HOUSTON, TX, July 7, 2012 – One of the main attractions for next Friday night’s LEGACY 12 event here in Houston will be the promotional debut of all-world Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and submission grappling champion Robert Drysdale. From the moment he steps into the cage, he’ll instantly be recognized as the best submission artist that ever graced the Legacy cage.
Now he’s looking to adapt that skill set and more to his new main sport of mixed martial arts.
Ever since debuting back in 2010, Robert has gone 3-0 in MMA competition with three submission wins including his latest over UFC vet Mike Nickels in 2011. Injuries have put a damper on his momentum early on this year but he’ll be looking to get back on track when he takes on Houston-based striking specialist “Hurricane” Ike Villanueva at LEGACY 12.
We spoke to him about debuting at Legacy, his future MMA plans, and more awhile back.
LEGACY 12 Interview – Robert Drysdale (Robert Drysdale Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)
In the last couple of years, we’ve seen you focus more on training others and growing your school as opposed to competing regularly on the grappling circuit yourself. And of course there’s your MMA career also. How would you rank all those priorities?
Well I think that since the beginning, since I’ve been in the states, my priority has been on my MMA career. I’ve side-tracked a lot, more than I’d have liked to with everything from coaching to running the gym to teaching the seminars and more or less getting involved in the jiu-jitsu scene, not competing but putting in time with training my students and so on. But still I’ve managed to put in my time on the mats which is the most important thing. I manage to train twice a day every day so I continue to see improvement which is my main concern.
I really don’t have any intentions of competing jiu-jitsu anymore …I mean, maybe one day when I retire (from MMA) just for fun but not professionally and definitely not right now. It’s too hard to focus on more than one thing, not when you’re trying to be competitive. 2 or 3 different sports is just too much so I’m just really focused on MMA right now.
With your focus being mainly on MMA, how would you describe your progress and who’s been helping you make the transition from top-level grappler to top-level fighter?
Ah, I think a lot of people help me you know. I’ve been in touch with a lot of different people. Probably half the UFC is based out of Las Vegas so it’s a great place and I’ve got a lot of different people willing to help me. I get a lot of good advice and a lot of help. Without question there’s a big transition that’s had to be made. I think it’s a lot harder than people think (making the jump from grappling to MMA), you know? A lot of people think that if you’re skilled in jiu-jitsu that all you have to do is learn how to strike and I think it’s a lot more complicated than that. I think you have to go through some major transformations and that’s what I’ve been putting my focus on. Even when I train jiu-jitsu now it’s a very different thing I keep in mind. But you know I feel a lot more comfortable now and I think my jiu-jitsu is definitely geared more towards MMA than sport competition like it was at one time.
As far as what you’ve done in MMA, I know you fought twice in 2010 and once in 2011. With this Legacy contract signed, are you expecting to fight more frequently on a regular basis with Legacy?
Yes, absolutely. Last year my plan was to fight four times but it was problem after problem and I got injured. Then I was supposed to fight in November but that also fell through. Man, last year was a disaster but I really plan on fighting more. This year I’ve made it a goal to at least fight 3 times. That’s my guarantee with Legacy this year and probably I’d like to even do 4 fights if that’s something that could happen.
Awesome. I know that with your pedigree as a grappler, a lot of people are expecting your learning curve towards MMA to be a lot fast than your average person, so to speak. Do you have a time table as far as when you want to be in the UFC or when you want to be a world champion in another organization like Legacy?
Ah, not really. I never really thought of it that way. I think it’s all a process of you working hard and your accomplishments will be a consequence of that hard work. I don’t know if I really think of those things in terms of “…next September I want to be in the UFC.” Or those type thoughts. You can’t really think like that because you might make it sooner or you might make it later. To me it doesn’t really matter when. You just have to focus on getting better and keep that as your top priority and whatever happens is the consequence. Of course there’s the thought of being in there and that’s something I’m looking forward to but I definitely want to make sure I’m ready. I don’t think the UFC is the place to learn how to fight and you know I’m still learning a lot so there’s no rush. I don’t want to be just another guy in there and I’m not in it to be on TV or anything. That’s not the point of me fighting. I really want to be sure I’m where I want to be and I’m not there yet, to be completely honest. It’s a process and I’m not trying to get there overnight.
What are you hoping to show the world knowing this fight will have some high visibility on AXS TV? Does that weigh on your mind at all?
You know, I just want to continue doing what I’m doing. To be honest with you, I don’t worry about what other people are thinking or who’s watching and that type of thing. I think some people get affected by the big crowds or knowing that they’ll be on TV and that doesn’t affect me at all. To me it doesn’t matter if there’s 10 people or 10,000. That doesn’t even cross my mind. It’s more about me and the pressure I put on myself than it is the perceived pressure that’s trying to come in from outside. So yeah, I don’t think that’s going to affect me at all. That’s not going to be an issue.
Either way there’s definitely going to be a lot of people looking forward to seeing you compete. Any comment for the fans looking forward to seeing you compete in Legacy?
I definitely want to thank them, all the supporters and even the haters too. I want to thank everyone for putting their thoughts out there and supporting me one way or the other. I’m definitely looking forward to this and I want to make sure everyone knows I’m training hard for this fight. I take all my fights very seriously and I’m not taking this lightly. Expect to see me at the best I can possibly be. I’m not going to be in there just to be in there. This is about performing well and I have high expectations for myself and that’s what it’s all about.
We’re definitely looking forward to seeing you in Houston. Any last words for now Robert?
I just want to thank all my supporters and team members – everyone at DrysdaleJiuJitsu.com and my affiliate down in Austin, TX, John’s Gym. I know they’re going to be down there to support me and I want to thank them ahead of time for their support. I’m looking forward to setting up a little network of training while I’m down there. Also thanks to my sponsor Hayabusa and that’s it. Thanks man.