By Nathan Stölzer
Longtime practitioner looking to use amateur experience as leverage for successful pro MMA career
HOUSTON, TX, January 12, 2014 – The upcoming Legacy Fighting Championship 27 fight card set for January 31st at the Houston Arena Theater will feature a lightweight bout between longtime Elite MMA representative John Gorrell against fellow newcomer John Hayden, fighting out of Kingwood MMA on the other side of Houston. Legacy FC 27 will be both men’s pro debuts and both are assuredly excited ahead of the bout. And for “Gorilla” Gorrell in particular, this fight has been a longtime coming.
A current graduate student at the University of Houston, John has taken his fight career “one fight at a time,” instead of “one fight after another” as can be seen in other cases. Neither path is the wrong one but for him, everything had to come in its own time. In fact, he didn’t even realize he wanted to take it to this level until sometime after he stumbled into the gym in the first place.
“Back in 2007 I originally wanted to learn Jeet Kune Do to be like Bruce Lee. I mean who doesn’t want to be Bruce Lee,” said John. “Elite was one of the few schools that offered (JKD). I went in for an intro lesson with Hai (Nguyen) and he painfully introduced me to Jiu-Jitsu so it kind of opened my eyes to the rest of that world also. Back then we didn’t have a formal MMA class but during BJJ Eric (Wiliams) would have a handful of guys off in the corner of the gym beating the crap out of each other. It was pretty intense and I remember thinking there’s no way in hell I’m ever going to do that. Then one day they were getting ready for a bout and Eric was like, ‘hey we need some sparring partners (crash test dummies) to help these guys get ready.’ To make a long story short, I loved it and the rest is history.”
John made his amateur debut in May 2010, losing by submission to Andrew Musquiz in the first round of that bout in the Lonestar Beatdown promotion, the predecessor to today’s Legacy Fighting Championship events put on by Houston promoter Mick Maynard. Undeterred, John was able to gain wins in his next bouts before dropping his final two on the way to the pros. For John, the record is immaterial. None of the wins or loses from the amateurs count. What did count for him was the experience. And now he feels well-prepared to face the fire when it counts in the pros starting with Friday, January 31st.
“I don’t have any glaring weaknesses that can be exploited. He (Haydon) is not going to have a safe zone. I’m dangerous no matter where the fight goes. He’s going to realize early on that he doesn’t want to be in this fight and he’s going to look for a way out. I guess the rest just really depends on my mood.”
“I’d like to thank God first and foremost for just keeping me healthy and blessing me with the attributes to do this. My coaches and teammates for pushing me every day and making me better than I was the day before. My family and friends for being so understanding and respecting my sacrifices. And last but not least, Peggy from the office. Thank you for going out of town for the holidays, because if you were here to bake your delicious holiday treats, there is no way I would have made weight!”