After wrestling his senior year at Wisconsin University,former Bellator champion, Ben Askren invited Corey Anderson to Duke Roufus’s gym, but no wrestling mats were to be found.
“I wanted him (Askren) to help me with freestyle on the off season at Roufus’ gym, I didn’t know where I was going out there,” Anderson said. “There was no wrestling mats, just a bunch of cages and he just tricked me into getting me in an MMA gym; he knew if I got there I would try it and after that I was pretty much hooked.”‘
Anderson said his passion for mixed martial arts is growing every day. He said MMA is wrestling, but with punches.
Anderson said he loves MMA, but did not see it as a career.
“To be honest ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ is what made me want to pursue MMA, I was pretty content working and fighting,” Anderson said. “Two days before tryouts I am at work and my coach said, ‘You going to tryouts tomorrow?’ I said what tryouts and he said the TUF tryouts were there.'”
After work, Anderson decided to give it his all once he made it to the tryouts. On the show, Anderson won at light-heavyweight, meeting his future coach Ricardo Almeida, who was an assistant coach on Team Edgar.
“Knowing that I had to take it seriously once the show happened and I made it to the finale, I decided to leave home and come out here to train,” Anderson said.
Anderson said he use to be the only one training who went 100% back in his home gym in Illinois. Ricardo Almeida’s gym offers a new atmosphere.
“There is always someone who is pushing you, always someone who is going harder,” Anderson said. “You have to keep up your pace to train with them whether it is strength and conditioning, mits or anything.”
Anderson steps into the octagon for the second time in his career tonight when he faces Gian Villante. After crossing over from Strikeforce, Villantes is (2-2) under the UFC banner.
Anderson said Villante has power and trains with high level fighters like UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, but he has the edge over Villante.
“He has been in the game awhile,” Anderson said. “I am a little faster, I throw more, I am all about the punches in bunches.”
Anderson feels he his ready for anything after scheduling some of his own sparring sessions. Anderson spars with Bellator light-heavyweight champion Liam, McGeary and World Series of Fighting middleweight champion, David Branch.
Anderson also travels to Nick Catone’s MMA every Saturday.
“All of the who’s who or going to be who from New Jersey are there,” Anderson said. “Nick just has a great facility down there.”
Anderson said that at one of his more recent trips to the gym, many fighters from around New Jersey were there. The camera could only take half of the group at a time.
Training alongside fighters like Frankie Edgar, Tom DeBlass and Mike King, Anderson said he is putting himself in the best position to succeed.
Anderson did not expect to get tricked into MMA, but is glad he did.
“I told myself I would give it a year, no working, just training and see how it goes; if it does work out, I will stick to it, if not I will go back to the working world,” Anderson said. “So far everything has been working, so I don’t have time to go back to work.”
By Connor Northrup