Monday, March 19, 2007

FIT NHB's Coty Wheeler

By Keith Mills

As the ’07 scouting race picks up steam many eyes are on the teams that produced breakout fighters in previous years. If the last twelve months were a breakout year for Carlos Condit leading up to his upcoming title fight in WEC than it makes sense to watch for the rest of his team to see if they will be as successful. Carlos’ FIT NHB teammate Coty “Ox” Wheeler who fights at 135 could be one of those to watch.

On the one hand Coty’s aggressive yet unorthodox standup style is not only exciting to watch but is a breath of fresh air in the division. On the other hand opportunities at 135 in North America are few and far between. In his last fight Coty defeated Justin Thrift, a student of UFC vet Din Thomas, by unanimous decision in Ultimate Warrior Challenge. Ox next fights on March 31st at Fight World in Albuquerque.

From a business or promoter’s perspective Coty also has a couple angles working for him. From the human interest angle a local newspaper in Albuquerque recently ran a piece on Coty describing his troubled past in and out of jail and detox and how fighting turned his life around, an angle that has in the past drawn in readers/viewers that don’t normally follow MMA. Coty is also of Apache descent with very strong family support, an angle that could well work to his advantage if he were to fight for instance in Japan where image is more important than in North America. The bottom line is remember the name Coty “Ox” Wheeler as this won’t be the last time you hear about him this year.

KM: You have a fight coming up at the end of the month in Fight Party? CW: Fight World. It is just like a party, nothing but fun. The show is Fight World coming up the 31st. My opponent is out of Texas. He is a good boxer, good grappler, and that is about all the background I need to know. I don’t know his name or date or birth.

KM: What is your training like at FIT NHB? CW: I train five to six days a week for about two to four hours a day. I’m also a college student. My last fight in Florida my physique wasn’t there so when I got the video I looked a little soft compared to a lot of my prior fights.

KM: That one in Florida was the only one of yours I saw so far. Despite your physique being off was that indicative of your style? CW: That is normally how I fight but my physique was soft. I still had the holiday food in me and cardio wasn’t 100%, my weight lifting and training wasn’t 100%...I went in and did what I had to do to get by.

KM: But the Ox Wheeler fighting this month is the ‘real’ Ox? CW: Basically you will see another fighter out there.

KM: One thing that impressed me about FIT NHB at Ultimate Warrior Challenge was you guys were from out of town and didn’t have UFC vets in your corner but took out all the fighters with UFC vets in their corners. You beat a guy trained by Din Thomas. CW: Don’t get me wrong, I respect Din Thomas and American Top Team. They put out a lot of good fighters and train hard. I just did what I’m trained to do and that is win a fight. All I need in my corner is FIT NHB and the guys I train with getting me ready. I’m ready for any fight they put in front of me with any corner.

KM: What is it like training at FIT NHB? CW: It is a great camp, like a family. The guys I train with are like brothers from another mother.

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