Amateur Mixed Martial Artist Rob Larson Offers Pointers to Aspiring Fighters
The amateur stage of the fight game can be considered the foundation of one's development into becoming a complete mixed martial artist. Everything from the choice of gym, training habits, and even proper guidance are all key elements that help determine an individual's fate and whether he will survive to obtain success in the sport.
Ivan Salaverry fighter Rob Larson has had a remarkable journey thus far in his experience as an amateur. Surrounded by a great atmosphere of individuals helping his along his pathway it is no coincidence why he continues to evolve as a mixed martial artist.
In this interview with USCS Reporter Monta Wiley, Larson shares his experience of being an amateur fighter in hope of reaching out to give future hopefuls helpful tips to guide them as they begin their journey into the world of MMA.
Starting off at an MMA gym, with your experience being an amateur fighter how important is it to find the right gym?
Rob Larson: It's very important to find a gym where you are comfortable and where you can learn. I got lucky because ISMMA was the first MMA gym I went to. I played football in college and was in the Army Reserves, but when I got out I wasn't really doing anything besides drinking and partying too much. I had no direction.
I had seen MMA on TV and knew who Ivan Salaverry was. I looked up his gym one day and went in. I'll never forget that the first time I met him and I told him that I wanted to fight. Looking back on that statement, it's just so ridiculous. I had no idea what went into fighting. The training, the dieting, the sacrificing, etc. But Ivan was a great coach. He makes training and learning fun. I had no idea that walking into Ivan's gym one night would change my life.
What do you think is the biggest mistake amateur fighters make when jumping into fighting?
Rob Larson: Fighting for the wrong reasons. I think a lot of amateur fighters fight because they want to be cool or want to impress people. You should only fight if it's something you want to do.
What is the importance of finding your niche?
Rob Larson: It's definitely important to find things you're good at because if things go wrong in a fight, you can fall back on what you do best. With that said, ISMMA fighters pride themselves in being well-rounded.
Now before making an amateur debut is competing in striking or grappling tournaments recommended?
Rob Larson: Absolutely. Ivan would never enter anyone into an MMA fight before they had some knowledge and skill in striking, clinch, wrestling, and jiu jitsu. We enter submission grappling tournaments so that guys can see what competition feels like before they step into the cage. The grappling tournaments help to keep you sharp in between fights too.
Who would you say have been some of your mentors through your development and what would you say has been the biggest contribution in regards to your training at your gym ?
Rob Larson: Ivan Salaverry, Johnny Flavin, Pete Nicacio. My coaches and teammates that have taught and pushed me and my wife for putting up with a grumpy, hungry, and sore husband. Without all of them this journey wouldn't be possible.
Now with your development as a fighter there has got to be times where you experience bad days. How important is it to keep a positive attitude through the process?
Rob Larson: Very important. You can't be successful at BJJ or MMA unless you're mentally tough. You're going to get punched, taken down, and tapped out over and over and over. If you aren't prepared to get up, wipe the blood off and keep going, you will not make it. I try to keep a positive attitude by looking at the progress I've made since I took my first MMA class.
Finally looking onward where does Rob Larson hope to be in the fight world?
Rob Larson: I have no illusions of being in the UFC or anything like that, but I do hope I can fight a few times every year and be successful. I have met many great people in this sport and I hope to meet many more. I'll probably be that old man in jiu jitsu classes though, haha. I love to roll and probably will keep rolling until I lose my ability to do so! I might even buy a gi one day.