Interview: Chad Cook

“I think I’ve been forgotten about; I’ve been doing my thing quietly, training away.”

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Chad Cook

Interview: Lance Edwards

While interviewing fighters at other gyms, a couple of times I’ve heard Chad Cook’s name brought up by other fighters. A veteran of the Houston MMA scene, Chad is fighting on the Strikeforce undercard this Saturday August 21st at the Toyota Center.

Chad hasn’t fought in Houston for quite a while and a lot of local fans have him as the underdog in his fight.  Never one to miss an opportunity to find out more about Chad Cook, we headed down to sunny Pasadena.

Admittedly, Chad’s gym isn’t the easiest gym to find.  There’s no sign advertising it’s a gym because it’s not a gym that encourages the public to stroll in off the street and sign up for techno-cardio-kickboxercise.  It’s sweaty, bare bones and no-nonsense, just like the guys who train there.

TCD.net: Chad, thanks for agreeing to the interview.

Chad: That’s no problem, how do you like the heat in the gym?

To say the gym was hot is an understatement, within seconds of walking in the gym I was sweating. I could see in the sparring sessions the fighters were used to it, and had the cardio to cope.

chad_cook1TCD.net: It’s a little warm.

Chad: [laughs], yeah, it’s not pretty but it’s functional.

TCD.net: Well a lot of fighter’s gyms aren’t

Chad: That’s what this is, a fighters gym. If you can train in an environment where it’s uncomfortable, where it’s hot, when you fight you can handle whatever conditions you are in, it’s easy. I don’t count this as an official gym. I wanted a place where we could come when we wanted, we come here 24/7. I used to work nights and I would come here at 4am if I felt like it. We keep the gym hot to get you going; I learnt that from Saul Soliz, it builds mental toughness, and a large part of this game is about strength of mind. His old gym was like that. I actually moved here because of Saul, I fought in his promotion and I had a shortage of good sparring partners. My mom said she’d pay for college if I came here, so I did.

TCD.net: Lots of the Houston MMA ‘old guard’ trained at Saul’s…

Chad: Yes that’s right, there was Saul and Yves Edwards place back in the day. He’s a good coach, and I really like his Renegades promotions, they’re some of the best around.

TCD.net: Do you know if he’ll be promoting Renegades more regularly in future?

Chad: I don’t know I hope so; he’s an excellent promoter and puts on great shows.

TCD.net: So how did you get started?chad_cook4

Chad: Well I started in Arab, Alabama believe it or not. I was on the wrestling team; I boxed and did taekwondo as well. The UFC had come out, and there was a guy that had started putting on promotions. I was still in school, in the 7th period the wrestling team would help me prepare, it was great actually, I graduated and then a few days later had my first fight.

TCD.net: So what’s your record like?

Chad: You know they say my records 8-8, I think that’s what Sherdog has it at, but actually I worked it out and I’m 17-9. You see a lot of the early promotions weren’t recorded, I’ve never been bothered to write in and say I won this fight, or that fight, and to be honest it doesn’t bother me much. You know I won a tournament back in ’99 that Monte Cox had put on (TCD: Monte was a boxing promoter who embraced MMA and worked heavily with the Miletech camp, he still promotes today). It was funny I got awarded the championship title. I didn’t really fight amateurs, my first fight was in Hartsell, Alabama and I got $500, things are different now. In Texas if you get paid it’s a pro fight, so I’m 17-9 total, but only 14-8 as a pro.

TCD.net: You have only fought four times since, 2003, with a stack of fights between 2000 and 2003. Why such a gap between fights?

Chad: Well I’ve had a lot of interruptions [laughs]. I’ve had four knee surgeries, police academy, street training when I first joined the police department; so I had to take time off. We train very hard here, you know, you watched us, and training intensely makes you more likely to pick up injuries. Unfortunately I’ve had more than my fair share.

TCD.net: So how did you come to train with Prof. Draculino?

Chad: Well you know, I got stale, I wasn’t progressing. Drac will kill me for saying this [laughs] but you know I’ve never liked the gi. I have such respect for Draculino and I actually am beginning to like it. Whenever I train solidly in a gi, I feel like no-one can touch me when I grapple without one.

You know he’s an amazing man, he’s not like a lot of guys who say this is the only way, you know he’ll say to someone if they need to work on their hands, go find a boxing gym. I felt at the time I needed direction, all three of us Brian (Lightfoot) and Taylor (Herbert), go to Dracs. We do two days there then two days here, and so on. He’s not just a great instructor but a great person.

chad_cook3TCD.net: I’m looking forward to seeing his fight.

Chad: Absolutely, two of the real veterans of Houston. Rocky has been around forever and has had a big impact on the Houston scene and since Drac has been here he’s also left his mark, it should be a great fight.

TCD.net: You fought Chris Reed before, and at the time there was a bit of smack talking going on. How’s it now you train together after having a battle with him?

Chad: Well I’d hardly call it a battle, it lasted 31 seconds ha-ha. You know at the time, some of the talk was us, and some other people hyping the fight. I’m generally not into trash talking though. Actually we get along great, I consider him a bit like a manager now, he’s really helped me out and we’re really good friends.

TCD.net: What was your favorite fight in the last ten years of competing?

Chad: Definitely the Reed fight [laughs].  I’m known by my fights locally with Jon Kirk. I killed myself to get down to 185lbs.  I’m not happy with how I performed in those fights. The second fight karma kicked in, I was fighting for revenge, and that’s not good, I didn’t have the right focus and I lost.

TCD.net: Where do you think you’ll have the advantage over Artenas Young?

Chad: I’m more of a veteran. Brian Lightfoot beat him. We spar a lot and I actually played Artenas to prepare Brian, I feel I know him well and have a good game plan.

TCD.net: So what is your game plan?

Chad: I can’t tell you that, but maybe it will go to a decision, but I’ve been training to get a TKO, so that’s what I’m hoping for. My training and approach has changed, I’ve developed a lot more as a person.

TCD.net: Why do you fight?

Chad: It’s fun and I love it. If I don’t train for three days, my wife tells me to go training, it’s almost something I have to do

TCD.net: Is it easy to train hard and work full time as a police officer?

Chad: Not at all, I usually work about fifty hours a week. I’ve been blessed with supportive friends and family. My kids come up here; I try to turn it into a fun family thing. My wife is really supportive and I’m lucky to have such a great family.

TCD.net: Do you feel underestimated in this fight?chad_cook5

Chad: Absolutely. I think people know Artenas.

TCD.net: Is it because you haven’t fought much round here recently?

Chad: I’ve fought round here before, Kirk beat me twice, but a lot of fights I’ve fought elsewhere, plus I haven’t fought so much recently. A lot of fans have come to MMA recently and Artenas has been active in Houston. He’s a great fighter, and I’m looking forward to fighting him. I think I’ve been forgotten about; I’ve been doing my thing quietly, training away.

TCD.net: So what’s your gym called?

Chad: We call it Rogue Fight Crew [laughs] I’m going to show how much of a nerd I am now. When I was a kid I read G.I. Joe, and I remember reading the leader of the ninja clan, Snake-eyes teacher, saying how you should act as a man. It touched me deeply; I’ve been influenced by that. When I needed a name I thought of that immediately, it was the foundation of what I wanted from a team.

Anyone can come here regardless of affiliation, we’re open, we are a tight group and we train hard, most people can’t stick it, but we all work to help each other.

TCD.net: So after Strikeforce, what’s next?

Chad: Well, we’ll be preparing Brian to fight at Bellator, I’m hoping to fight on Belator in the future and I’d like to fight at Legacy. Mick puts on a good show, and legacy is really helping MMA here in Houston.

There is something I’d like to say. On August 21st last year, Jesse Hamilton (we started this gym together) was killed in the line of duty. Five weeks ago I was too emotional and burning myself out. I spoke to a few people and they told me to cut back. I haven’t been running now, just fighting and training. I do five x five minute rounds everyday in a hot gym. There’s no way I’m going to give up in this fight. I’m dedicating it to every friend and family member of an officer killed in the line of duty. The fight will be one year to the day, I’m amped up and the fights going to be on.