The North Carolina MMA scene is buzzing with excitement since being legalized again a little over a year ago. It's not unusual for the state to produce a couple of MMA shows per month. Here at MMA4Real the aim is to promote NorthCarolina MMA and its fighters. We were lucky enough to catch up with current Circle Of Fury Welterweight champ Chris Clodfelter. He gives us his thoughts on North Carolina MMA, his future, and which fighters we should keep an eye on in the future.
Kelvin Hunt-Chris, I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. Tell us a little about Chris growing up, and how you got into MMA?
Chris Clodfelter-No problem man. Well I was a huge ninja turtles fan growing up and that got me into martial arts at a very early age. I was kicking trees and fighting crime in my backyard when i was 9...lol. I started training first in American Freestyle Karate and American Combat jiu jitsu under the USA sport jiu jitsu team captain Mickey Heath, I went on to earn black belts in both arts. When I was 17 I started training in Muay Thai, and completely fell in love with it. In 2007 I received my Kru (Head Instructor) from the World Professional Muay Thai Federation in Bangkok, Thailand and my coach World Champ, Arjan Rick Davis. I started competing in kickboxing then went to college in Florida 1998, while I was there I met another fighter, Rich 'Cleat" Crunkilton (who fought Hermes Franca at UFC 42), and he encouraged me to try Mixed Martial Arts since I was already a pretty good Muay Thai fighter. I had my first fight in 2000, I won in the first round by technical knock out from leg kicks, and I was hooked. I have been competing professionally in Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts for the past 9 yrs.
Kelvin Hunt-9 years? Wow. Were you into other sports growing up or did you always know you had a little bit of fighter in you somewhere?
Chris Clodfelter-I was horrible at team sports, I was on the basketball team but the coach only put me in when we were down by 50 and there was no hope to recover. I tried baseball but got hit in the face trying to catch pop flys, and I tried soccer, only to get repeated yellow cards for kicking guys in the shins...lol. I knew I wanted to be a professional martial artist. I love everything about the martial arts and I knew I wanted to be involved in them the rest of my life.
Kelvin Hunt-Cool, So who do youtrain with and what does a normal training day consist of for you?
Chris Clodfelter-I have the best group of guys to train with, I do most of my training at Champion Muay Thai in Statesville, NC. It is one of the only certifed Muay Thai gyms in North Carolina. It is certified under the World Muay Thai Council in Thailand. I train there on Tuesdays, Thrusdays, and Saturdays where I do all my muay thai pad work and sparring. I have tons of great sparring partners there who have fought all over, including Thailand and my coach, former world champ, Arjan Rick Davis makes sure my technique is ON for every fight. We also have some Purple Belts and Brown belts in BJJ so I have some great rolling partners too. On Mondays and Wednesdays I do all of my grappling and submission, and on Wednesdays and Fridays I do my strength and conditioning. My conditioning coach Jade Teta-CSCS, makes sure I always have new things to do that make me hate him..lol. We actually have a few of our Strength and Conditoning videos up on youtube. Just type in "Metabolic Effect MMA conditioning" and a bunch of stuff will come up. So my week stays pretty busy with training Mon-Sat..
Kelvin Hunt-I've fallen off the workout wagon, so I'll be sure to check those videos out. I read somewhere that you prefer to keep the fight standing, yet most of your wins have come via submission. How does that happen?
Chris Clodfelter-Ha ha, I don't know man... I train hard at all the aspects of the game. I just prefer muay thai.. I am thankful for all my victories and even my defeats. I feel every time you compete it's a chance to learn and grow as a fighter..
Kelvin Hunt-For sure. You have won your last two fights, winning the Circle Of Fury welterweight title in August of 2008 against Jason Wiggins. What was your thought process like going into that fight, and how did it feel to be recognized as a champion?
Chris Clodfelter-It feels great to have the belt. That was one of my goals when I started training, to win a title belt in my home town in front of my family and friends, so it was very surreal when it happened. I look at every fight as another training session, it doesn't matter if it was for a belt or not. It's still another fight, but I am gonna have to be honest I was a little more nervouswith all my family and friends there..
Kelvin Hunt-Yea, you don't want to let down the family if they can to see you in person! Most of your fights have taken place in Georgia and Alabama. However, the last two have taken place in North Carolina. With you living in North Carolina, how does it feel to fight in your home state and what are your thoughts on the MMA scene here in North Carolina?
Chris Clodfelter-I LOVE fighting in North Carolina, it is by far my favorite place to fight. All of my family and friends are here so it is great to get a chance to compete with them in the crowd. The NC MMA scene is really growing and I think in another year or so North Carolina will be a mecca for MMA on the east coast, kinda like georgia is now. NC is definately going to be the place to be for MMA.
Kelvin Hunt-It is exploding and I'm happy to have a hand in it as well. Chris, I know you are pretty passionate about MMA. What else drives you and what’s something else you would consider a passion?
Chris Clodfelter-The things that drive me the most are my faith and my son. I am a christian and I want to be a testimony with my life. I am thankful that God has allowed me to have the strength to do what I love on a daily basis. I have a 6yr old little boy named Drake who is my absolute world. Spending time with him is my Favorite thing to do. He got to attend my last fight were I won the belt and I got to bring him in the cage after the fight, it was the best. Another thing that really drives me is the support of my girlfriend Crystal. She is a female muay thai fighter, so she knows the dedication it takes to succeed and she is behind me 100%.
Kelvin Hunt-I have a 7 month old daugher so I can definitely relate! What’s next for you and what can we expect from you in the future?
Chris Clodfelter-My next fight is April 10th in Wyoming, then I am coming home and fighting in Charlotte in late May. I have some seminars set up in the coming months and I will hopefully be going to Thailand this summer, so its a busy start to 09.
Kelvin Hunt-Yea, sounds like you'll be wide open. With the fight scene here in NC growing rapidly. Is there anyone out there that we should be keeping our eyes on(besides yourself..lol)?
Chris Clodfelter-There are so many great guys to watch out for that I can't name them all in this interview. But definitely keep an eye out for my boy Sylvain from Team ONE, he is on fire with great performances at Vengenceand Elite Championship Cagefighting. Also, Joe Caudle is another great guy to watch, he is a Sick muay thai guy and one of my training partners. He put on a muay thai clinic in his last fight. Allen 'The Hedgehog' Greenway is another guy to keep an eye on, he has great striking and is very well rounded. Roger Caroll is another fun guy to watch, his jiu jitsu is off the charts, look for him and Allen to bang it out this year.. also keep an eye out for Andrew Champan an undefeated amateur making his pro debut this year..
Kelvin Hunt-Alright, I'll have to remember those names! Any parting thoughts or anyone you would like to thank?
Chris Clodfelter-I want to thank my savior Jesus Christ for giving me passion and strength to train every day, also thanks to my sponsors Grudge Choppers, In Gods Hands Clothing, Metabolic Effect, F5 Photography, and Fosters Chiropractic for all their continued support. You can check out my fight clips, pics and updates at www. myspace. com/chris_clodfelter. Thanks again to MMA4real for spreading the word about NC MMA.
No problem Chris, again we would like to thank you for joining us here at MMA4Real. Good luck in your April fight, and we look forward to having you on again.