“When I step into the cage and see my opponent the feeling that I get is hard to describe. It’s almost like I am void of all feeling. My mind is clear and calm. I am so intensely focused at that moment everything else seems non-existent. It’s an incredible feeling that I have yet to experience anywhere else other than when I hear that cage door close.” – Joe “Wizard” Whichard
KINGWOOD, TX, March 18, 2013 – That above quote pretty much sums up the attitude of Kingwood MMA’s Joe “Wizard” Whichard when it comes to his passion for MMA and why he continues to step into the cage. With a full-time job in the oil industry along with a growing family at home, this “fighter” doesn’t intend on making his passion (MMA) into a career and yet he’s succeeding in it while giving it all he can. Joe will be stepping back into the cage this Friday night when he takes on GB’s Chris Sutton at Cage Combat 13. e’ll be looking to up his record to an undefeated 3-0. According to him there may even be a future title shot coming should he win so he might as well give it all he’s got and see how far he can take this thing.
We recently caught up with Joe to get his pre-fight thoughts prior to this Saturday night.
Cage Combat 13 Pre-Fight Interview – Joe Whichard (Team Tooke – Kingwood MMA)
Joe, thanks for taking the interview with us. It’s been almost a year since your last fight that brought you to 2-0. Tell us about that fight.
That fight against James Clarke went very well. It was completely different from my debut. In my first fight I was jacked! I pushed the pace with constant pressure throwing “Wizard bombs” with bad intentions. In my fight with James I was much more relaxed, almost too relaxed, and felt very comfortable in the cage. It was more of a grappling match in which he was able to score several takedowns forcing me to fight from the bottom. I locked up a triangle that he was able to escape. Then I transitioned into arm bar forcing the tap to move to 2-0.
So now you’re undefeated and looking to move to 3-0 at CC13. Do you consider yourself a serious fighter now?
I’m not sure how to react when people call me a fighter. Fighter is not a word I use to define myself. When people hear that I fight, especially those who don’t understand the sport, either ask me how I could do such a thing or give me a weird look. I’d like to think of myself as a Jiu-Jitsu player that likes to get in the cage once in a while. <laughs>
What’s the rest of life like for you? Is MMA the most challenging thing or do you have other priorities?
My greatest challenge in life has been raising my children. However, it has also been the most rewarding. Some people think that getting in a cage and fighting makes you a man. That’s nonsense. Raising your kids, supporting your family, and earning an honest living is what makes you a man. As for MMA, my biggest challenge has been trying to find the balance between my passion for the sport and my responsibilities as a father and an adult. There have been many times that I would rather be on the mat and in the gym. But at the moment, fighting does not and probably never will put food on my table.
With that being said we’ve talked before and you seriously love this sport. What specifically brings you joy along with competing?
I’ve had many memorable moments over the years in this sport (MMA/BJJ). What stands out the most for me is coaching grappling tournaments. I really enjoy coaching kids, especially my son Blake. I love watching the kids grow on the mats right before my eyes. I believe adults can learn a lot from children in competition. The heart they display on the mats is something to behold. The most recent memorable moment would be when my son won gold at the last Fight to Win – Tournament of Champions show. He trains like a warrior and I was proud to see him receive a much deserved medal.
So how are you feeling heading into Cage Combat 13?
I’m in a good place mentally going into this fight. I always try to stay in fight ready physical condition. But the mental aspect of this sport can get very complex. A lot of factors come into play that can affect my mental game and sometimes preparing mentally is just as hard, if not harder, than all the mat time required. I compete in this sport because I absolutely love it. I’m not sure where MMA competition will take me but my passion for BJJ will keep me on the mat for years to come.
Training has been great. Kingwood MMA has six fighters on this card. All of us are having a great camp. We push each other, carry each other, and grind it out on 5-6 days a week. Our strength and conditioning coach Michelle Paez enjoys torturing us with some insane plyometric workouts. Most of us are lucky if we can walk the next day. We also have been working with 1996 Olympian and multiple time National Champion wrestler Derrick Waldroup. He has excellent insight when it comes to applying wrestling to MMA. These two coaches have been an invaluable addition to our team.
Who are you fighting and how do you feel about it?
I am fighting Chris Sutton from Gracie Barra. I know that this will be the toughest opponent I have faced. He comes from a great organization and is 2-0 like myself. We both have BJJ backgrounds so this could turn into an interesting ground fight. This is a must win fight for both of us because the winner is in line for a possible title shot.
Any predictions or anything to say to Chris?
I’m not one for predictions. MMA has too many variables. If I stick to my game plan and fight smart my hand should be raised when it’s all said and done. To Chris I’d just say good luck and be ready to put on a show because I’m bringing it.
What’s next for you after this?
After I win on the 23rd I’d like a chance to bring the strap back to Kingwood. Hopefully Eric can line that up for me.
Any last words?
First and foremost, a big thanks to you Mike. All that you and TXMMA do for our community here in Houston and across Texas is greatly appreciated. Your work is mostly all guts and no glory and you seldom get the credit that you deserve. The coverage you provide of the MMA/BJJ scene is first class. Also I’d like to thank my second family at Team Tooke – Kingwood MMA. Thanks to my fellow fighters Matt, John, Jason, Chris, Brun, James, Travis, and Tenika, you guys motivate me to become a better fight. To my coaches but more importantly my friends Tom and Michelle, the commitment you have for your students and fighters is honorable. It’s a pleasure representing our gym. Last but certainly not least, I’d like to give a special thanks to the Lonestar Rockstar. You have inspired me more than you could ever imagine.