Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Another chapter, yet same old story


In the world of sports and athletic competition, it has always been said that the truly great ones would be successful in any venture of life they would pursue. That is because the greatest of the greats in any respective sport have one common trait that separates them from their peers; an inner drive to be the best at what they do. Such is the case with former renowned wrestler turned professional mixed martial arts fighter Steve Mocco.

Granted Mocco has only one pro fight to his credit, but it appears pretty evident that he intends to leave his mark on MMA as he did in wrestling.10 days after his first fight and subsequent victory, I got to speak personally with Mocco about his fight, feelings and plans for the immediate future. Sure, part of it was for this blog, but the majority of it was because Steve is a former neighbor and personal friend, thus making this piece all the more gratifying.

On Friday November 2nd, Mocco made his debut at the Resurrection Fighting Alliance 4 show in Las Vegas. His opponent Tyler Perry (1-1), no not the actor, was a fellow wrestler with some credentials as his collegiate career took place at the University of Missouri. I asked Steve if Perry was someone he had faced during his collegiate days and he said, "No, I think he came right after me."

Mocco's career in wrestling is second to none; especially at heavyweight. Two national championships as a 4X finalist in college, a 4X NJ High School State Champion and a 2008 Olympian top the list. Impressive credentials to say the least; however, this is MMA where sometimes even wrestling pedigree such as that doesn't always translate to the cage.

I asked Steve if all that experience, both international and nationally, made his debut feel like just another day of competition. His response, "No it didn't, this was something totally different for me. Something I had thought about for a long time, but now to actually step in the cage; I had some nerves for sure."

You wouldn't be able to tell as he dominated the first round after taking the fight to the ground and pounding on his opponent. His work was so convincing, "I thought the ref was going to stop it in the first round," he said. However, they didn't and so it went to round two where it started out similar to round one with Mocco taking Perry to the ground, only this time he left no doubt as he finished his opponent with a Kimura submission lock @ 1:34 of the second.

"It felt good; I was excited to get this first one in," Mocco exclaimed. He also said, "I'm glad I fought this guy in my first fight. He was big and a solid fighter to test myself against." I asked him if the plan was to take it to the ground all along and he stated, "Not really; I was going to take it as it comes, but I figured with two wrestlers in there at some point it was going to the ground."

What's next for Mocco? He said, "I'm thinking we may shoot for another fight in January. I came out of this fight with just some minor typical bumps and bruises, so I'm good. I took a week off and now I'm back in the gym."

That gym is American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida where Mocco now makes his home with his wife and three kids. Unfortunately for me, that means we are no longer neighbors, but luckily we are still friends. Thus, as long as Steve Mocco keeps writing new chapters in his storied, but yet unfinished career, I'll have something to write about.

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