HyeFighters would like to welcome MMA fighter Eric Bradley to our family.
(Fundeklian on mother’s side)
MMA RECORD: 4-1 (3-0 at 170 lbs)
CREDENTIALS: Brazilian Jiujitsu PURPLE Belt under John Lewis
COLLEGE – Penn State University (State College, PA)
2x NCAA DIV I Wrestling All-American
– Senior Yr – Ranked #1 in the Country
2x BIG TEN Wrestling Conference Champion
Hear me out fight fans…
On the verge of breaking into a major fighting organization is a young man by the name of Eric Bradley.
Try not to worry too much about the fact that he is not yet a household name—he soon will be.
In fact, if you were to visit Bradley’s website you would learn the following:
Eric Bradley is a 28-year-old former wrestler from Penn State who was a two-time NCAA Division One Wrestling All-American. He was ranked No. 1 in the United States his senior year.
Bradley was also a two-time Big Ten Conference Wrestling Champion and a National Boxing Champion (with a record of 15-0).
Bradley holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (under John Lewis) and has been in several training camps with the likes of BJ Penn, Quinton Jackson, and John Hathaway.
Bradley was an alternate on the Ultimate Fighter 9, and best of all…he has really “crazy” hair.
In other words, this kid has personality, and we all know that in the business of MMA, personality absolutely matters .
Pretty good, right?
Well, it gets much, much better.
This is my interview with him:
JR: Hi Eric.
Eric Bradley: Hello James Ryan.
JR: Thanks for agreeing to speak with me. Our friends over at Carried Out Fight Gear told me all about your remarkable story, and I just couldn’t resist the temptation to speak with you in person to learn more about your amazing accomplishments, and to share them with as many people as possible. I am extremely impressed on so many levels.
Eric Bradley: Thanks a lot, James. I really appreciate that. It has been a very long and rocky road, but I believe that is exactly why, when I finally get my big chance, I will have all of the strength that I will need to make it to the top.
The challenges that I have faced in my life have given me a deep determination to never quit, and to always follow my heart, no matter what.
JR: So, what happened while you were at Penn State?
Eric Bradley: Well basically, while wrestling in my freshman year at the Olympic training center in Lake Placid, NY, I injured my back pretty badly.
JR: Olympic training centre? That’s impressive! But injuries happen all the time in contact sports. What made this injury so different?
Eric Bradley: Well at first, it was just an irritating, chronic pain that I had for a while, but eventually, I decided to finally have it checked out.
Eric Bradley: The x-rays showed that there was a hairline fracture in my spine. I rested it for a while, but every time that I came back and started training, it only got worse.
I remember the head coach at Penn State at the time, Troy Sunderland, called me up one day and said that there was a training session over in Rec Hall. So I met up with our coaching assistant, Josh Koscheck, and we started scrapping pretty hard, but it didn’t take long before my back just eventually gave out.
Eric Bradley: Ya, I think at that point I knew the problem was well beyond serious. After that, when I would step onto an uneven surface I would fall to the ground like I had just tripped over my own feet, but in reality, what was really happening was that a sharp pain was running down my spine straight into my legs.
When I returned to get my back checked out the doctors all told me that I would never be able to wrestle again.
They fitted for me this plastic body brace which I had to wear for six straight months. I only took it off to shower.
JR: How did it make you feel when the doctors told you that?
Eric Bradley: I was devastated. I even thought about leaving Penn State at that time because I obviously went there to wrestle, and just being around the place was making me more and more depressed by the day.
Not working towards my goal of winning a national championship was extremely hard.
I talked to my dad though, and he kept telling me to never give up.
So I called the boxing coach after clearing the idea with my doctor and after many emails, he finally agreed to give me a shot. Six months later, I won the national collegiate boxing championship in Las Vegas.
JR: That’s awesome about the boxing, but still, I can only imagine just how much you loved wrestling. It’s really unfortunate that you were never able to wrestle again.
Eric Bradley: On the contrary, James, after a two year absence I did in fact return to wrestling.
JR: Seriously? How is that possible?
Eric Bradley: Nothing short of a miracle. I was working as a coaching assistant for the Nittany Lions Wrestling Club and I would sometimes wrestle around on the mats with some of the local high school kids. Strangely, I noticed that I wasn’t feeling any pain in my back.
I spoke with the doctors and eventually convinced Coach Sunderland to give me another chance, so I began an adjusted training schedule and was back with the team in no time.
JR: Wow. Dare I ask how you made out in your first return match?
Eric Bradley: To my own amazement, I was awarded the Ridge Riley Award for being Penn State’s most outstanding wrestler on the night. I think it had a lot to do with my overcoming the amount of adversity that I did.
From there, I went on to win two Big Ten championships and I became a two-time All-American wrestler.
JR: Outstanding Eric! So, when did you make the decision to pursue MMA as an actual career?
Eric Bradley: I got a phone call from an agent in Los Angeles who brought me out to LA to train at Legends.
At the time, I was looking into going to grad school to purse a law degree, but when the opportunity presented itself, plus after seeing my former coach, Josh Koscheck, doing so well in the sport, I decided that I needed to get back into athletics.
After falling short of winning an NCAA championship at Penn State in wrestling, I really felt that I had unfinished business. Besides, I’ve never been one to pass up on an adventure.
It was cool though. My first introduction to jiu-jitsu was with Eddie Bravo, so right from the start I was getting some of the best coaching available in the sport.
JR: What is your relationship like with Josh Koscheck now? Do you keep in touch? Would you ever fight him in the Octagon if you had to?
Eric Bradley: Josh is great fighter, and he has used his wrestling to put together a style that is very difficult for his opponents to figure out.
We are still cool, and I have nothing but respect for him as a person and as a fighter.
As far as ever fighting him goes, whoever has the belt I am ready to step in with. Like Hunter S. Thompson said, “the only ones who know where the edge really is are the ones who have went over it.”
I have the confidence in my ability to see just how far I can go.
JR: What do you feel it takes to break into a major MMA organization, and how far are you from getting there?
Eric Bradley: I’m definitely ready to fight any of the top competition in this sport. In fact, I’ve been ready. I have total belief in my abilities both on my feet, and on the ground.
I’ve been trying to keep fighting regularly, but lately it’s been a string of fights falling though. Either way, I have been competing my entire life, so when the time comes, I will be ready to rock and roll.
JR: Falling through? Dude, what’s happening with your fights?
Eric Bradley: Well, the last two fights that I had scheduled, one of the promotions didn’t get the funding and they had to cancel the show.
Eric Bradley: The other one…something happened with my opponent and they didn’t have anyone else for me to fight. It gets frustrating having to deal with going through all of the training for a fight and then not having one.
Right now I am working on getting a fight in May and then another in June. Hopefully from there I’ll make my way into the UFC. After I was an alternate for the Ultimate Fighter 9, my goal has been to fight in the UFC, particularly the August show that is taking place in Boston—the state that I was born in, and where I spent a lot of time growing up as a kid.
I would like to make my intentions clear because I really think that Boston would be my perfect debut, and I could definitely bring a lot of support from the local crowd.
JR: That would be cool. So Eric, why would a major MMA organization like the UFC want to sign you? What do you have to offer in terms of drawing power and your ability to compete with the best in the world?
Eric Bradley: As a fighter, I’m a lot like dynamite…I have a reputation for being very explosive, and I know that the UFC fans love exciting fights.
Really though, it’s hard to explain with words. I would sooner demonstrate my worth in the ring. All I need is a chance and I guarantee the UFC will be impressed enough to give me a shot.
After that, it’s up to me to find success.
Also, I’m a free spirit. I don’t comb my hair, which people seem to remember me by [laughs].
JR: [Laughs] You sound like Bill Murray in the movie Stripes talking about how chicks dig him because he rarely wears underwear. I noticed that you don’t have a nickname on your website. How about “The Dynamite Kid?”
Eric Bradley: [Laughs] Possibly.
JR: If I had to guess, I would say that you grew up surrounded by great people. Who has had the greatest influence on you in getting you to where you are today?
Eric Bradley: That’s a tough one…
There have been so many strong influences that have helped to keep my dream alive.
All the way from my parents, who have supported me and made me earn anything and everything that I have ever wanted in life…that probably played a big part in keeping the fire burning in me to be a champion.
My high school coach, Barry Chooljian, and college coach, Dave Hart, both moulded me into the type of athlete who never expects anything but victory.
I’ve bounced around a lot of MMA gyms, but I would have to say that my deepest roots are at the London Shootfighters and J-Sect in Las Vegas. Those guys are great!
Also, I’ve been training with Roy Nelson at The Country Club for the past few months, which has been a really fantastic experience.
JR: Eric, your story in very inspiring and I believe that you have great natural talents combined with an awesome work ethic. Both are crucial elements to being a successful fighter.
I can really empathize with what you went through with your injury, as I experienced very similar feelings after I broke my leg in seven spots during my own push for an Olympic dream.
I have to give you all the credit in the world for getting past the depression and finding success in boxing. It’s not easy. To then be able to wrestle again seems like the perfect reward for you for never giving up on yourself or your dreams.
Giving up is too easy sometimes. My father always taught me…never give up!
Sometimes life throws up road blocks and it’s the winners who find a way around them. You are a winner, my friend.
Eric Bradley: Thank you James.
JR: The pleasure was all mine, Eric. Rarely do I get to meet such an inspirational young man. You are a good role model for our young athletes, so please remember that as you move forward in your career.
Eric Bradley: I will.