The First MMA Fight…

For all you guys looking to have (and win) your first fight, you have to read this entire interview that I did with a young guy named Steven Rao.

He’s in the UK and I’ve talked to him a couple of times about training, and he emailed me telling me he won his first MMA fight, so I asked if I could interview him for you.

Check it out!

– Eric

——————- START OF INTERVIEW ——————-

Eric: Tell us a bit about yourself, (age, height, weight, student or do you work, etc), what your martial arts or athletic background is and when you first decided that you wanted to be a mixed martial arts fighter.

Steven: My name is Steven Rao, I turned 20 this past July, I stand at about 5’4 inches tall and I can walk around anywhere between 61-64 kg (134-141 lbs), as of right now I work Part Time as a bartender and I’m studying to become a personal trainer at college aswell the complete Mixed Martial Artist!. I began my training in June 2007, a month before I turned 16, initially believe it or not to become a pro wrestler and to impress this chick at college!, so I started lifting weights and doing body weight exercises the night before my History exam. At first I felt this would last the mandatory few weeks before one inevitably throws in the towel due to laziness and the like, however I kept up the training, maybe it was the narcissist in me or something but I carried on training. I kept purely lifting until June 2008, during which I had tried Pro Wrestling but never had the finances to keep up training, also my best friend was practising Kung Fu at the time and was always talking about martial arts. Around this same time I had gotten bad into beat em ups! Virtua Fighter 5 being the major culprit, and I told myself I wanna don the gi and look Ryu from Street Fighter or something!, so in June 2008 I began practising traditional Karate, It was at this point where I started paying attention to MMA. MMA being the cousin of Pro Wrestling, it was a natural transition, particularly when Brock Lesnar made his UFC debut being a former pro wrestler I was drawn in, I just began researching the fighters, George St Pierre stood out for me, particularly when I realised he was a Black Belt in Kyokushin Karate. I wantd to continue training karate until I received my black belt, after watching countless UFC events during my time as a security guard, I knew what I wanted to do. In May 2009 I joined Team Fearless MMA out of my hometown of Birmingham and I took up Kyokushin Karate in the same month, as of now I am a Yellow Belt (6th Kyu) in Kyokushin and I have been training in Muay Thai and Freestyle Wrestling for 1 year now.

Eric: Were there any obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get into your first fight? Perhaps lifestyle commitments, family, friends, availability of training, etc?

Steven: I’m very fortunate my family supported me and I keep a very small circle of friends whom supported what I did and my lovely girlfriend convinced me also, despite my apprehensions!, I was fortunate that the fight came before I started back in college, so I had a whole summer to train, even though my fight was offered 3 weeks before the show, I was always keeping my self in good shape. Perhaps my bad sleeping times were a hindrance, otherwise training for the fight was very good, for me it was never going to be physical problems only mental, which thank God I never really had.

Eric: Describe a typical week of training, what you train, when you do it, etc.

Steven:  Ok, my fight training went:

Monday Afternoon: Circuit Traing (Slight Modification to Eric Wong Crazy 8 circuit)
Monday Evening: 1 hr 30 mins Kyokushin Karate Technique & Pad Work
Tuesday 6pm – 8pm: Muay Thai (1hr) Freestyle Wrestling (1hr)
Wednesday Afternoon: Same circuit as Monday
Wednesday Evening: 2 mile Run
Thursday 6pm – 8pm: Same as Tuesday
Friday 7pm – 8:30pm: MMA Sparring
Saturday Afternoon: Muay Thai Pad Class or Tabatta Sprinting
Saturday Evening: Circuit Training

General Training will be attendance of the same classes, maybe another Karate class in there and different weight lifting, for the fight however I trained specifically high intensity circuits.

Eric: What are some things that have made the biggest impact on your skills as a mixed martial artist?

Steven: Private training with my coach Kamby Banger, the 121’s really upped my game, also the  Eric Wong Crazy 8’s circuits, not to mention continually working hard every week and just trying to be a sponge in the gym, listening to all my coaches, the guys in the gym whom have had more fights, my Sensei Shihan Roman Kucfir, and a willingness to succeed and a love for the sport and the Martial Arts

Eric: What was it like for you mentally and physically leading up to your fight?

Steven: Mentally I visuallised alot, I thought hard about my entrance, the music, the crowd, the feeling of stepping between the ropes everything. I visuallised myself throeing the inside leg kick, locking up with clinch, scoring the takedown, making the pass, securing that choke, inside of my mind I replayed over and over again as many scenarios that could develop during the fight. Also the days before the fight, my training ran through my mind, from when I first entered the gym, getting my ass kicked and thrown around! I rememberd a Muay Thai interclub I was in, which never made for pretty viewing! but most importantly I remembered my coach during a private class really throwing me around like a rag doll, but in my mind I figured the guy Im fighting on fight cant do this to me, so I took a lot of confidence from that. Physically, the training was harder than usual, I had fight specific circuits to do in the gym, which were horrid! I had to complete a 13 man gauntlet once in class, in which every minute I had to wrestle a fresh man, rounds and rounds of pad work, but the motto in the gym is ‘Train Hard, Fight Easy’

Eric: Did you ever want to quit and back out of the fight? If so, what made you keep going?

Steven:  I had already convinced myself, I was gonna leave it all out there, I would die in the ring if I had to! Thankfully It never got that far!

Eric: Describe how the fight went down.

Steven: The fight went simply; after the bell rang I approached the guy hit him with an inside leg kick, I saw him trying to punch me, really winging these body shots, so I clinched him pushed him into ropes, scored with a couple of knees to body, eventually we are back in the centre of the ring, Ive taken a hold of his body, taken him down, instantly passed his half guard into a full mount, waited for moment to sink my forearm into his throat, wrapped my arms up, squeezed down, seconds later he tapped!

Eric: Tell us how you felt and what you were thinking after you won.

Steven: When I won, I remember the getting of the guy, then just dropping to my knees! I wanted to cry, I just exploded with emotion when I saw my boys from the gym in the crowd, I just screamed OSU!!! done a Chuck Liddell ‘X’ accross the chest and tensed up, then I done the 3 air slashes of the samurai sword, like Yushin Okami did a couple years back!, I just wanted to thank my coaches, my team mates, my family, my friends and God, that hard work sure does pay off, if you put it in.

Eric: Is there anything else you’d like to share with everyone reading at home?

Steven: Check out Team Fearless MMA on Facebook or, IKO 3 Matsushima in Birmingham, my team is young but we have some excellent fighters in the making, including Ibby Khan who was the 2009 British Junior Wrestling Champion, he is 2-0 in Semi Pro MMA now, with regard to myself I would say remember my name, because with the power of God I will be a top fighter one day! If I am honest, as long I can make a living doing what I love and take care of my health and family, then I will be happy, you only live once, if you have a dream and you are willing to pursue it, you can do anything.
OSU!!!!!Eric: Tell us a bit about yourself, (age, height, weight, student or do you work, etc), what your martial arts or athletic background is and when you first decided that you wanted to be a mixed martial arts fighter.

——————- END OF INTERVIEW ——————-

Thanks to Steven for taking the time to answer the questions I threw his way!

Have a question for Steven?

Want to show him support?

Want to share your experience or some tips from your first MMA fight?

Do it in the Comments section below!

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10 years ago

Yo Stevie,

Mad props to your cuz its your cousin Amit . Just like to say I see your fight Im so darn proud of you man, keep up the goodwork. I appreciate your dedication and work ethic , kudos to you for pursuing your dream. Just keep up the momentum aligned with your work ethic and humility.

Anyways take it easy , hope everything is coll with you , peace x

Sharda Langhans
10 years ago

Great morning, I would like to say thanks for an exciting blog about a subject I have had an interest in for some time now. I’ve been exploring in and reading through the replies and so only wanted to express my thanks for giving me some incredibly exciting reading material. I look ahead to reading more, and getting a more active part in your comments here, whilst picking up some expertise too 😀

Al Jones
Al Jones
10 years ago

Congratulations Steven. Nice to see how it all progressed. Good luck in the future.

10 years ago

Great interview and especially interesting because i myself had my first fight on september 3rd. I won by guilotine 36 seconds into round 1, it sounded similar to Stevens fight. It’s good to hear about another first time fighters experience to compare to your own. Once again great interview and congrats to Steven Rao

10 years ago

great interview eric and steve. i’m especially interested in your practice with kyokushin karate. my father-in-law is a high level black belt in that style and we’re actually getting together this sunday to begin some training in that style. we’re primarily focusing on the body hardening aspect of it at first, but i’m sure as the weeks go on i’ll get into some other techniques with him. what made you favor this style over others?

Steven Rao
Steven Rao
10 years ago
Reply to  wrestler

First of all thanks for everyone who took the time out to read the interview, and thanks to all you guys for your kind and most encouraging words! strenght training for wrestling, you asked why I favoured kyokushin karate over other styles, this may sound a bit cheesy, but I saw this movie called Fighter In The Wind back in May 2008, if you havn’t seen it, I would highly reccomend it, in a nutshell; its a romantacised biographical account of the life of the founder of Kyokushin Karate Sosai Masutatsu Oyama. After doing a brief wikipedia search on Kyokushin, I came across this idea of Full Contact Karate, I always just though karate was semi contact and kata, after typing kyokushin into youtube and watching some of the kumite, I was blown away to say the least by all the head kick knockouts, I watched Human Weapon & Fight… Read more »

Steve Preston
10 years ago


I’m going to keep looking for you in the future…

Great attitude bro’

Kick some ass!!

10 years ago

Good job Steve, and good luck moving forward. Whatever your mind conceives, and believes, you will achieve if you keep putting in the work. Keep moving on bro. You can do it!!

Scott Marko
Scott Marko
10 years ago

Cracking interview, shows hard work pays off and also shows how valuable mental preparation and visualisation is.