Luke Stewart will be fighting on the undercard of Strikeforce: Playboy Mansion this Saturday, September 29 Luke Stewart has certainly been one of the brightest American stars on the Submission and Jiu Jitsu circuits. He’s also undefeated in MMA right now with a record of 3-0, however all of his fights have been major affairs fighting in the Strikeforce promotion in front of an audience of 10,000+ each time. This Saturday’s event promises to be slightly more intimate if not more high profile at the Playboy mansion. We sat down with Luke, a man whose career we’ve followed on the mat since he first started training. Gumby: Luke, what are your thoughts on your upcoming fight in Strikeforce? Luke: I’m excited to fight and I’ve been training my ass off. This guy I’m supposed to fight I’m not really too educated on his game because my original opponent pulled out. I know he’s tough, I’ve seen a couple of his matches and he’s got good wrestling and good hands. I’m looking to a tough fight and I’m excited to be fighting in the Playboy Mansion for sure. OTM: What’s your gameplan going into this fight? I mean, everyone know of your ground credentials at this point, does this mean you’re looking for the submission? LS: I’m just going to see how it lands, I’m not really looking to finish with any certain tactic. I’m just going to try to go in and be calm and composed and really get more experience in the ring. I’d like to be able to show all my tools, not just Jiu Jitsu. OTM: You’ve been doing Jiu Jitsu for nine years now. What prompted the leap from Jiu Jitsu grappler to Mixed Martial Arts Fighter? LS: I’ve always wanted to fight in MMA. Before I even started Jiu Jitsu I was doing karate but for some reason I’ve always wanted to do mixed martial arts. I was actually going to do an MMA fight before I started training with Ralph. But once I started training with Ralph he was really intent on making sure my jiu jitsu was strong and didn’t want me to fight too soon. He told me to wait, to get my jiu jitsu strong, to maybe brown or black belt level before getting into MMA. That’s why I waited but honestly I’ve wanted to fight in MMA forever. OTM: Now that you feel your Jiu Jitsu is strong, what else have you been doing to make your game more complete? LS: I’ve been training boxing and kickboxing a lot with James Cook out of Boxing Gym 445. I’ve been training over at Fight and Fitness in San Francisco. Most importantly I’ve been working on my strength and conditioning, I feel sometimes that’s even more important than technique, in fights you want to be physically prepared and I feel that my training has really come up a lot in the last year because I’ve been working on it. I have a new strength and conditioning coach in Dave Alexander out of Sports Club LA and I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in a long time. OTM: You’re also still active on the grappling and Jiu Jitsu circuits, and just fought in the Mundials a few weeks ago. Can you talk us through how that went for you? LS: (Laughing) Not so good…. OTM: (Laughing) Better than I did! LS: I didn’t really train in the gi too much for that tournament, so I didn’t put too much emphasis on it. I kind of just went out there to get some competition. I had a good fight against Eduardo Telles, he’s someone I would always watch videos of when I was a blue and purple belt and it was crazy just being out there fighting with legends like Telles. I had a good fight my first fight in the open then fought Telles. I had a good fight the first fight in my weight class defeating the same Japanese guy I beat in the Pan Americans then in the next match got my back taken and just held for 8 minutes in my second match. That’s just the way it goes, you roll with the punches sometimes. OTM: This will be your first fight in Southern California, correct? LS: Yeah, this will be my first fight outside the Bay Area, so I’m excited about that, and obviously excited that it’s at the Playboy Mansion, which is pretty epic. OTM: How happy is your girlfriend about that? LS: She’s actually excited! She loves that reality show “The Girls Next Door” or whatever. But she’ll be like a hawk on me I’m sure. OTM: Now going down, do you feel any pressure to represent Northern California, because there is a killer scene here that doesn’t seem to get talked about. LS: Absolutely. You know the Bay Area has some of the best fighters in the world and I’m lucky enough to have them as my training partners. I’m definitely representing the Bay Area and I’ll have “SF” on my shorts because I’m representing San Francisco for sure. OTM: Speaking of San Francisco, we’re actually conducting this interview in your place of business, Seventh Son Tattoos. How long have you had this place, and do you see your MMA career supplanting or surpassing your tattooing career? LS: I’ve had Seventh Son Tattoos with a couple of business partners for about a year and a half now and things are getting better and better. Obviously when I’m training for a fight my tattooing suffers a little bit…. OTM: …when you say your tattooing suffers do you mean that the business part suffers or … LS: …no I’m still doing good tattoos don’t get me wrong, that came out wrong! (Laughing). It just means I’m not working as much because when you’re training six hours a day it’s impossible to get an eight hour work day in. I’m still tattooing three or four days a week and a lot of my clients are really into fighting and a lot of clients train with me so it’s cool. I love tattooing and I love training and I’m hoping to keep my hand in both. OTM: San Francisco to some may have a reputation for hippies and peace and love types. How do you think San Francisco has taken to the new MMA culture. LS: Man, I don’t think SF is peace loving or hippie at all. Sf seems to have gotten more hard core lately. I see fights all the time. We were just down at South of Market and we saw some crackheads and trannies beating the shit out of each other…. The city seems to be really into the sport. All of my clients follow MMA and are really into the UFC especially now that it’s on TV every night of the week. All of my clients are really pumped on my career and there are always at the event. I feel a good response from all the people of this city for sure. OTM: Not too look past your opponent or this fight coming up, but what do you plan to do specifically with MMA, Grappling and Tattooing? LS: Right now I’m contracted out with Strikeforce and I’m going to finish out the year with Strikeforce. I want to have a belt for sure. I want to fight the best out there. Right now I’m building up my career and gaining experience in the ring. OTM: Strikeforce doesn’t have a 170 title holder at the moment, does it? LS: That’s spot open. I definitely see myself taking that spot in the next couple of years. Let’s see who slides into that spot. There’s a lot of talent out there and a lot of tough guys at 170, luckily I train with a lot of the best guys out there and I feel confident that I will be there one day. OTM: Cool. Any sponsors you want to thank or shout outs to make? LS; Let me thank Kurt Osiander, who is my Jiu Jitsu Dad. All of my training partners, Joey, Jason, the guys at Fight and Fitness, James Cook my boxing instructor, Dave Alexander at SportsClub LA in SF and Ralph Gracie. Let me think, OntheMat (obviously), Shoyoroll and Lucky Gi. OTM: Thanks a lot Luke! LS: You’re welcome Gumby!