Despite being a reality TV star, fighting in front of millions of fans on live television and even getting his own air time on UFC.tv he remains one of the most fan friendly, humble fighters in the game.Mike Swick is fast becoming one of the most recognized names in the UFC, thanks obviously to his participation on the first season of the hit reality show Ultimate Fighters, but also due to the lightning fast KOs that have been a trademark of his octagon appearances. While many people recognize the threat he poses to anyone in the 185 pound division in terms of striking, many probably do not realize how well-rounded of an MMA fighter he has becomes.
Most fans likely think of Swick in terms of the immediate exposure and success he has gained from being seen by millions of fans on Spike TV, however I have known Mike since he was cleaning peoples gutters and bouncing at bars in San Jose (he’s always been nice enough not to toss my ass to the curb even when I had it coming). But despite being a reality TV star, fighting in front of millions of fans on live television and even getting his own air time on UFC.tv (“Real Quick with Mike Swick”) he remains one of the most fan friendly, humble fighters in the game.
Q: Mike, tell us briefly about your start in martial arts and what led you into MMA.
MS: I have been in Martial arts since I was eight, so I have just progressed from there. I got into MMA from Muay Thai in 1997. I fought a lot of amatuer fights in Texas and had my first pro fight in Texas in 1998. While in Texas I trained in MMA with Tony Torres Aponte and Yves Edwards.
Q: I know you’ve trained in places such as Russia and Thailand. Talk about those experiences and any other places you’ve gone to work on your fighting skills.
MS: I have trained in Russia, Thailand, and Sweden. I trained in Russia because I worked there for a year. I did security work for the US Embassy project in 1999. I vacationed in Sweden for a month and trained in Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing while there. As far as Thailand, I just moved there to learn better Muay Thai. I lived there twice, once for 3 months and once for 2 months. I recieved very good training while I was there.
Q: What was it like coming to San Jose to try out for the AKA fight team? Were there any other gyms you considered other than AKA?
MS: I actually tried out for Frank Shamrock’s fight team back in 1998. I passed and then went to work overseas. I had a lot get in the way of me actually moving so it wasn’t until 2001 that I moved here. I felt that the fight team in San Jose was one of the best and I still feel that way.
Q: Did you have a genuine interest in developing a real ground game when you started fighting, or did you just want to learn enough to be able to defend submissions and get back to your feet?
MS: No, I did have an interest in developing my ground game I just worked more on the standup.
Q: Tell me about the difference being on the Ultimate Fighter TV show has made in your life and career compared to before you were on it.
MS: Well, I am a full time fighter now for one. I used to work full time and train which was tough. Now I get to focus on my training. I have also had a lot of good opportunities since the show, including getting my own show at www.UFC.tv, which has been doing great.
Q: Who were the people you learned most from while training on the show?
MS: I learned the most from Randy (Couture) and Marc (Laimon). They are great teachers.
Q: When you came back to AKA after the show, you started training with jiu-jitsu/judo black belt Dave Camarillo, who is the main grappling instructor at AKA. Talk about what he’s done to improve your ground game. And had you ever put a gi on before that?
MS: Dave has helped my ground game 10 fold. And no I hadn’t put a gi on before that. I have always been stubborn about the gi because I don’t fight in it. Dave has finally convinced me that it would be in my best interest to use it!
Q: Talk about the teamates you train with at AKA in preparation for your fights.
MS: We have a great group of guys… Jon Fitch, Josh Thomson, Trevor Prangley, Paul Buentello, Josh Koscheck, Bobby Southworth, Mike Kyle, Mike Van Arsdale, etc. We also have great trainers in Lynn Schultz, Bob Cook, Dave Camarillo and Javier Mendez.
Q: Could we ever see you competing in a grappling tournament?
MS: I would if I didn’t have a fight coming up. I would prefer no-gi though since thats where I am strongest.
Q: Who have your toughest fights been, and who would you like to fight in the future?
MS: Toughest fights… Kengo Ura (RAW team), and James Gabert (Renzo Gracie). Both are really tough guys. Fights that I want in the future… Chris Leben and whoever has the belt.
Q: Who have been the biggest influences in your fighting career so far?
MS: Vanderlei Silva, Shogun Rua, early Vitor Belfort, Genki Sudo, Georges St. Pierre, etc. Really too many to list. I like the guys who go out there and fight to win.
Q: Any sponsors you’d like to thank?
MS: I would like to first thank Onthemat.com for the interview. I would also like to thank my boys at Xyience. For all of my other sponsors, videos, pictures, and news, check out my webpage at www.mikeswick.com. Thanks!