Thursday, March 15, 2007

Interview: IFL Fighter Jeremy Williams

By Mark Davies

StrictlyMMA: Can you tell us a little bit about your background in martial arts?

Jeremy Williams: I started Thai boxing when I was 17, and I was doing that for about two years. When I was 19, I started training jiu jitsu with Chris Brennan. I was one of his first students when he opened his gym. I trained with him pretty much all day, every day. We ended up becoming friends and living together. I kind of got lucky. I trained with him for about five years, and then he and I kind of split. He moved, and I ended up training with a bunch of buddies. I got together with a new Thai boxing coach. Chris and I were training with Marco [Ruas] back when I was a blue belt in 2000. We trained with him for like a year, year and a half, and then he opened his own school and kind of did his own thing.

After Chris and I split, I moved on and started training Muay Thai a lot and kind of put jiu jitsu on the backburner for a little while, just training with some buddies for jiu jitsu, and training Muay Thai with a thai coach for a year and a half, two years, and then training with Brazilian Top Team in jiu jitsu. I was training with Brazilian Top Team up in Long Beach with Marcelo Perdomo and some of his guys.

Eventually, I ended up just opening up my own school in January of 2005 where I teach muay thai and jiu jitsu down in Mission Viejo called Apex. I got my black belt from Chris in October of 2005. I got back together with Marco, and Chris moved to Texas. I was training with Marco in MMA and got a black belt in Ruas Vale Tudo from Marco in the last few months.

SMMA: Did you fight pro Muay Thai or kickboxing before MMA?

JW: I didn’t. I never fought Muay Thai. I was scheduled to fight an amateur fight right before I met Chris and fell in love with jiu jitsu. I pretty much put Muay Thai on the backburner.

SMMA: How did you get your first MMA fight?

JW: From Chris. I fought back in the day in his little tiny shows, basically in bars and stuff like that where they are paying you a couple hundred bucks. It’s a good experience. I think I was a blue belt, but no one’s ground had really developed. That was 99 or maybe the beginning of 2000. Everyone’s ground was real weak, and you didn’t have to be the same level that everyone is today.

SMMA: You had a promising start to your career, including beating Yves Edwards, and then you stopped fighting. Why?

JW: I had a couple injuries that were wrecking me. I had a back injury that was bothering me real bad, and I was trying to overcome it and keep going. Then I had a lot of ankle injuries and stuff like that. I didn’t feel comfortable fighting for a while, and I think mentally I wasn’t really prepared. I was still young by age, but maturity wise too I was young, so I don’t think I had the mental aspect of the game down. I wasn’t real confident in myself. I didn’t have the confidence that you need to have to be fighting. I basically broke down, quit fighting, got married, had a daughter, and opened a gym. It was actually my wife who was one of the ones who talked me back into fighting because she thought it was something I enjoy. I’m teaching all day, and when Marco came to me with the opportunity, she was real supportive and helped push me to do it.

SMMA: How can you balance your business and training with your team?

JW: It's not easy. I think one thing that’s good is that I have been open a little over two years. And I was teaching before that in other places. I have some guys that have been with me for a few years that can, when it comes close to fight time, that can help me a little bit with the gym. It's definitely not easy. It takes a lot of time. Marco has been real flexible with me with my training schedule, getting together with me and helping me work around my schedule. I am pretty much still teaching full time, a husband and dad full time, and then fighting on top of it. Because I was training all the time anyway, I never took a break from training even when I wasn’t fighting, I was always training jiu jitsu or Muay Thai. I just need to find the extra time to make sure I get in the extra cardio days, and I added in some strength stuff that wasn’t too bad a change.

SMMA: A lot of fighters with similar skillsets to your's have weak wrestling. How is your's, and how important do you think it is in MMA?

JW: I think it's super important in the MMA game. That pretty much means you are going to be able to control where the fight is. I think my wrestling is the weakest part of my game. I’ll train wrestling for months straight where I will get off the ground, and I won't even work on jiu jitsu much. Then, before the fight, I’ll be like, “I’m not getting taken down this fight. I am going to stand.” Then sure enough, the first or second punch I throw, and I’m on my back. I would definitely say it’s the weakest part of my game, and we’ll see how it turns out this time. I have been working on it a lot because I know Hamanaka, my opponent, is an extremely talented wrestler, an extremely talented fighter.

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