Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

On the MMA Road… Pre-Fight Interview with Dominic Clark

At Last Word on Sports we’re always trying to bring you a different side of sports. Over the past month, we’ve had the good fortune to meet and interview a series of up-and-coming MMA fighters in an effort to bring our readers a different perspective of the world of MMA – one that’s outside the mainstream.  We want to expose you to fighters we think you’ll be hearing about soon – very soon.

In addition to interviews with Mike King and Chad George, we most recently spoke with Strikeforce veteran and PKG product Dominic Clark, before his upcoming fight on March 23rd, to get his thoughts on his upcoming fight as well as some of the major issues in the world of MMA today.

What got you started in the fight game?

I wrestled in college over at Fresno State University in Central California. Essentially, as freshman a couple of the senior guys who I became friends with, they went onto the MMA route and I got very interested in that. Our wrestling program got cut from the school, and I started into jiujitsu. Pretty much from there I had a wrestling background and some jiujitsu. You kind of end up rolling with tougher-and-tougher guys and I kind of stumbled across a group of fighters in Fresno and they invited me to join them.

I’ve always been a fan of UFC. I’ve always wanted to do it, I just never really dedicated myself to it or did what I had to do to go that route. I just ended up falling in love grappling and Muay Thai and it just kind of shot off from there.

Who was/is your main inspiration that got you started in the sport – either in terms of a fighter or a mentor?

I don’t know one particular guy, but you know I definitely fell in love with the sport even more when The Ultimate Fighter came on TV – watching Forrest and Stephan Bonnar I fell in love with it even more. You know the big boom in 2003/2004, and just kind of really wanted to be a part of it.

I guess one person in particular would be Christian Balavin (SP), a really good friend of mine who was on the Fresno State wrestling team. He always said that I had what it took, but I just had to dedicate myself. As a college kid you end up partying a lot; he wanted me to just go for it, and not just talk about it.

What would you say has been your most career defining moment to-date?

I would have to say that it was my last fight at Tachi Palace Fights. I went up a pretty much completely different fighter from my first five fights, including the Strikeforce fight.

Obviously, (fighting in) Strikeforce was a big moment, and it actually came so fast. Obviously, I had been training and grappling for a couple of years – but, actually training just MMA and planning on fighting for only about six-months, which is not a long time – then going into one of the biggest promotions in the world. You know, it was something that was presented to me about three weeks after a previous fight, but it was just like any other fight – you see opportunities and you have sieze them. If it wasn’t for a fight like that (in Strikeforce), and even the fight after that (at Respect in the Cage) which I lost, it really wouldn’t have made me turn my corner from being a ‘fast-paced wrestler/grappler tough guy’ into an actual MMA fighter.

I really hit my stride at Tachi Palace Fights, though – my stand-up is more fluid now, and I’m really comfortable on the feet, and getting that first KO in my last fight really helped me to fall into my own.

How would you NOW describe your style of fighting?

Honestly, I really go big and I’m a quick learner. Being an athlete you learn stuff pretty quick – take for example, Gray Maynard, Jon Jones, Josh Koscheck, all of these top caliber athletes – you just watch and pick up on it. I feel like I’m a good all around fighter. I like to stand-up, and I definitely feel like I’m a counter fighter standing, and I definitely use my wrestling and the clinch and the scramble.

I really feel like I’m an all-around fighter now. I’ve tried not sticking to one thing, because that’s what’s gotten me in trouble with those back-to-back losses. You can’t always just bull-doze people.

What do you feel is the most important technique to have honed down?

I think that that basis of wrestling is probably one of the best techniques to have in terms of balance and strength, when you’re in the clinch or on the ground. I think one of the best things that you really need is being comfortable with yourself standing – whether that be flashy or defensive – because, every fight starts on the feet. You’ve also got to have a good clinch game and take-down defense; you don’t want to be fighting off your back, it can be tough in there, especially when the sweat gets going.

I think you have to be comfortable with yourself. You don’t have to be as diverse throwing spinning elbows like Jon Jones, you just have to be comfortable.

You’ve got a fight coming up toward the end of this month, is there anything special you’re doing to prepare for that fight?

Yeah, he’s a real strong guy and a purple belt under Alberto Crane, so he’s well versed on the ground, and obviously he has a bit of a wrestling background as well, as do I – so, I think there’s a real push there. I don’t want to throw accolades out there and say my wrestling is better, because everyone is training everything these days. So, we’re going to try and keep this one on the feet, very similar to my Tachi Palace fight, where I fought another purple belt –  very similar, although I think this guy is going to be a little more aggressive.

That said, I think he plays into my game really well. I am a really good counter-puncher, and I think I am just going to counter hard and be in the clinch. He’s a little shorter than I am, and I think he’s going to be looking to take me down, so I’ve been working really hard on my clinching. I really plan on making him pay when he tries to take it to the mat.

You’re training over at PKG, how would you describe the environment over there?

It’s great! We’ve got a lot tough guys, but it’s more than that really. You can go to a lot of gyms where you find hard-nosed guys, but it’s really about having that core group – kind of like a family atmosphere. Maybe you’re not close with everyone, but they’re still going to be there to help you train. You may not hang out all the time outside of the gym, but when it comes to having a fight and you needing people there – and I have a lot of people here that I have really gotten a lot from and learned from, both in and outside the cage. I’ve got guys like Chad “Savage” George (WEC veteran), one of my main training partners is Mac Danzig and he’s a great UFC fighter and TUF winner and I’ve learned a lot from him and a lot about what it takes to get to that point.

Who, if you could have anyone in the world, would you fight against next?

You have to go step-by-step in MMA and not really bite off more than you can chew, but confidence-wise I feel that anybody in the bottom tier of the 155 lbs division in the UFC I feel like I could go up against. That’s just confidence – it’s not being cocky or anything. I’m in there to make it there, and stay there. 

I feel like Jacob Volkman, John Gunderson, are the type of caliber guys I would match-up well against. I feel like I am right there, but obviously you have to fight hard and make sure you go about your career the right way.

NOTE: late in the interview Dominic said that if he could fight anyone it would be recent TUF winner, Michael Chiesa

How close do you think you are to making it to the UFC?

I really feel I am anywhere between 2 or 3 wins, maybe 4 if need be. 8-2 or 7-2 (record) is where me and my manger feel I need to be. Building on my last performance, we think 3 more wins, which would make 4 in a row, and I might have my opportunity knock at the door. Everyone has to start somewhere. I know in MMA you have to be smart, and not biting off more than you can chew is not something you should do. I am really hoping to get there by the latter part of this year.

Is there anyone to-date in the MMA world that you’ve hated, disliked, refused to work with?

No one in particular. I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone who goes in there (in the cage) and puts it out on the line. I just kind of dislike for certain people have a certain mentality towards fighting – not anyone person in particular – you know those people who have a big ego, or keep their tough guy persona on even when they’re not in camp. Guys who can’t dial it down when sparring, and have no medium. Those types of guys I just don’t like. Certain persona’s just rub me the wrong way, but you just try to show a lot of character and dodge your way around it. 

I’ve been doing this since 2010, now it’s 2013, so I am still pretty young in the sport – as such I haven’t really run into anyone in particular (that I dislike) so far.

The Ultimate Fighter –  would you do it?

I would do it, but you know as I’ve said, I would kind of like to get there (to the UFC) my own way. I’d like to get a string of victories this year and start knocking on the door that way. If you do it, you handle you business in there within 3 months and it’s a fast track. 

There’s a guy I would fight, Michael Chiesa (the winner of the last season of TUF). I think I could beat him now. Nothing against the guy. I think he’s tough a guy and has great jiujitsu. He went in there handled his business – you take care of your business inside of the cage you can’t be mad at the guy. 

As I said, it’s a fast track, I would do it – but, I would definitely prefer to get there on another route.

This weekend at UFC 158 – GSP or Nick Diaz – who are you picking?

I am going to go with GSP. I think he has a lot to prove this fight, and I think it’s going to make for a great fight. I think it’s going to be a decision.

I like Nick Diaz, I just think the Diaz brothers are athletes – they have trouble with really strong wrestlers and guys of that nature. I respect those guys, Nate and Nick Diaz are two of my favourite fighters, but I’ve got GSP on this one.

We want to thank Dominic for taking the time to talk with us in the build up to his upcoming match at Pandemonium Fights against Martin Gantt. We’re looking forward to seeing him back in the cage on March 23rd with his arm raised.

Stay tuned for our follow-up interview with Dominic after his match.

Follow us on Twitter: @lastwordmark and @lastwordonsport

Follow Dominic: @DomALLDAYClark

Interested in blogging for LastWordOnSports?  If so, check out our “Join Our Team” page to find out how.


More Posts

Send Us A Message