracie-coached New York Pitbulls have had a mixed bag of success. Individually fighters have succeeded, but as a team, the Pitbulls have yet to quite fight the right chemistry to take them to the Finals of the IFL’s World Team Tournament.

This Friday in Atlanta, Georgia, the Pitbulls are looking to change their team fortunes, starting off with their 2007 IFL debut against the league’s newest team, the Chicago Red Bears, coached by UFC vet Igor Zinoviev.

A big key to the Pitbulls’ success could be the productivity of their lightweight leadoff man, Erik Owings.

Since making his MMA debut for the promotion last April, Owings has fought hard and won two of three fights, and now he hopes to continue his winning ways on Friday as he faces off against former chess prodigy Peter Kraljevic of the Red Bears.

Erik spoke to MMAWeekly as he made final preparations to travel to Georgia, to discuss his upcoming fight, his personal and team’s evolutions, and his thoughts on the controversial finish of the Renzo Gracie vs. Frank Shamrock fight earlier this month.

MMAWeekly: First off Erik, tell us about your thoughts on last year, both personally and for the New York Pitbulls.

Erik Owings: For me I really look at last year and this year as experience building. I come from a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background, so I’m still kind of learning this sport as I go, like how the sport functions and I’m just figuring things out step-by-step.

I think, with the exception of a couple guys that fight on the team, a lot of us are doing the same thing, where there’s some other teams that have guys who have been training and fighting MMA for years. I think it’s a learning process every time, but it’s going to be a better year for us this year because last year I think was more of a feeling-it-out type year.

MMAWeekly: So are you happy with how you’ve progressed as a fighter?

Erik Owings: I feel good. I just do what I can. The academy can be a little difficult because it’s a BJJ academy, so I kind of go outside of there for training too. We do have some good Thai boxers that come in and train with us three times a week, and they’ve actually started doing [Thai] classes there.

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