ERIC: I got into MMA immediately after my college wrestling career in 2010. I fell just short of my goal of being a Division 1 All-American which has always been my biggest motivator. My high school coach and pro fighter, Biff Walizer, signed me up for my first ammy fight about 3 weeks after I got home from college so I pretty much just got thrown into the mix that first fight. I absolutely love to compete so I guess it was pretty inevitable.
XFE: You had a great ammy record of 7-1, with your last fight a win against Eddie Alvarez’ brother Albert, any regrets on making your pro debut at Bellator?
ERIC: My ammy record was good for what it was. I didn’t train hard really at all for any of my ammy fights. I was burnt out when it came to working hard, I had worked hard my entire life with wrestling and I took the short 6 min fights for granted. I knew there was no one who could out wrestle me. My only loss was a fight I took on 1.5 days notice in VA that we found out at weigh ins would be a title fight (15 min). Here I was partying and hanging out all week, well it finally bit me in the butt in the 4th round when I didn’t even have enough energy to stand up and went to sleep in a triangle.
I do not regret my Bellator pro debut at all. I am use to performing on the highest of levels and I knew I needed something to jump start my career. I was 110% confident that I could beat the kid they put in front of me so I took it. I trained hard but not hard enough and eventually my lack of experience and cardio caught up to me. I chalked it up as a learning experience and went to work. My goals are set high and that loss motivates me everyday. Losing to a lesser opponent is never fun so because of that loss I enter everyday with the mindset that I am going to become the best fighter that I can be.
XFE: How have you changed as a fighter since turning pro?
ERIC: I would say the biggest change has been with my cardio. I realized after the Bellator loss what it was going to take to successfully compete at a high level so I changed some things. I picked up a strength and conditioning coach, Jason Cavanaugh with TacFit 717, who busts my butt everyday of the week and I moved up to Unrivaled Athletics in Camp Hill. This combo has really been working and I feel like I am improving quickly. I embrace the challenge of becoming a better stand up fighter and putting all the pieces to the puzzle together!XFE: What fighter or trainer has most inspired you in MMA?
ERIC: Biff Walizer for sure! He was my High School wrestling coach and he got me into MMA. He’s a great friend and role model for me. He has always found a way to bring the best out of me and it gives me that much more confidence having him in my corner. He tells me exactly how it is and what needs to be done and I love it.
XFE: How long have you been training Jeff Smith’s school Unrivaled?
ERIC: I have been up there since about the middle of March and I love it. They work harder than anyone around and the room is stacked with talent (UFC Vets and Bellator Vets). We all share the same goal and are willing to work harder than anyone to achieve them. When the times get tough its good to know that the guy next to you will keep pushing you.
XFE: If you could choose an opponent who would it be and why?
ERIC: Well being that its my only pro loss and it eats at me every day, I’m gonna have to say Brett Martinez. hopefully down the road we will cross paths again!XFE: What fight from your ammy & pro career stand out the most for you?
ERIC: Probably when I fought this kid with the nickname, 7 pack, in philly. it was only my third ammy fight and i moved up a weight class. Turns out the kid was 8-10lbs over that weight class so in my eyes, I was pretty much fighting a monster! All game plans went right out the window and I knew I didn’t wanna get hit by this kid so I turned it into a wrestling match which I knew I would win 10/10 times.XFE: How does your wife feel about your involvement in MMA?
ERIC: Great question! I love my wife to death and the support she gives me is unmatched. She has my back and motivates me more than anyone. Its almost as if my training gets her emotionally in shape too lol. The more I train the less she worries, and the easier fight night is for her. I struggle the most with my diet because I am usually too lazy to cook after practice but I can always count on her having the perfect breakfast, lunch or dinner ready for me. She has become a master at making chicken and fish as many different ways as possible which makes eating healthy way easier! She pushes me through my bad days and does a good job of helping me keep my eyes on the prize. Shes my biggest fan and I couldn’t thank her enough for standing by my side through this journey!XFE: Anything else you would like your fans to know about you?
I am busting my butt to start finishing fights and give the fans more of what they want to see. Bare with me as I grow as a fighter, I promise the finishes will come!
ERIC: I would like to thank my family and friends for all of their support. In this sport, a good support system is more than necessary and I can honestly say that I have a GREAT support system behind me! A special thanks to Jerod Phillops for always being there for me and helping me out every step of the way! I also want to thank my sponsors who help make all of this possible, Baldy Beard Brewery (best new beer in central pa), Brickers French Fries, Red Lion Apple Chevrolet (go buy a car from my brother, Chris), Tap or Sleep, MH Custom Printing (thanks for the sweet shirts), TacFit 717 and Unrivaled Athletics! THANKS!!!!!!!!!