Folks that follow the MMA scene in the Carolinas have long known about NC native Chris Clodfelter. Chris possesses strong striking ability, honed by years of training in the discipline of Muay Thai. As the owner of his own gym in Clemmons, NC he has also developed a solid reputation regionally as a coach and trainer of young fighters. Clodfelter sports an impressive professional MMA record of 9-5 (*I had erroneously previously reported his record as 9-6, but that included an amateur result) and I recently caught up with him to find out more about his background, gym, his experience at the TUF season 12 tryouts and what his upcoming plans include.
Rich Wyatt: I know that you come from a Muay Thai background. Growing up in King, NC how did you first get into Muay Thai?
Chris Clodfelter: King had a population of about eight people. (Laughs) I started training in the martial arts when I was a kid. I was actually a big fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. I decided around that time that I wanted to be a ninja. (Laughs) I started by training in Karate but at age 15 began training in Muay Thai. Over the years I began to train in other disciplines as well. I spent some time training jiu-jitsu with Mickey Heath. While in school at Pensacola Christian College down in Florida I met WEC fighter Rich Crunkilton and began training with him and some other fighters from around that area. I enjoyed training MMA but Muay Thai has always been my passion. I moved back here to North Carolina about six years ago and began training with Kru Rick Davis in Statesville. Davis is a champion and certified WMTC instructor and eventually I obtained my Kru status as well.
Rich Wyatt: How many Muay Thai fights have you had?
Chris Clodfelter: I'm currently 6-1 in professional Muay Thai. My only loss was to Phillip Botha, a fighter out of Georgia that is also an undefeated pro boxer. That was an outstanding fight. We put on a show.
More after the jump:
Rich Wyatt: How did you first get into pro MMA?
Chris Clodfelter: I started on the Georgia MMA scene. Before the sport was legalized here in NC that was one of the main places that a lot of the fighters in this region went to compete. There was no requirement back then in regard to a minimum number of amateur fights so after a 2-1 amateur career I jumped into the pro ranks. My first pro fight was against Dustin Rhodes and I beat him in the 1st round. After that I fought against a fighter from California and armbarred him. It was really fun fighting in Georgia back then. I got a chance to compete alongside multiple guys that went on to fight for large promotions. I remember competing on the same cards as Forrest Griffin and I even got to see him take on Jeff Monson.
Rich Wyatt: You now own your own gym in Clemmons, North Carolina. Tell us about the gym.
Chris Clodfelter: The name of the gym is Eight Points Muay Thai and Fitness. It's an authentic Muay Thai camp and we teach the sport in the manner that it's meant to be taught. Some MMA fighters throw leg kicks and think that they've got Muay Thai skills but we try to teach everything there is to teach about the sport. We even teach and practice the Ram Muay (traditional pre-fight ritual). Also, I've been working on a ranking system for progression in the discipline of Muay Thai to help use as a motivator for folks in our program to keep improving. We're a diverse gym. In addition to offering training in Muay Thai, we're also a Gracie Baja affiliate and our jiu-jitsu program is strong. We also offer training in wrestling and we even offer a strength and conditioning program. Both myself and my fiancee Crystal are certified S & C trainers. We place a lot of emphasis on high intensity training. We try to push folks to do reps until you can't go anymore, followed by a short rest and then back to the exercise.
Rich Wyatt: Who are some of the fighters currently training out of your gym?
Chris Clodfelter: We've actually got two competition teams. We've got a Muay Thai team and a MMA team. Our Muay Thai team includes fighters like Travis Ashley, Chrystal Parrish and Paul Mellick. They often compete at events in both Georgia and South Carolina. In fact, just recently we competed on a card down in Atlanta and Travis won a big fight against one of Manu N'Toh's top 145 pound fighters. On that same card Crystal also won her fight. We've got several MMA fighters that train at our gym, including guys like Josh Stanly, Josh Leonard, Jacob Johnson and both Keith and Kevin Hulin. We've also got some other young fighters that could begin competition sometime soon.
Rich Wyatt: What are your thoughts about the five amateur fight minimum rule in North Carolina before turning pro?
Chris Clodfelter: I like it. If anything, I think there should be more fights required just so you don't get guys going out there that don't know what they're doing. We want to make sure that guys have at least a .500 record as amateurs. Then I'd like to test them down in Georgia against a fighter from a top camp and, if they pass that test, they have my blessing to go pro.
Rich Wyatt: Tell us about your experience at the April 1st open tryouts for "The Ultimate Fighter". What was that experience like?
Chris Clodfelter: It was really cool. I looked at it as a testament to MMA in the Carolinas and how far we've come in the past few years. A few years back, that tryout would have mostly been attended by fighters from Georgia and Florida. But there was a huge contingent of fighters from this area that not only attended, but showed up ready to compete at a high level. There was a lot of downtime in between activities where I was just sitting around. It was a fun experience and there was a lot of excitement. Like I said, it was interesting just to see how far we've come. I believe that, eventually, this area can become a hotbed for MMA.
Rich Wyatt: When would you like to compete next?
Chris Clodfelter: Well, right now I'm waiting to hopefully hear back from the UFC in regard to their selection process for season 12 of TUF. I would like to fight again as soon as possible, however. I was originally supposed to face Joe Carroll on May 7th but right now I'm in limbo, waiting to see what the folks from the UFC say. Hopefully we can do that fight really soon. Unless Joey fights smarter, though, that fight doesn't leave the 1st round. I'm definitely going to try and fight again soon. My jiu-jitsu is underrated and guys don't realize that I've submitted black belts in MMA fights. I don't mind being the underdog. If guys want to think I'm one dimensional then they'll find out the truth soon enough. Hopefully sometime in the next couple of months I'll be back in action. We're talking with a few different promotions, including Carolina Fight Promotions, about possibly promoting my next fight.
MMA4Real would like to thank Chris for taking the time out to speak with us. We would like to wish him good luck in the future, and we hope to have him on again.