I braved below zero temperatures a weekend ago to go train with and interview a few members of Unified Martial Arts in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Their gym, which is located in old warehouse had a broken heater and was being supplemented with a kerosene heater. Needless to say, there is a certain level of determination and being hard core that goes with training in that kind of environment. Three of their members are fighting in the Combat USA show in Menasha on December 22, 2007. Here is my interview and profile with Mike Biddle.
Mike Biddle is 27 years old and is co-owner of Unified Martial Arts gym in Fond du Lac, WI. He is the head instructor for kickboxing and MMA, while co-owner Jason Burroughs is the head Jiu-Jitsu instructor. He is recovering from a broken finger that was sustained while training with Gary Schaumberg, Gladiators new 145lb Featherweight Champion. He’s had some ups and downs in getting his fight MMA fight. Here’s his take:
“I’ve been trying to get a fight since September. I was supposed to fight September 29, but I got a Staph Infection. I had to pull out of that one. Then November 11, I was supposed to fight in Wisconsin Dells and that show got cancelled. Now this fight on December 22, my opponent was to be Pat McHugh. He broke his arm in training I was told, so he cannot fight. Adam Sandaval who is the promoter for Combat USA has been looking for a fight for me. I’m hoping he is able to get me one. I have been trying to get a fight now for three months so it is frustrating.”
Biddle recently took first place in the King Grappler tournament in Madison in October winning the 160-170lb intermediate division. I asked him how he became interested in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“I was working at Quad Graphics and was introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by a guy named Z. Porski, a BJJ blue belt from Poland. When he moved back to Poland I started looking for a gym to train. It seemed like Fox Valley was the only place to go at the time and then I heard about Will at the Welcome Mat. Will Ernsberger, had previously trained with Henry Matamoros and Red Schafer, before that group split up. I hooked up with the Welcome Mat and have been hooked ever since. We moved to the old Goodrich high school balcony in Fond du Lac for just over a year. We couldn’t get an agreement with the athletic department, so we decided to start our own school, Unified Martial Arts.
On his style:
“It doesn’t matter where the fight goes, I can win the fight standing or on the ground. I’m not afraid to be on my back in an MMA fight. I think I have a decent ground game. I’ve been working on my stand up for the last year. I went down to Duke’s for a little while. I’ve also been training with Mike Vaughn, doing everything I can to get my standup going. I think my standup is surpassing my ground game now, which is great.”
“Ideally, I would not shoot in. I would stay standing. If I get hit with some shots and feel like he’s better than I am, then I would definitely try to shoot. I’m aggressive and I want to come out throwing punches and kicks right away. If he wants to take me down then he can do that, I work my sprawl hard. I train my ass off no matter where the fight goes.”
“In Your Face Tattoos in Fond du Lac, which is owned by my friend Gavin Bowe. I’m also sponsored by the Coliseum Bar & Grill in Fond Du Lac. Lastly, by Hopper’s Screen Printing in North Fond Du Lac.”
On Gladiators 48:
“I was most impressed with Sam (Thao). Omar (Chowdury) did everything in his power to try and defend, but no one was going to stop Sam that night. He was determined and he imposed his will. Also my friend Gary Schaumberg, who we all know has been the man. Now he has the belt and I’m really proud of him for that.”
“The first time I go to Duke’s to spar, I have to spar with Dan LaSavage right off the bat. I’m like OK, cool, I’ll do this. We start out, he hits me a couple times, and I’m like holy shit, this guy is really punching me in the face. He was hitting me and I was so freaked out that I couldn’t handle it. I just kept flinching so bad from him hitting me. I’m thinking, “Oh my god this guy is killing me and Cushman jumps in and starts telling him what to do. I’m getting kicked left and right. Cushman yells, “Head kick, Head kick.” Then bang – I got kicked right in the face. I ended up having a concussion from that. I didn’t have my hands up because I was stupid. My eye socket was all swollen, it was horrible, just bad. The lesson, keep your hands up and if your not on someone’s level, you probably shouldn’t spar with them.”
Danny Boy Downes
Since I interviewed Mike Biddle on Saturday, December 8th, I have learned that Combat USA has found an opponent to fill in for the injured Pat McHugh. Mike Biddle will now face Roufus Sport fighter Danny Boy Downes on December 22 in Menasha.
Downes has an amateur MMA record of (2-0) and has finished both of his opponents in the first round. In August, at a Gladiators show, Downes beat Jared Polden at 1:09 via TKO and most recently he fought and beat John Lovejoy at Gladiators 47 in October, via TKO at 1:00. It should be a tough test for the (0-0) Mike Biddle.
Expect more interviews and profiles from fighters in the Combat USA show this week. I’d like to thank Mike Biddle for inviting me up to Fond du Lac to train and interview the guys. Interviews with Unified Martial Arts fighters Scott Beck and Brad Resop should be posted in the next few days. Please support the local MMA scene and it’s athletes by going to the shows. Wisconsin Combat Sports will be there next Saturday covering the action. I hope to see you there.
This interview was originally posted on http://www.wicombatsports.com/ on 12-16-2007