UFC bantamweight Anthony Birchak takes on Tony Gravely this weekend at UFC Vegas 24. “El Toro” says he likes the match-up stylistically as he eyes his first UFC victory since returning to the promotion last November.
In this Anthony Birchak interview, we discuss the premium coaching he receives at both Xtreme Couture and 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu (Las Vegas), how he anticipates the fight with Gravely playing out, as well as his newfound motivation for still aiming to be the best mixed martial artist that he can be.
“El Toro” made his MMA pro debut in July of 2009 for the World Fighting Federation, which is based in his native city Tucson, Arizona. Birchak came out of the gates on a roll, winning 10 of his first 11 bouts, including an opening-round submission for Bellator. His run was capped off by securing the MFC bantamweight championship, which ultimately resulted in his signing to the UFC. Despite going 2-2 to begin his tenure and winning his last fight, the UFC decided not to offer him a second contract. Shortly after, Birchak signed with RIZIN, followed by LFA, and later Combate.
Through sheer determination and willpower, “El Toro” earned himself another opportunity to compete in the UFC after securing his third consecutive first-round finish. Although coming up short in his first fight back, the 34-year-old is clearly a very talented mixed martial artist. He owns a BJJ black belt to go along with being both a lifelong wrestler and a seasoned striker. Birchak knows that the time is now.
Anthony Birchak Interview
A native of Arizona, as well as a gym owner, Birchak has spent time training at Xtreme Couture since 2013, but he fully committed when he began signed at RIZIN. Since then nothing has changed, and why would it? They have one of the best coaching staff in the world and top talent training there every day. Lately, Birchak has been rounding out his game at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu as well.
“It’s going good brotha I’m splitting my time between Xtreme Couture and 10th Planet Las Vegas,” he replied. “The coaching staff between the two are just amazing. My head coach, coach Casey Halstead has been running the wrestling and running the Jiu Jitsu, keeping my grappling sharp. Then over at Xtreme Couture you got coach of the year Eric Nicksick, you got Dennis Davis, and then my striking coach Ray Sefo has been dialing me in”
“We’re going over some very specific things that translated perfectly from Johnny Eduardo to Tony Gravely,” he continued. “So it’s been a good camp man, just trying to maintain my health and keep the bumps and bruises down. I feel confident and sharp heading into this one.”
Birchak was scheduled to face Eduardo in March, but the bout fell through and he was forced to pivot in another direction. Fortunately, the UFC offered him a new opponent not long after. In fact, Birchak had only been home “three or four days” before flying back to Las Vegas for another fight camp. He feels as though he matches up well against his new foe Gravely.
“I think that stylistically both guys play into me very well,” Birchak stated. “With Johnny Eduardo, the game-plan was put some hands in his, get to the takedown, and look for the submission. With Gravely, it’s put some hands in his face, stuff the takedown, and get the submission. Even though I’m going from a Muay Thai/Jiu Jitsu guy to a more strictly wrestling guy, the game-plan basically stayed the same. Stick and move, stick and move, put him in a bad position, and capitalize.”
In this Anthony Birchak interview, the bantamweight stressed that he intended to get a finish at UFC Vegas 24.
“I mean when you look at the guys that he’s lost to: Merab Dvalishvili, Patchy Mix, Ricky Bandejas, Brett Johns. The only guy not to finish him on that list was Merab. I’ve been training with guys that are those caliber guys that he has on his column. I also feel like I’m a similar body style to Bendejas, Patchy, and Johns like we’re big, long bantamweights and I think that’ll be his kryptonite.”
“El Toro” possesses various credentials within the mixed martial arts world. Training so many different arts has made Birchak a very well-rounded fighter and he takes a lot of pride in that.
“So one of the things coach Casey said was ‘OK what’s this guy good at?’ and I go he’s a great wrestler with a fast level change, he goes ‘OK so he’s gonna take you into your Jiu-Jitsu world perfect’. If he can’t take me down then he’s stuck with me on my feet and I’m long, rangy, and dangerous on my feet as well. I have almost as many knockouts as I do submission wins. I’m looking to keep a high pace, put the pressure on, and finish him.”
With over a decade of being in the game training day in and day out, you may wonder what keeps Birchak’s drive still persisting. Well, that answer has changed over the years. It’s now about legacy for the 34 year old athlete.
“When I was younger it was the desire to get fame and money you know,” he said. “After they said Eduardo was out they gave me two names, Montel Jackson and Kevin Croom. A younger me would’ve said f*** yeah let’s run it because I needed the money, I already invested time and money into training camp, and resources were expended. Now, I don’t need money. I fight for the love of the sport and to leave a legacy for my son. So I can look back and say man I kept chasing that dream and I’m waiting on my Robbie Lawler moment when I can step into my big boy boots and really establish myself in the bantamweight division.”
Anthony Birchak Interview Conclusion
All in all, it seems as though Birchak is preparing to display the very best version of himself at UFC Vegas 24. He a crafty, well-rounded veteran of the sport who is now 110% percent invested in maximizing his potential. His experience advantage should aid him significantly when he enters the octagon this weekend. Nowadays, Birchak’s motivation is to leave a lasting legacy in the world of mixed martial arts. There’s still time to do just that and it begins by beating Gravely at UFC Vegas 24. “El Toro” believes he has all the tools in order to secure a finish in this next bout.
If you enjoyed this Anthony Birchak interview, please make sure to share it and drop a comment! Also, be on the look out each week for extensive coverage of the world of MMA.
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @RyanTruland for all my latest work. Also, follow us on social media at @OTHeroicsMMA to keep up with our exclusive content! Please visit our web page so you can stay in tune with everything MMA!
Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images
Anthony Birchak Interview Anthony Birchak Interview Anthony Birchak Interview Anthony Birchak Interview