“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” — Henri Bergson

Steele McCall has already experienced quite a bit of change in his early career as a fighter. He competed in ice hockey during his high school years. Although hockey comes with its own unique element of punching an opponent in the face, it wasn’t until later that McCall transitioned to what could be classified as a true combat sport.

“I’ve always loved fighting and competing. And once out of high school, I needed an outlet, so I got into jiu-jitsu,” McCall explained in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner.

MMA was a natural next step for the grappling phenom. Proof? As a professional lightweight, all five of his wins have come by submissions. He has just two losses, one by decision and one by submission.

Having a strong grappling game is imperative for any fighter. Just look at how Anderson Silva was able to salvage his fight against Chael Sonnen with the surprising triangle armbar. Remember, too, the Diaz brothers with their almost trademarked come-from-behind submissions. But in today’s MMA, being a strong grappler is not enough.

“Training in Atlanta with X3 was awesome. I learned a lot from those guys, but the focus was definitely more on BJJ. My wife and I decided to move to Denver, and since I’ve been training with Grudge Training Center, and Jake [Ramos] especially, my striking has really improved. It’s really upped my game,” McCall said.

“I love triangles. I am dangerous from any position and not really scared of a bad position. I can work or set up a submission anywhere. And now that I am improving my boxing and stand-up, I have found that I absolutely love leg kicks. I love to tear up the legs. Developing harder shots and keeping my head down, it’s just really fun.

“My goal is to get to the top level of the UFC, and I am confident that I have the tools to do it. My training partners are continually pushing me to the next level. We always say, ‘Iron sharpens iron,’ and I get to train with Justin Gaethje as he trains for his lightweight title bout for WSOF, along with other excellent guys. I am strong, competing well, and feel ready. I’m in the gym six days a week and working hard.”

Even something as simple as changing one’s living conditions can make a huge difference. Anyone who works more than a short drive from their home can attest to this—you don’t have to be a fighter to observe the negative impact that a lengthy commute can have on both body and soul.

“I am lucky. Our new home is 10 minutes from the gym, so I am able to work more and focus more and drive less,” McCall explained. “It works out to about four hours for me and four hours for my students. I am able to make MMA my entire day.”

The next test in McCall’s career comes on Feb. 7 at Prize Fighting Championship in Denver against Mitch Peterson. Peterson, who hails from the neighboring state of Nebraska, is just one fight into his professional fighting career. That one bout ended in a first-round submission win for the Warrior Martial Arts product.

“I don’t really know too much about him,” McCall admitted. “I know he is more of a wrestler/grappler. I try not to focus on him and what he is doing so that I can focus on me and my game. I can guarantee I will fight to win, though.”

Change and experimentation can make or break a fighter. Dropping down a weight class could have a huge effect on a fighter’s durability. Too much of a weight cut too often could have long-lasting effects on kidneys, strength and endurance. Too little could find a fighter undersized and overpowered. McCall opted to drop down to lightweight from welterweight. So far, it has been a great change for his body.

“I also started a Paleo diet and cutting out the breads, and [it] has really made a difference in my body,” he revealed. “At first, it was hard to do. You always just want to grab a sandwich or have a roll with dinner. But now it just feels right. My wife and I have incorporated a lot more fruits and veggies and juicing them. We push each other to eat healthier and better. I’ve got more energy.”

Despite the external changes McCall has made, there is one thing he refuses to compromise.

“At the end of the day, if I can be remembered for being a good guy, that would make me happy,” McCall confessed. “No matter where I am, I am always a southern gentleman. I want to be known as a nice person and someone that would do anything for my friends or even for anybody.”

Change is inevitable, but knowing when and what to change are the keys to happiness and success. No matter the outcome of the fight on Feb. 7, it’s certain that McCall will find a way to be better and do better. That truly is the reason why we love this sport and its fighters. Those who are willing to continually look for ways to improve themselves inspire us all to greatness.

About The Author

Staff Writer

Amber currently resides in Tampa, Fla., a hotbed of MMA. She was introduced to the sport Memorial Day weekend in 2006 and quickly became addicted. Amber loves the fact that the biggest and strongest don’t always win, the respect the competitors show and that women are finally getting their shot. She also writes a blog for Fight It Out gear. When not watching MMA, Amber can be found at the beach playing volleyball, in the gym learning from Tampa’s only female BJJ Black Belt, cheering on her eight-year-old daughter in tae kwon do, or at her day job. She has a girlfriend, daughter, too many dogs and a cat who lives in the attic. Communication highly encouraged at amber at fightitout dot com.