Welcome back fight fans and we are hitting the ground running in 2017 here at ArtofMMA.com. Today we got the chance to sit down with CFFC fighter Joe Solecki (@joesolecki) who is also apparently hitting the ground running as his appearance at CFFC 63 will be his 3rd in a row in as many CFFC events! We were lucky enough to be in attendance when we took home the win at CFFC 62 via RNC and knew that we had to get him as a feature because this kid is a stud! So take a minute to get on social media and follow him and now it’s time to get to know the man behind the gloves!
Hey Joe, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. Take us back to the beginning and what got you into the world of MMA, what are your favorite aspects of being a pro fighter and if you weren’t a pro fighter what do you think you would be doing?
Solecki: No problem, I appreciate you reaching out! So I started with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when I was 6 years old, and it’s all I’ve ever done my whole life. No tee-ball, no pee wee football or high school sports. Just martial arts. So from the time I saw my first UFC which was when I was 10 or 11, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I think the best aspect of being a professional fighter is that I get to do what I love on a platform that could allow me to hopefully one day influence a lot of people for the better, and also could allow me to make a good life for me and the people I care about while doing so. I have no idea what i would do if I wasn’t competing and fighting… the only other thing I’ve ever wanted to do is teach jiu jitsu, but even that is martial arts related.
Gotta respect that man, you have found that passion and something that is lifelong and you are excelling at it! Now for our readers that may not know who you are just yet, describe yourself as a fighter and your fight style? Why should they take notice of you?
Solecki: As a fighter I try to be a grinder, and work as hard as I can in there, keeping a high pace and volume. Like I said, I’ve been doing jiu jitsu my whole life so I would definitely be considered a grappler. But I try my best to avoid the stigma of the traditional one dimensional BJJ guy in MMA, kicking the knee and pulling guard, etc. I always want to be as dominant as possible, and also be as well rounded as possible when it comes to striking and wrestling.
Well that performance at CFFC 62 was about as dominating as one can be! We loved that high pace and constant action you mentioned as well… we may or may not have stood the entire time haha. Speaking of CFFC 62, you got a huge win over Andrew Chirico via rear naked choke. This was a big win for your career as you remain undefeated. Talk to us about how this fight went from your perspective, did Andrew do anything different from what you had trained for and what sort of emotions did you go through when you locked in the RNC?
Solecki: It was definitely important for me to get it done, and we prepared for a lot of different things. We knew he was a good wrestler, so there was that possibility as soon as I planted my feet to throw, he would shoot, and that’s exactly what happened. I was kind of surprised he shot in that early, just since I am known for grappling, but he also comes from a good team under the Renzo lineage so I’m sure he had a lot of good grapplers to train with. When I locked up the RNC, I just tried to stay calm and assess the situation. The last thing I want to do is go for the finish and not get it, then be disappointed in the fact, so I just try to take it second by second and keep adjusting as needed. As soon as he tapped, then the emotions came into play, but mostly I just felt relief that the job was done after a long buildup.
Seems like a smart plan to me. I got to sit cage side and could notice you seemed to be assessing the situation at all times, even when the RNC was sunk in. After that win you mentioned how you want a shot at the coveted CFFC 155 strap that was later claimed by Mike Pope. Do you feel at 2-0 you are ready for that step up in competition? When you look at Mike Pope as a fighter and fight style what do you see and how do you feel you matchup?
Solecki: Right after my win, my coach and I went right in the back and watched the whole title fight on the monitor back there. I’m not delusional about anything, I know that at 2-0 I’m not entitled to anything and still have a lot to prove. But like I said after the fight, I know I can get in there and get the job done right now. Mike Pope did a great job in his fight to win the title. He’s a great fighter but I just believe I have the right tools to take that title. He’s primarily a grappler, and I’m confident I would be the better fighter no matter where the fight ended up. But I don’t want it to seem like I asked to fight him specifically. My fight took place before anyone won the vacant belt. I just want to win the title and be the CFFC champion, it has nothing to do with any one man.
Agreed, you did take a very professional approach to saying you wanted that title shot. News recently broke that you will be featured on the main card of CFFC 63 when you face off a very tough Kevin Perez (6-1). When you look at him on film what do you see and what attracted you to this fight? Do you feel a win will get you a title shot at Pope?
Solecki: I’m honestly not concerned with a title fight. The title is in the back of my mind, and is a goal of mine, but this next fight is the only concern. As soon as I got word of the next fight, that’s all that mattered. I found some footage of Kevin Perez and he’s another tough opponent who seems well rounded and very game. I’m really excited for this fight, especially cause it’s another chance to compete at a high level for one of the best promotions out there.
Couldn’t agree more, this card is stacked at CFFC 63 but you versus Perez is one that stands right out! Now CFFC 63 will make the 3rd time you will enter the CFFC cage IN AS MANY CARDS! You are on a Cowboy Cerrone pace appearing on 3 consecutive cards. Do you feel this rapid pace suits the way you train over at Fitness Edge MMA? Speaking of Fitness Edge MMA, talk to us about what drew you them and what makes you stay there?
Solecki: Yes sir, I’ve tried to stay as consistent as possible, reason being this is what I love to do.. train and compete. So it just makes sense to stay active. And I think it definitely suits the way we train. At Fitness Edge, we are training all year long, we have so many fighters staying active, that someone always has something coming up that we are preparing for as a team. As far as what drew me to FEMMA, it was a few things. A few guys who are great fighters that I trained with in the past had been training there, and it showed in their performances. Another thing is the variety of training and facility. The gym is a 10,000 square foot facility with boxing, muay thai, grappling, and Strength & Conditioning all under one roof with an awesome coaching staff.
The big factor in me coming over was our head coach, Derrick Kennington. When I knew I needed a change if I was gonna pursue this as a career, I did my research not only on the gym, but on DK. I knew of him as a fighter, but after looking online between the gym page and his own stuff that he had out there, I could see that he was a coach that had the mentality that I wanted to train under, the credentials and experience to back it up, and a similar belief system (which I think is probably the most important of all when putting your future in someone’s hands), and has become someone I look up to a ton. You’re gonna see big things from our team very soon, just like these other big camps in the country.
Yeah DK rules! We had the chance to interview him a while back and not only is he a great fighter but he knows how to best help others. Everyone knows our love for the CFFC and the top-notch promotion that Rob, Devon, Arias and Burt put on. But you have made this a home so far for your professional career. Talk to us about your thoughts on the promotion and why you have stuck around?
Solecki: Well, why I have stuck around is because they’ve given the opportunity for me to. Which I am super thankful for. The alumni list for CFFC speaks for itself, but the way they treat us, the production, organization, and venues they book are all incredible. I’m really lucky to have not only been able to debut here, but to stick around thus far. When fight week comes, you really do feel like you’re fighting in the UFC with the process you go through and having Burt there running you through everything… the whole thing is awesome.
Agreed! And being in that 155 division, that is the fast track to the UFC with the names that have been in there and are currently! You recently tweeted out how UFC champ Cody Garbrandt is a big inspiration in his rise to the top of the mountain in 2 years. Talk to us about what you mean by that and what sort of traits you take from him?
Solecki: So I saw a tweet yesterday that said how Cody Garbrandt debuted in the UFC exactly 2 years ago and won the belt in that short time. He’s an awesome fighter, but not someone I would typically be a fan of just his mentality and actions are different than some of the things I usually like about athletes. But when I saw that, it’s definitely something I drew inspiration from. Not only that he accomplished that feat, but to do it so quick is inspirational to say the least, especially since it’s something he told himself he would do, and even wrote down the deadline… I’m big on stuff like that.
Agreed, kid shocked many both in and out of the cage in just the type of motivational person he is. Speaking of inspiration, at CFFC 62 I had the chance to be surrounded by a bunch of your fans and let’s just say there was no sitting down that entire match. When you sunk in that RNC they went nuts! Talk to us about your fans, what they mean to you and if you could say one thing to them, what would it be and why?
Solecki: I’m lucky to have a lot of great people behind me. Everyone that came out in Philly that last fight, they were family and friends and some people even came all the way up with us from Myrtle Beach just to be there for me. It’s amazing the support I get and I am very appreciative!
Yeah, we all got to be in that awesome traffic together hahaha but it was worth it to see the show you put on! Now we know your time is limited so before we let you go, are there any sponsors or people you would like to mention before we let you go?
Solecki: Yeah I just want to thank everyone who supports me. Everyone who reaches out whether its messages, comments, in person, it all means so much. Big thanks to my sponsors, the Myrtle Beach Spine Center, Kahiko Clothing, S&S Recovery Solutions, Dino’s House of Pancakes, Advantage Combat Sports, Hold Fast Fight Gear.
I wanna thank my lifelong instructor back home in NJ where I trained til I was 18, John Hassett for starting me in martial arts and being not only an awesome martial artist and BJJ blackbelt, but a good person and mentor my whole life. My team at Fitness Edge MMA, all of my awesome training partners, and coaches Keith Hare (S&C) and my boxing coach Chris Goude who put a lot of time and effort into my career and have a ton of knowledge. And a huge thanks to Derrick Kennington our head coach. He did me a big favor and gave me a big chance when he let me come join the team and has helped me grow a ton as a fighter and gives us all a great example to look up to. Like I said before we have an awesome thing going at FEMMA. And just my friends and family for coming out, my brother Steve and my long time friend and training partner Ali Elreda for both being in my corner at both of my last fights. And I really wanna thank my girlfriend Kacey for all of her support and making things very easy for me to focus on nothing but the fight, never questioning a thing just backing me 100%.
There you have him fight fans, Joe Solecki. Make sure to get on that bandwagon because this kid is going to be a difference maker in MMA and will be a name you will say around the water cooler very soon!