[Full disclosure: The MMA Corner’s own Gianni Grippo, a highly decorated BJJ brown belt and the author of this feature, is a training partner of John Cholish’s at the Renzo Gracie Academy.]

Coming into this weekend’s UFC on Fox 3 in New Jersey, it is evident that the organization set it up so that many of the UFC’s New Jersey fighters will be able to fight in their home state. Most notably, New Jersey native Jim Miller is set to square off against West Coaster Nate Diaz in a potential five-round showdown to determine who gets the next shot at the lightweight title. But further down on the card, we must pay attention to another “Jersey Boy” in 155-pounder John Cholish.

Although Cholish may not be too widely known to the public audience, he is slowly turning into a force to be reckoned with. In nine pro MMA bouts, Cholish has put together an impressive 8-1 record . Most recently the Renzo Gracie student is coming off a win in his UFC debut against previously undefeated Mitch Clarke with a second-round TKO where he displayed a crisp stand-up game along with his already fine-tuned wrestling and ground game.

Cholish (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

When we got a chance to talk to Cholish, we asked a little bit about his background and how he got into MMA.

“I started wrestling at age four since my father and grandfather were wrestlers, so it was always in me,” Cholish explained. “With wrestling I was able to get into Cornell University and wrestle with one of the best programs under coach Rob Koll for four years.”

But even after his college wrestling days were over, Cholish was not fast to jump into the MMA scene.

“When I first started training at Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City, I only joined to keep myself in shape and really had no desire to take MMA seriously,” admitted Cholish. “But once I got beat up in my first MMA fight that was just suppose to be part of my ‘bucket list,’ I became fueled and more enthused to take the sport seriously, and with the support I had from my teammates, I didn’t stop from there.”

Now only eight pro fights later and into his second fight with the UFC, Cholish will be tested against a veteran of the WEC and Strikeforce in Danny Castillo. When asked about how his preparation was going for the fight and if he was doing anything different in training for Castillo, Cholish responded, “I can’t complain, the training has been going very well, no injuries to worry about so I’m feeling very good about this Saturday. Also, I haven’t really been changing around my training much for Castillo. In my training, I put a lot of faith in my coaches (John Danaher, Joseph Sampieri and Erik Owings) and that they know what is best for me.”

Cholish had no secrets about strategy when asked where he sees the fight going because, “I don’t really like to think about where the fight will go, the way I think of it is I’d rather be pretty good at everything than just really strong in one area. I feel confident and well prepared that I can get the finish from any position, whether that’s standing or on the ground.”

Cholish (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Later on, when the question was asked about who has been the biggest influence in his MMA career, John was quick to mention his coach, John Danaher.

“Everyone I have worked with had helped me in some way along my career, but John stands above all,” said Cholish. “Not only has he helped me with my mental preparation going into the UFC (since he has worked with guys like Georges St-Pierre) but he also trying to evolve with this young, constantly evolving sport. Danaher is always looking for the new things to work on and develop, which has helped me improve my own game tremendously during my time working with him.”

Cholish still had an upbeat tone in his voice even after admitting he wasn’t having too much fun with the weight cut he was currently on. “I’m excited, because I feel like I’ve improved a lot since my last fight and I just can’t wait to go out there and test my skills in the cage this Saturday.”

And lastly, when asked about when he will return to Renzo’s academy to train in the gi, he laughed as he responded, “Of course, I will definitely start training in the gi again! But I can’t say for how long depending on when my next fight will be.” And with that answer, he made this interviewer a very happy jiu-jitsu training partner.

Top Photo: John Cholish (Dominance MMA)

About The Author

Gianni Grippo
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Contributor
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Gianni Grippo is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Marcelo Garcia and trains at the Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York City. Besides being a big fan of the sport, Gianni is also an avid competitor and has ranked among the best in the World from blue to brown belt winning 6 IBJJF World titles and 7 Pan Championships. Still at 21, Gianni looks to continue to compete for many years to come as his main goals are to win the World championships at black belt and win the ADCC title.