Welcome back fight fans to our extensive coverage of CFFC 62 and the mega card that it is. Remember CFFC 62 is taking place on Saturday, Dec 17th at the 2300 Arena in PA. If that video didn’t get your blood flowing for this epic clash between Mike Pope and today’s feature, Mike Wilkins then you might need to get yourself to a doctor because this one is going to be EPIC! We are very excited to get the chance to sit down with Mike Wilkins (7-3) who is riding a 2 fight win streak into his bout this weekend. Mike is one of those guys who could be on the brink of making a UFC debut, especially if he can capture the coveted CFFC lightweight strap. So take a minute and get on social media and follow him @mwilkins12 and get ready because here we go!!!
Hey Mike, thanks for taking the time out to speak with us. So take us back to the beginning and talk to us about how you got into the world of MMA, what your favorite aspects are and if you weren’t a fighter what do you think you would be doing?
Wilkins: I got into MMA after my freshman year of college. I wasn’t going back to school, and I wanted to continue wrestling. A friend of mine suggested trying MMA out. I really enjoy training for competition, and having a goal to chase. If I have never found MMA, I’d be working for my family’s electrical contracting company.
Well we are glad you aren’t the electrician because you have turned out to one hell of a fighter so far! For our readers that may not know you, describe your fighting style and why people should start to take notice of you if they haven’t already.
Wilkins: I’d describe myself as a scrappy wrestler. I use a more of a finesse wrestling style, technique over strength approach. My fights always have a high pace, and a lot of scrambles. The type of fight I enjoy watching.
That makes two of us because I couldn’t agree more, you aren’t the lay and prey type, you are always looking for some sort of finish)… something we can’t say about all wrestlers. Now you’re from Pittsburgh and go by the nickname “Iron City” which to me, pretty much not only describes you as a fighter but the city as well. How much of an influence do you feel your city has had on making you who you are and just how did you get the nickname “Iron City?”
Wilkins: I’m very proud to be from Pittsburgh! It’s a blue collar town, so you have many examples of strong work ethic all around. It makes it easy to work hard when it’s all you see. My teammate Dom Mazzotta gave me the “Iron City” name. Iron City is a beer brewed here in Pittsburgh, and I’m pretty good at drinking beer. It’s also got the fight related theme, playing off of “Iron” Mike Tyson. Additionally, my younger brother AJ (amateur flyweight) got stuck with the name “I. C. Light”. The light beer version of Iron City.
You just got half of our readers to stand up and go to the fridge for a cold one, well done haha. But I agree, it does speak to your work ethic and all of PA in that you work to the bone. You are a part of one of our favorite teams, Team Renzo Gracie which produces amazing fighters. What drew you to be a part of that team, what sort of influence has Master Gracie had on your career and what does it mean to represent that name?
Wilkins: My coach, Warren Stout opened a school here in Pittsburgh in 2010. With him being a black-belt under Renzo, we represent the team. I’m grateful to be part of such a strong team. It’s a network that allows me to learn from the best coaches, and train with the best fighters. Master Renzo is a great example of want it means to be a fighter. He is also a tremendous coach, he had some great advice for me after my fight this past August.
Couldn’t have said it better myself and it seems to be the same thing each Gracie guy has to say! You are currently sitting at 7-2 and coming off a huge win at CFFC 60 where you beat the ultra tough Jon DelBrugge, talk to us about that win and since coming to the CFFC you are 2-0 after dropping a decision to Rob Hanna in GOTC. After that loss did you change anything to get back in the winner circle or was it just something that refocused you?
Wilkins: After my loss to Rob Hanna, I made some adjustments. I would have made them even if I had won the bout. I’m constantly looking to improve, so it had nothing to do with the loss. It was a tough fight, same as my past two fights that I won. When you’re fighting dangerous opponents who are closely matched to your skill level, that’s how it works. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I enjoy the competition.
Well said and at this level and especially the CFFC every opponent is dangerous. Speaking of that, let’s get right to it, CFFC 62, a card that has 4 titles fights. Your bout with Pope looks to start the title carnage. What does it mean to you to be on a card like this that sees the return of Sean Santella and a card that many are billing as the best card Arias Garcia has made to date?
Wilkins: It’s a very stacked card. I don’t know if it’s the best CFFC card to date. I’m sure with all the talented fighters that have made their way thru the CFFC to the UFC, that there has been more than a handful of stacked CFFC cards.
Ok I can respect that. Speaking of your scrap, you take on Mike Pope for the CFFC Lightweight strap. Pope is 6-2, coming off a nice submission win in PA Cage Fights. Both of you are very good on the ground and grapple games. When you look at him on tape what do you see? Without giving up too much, where do you feel you have the advantages?
Wilkins: Pope is a strong wrestler with great Jiu Jitsu skills. He has a very fast and powerful takedown, and compliments that with excellent positional control. I’m very excited to mix it up with him. I believe I’m a little craftier with my wrestling, and I think it will put me into good positions.
Outstanding man and I can’t wait to watch this chess match between you. What would it mean for not only your career but for you personally to take home the belt in a division that is wide open with talent?
Wilkins: I love the history behind this belt. Held by five of the best fighters to come through the CFFC, All five moving on to the UFC. I want to be number six. I want to keep that tradition alive.
I would agree as this title has some insane history with guys like guys like Jim Miller, John Cholish, Charlie Brenneman, Paul Felder and Darrell Horcher all holding the belt and going on the UFC and now it’s up to either you or Pope!!! Great company to be in. Ok we know your time is short as you are still training so we will end with this. I got to see you fight Jon. I got to see your fans go crazy all fight and they really kept true to what we see with fans from PA….they get crazy!!!! What do your fans mean to you and if you could say one thing to them, what would it be and why?
Wilkins: I don’t have fans, I have friends and family. If you enjoy seeing me fight. If you care about my career. It doesn’t matter how well we personally know each other. I don’t consider you a fan, I consider you a friend.
That is awesome man and we will be expecting a Xmas card hahaha. I know that means a lot to the people who follow your career though! Before we let you go, are there any people or sponsors you would like to mention?
Wilkins: Shout out to my gym Stout Training Pittsburgh – Team Renzo Gracie! Special thanks to Katie Jones, expert meal preparation and canine Snapchat extraordinaire.