Words with Omar Choudhury
On October 6th Omar Choudhury will face “Looney” Toon Singmouangthong at GLADIATORS FIGHTING 47 – CAGED COLOSSEUM for the flyweight title...
It is the classic face-off of striker versus grappler. We recently visited Omar at Matamoros Jiu-Jitsu where we talked about training, the future of the lightweight & flyweight divisions, and the difference between fighting at 125 and 135 pounds.
USCS: So October 6th is coming up…how are you feeling?
OC: Pretty good. Pretty confident – I’ve been training a lot harder since my last fight. The guy I’m fighting, I think he wants to keep it standing, but I know he has some ground experience, but I think my ground game is a lot better than his. So I think he might be a lot more solid standing up, compared to me. I’ve been working a lot with Duke (Duke Roufus of Roufusport), since December, so I feel my stand-up has gotten a lot better since past fights.
USCS: So you’re gonna be ready to stand up, but you’ll probably take it to the ground if you have the chance?
OC: Oh yeah, I’ll probably use the striking to set up a takedown. If he throws some kicks I’ll probably be able to grab a leg and bring him down.
USCS: Do you consider yourself more of an “attack” fighter or a “wait and see” kind of guy?
OC: At the beginning I wait and see what he does, and if he doesn’t really do much then I’ll go after it. Once we’re on the ground I just go submission, submission, submission.
USCS: So you’re training over at Duke’s – are you training with any other guys?
OC: Yeah, I train mostly with Henry (Henry Matamoros of Matamoros Jiu-Jitsu) at his gym, but Duke’s, I’ve been going Monday, Wednesday morning and then at night with Henry. Savage (“Savage” Dan LaSavage) is a real good guy to train with – real strong, hits really hard. He’s just been helping me a lot – all those guys there have been helping me a lot.
USCS: So your fight is at 125 (Flyweight division), but you’ve fought at 135?
OC: Yeah, I walk around at 135 and a lot of those guys, they cut down from, like, 150, so it’s been getting tougher. The higher level guys at 135, their skill level is matched with mine, and their size is just kind of a lot to handle. At 125, I’m pretty confident. Now I’m able to cut weight like everybody else.
USCS: You’ve started training at (Joe Panos’) NX Level (Pro Performance Athletic Training), right? Have you been gaining a lot of strength?
OC: Yeah, yeah.
USCS: So you’re primarily a ground guy – you’re what, a purple belt (in BJJ)?
USCS: Did you train mostly under Henry (Matamoros) to get that?
OC: Yeah. All my Jiu-Jitsu was through Henry. I wrestled 3 years in high school, then right out of high school I started with Henry when I was 18 and have been with him for 5 and a half years now.
USCS: Where are you from?
OC: I grew up in Shorewood (WI – Milwaukee suburb).
USCS: Are you fighting out of Henry’s, or do you have a fight team?
OC: Yeah, I’ll probably say Henry Matamoros and Duke Roufus – that’s what I said the last fight. I’ll probably just represent both schools.
USCS: How would you compare Duke’s place to Henry’s? Atmosphere-wise…
OC: Both have pretty good atmospheres, everyone is really cool, likes to help each other out. Henry’s, I would say, is just more grappling than MMA and Duke’s is more focused towards MMA. Duke is a real cool guy, Henry is real cool – I’ve known Henry for years and he’s one of my best friends.
USCS: How do you think Henry’s fight is gonna go?
OC: Good. I think he’s pretty excited. It’s his first fight in a couple years, so, I think he’s gonna do pretty well.
USCS: What’s your typical training regime like? What’s your typical training week?
OC: Well, now that I’ve going to NX Level it’s changed a little bit, but Mondays and Wednesdays from about 10:30am to 1pm would be at Duke’s – Muay Thai and then rolling from noon until one. And then NX Level is from about 2pm to 3pm – about an hour long workout. Then at night, Henry’s, from about 6:30pm to 8:30pm, just rolling.
USCS: So you pretty much train all day?
OC: Yeah, but the days I work – I work Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I get a workout in during the day. It just varies – either I go to Duke’s or Henry’s, depending what day it is.
USCS: You work at Henry’s, do you have another job?
OC: I work at a restaurant in Shorewood – Northstar American Bistro – I’m a supervisor and bartender there.
USCS: What’s your pro record right now?
OC: My pro record…I’m 9 and 5 overall, pro I’m 6 and 3.
USCS: What’s your mindset like leading up to the fight?
OC: I usually just like to relax in the back. I don’t like to be around – my family usually comes, and my girlfriend and all of her family comes, so I kind of stay away. I go say hi, then after that, I just gotta go get away from everybody.
USCS: Do you do any visualization or strategizing before the fight?
OC: Oh, yeah, all the time. It’s always on your mind. Every time a fight is coming up, that’s all you think about, usually. When I was in school that’s all I thought about – just sitting in class, thinking of a fight. I’m out of school now so it’s a lot easier to stay focused on it.
USCS: What about pre-fight rituals? Do you have any?
OC: No, I kinda just try to keep the same warm-up routine that I do. Nothing too crazy.
USCS: What keeps you motivated during training and when you’re in the fight?
OC: Just being a smaller guy overall, I just try to do my best against the bigger guys. A lot of the guys I roll with are a lot bigger than me. I just try to do the best I can against them. During the fight, I know that guy is my size and I just go after it. My confidence, especially at 125, is a lot higher so I feel that I’m just gonna go in and do what I gotta do.
USCS: What about the future? Do you have any MMA-related ambitions?
OC: Well, people keep saying the WEC brought in 135’s, and I was trying to bulk up, but it just wasn’t happening, I guess (it’s just) genetics – I’m gonna be small no matter what. People are saying that within a year 125 is gonna start getting a little bigger, so hopefully something happens. Duke is trying to push 125, and XFO has a show I fight out of in Illinois, and they’re starting to push it a little more. So hopefully something big happens…I know that Shuto, they’ve got a 123lb division over in Japan. If some good happens with that, it’d be great.
USCS: So you’d like to go over and fight in Japan?
OC: Yeah, they’ve got a ton of like, 123 – there’s a ton of guys that small. That’d be a lot of fun.
USCS: What about outside of fighting? Do you have any other sort of ambitions in life?
OC: Well, I got a degree in Educational Studies. I actually just went for an interview today at a school and it went pretty well, but I don’t know if I want to work over there – there was a lot of drama. These kids are going nuts and the teachers are arguing, so I’m just like, and they’re putting me on the spot – I didn’t know what they wanted me to say. I kinda want to keep into that, just as something part-time, working with children and stuff like that, but if the fight thing happens, I’d rather pursue that 100%.
USCS: What got you into MMA versus doing pure BJJ?
OC: I wrestled in high school and I was pretty good at that, and when I started college, UWM (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) didn’t have a club team. Henry was teaching a Jiu-Jitsu out of the church across the street from my house, and I didn’t know what it was, so I was just like, “I’ll go try this,” I thought it was some Taekwondo-type stuff. Then I realized it was like grappling, submissions, and I thought, this will be real cool and I’ve stuck with that ever since. I got my blue belt and Henry called me up one day, randomly, and was like, “Hey, do you want to fight, ever?” I was like, “yeah, that’d be fun” and he’s like, “there’s a guy I want you to fight at 135.” I didn’t know - I went, I got my ass whupped – Eddie Wineland, he’s one of the WEC guys, he beat the crap out of me. Ever since then it’s just like, alright, this is what I want to do.
USCS: When was that?
OC: That was…January of ’04.
USCS: You’ve done most of your fighting in the XFO, right?
OC: Yeah, mostly XFO and the rest, Gladiators, and Ironheart Crown once, Freestyle Combat Challenge once, and Evolution Combat Challenge once.
USCS: So what about outside of fighting? What do you do for fun?
OC: I don’t really go out and party too much anymore, I try to stay away from the drinking and all that. I don’t know…I’m usually just working out. School’s done with, so yeah, I guess just working out and going to work at the restaurant.
USCS: How are you viewing this fight? What does it mean to you?
OC: My last fight was my first fight at 125, and that guy was pretty good – he had a record overall of 37 and 2. He was from North or South Dakota, I can’t remember. Everyone was saying how strong he was and how he could beat most 135ers, so I was pretty nervous. I came out and I triangled him in like a minute and a half. That was a real big fight for me, and now this fight coming up, another guy at 125 and it’s for the Gladiators belt. That’ll mean a lot, just cos I lost the 135lb belt, and now Savage is gonna go win that one, so I’m gonna go win this 125lb belt. It’ll mean a lot, just cos it’s in Milwaukee, and I’ve got a lot of people coming, and it’s just the weight that I want to dominate, I guess.
USCS: Do you have any thoughts on your opponent?
OC: Not too much. I know he’s mostly stand-up, and he trained in Vegas, I guess, with Chris Brennan, a while ago, so I guess he’s got a decent ground game. I looked up his record – he’s 4 and 1, MMA, and he’s won a lot by submission, so I think he’s gonna want to play on the ground – hopefully he wants to play on the ground, because I think I can catch him.
USCS: Overall, do you do much research on your opponents?
OC: Yeah, yeah. As soon as I hear the name I go on fcfighter, or sherdog. I google them, too, because sometimes their myspace page pops up, and you can find out a lot about them from their myspace.
USCS: Do you prefer to win by submission?
OC: Yeah. Submission is my game, so I’d rather win by that.
USCS: We talked a little about WEC, do you follow the big MMA organizations?
OC: Yeah, I usually watch UFC all the time.
USCS: Did you watch the one on Saturday (UFC 76 – Knockout on 9/22/07)?
OC: No, I was working, so I missed that one, but I heard all about it.
USCS: So yeah, Eric Schafer (Eric “Red” Schafer) has a fight coming up, any predictions for that one?
OC: I think he’s gonna do fine. Him and Stephan (Bonnar) trained awhile back – he (Stephan) trained out of Duke’s as well, and now he’s in Vegas, or something, training with Couture. But Red’s got his mind set, and he’s been training – ever since he’s been in the UFC he seems real focused in everything he’s been doing. He’s been taking it a lot more serious than the past fights he’s had, so I think he’s gonna do fine.
USCS: What about after the fight? Got any plans?
OC: We just go out and have fun. That’s when you get to party it up.
USCS: Got any trainers or sponsors or anyone you’d like to thank?
OC: I don’t have any sponsors, but Henry’s always been a great friend; Ryan Williams has always helped me out, like on the weekends and now we’ve been going to Duke’s a lot, the two of us, and like Kaz, Red has always been a great help. So those guys, and Duke, and everyone there at his gym. Boxing coach Scott Cushman has been helping me a lot with my stand-up technique and all that. All those guys have been great.