Interview: Joel Haesacke

“I never want an easy fight. I do this to test myself as a person and grow.”

Joel Haesacke

Written By: Eric Hofstetter

Dedication, will power, mental toughness are all, but just naming a few, attributes that words that we use to describe many MMA fighters. How many of us though, apply these same words in our own personal lives? Joel Haesacke is one of those select few that I have met that has gone to the edge, recognized that there is something that needs to be change, and has been committed himself in making that change.

I caught up with Joel this week to see how his training was going before his match against James Gonzales at Cage Combat 4 on July 1st. So Joel, what gym do you train out of?

Joel Haesacke: Well I am a nomad of sorts. I train with the guys from Rubikon in South Austin, Grappler’s Lair in Belton and Waco, Box in Lockhart at Puro Gallos Fight Club where my corner man James Aguilar trains me.

TCD: What motivated you to compete in this sport?

Joel: Like a lot of people, I was watching UFC and Pride about five years ago and thought to myself, “I wonder if I could do that?” I was rolling at a jiu-jitsu school a week later. Beyond that I’ve been an athlete my whole life and I have a drive to compete.

TCD: You say that jiu-jitsu is your first love, when were you first exposed in doing jiu-jitsu?

Joel: In 2006 I began training with Joao Cruz in Dripping Springs.

TCD: Two part question here. What was the first submission that you learned, and after you learned that one, how long did it take for the more to be added to your repertoire?

Joel: Well, I’m not sure why, but I had to learn the armbar. I think it’s a popular submission but it’s sort of mystical to the untrained. Joao Cruz is very technical and I still appreciate his step by step approach to submissions. I jumped right into training and quickly added a few submissions that I learned and retained and is still a part of my bag of tricks. Joao was great about not moving on to more advanced, fancier things until you’d mastered the basics.

TCD: How has your training for this fight been coming along?

Joel: It has been going great. My last fight I took on a week’s notice, so having over six weeks has been very cool. I’m enjoying the training and have some great training partners.

TCD: What is your favorite thing to practice on?

Joel: Whatever I need to work on. The most enjoyable for me is probably boxing because I like to hit and get hit. Although, I started with jiu-jitsu so it’s my first love. Then again there is nothing more satisfying then killing myself with cardio and plyometrics. The most important thing in a fight is your heart. How’s that for a complicated answer to a simple question?

TCD: Deep man, it blew my mind.

What can you tell us about yourself that not too many people know about you?

Joel: I don’t drink alcohol. I partied too hard as a young man and I think my body developed an allergy to it. Things would be fine, and then lights out. The best thing I ever did for myself was to listen to the signs and finally abstain.

TCD: Great stuff and kudos for you giving up alcohol. I gave it up for this year’s lent. The first couple weeks were the hardest, but after that it was a breeze. You have my respect for someone that is able to completely cut something that could be a problem out of their life.

Back to your interview, how excited are you to be fighting on the Cage Combat 4 card against James Gonzales of Silverback FC?

Joel: I’m very excited. Silverback is a very respected gym, with a lot of great fighters. I never want an easy fight. I do this to test myself as a person and grow. James is a tough, aggressive guy and I expect a good fight.

TCD: Is there anyone out there that you would like to thank?

Joel: On a personal level Id like to thank my parents, siblings, children and ex-wife who have loved me when I haven’t loved myself. My partners and teachers in fight are: Vernon “Big E” Lewis, Cale Grady, Sean Ward and Grappler’s Lair, Bobby Hernandez, Paul Nixon and Rubikon, Roy Garcia and Puros Chingasos, and most of all my corner man and friend James Aguilar who believes in me.

TCD: Well, thank you so much for your time and the great interview Joel. Good luck in your match against James Gonzales at Cage Combat 4 on July 1st.