This Friday at The Humble Civic Center, Fury Fighting Championship will be making its promotional debut. Also making their debut that night, will be the well-known BJJ coach turned fighter, Travis Tooke. Many people are excited for this fight because even though it is a debut fight for Tooke, he has been on the Houston MMA scene for a while. Tooke has made a name for himself as a coach to not only some of the best fighters in Houston, but also some current UFC fighters as well. I spoke with Tooke to see how the transition from coach to fighter has been, and what we can expect from him in his pro debut fight.
Mark Carrillo: How does it feel making the transition from coach to fighter?
Travis Tooke: It’s awesome. I still get to coach, but I get to be a student at the same time.
MC: How has the training and cutting weight for your MMA debut been?
TT: The cutting weight part has been pretty easy as I’m naturally about 175 and the fight is at 170. The training, however, has been very hard. I have always worked and trained hard in grappling, but MMA is a very different type of training. Imagine a hard round of jiu-jitsu followed by getting punched in the face. It’s not easy, but pretty damn fun.
MC: You’ve competed for years and all over the world in BJJ. Do you think you will have any “first-time jitters” for this fight or just another day in the office?
TT: I’m sure I will. I still get jitters for BJJ tournaments and this is a completely new scene. Luckily, I’ve been cornering guys in MMA and the UFC for a few years, so it’s a familiar atmosphere.
MC: What made you decide after all this time to step into the cage?
TT: I’ve always toyed with the idea, especially after going to events and cornering my guys at MMA events. Usually though, after the event was over, I was back to just jiu-jitsu and that was plenty for me. I lost the desire to do MMA. After [Andrew Craig] beat Chris Leben in the UFC I had the itch again, only this time I actually decided to start training some striking and MMA with the guys. With that I kept the itch alive and so I asked Jace and Eric to set up a fight for me.
MC: Who will be in your corner Friday night coaching the coach?
TT: In my corner will be Andrew Craig and Jose Llanas.
MC: Your BJJ is highly respected and many say you are one of, if not the best instructor in Houston. Can we expect to see this fight go to the mat immediately?
TT: I’m sure there will be a feeling out process. I’m not going to rush the ground but obviously that’s where I feel most confident.
MC: Your opponent Abdullah has 4 loses on his record with 3 of them coming by way of submission, you obviously have the advantage on the ground. How do you feel about being on your feet with Abdullah?
TT: I actually feel really comfortable. Working with Andrew Craig and Michael Corley on a consistent basis has helped me relax and feel much more confident on my feet.
MC: How do you see this fight going?
TT: I win…sorry, no details. (Grinning)
MC: What can we expect from you as far as a pro fighter after this fight?
TT: I literally have no idea. I may fight again or I may not. I have a big martial arts business to run as well as coach a jiu-jitsu and MMA team. I stay pretty busy and fighting MMA is very time consuming. I haven’t really looked past this fight, so we’ll see. It is REALLY fun though.
MC: Please tell us who all you would like to thank for helping you prepare for this fight.
TT: I really want to thank all the students and coaches at Team Tooke MMA. Andrew Craig, Jose Llanas, Michael Corley, Todd Moore, Miguel Castro, and many others have all helped me a ton for this fight. Thanks to all the Team Tooke affiliates: Team Tooke Cypress, Team Tooke Spring (Jace Pitre MMA), Rabadi Jiu jitsu, Kingwood MMA, Midtown MMA and American Combative Systems. Also, a big thanks to my sponsor RESnation and Proformance Guards.
Follow Mark on Twitter @PincheMark979