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The Interview: Duane Bastress

The comment “can’t stop, won’t stop” has various meaning to many different people but it can be the perfect way to describe an elite group of MMA fighters such as Shane Carwin, Mike Swick, Kevin Lee and others that are not only fighters but have hectic schedules outside of the world of MMA. Our featured fighter today can be grouped in that category. Not only does he fight but he is in the process of becoming a head wrestling coach at the college level, he is none other than Duane Bastress, that name may sound familiar as he has been on a couple of Bellator cards but most recently he fought in the CFFC and was award a TKO win over Mike Stewart. Make sure to take a minute to follow one of the hardest working people I have had the chance to talk to on Twitter @Thee_HC.

Hey Duane, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. Can you take a minute and talk to us about what got you into the world of MMA and how do you separate the duties of being a coach and a professional fighter?

Bastress: Absolutely, thanks for taking the time to interview me. I was a wrestler in high school and college and had pretty good success there being a 2 time Division III National Champion (05,06) and I just started training at a local gym. After a while the coaches there suggested I try an amateur fight so I did and what was pretty cool about that is that I was on the first MMA card in PA at the time. I went on to go undefeated at that level and was told there were no more amateur fights for me and I had to go pro, so here I am.

First off my athletes come before anything and yeah it is a pretty hectic schedule but I keep it organized to make sure I get everything in but I like it that way. There isn’t a ton of downtime and always something going on. I won’t lie it does get tough and there are times where I get overwhelmed but it keeps everything exciting and makes me work that much harder.

As a coach myself I understand that grind of your sport going 27/7/365 so hats off to you for finding time to fit in everything that encompasses being a professional fighter as well. Now with all that grind that has to be something that drives you through all the rough times. I had the chance to sit next to your fan base at your Stewart fight and I can see you have an excellent support system, does that drive you or is it something else?

Bastress: I do have an excellent support system and they really do drive me because I don’t want to let them down. My fans are everything to me and it is hard to explain the feeling I get when I see them and like for most of my fights they all take a bus from PA to wherever I am fighting. I would have to say it is super humbling because they take that time out of their lives to watch what I do, it’s amazing. They take pride in what I do and that really helps to drive me be the best I can do.

I also have an excellent set of coaches that includes my father, so to see him go through camp and all that training with me yeah that helps to drive me. My parents taught me from a very young age that if your going to do something you do it 100%. I also still have that desire for competition and want to be the best. I am of the mindset of the day I can’t do it 100% I will stop doing it, it wouldn’t be fair to myself, my family, coaches or fans. I hope that answers your question haha.

Yeah I think you got it haha. I was lucky enough to see your father interact with some of your fans after your win last weekend. We don’t hear a lot about having family members as coaches in the world of MMA, why did you go that route and what does your father mean to you?

Bastress: My father is my role model, best friend, mentor….he really is everything to me. If he wasn’t keeping my mother calm during my fights I am sure you would hear him in my corner. I don’t know if you heard it or not on Saturday but after I landed that head kick and finished the fight I looked at him and yelled “that’s for you fat boy” which is ironic because he isn’t fat at all hahaha. I choose him as a coach, well he kinda became a coach when he told me after a couple of fights that my standup just wasn’t working and he took that realm over, it has made a huge difference as you saw that night.

That’s awesome, kind of a heartwarming story but I am sure at practice he is less that heartwarming hahaha. Now you have had a ton of success as a pro fighter with 7-2 record and those two losses to some pretty tough competition, what do you think has led to your success as a fighter?

Bastress: I know it sounds corny but I have to say hard work and dedication. My behind the scenes support team is not something I want to let down, they do so much for me. They help keep me grounded and eyes on my goals. But at the same time I understand that life is bigger than fighting and fighting really only comes down to 15 minutes in a cage so I try to learn from everything and anyone I can.

That sounds like a great approach to have. Now speaking of your career I have to ask, I saw you in Bellator and your last fight was a win, how did you end up on that CFFC card?

Bastress: I was released from Bellator, we were told they couldn’t keep me busy. I am sure my coaching schedule had something to do with it and I have always said coaching comes first. I am happy with the CFFC and they put on a great show and are great people.

You are not the first person we have seen that happen to as Kenny “The Gorilla” Booker went through the same situation. But getting back to the path, you had a crazy TKO win last Saturday over hometown guy Mike Stewart who is no slouch. You silenced an entire section of the arena with a crazy head kick that pretty much ended the fight, talk us through that.

Bastress: I have to give credit to my coaches on that one. Our game plan was perfect and we watched a ton of video on Mike, like you said he is no pushover and a really tough guy. Late in the first and second rounds they noticed his hands were dropping to defend the leg kicks. In the corner they told me to defend the takedown then take a shot with a head kick. So I did just that and boom it landed. It was weird it was like everything stopped when it hit and I knew I needed to finish the fight but we train to not force things, take what is given to us. I am not a huge risk taker as wins don’t come easy, I saw an opening and was able to finish the fight.

It was crazy Duane, it has been a while since I have heard 40-60 people get louder than 100-200 people and when you landed that you just felt the whole place stop. Great job. Now you mentioned you’re not a risk taker and as a wrestler that can lead to a fight were fans tend to boo and get restless. Have you ever seen or heard that in the cage and what do you do?

Bastress: To be honest and maybe it comes from coaching but when I am in the cage I only hear my coaches and the ref. I am there to do a job and that is to win a fight. At the end of the day a W is a W no matter how you get it. I know I have been booed in the past and as a fan myself I can understand it because everyone wants to see an exciting fight with a great finish but I am about wins.

Awesome man! Now as a fan who are some of your favorite guys and who is one name we should keep an eye out for that you know of that maybe everyone else doesn’t?

Bastress: I am a huge fan of GSP I think he is one of the greatest Pound for Pound fighters in the world, his game plan and strategy is always amazing. I am also a big fan of guys like Jon Jones, Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson. Those guys are amazing!

One name that comes right to mind is Eric Albright. He actually won his fight in another promotion the same night as I did. He is gonna be something special!

Well I guess I know who we will be talking to for an interview very shortly. Now it’s time for the age old Fight Club Question, if you could stand across the cage from anyone who would it be and why?

Bastress: This is a tough one; I would have to say GSP out of pure respect. He is one of the best ever and I would love to test myself vs him. It would also be pretty cool to see what would game plan and strategy would be against someone like him.

I think you may be the first person to say you would be interested in seeing what your game plan would be haha, that’s amazing!

Bastress: You have got to have your heart in it 110%. Embrace being up running hills at 6am, dieting and cutting weight. Everyone wants their name up in lights but you have to realize it may not happen and probably won’t.If you have a love for the sport but don’t want all of that then just train there are still benefits to that too. Too many people think they are gonna get that UFC type money and that just doesn’t happen.

That is pretty straight real advice there, thanks! So before we let you go are there any people or sponsors you would like to mention?

Bastress: I would like to thank all my sponsors: Tattoo Fightwear, River Rock Academy and Tap or Sleep. I would also like to thank my family, friends, and fans. Shout out to Red Lion BJJ, Team Total Domination, Hanover Mixed Martial Arts and all my training partners. Also to the CFFC for having me and giving me a chance to perform in front of such a great crowd. Thanks for having me guys!

There you have it fight fans, CFFC’s Duane Bastress! Make sure to go follow him on Twitter and check out his badass highlight reels on Youtube!

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