We are just two days away from the beginning the SporfightX's Redline Lightweight Grand Prix. SportfightX: Undefeated will take place at the Georgia World Congress Center Saturday night. William "SoCo" McAlister inspected every fighter in the Southeast to find the best undefeated amateur/pro fighters in the Lightweight division. The Redline Lightweight Grand Prix will start this weekend and the finals are set for the end of the year. The winner gets to keep his undefeated record and claim himself one of the best fighters in the Southeast. Along with those prestigious accolades the winner will receive a four fight contract with SportfightX. I wanted to talk with each of the competitors before the tournament and get a feel of who they are. This is a major step up in competition for all these guys and there is no easy road to the final.
Jerrid Bruke went 5-0 as an amateur in Georgia, he will now try and stay undefeated throughout the tournament. Bruke has natural KO power in his hands and is developing a grappling game quite nicely. I really enjoyed watching him as an amateur and i am sure he won't disappoint as a pro. For some background information on Bruke check out the SportfightX article:
Burke, a student at the University of Georgia majoring in Exercise and Sport Science, has not always been an entertainer. As a child his biggest ambition aside from professional sports was to be a world traveler. In 2001, he got his chance when he joined the United States Navy and spent six years on the USS Abraham Lincoln. During his travels he ran across many gyms and athletic facilities and decided to give one a try. "When i was at the base gym one day I spotted a sign that said kalahi martial arts. I checked out the class and it ended up being a small mixed martial arts gym. I was hooked from then on."
EVeezy: Talk about why you joined the Navy and what was the experience like.
Burke: I joined the Navy in September 2001, before September 11th. I wanted to get out of Georgia and experience things I never could do anywhere else. The September 11th thing happened and a lot of people were scared, I wasn't that was a big motivator once I got in. I was very happy to serve my country. Lot of discipline goes on, something that I really needed at that time. I think if I had never joined the Navy, I would not be where I am right now. You're at sea about 6 months at a time and there is not much to do. You learn how to keep going, even if it is something you don't want to do. In training you want to quit a lot of times and my experience in the Navy certainly helps me.
EVeezy: So am I to believe this straight lace Navy guy comes out to his fights with a Superman cape on?
Burke: (Laughs) Well I have never really been straight laced, I have always been a wacky guy. In the Navy I had strange hair cuts and the way I dressed has always kind of been different from everyone else. I like to have fun with my walkouts. It entertains the crowd, it is something different than they are used to.
EVeezy: Do you look forward to you walkout more than your fight?
Burke: (Laughs) That's a good question. I tend to look forward to the fight because I have put in 7 or 8 weeks of hard work. Performing in the cage/ring to me is always more fun than the walkout. I do look forward to the walkouts though.
EVeezy:So do you come up with the walkout ideas or do you have help from your teammates?
Burke: Actually Brain Bowles and Gardner Dominick are the two guys that i credit with the gummy bear thing. They thought it was going to funny so I just took their advise and went with it. Cale Yarbrough contributes to some of them as well.
EVeezy: In your last fight at Wild Bill's you came out with a Sakuraba type mask what was that all about?
Burke: Brain Bowles had got that mask at a market for 2 bucks. He thought it would be funny if I came out with the mask on, so I did it.
Burke: It's very calculated, I like to be patient and wait for my opportunity. When the time comes I like to let loose and go for a violent finish. I love knockouts, I like to be very technical with them. I don't like to go in there and brawl. Sometimes I do tend to get sucked into brawls, but I fight best when I am patient and technical. I do have knockouts from brawls I have gotten into, but I prefer not to take damage just to give it. If it does go to the ground I am very comfortable there. I have a few submission finishes. We have great grapplers at our gym so I am no stranger to the ground. I just have more fun on the feet.
EVeezy: Your first match-up in the tournament is against Marc Courm. Do you think your styles are more conducive to having an exciting fight than the other first round match-ups?
Burke: I would say that we are going to come out and brawl. I don't think he is going to be able to take me down, I am going to be the bigger stronger guy. I have more power than he does and I am sure once he tastes my power he will want to try and take me down. I'm sure he was to come in and stand with me, but he is going to find out that it is going to be a rough go for him. He has got some stand-up and he's got some Jitz, but I feel I am a better grappler than he is. I do think that the majority of this fight will stay standing though.
EVeezy: So anywhere the fight goes, you see yourself beating Marc Courm.
Burke: Yeah, anywhere the fight goes I believe I'm superior. No disrespect to him.
EVeezy: Do you think his experience as a Bull rider will help in his MMA career?
Burke: Well, he might be able to take an extra beating. He is obviously a tough guy, being a bull rider is not an easy job. So he might last another 30 seconds longer in the cage with me.
EVeezy: "SoCo" really enjoys your entrances. Does it benefit you as a MMA fighter that promoters such as "SoCo" think of you as an asset to their company?
Burke: Yeah, when I started doing it I didn't think much of it. Like I said it started out as a fun thing and the promoters liked it and the crowd liked it so I kept it up.
EVeezy: When you started fighting did you see yourself becoming an undefeated amateur ?
Burke: I never really thought about it. As I got better and better in the gym I could see tangible improvement in my game. When I hooked up with Hardcore gym I thought I was on another level from the rest of the amateur . I feel very confident going pro.
EVeezy: Do you watch tape on most of your opponents?
Burke: If I can get my hands on any footage I will. I like to see what my opponents are bringing. I don't plan my fight game around my opponents. I like to see what pace they set in their fights. Fighters change as time goes on so I try and find the most recent footage. On May 1st in McDonough his fight was right after mine so I watched him then. I'm sure he has gotten enough footage on me too.
EVeezy: How are you enjoying the summer in Georgia so far?
Burke: I'm having fun. For some reason I have been around a lot of cakes an pies that I could not eat, which was not very enjoyable. After I win this fight it will be a lot more enjoyable.
EVeezy: Talk about coming off of knee surgery.
Burke: That was a rough rehab. I had a anterior cruciate ligament tear. They cut open my knee pretty good. It was about a month rehab, it was very painful and took forever to heal. I think it took a little over 6 months before I felt completely healed. Coming back from the injury I was really rusty. I was in the gym everyday reacting to everything slower than usual. My Jiu-Jitsu game suffered the most during that time. It was difficult to handle the workload because I was taking beating in their. It is fully healed now and I have had no problems since.
EVeezy: Athens is a pretty vibrant town at night. You and Cale are young guys, do you have any stories you would like to share about your time in Athens?
Burke: We have fun from time to time. I am having a tough time thinking about any really good stories. You gotta avoid the downtown scene a lot. There are a lot of pretty women walking around with alcohol. You gotta have to stay away from that and stay home.
EVeezy: How do you think you stack up with the rest of the guys competing in the tournament?
Burke: There are two good wrestlers in my bracket in Kriegermeier and Brooks. I have trained with Junior Assuncao a few times and I guess Kriegermeier is a purple belt at his school. I have a lot of respect for him. If he is coming from Junior's school he is going to bring a lot of tools to the table. Brooks has good wrestling credentials. He is a good wrestler, but I am no slouch by any means. He has got another thing coming if he thinks he is going to step in the cage and take me down. I think I have a really good chance of wining the tournament. I think in the next round I am going to have a really tough fight. They both are left-handed wrestlers which is really good for me. Most likely I will see a wrestler in the finals, so it is certainly going to be a challenge for me. I'm very confident I can win.
Burke: I have fought some opponents I don't like., but I have never really faced an opponents that was bad mouthing me. If an opponent did, it wouldn't bother me much. I don't let anyone get into my head. That stuff really doesn't bother me. I know what I am bringing to the cage, so it won't matter if my opponent is running his mouth. It won't help him when he is in the cage with me.
EVeezy: What sets Haredcore apart from the rest of the gyms in Georgia?
Burke: We have world class guys. We have Brain, Cale Yarbrough, you can name drop a lot of guys we have. We are a very close knit group. We are always driving, motivating, and looking out for each other everyday. We will al get together and watch the UFC's or barbecue. If you spend enough time in the gym with us you are going to see tangible improvements in you're game.
EVeezy: Are you a fan of sports outside of MMA?
Burke: Yeah I am really into Georgia football. Go Dawgs!
EVeezy: How is the team looking this year?
Burke: The strength and conditioning coaches for UGA is our (Hardecore gym) Strength and Conditioning trainer. He said they got some beasts on the offensive line. They have got some great up and comers are looking good this year.
EVeezy: Who is filling in at Quarterback?
Burke: That I don't know (Laughs) I can find out when the time comes!
EVeezy: Any sponsors or shoutouts
Burke: Clay Walker has been great he has really helped me get prepared for this tournament. My team, Adam and Rory Singer have been very good to me. We have an amateur on the card Travis Lord, he is an undefeated amateur right now and is on his way up.