Written By: Barry Laminack
The last 10 months have been a rollercoaster ride for Chad â€œRoboâ€ Robichaux.Â Shortly after defeating Lewis McKenzie for the Legacy FC title, Chad saw his career begin to elevate to a national stage.Â He was snatched up by the upstart national promotion Shine Fights, but quickly found that getting a fight was going t be easier said than done.
Shortly after signing with Shine, Robo got a dream matchup for him (no pun intended) when Shine inked Takafumi Otsuka to a deal that would have pitted the well respected Deep and Dream vet against Robo.Â Delayed events and previous commitments would force Otsuka to have to withdraw from the fight, and Roboâ€™s next opponent would also come and go with no fight. Â Eventually, Shine would see its hopes of a successful event dashed by Don King as he played his trump card with Ricardo Myorga at the 11th hour and forced the folks at Shine to scrap the event all together.
â€œAfter I signed with Shine, I had two different dates that I actually did full work ups for.â€ Robichaux told me in a one on one interview we had last week.Â â€œI had some people say, â€˜ah man that takes away from you because you trained so hardâ€™, but I donâ€™t buy into that. I do this for a living and every time I train for a work up like that I learn something, get in better shape and get better. The way I see it, I did 3 camps for this fight [he is refereeing to his fight with Humberto DeLeon for Strikeforce: Houston on August 21, 2010].â€
You would think having seen your chance to fight on a national stage come and go several times would get frustrating, but not for Robichaux. He seems to understand the business side of MMA just as much as the fighting side of it, so heâ€™s learned to take the ups and downs of the MMA world in stride.
With the Shine Fights turmoil behind him now, Robo will finally get a chance to shine (again, no pun intended, I promise) on the national stage.Â Make no mistake though; Robo knows itâ€™s not going to be easy as heâ€™s facing one of the best flyweights in the Texas in DeLeon.Â With 18 of his 21 victories (amateur and pro) coming via arm bar, DeLeon can end a fight quickly.
â€œI have a lot of respect for him. I think heâ€™s a true martial artist and a real honorable guy. Itâ€™s definitely a privilege to compete against him,â€ Robo said of DeLeon.
Sensing his confidence, I asked for his thoughts on how the two fighters compared skill wise
â€œI just think heâ€™s outclassed in this match.Â Everything heâ€™s good at, Iâ€™m better at, and everything heâ€™s not good at, Iâ€™m good at.Â I donâ€™t think his camp understand how complete of a martial artist I am. I think they think Iâ€™m just a Jiu-Jitsu guy, but I train in everything.
Heâ€™s never been dominated before, at least not like heâ€™s going to be dominated in our fight. If I get my hands on him, his feet are going over his head, and I will either submit him or I will knock him out trying to take him to the ground, but I will finish that fight.â€
As we talked more about the fight, we ended up on the subject of styles.Â Robo offered up this about his fight, â€œI really want to show people in this fight that I can do it all, but Iâ€™m not going to change my game plan to impress match makers.Â Iâ€™ve been getting asked a lot if Iâ€™m going to go in there and strike because it would make me look more exciting and more marketable, but Iâ€™m not going to change who I am.â€
Perhaps the biggest issue facing Chad in his fight is dealing with the loss of his Muay Thai coach, Daniel Kim.Â Kim recently moved to California to focus full time on fighting, so Robo will not have him in his corner come fight time.
â€œDaniel was really the leader of our gym.Â You can never replace a guy like that,â€ he said of the now departed Kim.
Yet Robo seems calm and focused as he prepares for his fight with DeLeon, and itâ€™s business as usual at his gym in The Woodlands as he can be seen still giving privates, teaching his classes and preparing for the upcoming debut of his newly formed grappling tournament, ProStar Grappling.
â€œIâ€™m really excited about ProStar.â€ Robichaux said. â€œThe Houston Jiu-Jitsu scene is probably one of the most promising in the world; we have some great athletes here. The problem and reason that we seem to get beat when we go to international tournaments is that our guys donâ€™t really know or understand the rules of an IBJJF tournament.
Myself, Professor Draculino and even Carlos Gracie Jr were talking about it and how our region just hasnâ€™t had much exposure to that.Â So I said I wanted to have a tournament that would expose our scene to the rules of IBJJF, so that when those types of tournaments do come here or the players in our scene go and compete at the worlds or the Panâ€™s they know what to expect and understand the rules.â€
Robo has a reputation for doing things right the first time.Â One look at the website for ProStar Grappling and youâ€™ll understand.Â The site seems user friendly and really stream lines the process of registering for and competing in the tournament.
â€œSpencer Caldwell and his team spent months developing this software.â€ Robichaux said.Â â€œItâ€™s very interactive and easy to use.Â When you register, just like with the IBJJF, you pick your division and then 2 days before the tournament, youâ€™ll know what your bracket is and who your first opponent is.Â You read and acknowledge the rules online, so you donâ€™t have to sit through a 2 hour rules meeting.
If your division starts at 11, you go to the tournament at 11, spend two hours and youâ€™re done.Â You donâ€™t spend the whole day waiting to compete.â€
For the inaugural tournament, Robo and crew have rented out the entire Legends sports complex and plan on having 12 mats for the tournament (provided by Zebra).Â 4 kids/teens mats and 8 adult mats.Â As well, the tournament is Gi only, with a no-gi only tournament scheduled for a couple of months down the road.
â€œEverything is set up just like IBJJF. Itâ€™s run the same way they have been doing it in Brazil for the past 20 years,â€ Robo said of the tournament.
As we wind down our conversation, I asked Robo if he had anything else heâ€™d like to say about his fight with DeLeon.
He paused for a second, looked at me calmly and said simply, â€œIâ€™m ready.â€