Whether you are a professional athlete, an academic or a nine-to-five professional, a key to living a successful life is always having a willingness to learn. There are many different ways to learn. Some people learn aesthetically, some are auditory learners and some learn visually. However, no matter the method, the true key to learning is to find the proper resources. Gokhan “Pitbull” Turkyilmaz knows this to be true, and he will travel to any corner of the globe to quench his thirst for knowledge.

“The more I travel, the more I can learn,” Turkyilmaz explained in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “Even in the short time that I have been training here [in Iceland] with guys like Gunnar Nelson, I think that my ground game has picked up a lot. I see myself as a sponge. I think that you can learn off anybody, whether they are beginner or advanced, it doesn’t matter. I’m that guy in the gym that will absorb everything.”

It didn’t all start with traveling the world. Turkyilmaz’s transition into the sport of mixed martial arts came from a love of kickboxing from an early age. It wasn’t until he got a taste of what the true “fighter lifestyle” is all about that he knew that mixed martial arts was the path that he wanted to follow in life.

Turkyilmaz (Facebook.com/gpt86)

“I’d been a longtime kickboxer and had my first amateur fight at [age] 14,” Turkyilmaz revealed. “I did a bit of MMA training with Kerry Dunne back in 2000 and before that I trained under John Wayne Parr for two years. I was training kickboxing and a little bit of MMA for about six years and then I joined the military. I did that for eight years, [but] I still fought some kickboxing fights. Then after I left the military, I kind of transitioned into MMA. That was around 2010 or 2011, and then it became a lifestyle. Now I have a part-time scholarship with Tiger Muay Thai and I get to travel and train, and I get to see the world at the same time. It’s great.”

A fight name can say a lot about a fighter. It can be an insight to a personal part of their life, it can pay homage to training partners or coaches or it can perfectly describe a fighter’s style. And for Turkyilmaz the latter is exactly the case.

“When I used to train in Townsville, one of my coaches, Colin Crosby, said that the way I looked and moved was a lot like Thiago Alves,” Turkyilmaz explained. “They said that I was a real walk up fighter just like Alves, so people just started to call me ‘Pitbull.’ I used to use the name ‘Carnage,’ but a few people had been using that, so after a while I just decided to go with ‘Pitbull.’”

Being a part of the Tiger Muay Thai MMA team gives Turkyilmaz access to some of the best training partners and coaches in the world and it’s something that he certainly doesn’t take for granted.

“Having guys like Brian [Ebersole] there gives you a world of knowledge,” he admitted. “You can have a wrestling coach that will help with grappling and that’s good, but to have someone who actually fights and is as experienced as these guys just makes it so much better. It’s something that I value greatly.”

Turkyilmaz (Facebook.com/gpt86)

Turkyilmaz’s next fight is on July 20 against undefeated Jack Grant in Doncaster, England, for Combat Sport FC at the promotion’s fifth event. This will be the fourth time this year that he has fought competitively overseas. Although the international exposure is good, having to travel to fight is not entirely his personal choice.

“I have a lot of trouble getting fights in Australia,” he admitted. “Whether it is promoters not being able to fulfill matches or opponents pulling out, I always seem to find myself without a fight after having one in front of me. I hope to fight in Australia in August, but we will see what happens.

“From the research that we have done, [Grant] is a tough kid. I just plan to use my experience and bring it to him and force him to react. I know that I have learnt from my losses and I think that I will be smarter in there and capitalize on what I have learnt.”

Taking whatever he can away from his travels around the world, Turkyilmaz has just two things on his mind: To learn something from everybody that he crosses paths with and to win fights all around the globe. On July 20 when he steps into that cage once again, those two things will need to go hand in hand as he proves to not only be a worldwide traveller, but also a worldwide fighter.

Gokhan would like to thank FTP Clothing, Jaco Clothing, Elite Tattoo, Phuket Pro Nutrition, Tiger Muay Thai and a special thanks to his manager Ben Livingstone. Follow Turkyilmaz on Twitter: @Gpt86

Top Photo: Gokhan Turkyilmaz (Nitro MMA)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.