“So they are telling me the only thing between me and achieving my dream is Levi Forrest? God’s put too many obstacles in my way to let one man stop me.“
Mike “The Greek” Bronzoulis
Interview and Photos by: Richard Burmaster
When you meet Mike Bronzoulis it’s very obvious what he is meant to do in life. The big hands full of scars and the nose that has been broken a time or two are a dead giveaway. What really stands out though are his eyes. They never from what’s in front of him. His eyes tell the story of a man who is on a mission. They tell the story of a man who has fought many battles in life just to be able to fight again the next day. Mike has been a fighter his entire life, he has trained each and every day with only one thing on his mind.
Mike knows the reward that has eluded him all these years. He understands that with a win on Saturday he has the opportunity to feed the hunger that has pained him for years. At the Legacy FC card on Saturday Mike will face Levi Forrest for the 170lb title here in Houston at the Arena Theater. Wining this fight will allow Mike to fulfill his Dad’s last wishes for him, to be the Champion that he has trained to be. His Greek ancestors were known for their love of the fight, and Mike is no different. He trains everyday to wage war. Mike is meant to fight.
I was able to catch up with Mike at Metro Fight Club as he prepared for Levi Forrest.
TCD.net: How did you get started in MMA?
Mike: I started in martial arts when I was around 7. My father took me to this old karate school in Humble that was next to this restaurant. I fell in love with it. There were all these big guys in there. I was the only small one, and I loved it. I just wanted to beat these big guys up. Something inside of me wanted to beat them up. I am Greek. My dad instilled in my brain that we were Greek, and that we were fighters, and that I had should be involved in a martial art. I kept doing it as I got older. Other kids got in to different sports in school, and I kept doing martial arts at different schools. I took Taekwondo, Tang Shu Do, Shotokan , Shotoru, American Freestyle, and kickboxing. When I turned 16 I lived at the Fairtex Thai kickboxing camp. I was there with Alex Gong. I was the karate kid. I watched all the Van Damm movies.(Laughs) It was like martial arts city at my house. I had the split contraption machine in the back yard that I made homemade. (laughs) I was a crazy kid. Kicking trees in the back yard..
TCD.net: What brought you to Metro?
Mike: When I came back from Fairtex, I started looking for a good gym. I scouted out a lot of kickboxing gyms. I looked through the yellow pages like most people do. I had just got back from Fairtex, so I knew what the real deal was. After going to 5 or 6 gyms, I met Saul and came to the gym. I was here for about 5 minutes, and I realized this was the place for me. It’s hardcore. Saul is angry and yelling, and I knew this is where I needed to be. This is no belt factory. This is real deal warrior type stuff. I am all about being hardcore and being pushed to the sky, and Saul does that for me.
TCD.net: How long have you trained with Saul?
Mike: Off and on since I was 17. What I mean by that I would be training as a kid at 17,18,19, and trying to hold down a job. It was tough, things come up, you lose your job, you lose your car, you get a girl, get engaged, get a house, lose that, get in trouble. (Laughs) Different things happened over the years, but I have always been with Saul.
TCD.net: What separates Saul from the other gyms in town?
Mike: Saul has trained world champions, even those that may not be champions have gone on to be great. Some have opened their own gyms. A lot of peple can’t hang with his style. It’s very intense. I have seen people come in here and say they want to be pro fighters, then after the workout they don’t come back the next day. Then, you hear about them a week later at a gym somewhere else that’s easier going. Saul has the best training around. If you want to be the best and make it to the top level than you need to be around the best guys. Saul has those guys here to train with. We have had all kinds of top guys here.
TCD.net: You mentioned that your Dad got you involves at a very young age in martial arts. At the age of 31 what keeps you coming back now?
Mike: I still have not accomplished my dream. My father is what keeps me coming back here each and every day. I used to put my self to sleep at night as a kid with visions of me holding the belt. Showing everyone I had done it, and I am a world champion. I have not accomplished what I need to yet. My father passed away from cancer a few years back, and his last words was to tell me to go be a champion. I am going to, come March 20th I’m going to be champion. I have overcome so much. I have been training for my whole life for this moment. I don’t care if it’UFC, Strikeforce, WEC or whatever. I am going to be fighting in my hometown in front of all the people who have watched me get ready for this. This is my moment. I will be able to do something I have been training for my whole life. I’m going to get that belt, and I will be able to sleep peacefully. I have not been able to sleep at all. This fight is all I can think about. So they are telling me the only thing between me and achieving my dream is Levi Forrest? God’s put too many obstacles in my way to let one man stop me. I’m going to go capture my dreams. I will be the dream catcher.
TCD.net: You had a fight last year with the WEC’s Kamal Shalorus that went to a draw. Many felt that you won that fight against a former Olympic wrestler who is still unbeaten. What did that fight do for your confidence?
Mike: Confidence is through the roof. I feel great. If an Olympic wrestler could not hold me down then who the hell can? A Jiu Jitsu guy is going to have a hard time trying to get me down and hold me there for awhile. I watched Kamal do fantastic, and I am happy for him.
TCD.net: After your fight with Kamal he dropped down to 155lbs to fight in the WEC. Is a weight cut like that in your future?
Mike: Bro I have a hard time making 170lbs. (laughs) I walk around 205, and I could be heavier. That’s me trying to stay light. I’m walking around 190lbs right now, and I have to be at 170 on Friday. I am a big guy, big hands, size 13 feet; it’s a chore to make 170lbs.
TCD.net: If you when the belt on Saturday what’s next?
Mike: Hopefully I win, and then I will go from there. I only want to concentrate on the fight right now. This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me. I can only concentrate on this right now.
TCD.net: Have you watched any footage of Levi?
Mike: Not really. I watched a 30 second clip from a fight in Louisiana. I don’t really know much about him.
TCD.net: A lot of guys go into fights without a game plan. Do you have a game plan for this fight or are you going to see what happens in the cage?
Mike: I’m used to fighting undefeated fighters. If you look at my record more than half of those guys were undefeated till they got to me. From what I heard, Levi is pretty good all around, heard he is a brawler and a good wrestler with a good chin. I don’t really have a game plan for him. The game plan is to go in there and win that belt.
TCD.net: How do you see yourself wining this fight?
Mike: I don’t know. I just see myself winning this fight. I’m not nervous. I am really excited. This feels like I have already won the fight, and I am just waiting to go through it now. Like DÃ©jÃ Vu. I just pray, and hope that is goes the way I want it to. I pray neither of us gets hurt because I want us each to go home that night. I understand he has a family and kids, and I want him to go back home not injured. I want to go home to my girlfriend with a belt. Haha
TCD.net: Who are your favorite fighters?
Mike: Right now I am really digging Allistar Overeem. The size he put on is sick. The way he went in to K1 and said to hell with these kickboxers and showed them what MMA is about. I also really enjoy watching Nick Diaz. He’s really fun to watch.
TCD.net: Is there anybody that you would like to mention or thank?
Mike: My sponsors Tony and Big Nick from Apex Firestop, Kevin from Auto Toys Kustoms. He hooked me up with my Lexus. My training partners Jeff Rexroad, Carlos Prater, Brian M, Tim Snyder, Brandon F, Big Damon, Saul Soliz, my brother Jason for being there for me, my Mom, and all my friends and family for being there for me. Also, Lee King and all the guys from Metro Fight Club