Interview with Gladiator Challenge Middleweight Champion Jeff Morris by Rick Caudle
On November 13th, 2010, Gladiator Challenge Middleweight Champion Jeff Morris (8-5) will defend his title against Former Light Heavyweight Champion, Rick Randolph (6-5) at the Red Hawk Casino in Placerville, California. I ran into Jeff at the Nashville Airport, and he had this to say:
I know it’s been awhile since you’ve defended your belt, what have you been doing to prepare for your title match with Former Gladiator Challenge Light Heavyweight Champion, Rick Randolph, coming up on November 13th?
I split my training time between Nashville, Tennessee and Sacramento, California. I’m originally from the Nashville area, and my father lives here. He’s had some serious health problems in the past, so I like to stay close to him. He has always encouraged and inspired me to do MMA. Luckily, the folks at Gladiator Challenge were nice enough to grant me a little time away to help take care of my Dad.
Where do you train when you're in town?
When I‘m in Tennessee, I train at Ed Clay’s school, Nashville MMA. It’s a great atmosphere to train in and I feel like I learn a lot. They have a great facility here. I’ll be heading out West in the next few weeks to prepare for the fight in California. When I get back there I’ll be with my team, Team Mixed Breed. There’s a lot of camaradarie between us. Sometimes I even fly out there to support one of my teammates at a fight.
How did you get started competing in MMA?
My dad was a martial artist and had me throwing kicks and punches when I was three or four years old. He was into Wing Chun and would teach me the moves, mostly for self defense.
What are your thoughts about the match with Rick Randolph? Where do you think it will happen, on the ground or standing toe-to-toe and striking?
From everything I know, Rick is a humble guy and it should be a great fight. Most likely, he’ll want to take me to the mat.
You have won the majority of your fights by KO or TKO, but your background includes a lot of wrestling right?
I started wrestling when I was in high school in Sacramento, California. I had great coaches and my dad always encouraged me to compete. I went to lots of freestyle tournaments, and Greco-Roman events. I had never done Greco-Roman but they taught me on the rules on the way there.......ha ha. I did well with it. In that tournament, I came in 15th out of 86. Prior to that, I was 4th in the state, one match short of being able to go to the Nationals in Freestyle.
When were you introduced to Brazilian Jui-Jitsu?
One day my friend, George Rodriguez, invited me to train with him. I was blown away because although he was 135lbs and I weighed 215lbs, he tapped me out like 20 times, basically at will. It was a shock that with all my years of wrestling, I couldn’t beat a guy half my size. That was my first exposure to BJJ. After that I was eager to learn.
Do you and George still train together?
George and I, along with our friend Gary Efhan, started Team Mixed Breed in a 2 car garage. With the help of co-owner Michael Lyssand, we now have 10 to 15 fighters competing and a great kid’s program. Our kids do real well in competitions around the area too. Please visit: http://teammixedbreed.com/
When did you win the Gladiator Challenge Middleweight title?
Well, like they saying goes, 3rd time is the charm. After losing a title match to Jaime Jara in 2006, and to Scott Smith in ‘07, I beat Steve Eldridge by KO in 36 seconds of the first round on July 31st, 2009.
What fighters do you look up to, guys that inspire you to fight?
My heroes are guys like Jaime Jara and Randy Couture. They're in their forties and still going strong. The fight on November 13th is one day after my 37th birthday.
What are your goals for the future?
Well, I love to compete and plan to do it until I don’t like it anymore. I try to stay healthy both physically and mentally, and have remained “natural” in my training and conditioning. I continue to improve everyday and really enjoy fighting MMA. Hopefully, I can move up to bigger and better fights.
We are all looking forward to seeing you fight on November 13th. Anything you want to say to your fans?
I’d like to say I love and miss all you guys. I appreciate your support. Come on out to the Red Hawk Casino on the 13th and I promise you it will be a great show.
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