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South Carolina MMA Interview: Former Wrestling All-American Kelly Anundson

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Of course South Carolina crossed the sands and decided to legalize MMA earlier this year.  Now it's full steam ahead and South Carolinians will get to attend the first sanctioned MMA event in South Carolina on November 21st.  MMA4Real was able to get in touch with one half of the scheduled main event in South Carolina MMA fighter Kelly Anundson.  Kelly is a 2008 division II wrestling All-American, and a recent winner of the US Grappling team trials last month.  MMA4Real caught up with Kelly to discuss South Carolina MMA, being able to represent his country at the World Grappling Championships, and if North Carolina and South Carolina will develop a MMA border rivalry.  Let's get it:


Kelvin Hunt-Kelly, how has training camp been leading up to your upcoming fight?

Kelly Anundson-It has been good I have been working very hard.


Kelvin Hunt-I know you had a fight back in March at an event that took place in Tennessee in which you won via TKO. Tell us a little about that, and what was it like to taste victory in your first MMA fight?

Kelly Anundson-That fight was a title fight at 205. It was a good win.

Kelvin Hunt-Good stuff.  Now you'll be headlining the first sanctioned MMA event in South Carolina on November 21st. Give us your thoughts on that, and what do you think about fighting in your home state for the first time? Do you expect to have a lot of friends and family there?

Kelly Anundson-It will be great not to have to travel and be able to sleep in my own bed. it is good to be a part of South Carolina history being the first in MMA in our state.  I will have a lot of friends there to support me.


Kelvin Hunt-Cool. Do you know much about your opponent?

Kelly Anundson-I know he is a big guy at about 245lbs.  I will be like 215.  I know he hits hard and that's about it.

Kelvin Hunt-Oh man, that is a big difference in weight.  Now you were a 2008 Division II All-American wrestler at Newberry College in South Carolina. What was your major?

Kelly Anundson-Leisure Services

Kelvin Hunt-I know you are coming off a huge accomplishment. Winning the US Grappling Team Trials back in October. That was only your 3rd grappling tournament ever right? Tell us a little about that experience and what are your thoughts on representing your country at the World Championships in December?

Kelly Anundson-It is a great thing to be able to represent your country in the world games.  It was a good experience being able to compete with the best in the country. It's even better to win.


Kelvin Hunt-How long have you been training in jiu jitsu and who's your primary jiu jitsu coach?

Kelly Anundson-I have been doing jiu jitsu for 7 years and I have been wrestling for 20 years. So they go good together.  My jiu jitsu coach is James Linic, and he owns Linic MMA in Greenville, SC.

Kelvin Hunt-Do you think your wrestling background allowed you to grasp the techniques of jiu jitsu quicker, and what was the most difficult part about the transition for you?

Kelly Anundson-It all went together pretty good. I was a scramble type wrestler in college so it all translates.

Kelvin Hunt-Now I know you are an accomplished wrestler/grappler. However, what was the transition like in regards to learning striking techniques for the first time?

Kelly Anundson-It was hard at first but I have caught on pretty fast.


Kelvin Hunt-North Carolina legalized MMA back in 2007 and the scene is just booming with events almost every weekend, and some local fighters are getting some recognition. Since South Carolina just legalized MMA this year, tell us as little about what's going on there in regards to the local scene. Are SC residents pretty aware of MMA or is the sport itself still in it's infancy stage at this point there?

Kelly Anundson-Ya everybody is excited about it.  I have people in the street stopping me all the time and asking about it.  They have seen all the flyers around town.


Kelvin Hunt-Do you think it's possible that we'll have sort of a NC/SC MMA rivalry with fighters traveling across the borders to compete?

Kelly Anundson-I think it would be cool to have a SC v.s. NC type event and I am sure it will happen.


Kelvin Hunt-Yea, I think that would be great for both states.  Since you have fought at heavyweight. In your opinion, who wins the Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin matchup whenever it finally happens and why? Also, Lesnar tried to criticize Carwin's accomplishements as a division II wrestler. With you being a division II wrestler, what would you say is the major difference between division I and division II wrestlers?

Kelly Anundson-Well I fight at 205 but they could not find a guy for me at that weight, so I went up.  But I think Lesnar wins on the ground and I think Shane wins it on the feet so who knows.  I think div 2 top wrestlers are just as good as the top div 1 wrestlers.


Kelvin Hunt-Lastly, do you have any words of wisdom or anyone you would like to thank?

Kelly Anundson-I would like to thank Ryan King, Billy Stanick, James Linic, and White Rock Gym.