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10 for 10: Lance DeClue Talks About the Challenges of Coaching, the Future Stars of MMA and Saying the “R” Word

The world of MMA is very vast, there are fighters, coaches, trainers, promoters, fans and the list goes on. Everyone in the game has to find exactly what fits them in order to succeed, some want to be fighters but are better suited as coaches and vice versa. Today we got the chance to sit down with a good friend Lance DeClue (1-2) who has many roles in the world of MMA and Team Hahn. A very big fan favorite in Missouri and becoming a force to be recognized in the world of coaching, so make sure to get on all social media and shoot him a follow @theSilencerMMA and get ready to see what it’s like on both sides of the cage!

Hey Lance, it’s been hot minute since we have spoken, catch us up on what’s been going on the life of “The Silencer”?

DeClue: Oh man, there has been a lot. As I think, it’s been around 3 years since we’ve talked. Well professionally anyway. Ummm, I think I was going through the divorce last time we chatted so since then I’ve lost my grandma, almost lost my dad due to heart issues but he’s doing much better now. Got a girlfriend named Tracy Stricker who tries to keep me out of trouble [laughs]. She has really helped me get back where I need to be mentally as well as some amazing friends of mine obviously me and you can’t be talking without mentioning Jen Soto. Also, my boys Bryan Speidel and Lee Trani have always been a rock for me and helped me survive my divorce along with Andy Meyer and his beautiful wife Carrie. Then I can’t leave out John and his wife Laura Hensley and Dan Crouse has been big helps as well. Sorry, kind of did my thank you’s a little early so back to the question [laughs].

Another big change is the bank I worked for the past 14 years was bought out and I have a new job where I do some traveling between Kansas City and Saint Louis. We went from Eagle Bank who was about a 1B bank to Enterprise who is a 5B bank, so things have for sure picked up work wise. I like the fit though and am happy with them so far. I did however deal with a huge tragedy recently for me as I lost one of my dogs in January, he was my baby boy so that was a huge mental set back so I’ve been keeping myself busy and tied up with my other dogs. Our friend Jen was really there for me on that one. You know that I’m a huge animal lover and treated them like my kids so that still hits me hard. His name was Ricky and he was my happy, always loved everything and was always wagging that little tail. Never knew I could something only 5lbs that much or that it could bring me that much happiness. So yeah my life has been a little bit of a hell the past couple years, but all things start looking up and this will be the year, I believe it. Just realized I kind of hit you with a sad sandwich there. What kind of interview am I [Laughs]? Let’s get this back on a happy note. So other than that I’m splitting time between Hahn Extreme Fitness in Arnold and Festus, Missouri where I’m in my happy place. See ended on a good note. [Laughs]

Ummmm, I would be lying if I didn’t say it seems like you have been through a roller-coaster of a time. We are very sorry for your losses but it seems the gains have helped you and it great to see such as strong support system. Now you hit on it a little but you lead sort of a Clark Kent / Superman lifestyle as you work your days in the banking sector but at night you turn into MMA fighter and coach. How is that going, how do you battle that fatigue and do you ever see yourself making the jump to full time MMA?

DeClue: Well I don’t really sleep so that helps. [Laughs] I only average about 4 hours a night which leaves me some time to do my thing. I blame the lack of phone booths as I now have nowhere to change [Laughs]. I usually get to my job at about 7:00 a.m. and am there till about 5:30 p.m. and head to the gym. I’m usually at the gym till about 9:00 p.m. or so and then sometimes we will do team dinners and then I go home and play with my dogs. On the weekends there are usually some events I’m cornering or going to. It’s something I’ve been doing for 10 years now so it’s kind of normal to me now and I’m not sure what I would do with spare time anyway. Not sure about ever going full time with the fight game as I’m treated pretty good and do enjoy my day job.

The old adage of “I can sleep when I’m dead” seems to live with you! So you have been doing a ton of coaching lately. As a coach I know that’s an entirely different world than actually being in the cage, talk to us about how you see things on that side. What do you like about the planning phase of a fight for someone else and what is your overall favorite part?

DeClue: Well I always say, I’m a game planner. You know how it is as a coach, preparation is key. One thing I’ve been blessed with is seeing holes in fighters. So I really enjoy the game planning aspect of it. I love watching the film and seeing where the opening is, then getting with my fighter and putting it together. Nothing is more satisfying than when a game plan falls into place and your fighter executes what you’ve spent months on. Now the negative side is I think I actually get more nervous for my students than I did my own fights. The fact I have no control after the cage door closes still gets to me, but I know my fighters work hard and are always ready so that helps calm my nerves a bit.

I couldn’t agree more and the coach side of me is standing and clapping at your response! So you were just in the corner for Logan Santschi at the UMMAF National Champion Tournament, can you talk to us about that experience?

DeClue: It was an amazing experience, we rented a house in the smoky mountains with no signal so we could focus on game planning, rest and the fights. Logan did amazing as he executed the first game plan to a T, unfortunately he took a shot to the eye that caused his eye to swell completely shut so even though he had a dominant win he had to bow out of the second round of the tournament. It really hurt me to see that. He was upset because now he has that unknown. One of the two that made it to the finals he’s already beat as well, so that added to the sting. We worked on him all night as I brought our personal trainer Dave Greenlee, who is amazing at sports medicine and dieting and he worked on him at the house and then Rubyloo Lao-Scott from Team USA worked on him while we were at the venue. They did an amazing job as his eye did open back up, just not in time for the next fight. Dave also cooked to keep Logan’s weight on point as it was tournament format so he had to make weight before every fight. I couldn’t be more proud of our team and Logan. We also had some great stories to come back with such as getting lost without gps a thousand times, and Logan going on a walk to find out the mountains have bears and being locked out unable to escape if he saw said bear. [Laughs] Oh, the words he said after we realized and let him back in. I’m amazed we all made it back. [Laughs] Oh! I have other stories too but you’ll have to ask Logan about those.

Yeah, I saw the photos of his eye and my twitter was blowing up about it! Nasty but glad he is better now [laughs]. It’s good to see the team all functioned perfect too, that’s always a good feeling as a coach. As for the bears… oh hell nah! Now, I understand you and Logan have a unique relationship as he was your first student you really trained. Can you talk to us about his progression and what you see in his future?

DeClue: First off, you’re not wrong. He is truly my little brother and the bond we’ve formed is unbreakable by anyone. About 7 years of training together and though I’ve been his coach all those years the work he’s put into my fight camps as well can’t go unappreciated. But yes, he’s come so far, he was a just turned 18 year old kind of lost boy. He grew into a ground specialist and anyone that saw his tournament fight now knows he’s a well rounded fighter. He looked like a pure striker in there. Took a 6-0 guy and made him look like he didn’t belong. That’s not a shot at the other guy either, that’s just how on point Logan was. As for his future it’s whatever he wants, he showed he’s ready for anything. They had mentioned maybe him being an alternate for Team USA due to the fact he never lost, but we shall see. He’s a good person and a great fighter, I don’t have the words to express how proud I am.

That is awesome man! He really does have a bright future from what I have seen and we might just have to feature him at some point….soon….Logan get a hold of us! You are very involved with Hahn Extreme Fitness and MMA, in fact Coach Hahn just opened a new gym. Talk to us about that and why Hahn MMA is so unique and people should be taking notice?

DeClue: The gym is doing good, we opened Arnold about 3 years ago maybe. Then we relocated Festus to a new building with new equipment and mats just about a month ago, so Hahn’s is doing well. As always I push that family gym, we take care of each other and when you join, you’re family. It’s much easier to go to war with your brothers and sisters and want to see them do well for the team. I’ve seen some of my fighters have dominant wins but get down because a teammate lost. It’s the connection we have and hope we never lose, starting with Kevin and Marcia whom for us who have been with them all these years they’re like older siblings watching out for us and like parents to the generations behind us. My original Muay Thai coach Charles Kelly, though may not be as hands on with the fighters is still teaching there and full of knowledge and is always someone we can go to for both martial arts and sometimes life knowledge. Because as you know sometimes us brothers and sisters can get into it and Charles is the unbiased coach that we go to to put one of us in our place and even if we are the one getting put in our place we listen because we know he’s not wrong. So yeah man that family is something you just can’t talk about enough. For some it’s the only family they have so it shows how important it is.

That is amazing, love the family vibe of the entire team! Are there any young fighters we should be keeping an eye on?

DeClue: Actually yes, as far as fighters ready to fight we have a girl named Lacie Brayton who is a tough nosed chick. We are trying to find her something at 115lbs for her debut. We have Derrick Davis who is about to make his Hahn debut fight as he fought for another gym before. He’s a hard hitting 145 lbs. Now the next one I may slaughter his name as he’s Russian but Fikret has also showed a lot of promise in the short time he’s been there. Austin Tyler has some hands if he decides to stick with it. We have a couple of Pros I think could make some noise as Zach Geruillis and Auhston Midkiff have been putting in the work. To be honest I’m super excited for the next couple years as we have three 15 year olds that are phenomenal. Steven Needy is a kid that will surpass us all. His ground game is off the charts and he just goes to tournaments and just wins with ease. His hands are starting to develop so when he turns 18 he’s going to do what Evan Elder did for us when he turned 18. CJ Hicks is another 15 year old whose ground may be a step behind Steven’s right now but not by much, and his hands are really coming around. He’ll be another one ready to make an ammy splash when he’s 18. Then the third one is Sam Smith who’s got a lot of Taekwondo and grappling experience. Then there is Zoey Hahn who grew up in the gym. She was 3rd in BJJ Worlds and was kickboxing national champion. The problem with her though is she is 12 so we have a long wait till we see Hahn 2.0 in there, but she’s sure to surpass not just us but her dad as well. We have an amazing grappling team as well. So yes, the future looks bright for us.

Wow! Is Hahn MMA about to be the next powerhouse in MMA?!?! Just talent at such a young age, LOVE IT! So getting to your life in the cage, it has been a while since we have seen you in the cage, are there any future plans to step in the cage or is your current mindset on coaching?

DeClue: I’m focused on my students right now, they are the future you know.

I hear that. Now, there have been rumors that you might be stepping away from the competition aspect of the cage all together and going all the way with coaching, any chance you can tell us if these rumors are true?

DeClue: Ahhh… putting me on the spot eh? Well I’ve yet to say the R word but like I said these kids are the future. After my last fight and with how rough my life has been these past couple years I think I’ve lost my drive. I had a chance at Bellator which I couldn’t thank Jesse Finney and Rob Donaker enough for, but the fight got delayed and then I realized I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I realized I was just going through the motions and it stopped being fun. So I put my end on hold. Jesse always told me if I ever wanted back in the cage to call him and I would because he’s been good to me, but it would take a lot at this point. So am I retired, I would say so, but you know how it goes… never say never. So there you go old friend, you’re the first to hear me say the R word. [Laughs]

Ok, so I will just pick my jaw up now, grab some Kleenex because I don’t want to see you out of the cage like that, need to walk away on a W and the fans aren’t ready to see that! Ugh… now this is a roller-coaster of emotions [laughs] but then let’s get back to the coaching aspect before we let you go. As a coach, what would be your first piece of advice to someone who walking through the doors at Hahn Extreme Fitness and wants to begin a career in MMA? Any funny stories of people who have come in thinking they are the next Chuck Liddell or Anderson Silva?

DeClue: My first advice would be don’t rush it, and listen to your coaches. This is a rough, rough sport and it’s a way of life if you really want to make it. I would also say listen to your body, I think sometimes we don’t and it shortens our career. I’ve been blessed to not have too many major injuries but I still worry about the lasting issues caused by 10 years of getting punched in the face. So get your experience and when your coaches feel your ready then go. We want to see everyone get to the big leagues but more importantly we want to see you stay there. As for those tough guy undefeated street fighters that come into the gym… yeah, we get them a lot. [Laughs] Most of the time they don’t come back as they realize they’re not top dogs in the cage. They have to understand we do this for hours and hours a day, they have a fight with some other person who doesn’t train maybe once a month or whatever floats their boat. We get hit all the time and get used to it and our skill level isn’t wild drunk swinging. So yeah we put them in their place and every now and then we humble one who wants to stay and they turn their life around. Which is what we want. We believe everyone deserves a chance but you have to be humble and prepared to work for it.

Ok man, before we let you go are there any people or sponsors you would like to mention?

DeClue: As always my good friend Josh Pullen at Hezekiah Kustoms, he’s the best ink man I know and he’s a pretty good painter and costume creator too. I highly recommend everyone check him out. Of course Kevin and Marcia Hahn at Hahn Extreme Fitness, if you’re in our area come check us out as everyone needs self defense. We have kids classes all the way up to adults. Erik and Tonya Paulson with CSW and their coach Ben Jones, they are a huge influence on our gym and us as fighters. So if you’re in Cali go talk to them, or if you’re in any state that is an affiliate of CSW I highly recommend you give them a try. Also need to thank my friends and family without them I would be lost in this world. Also my fans, they were the only reason I even did this crazy sport. [Laughs] Last but not least thank you Erik, you’ve always followed my career and given me a voice. I appreciate that more than I will ever let you know. [Laughs] Mostly because I don’t want it going to your head. It was getting too serious. [Laughs] But in all seriousness, thank you my friend.

Man, we really appreciate that as you have and will continue to mean a lot to us. Heck, it’s because of you and guys like you that people talk to us and check out what we post! On a personal note I am just happy to see you in such a good place man, you deserve it!

There you have it fight fans, the one and only Lance DeClue. Make sure to get on social media and tell him you want him to stay in the cage too!

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