Mixed martial arts has been dominated by wrestlers almost since the inception of the sport. It makes sense. Wrestlers are essentially built for the sport with their obsessive training and conditioning habits. Also, wrestling is a great base for MMA because controlling people is a big part of what makes a fighter successful.

Chris Wade looks to continue wrestling’s string of success in MMA. On May 16, at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, N.J., he looks to turn some heads and defend his Ring of Combat lightweight title.

Wade (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Wade (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

“Training for this fight has legitimately been the best of my pro career. That’s not just to say it because it’s the most current fight,” Wade told The MMA Corner. “I really honestly feel that people who are around me, the direction we have taken has been great for me. I’ve really taken to the technique, and I feel like I’ve grown since my last fight.”

Wade faces undefeated submission specialist Frankie Perez at Ring of Combat 48. Although he is supremely confident in his wrestling game, his focus for this bout has been centered around his striking.

“I put a real emphasis on getting more experience standing and exchanging, so we really ramped up the sparring sessions and intensity on my sparring,” Wade said. “In the past, I’ve been beaten down a little bit from training camps. Injuries are an issue, and you are just trying to get there and compete. This camp, I’ve been healthy to the point I’ve been able to up the amount of times that I have sparred a week. There were times when I was working and fighting pro and I was sparring just one time a week. Now I’m able to spar two to three times a week based on the way I feel. It’s practice fights, sparring especially with the guys around me here in Long Island. It’s harder than when you go into that cage. I’m constantly getting great fights against great opponents each week, and it’s bringing my level way up.”

Surrounded by some of the best young talent in the UFC, Wade is extremely confident.

“It almost gives me butterflies when I think about it,” Wade admitted. “I came from a wrestling program where there was that ‘grind’ mentality. We had some real hammers in high school, one of those teams that only come around every 20 to 30 years. Every guy went to war every single day at practice and we raised each other’s level up every single day. Half-assing it was never acceptable in the practice room, and that’s where I learned that practicing was where everything was won or lost.

“If you’re in there going half speed, you’re either going to get hurt or you’re going to go backwards. Being with Dennis Bermudez, Ryan LaFlare and Marcos Galvao makes you a little cocky. I know other guys have great camps—my opponent trains with Frankie Edgar—but my gym is where it is at. I’ve been really blessed to meet them and train with them.”

Fighting on one of the East Coast’s biggest stages, Ring of Combat, is only a stepping stone for Wade, who has much bigger plans in the sport.

“In five years, the plan is to be the UFC champion at 155 pounds,” Wade stated. “Five years puts me at 31 [years old], and if I haven’t made it by then, I won’t be one of those guys lingering around the sport in the regional promotions. My plan is to be in the UFC sooner rather than later, and to be doing damage.”

Wade fully believes that he is ready to take the next step in his career. He has his sights set on that UFC berth with a title defense and a win.

Wade (L) shoots for a takedown (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Wade (L) shoots for a takedown (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“I know where I’m at with guys who are killing it in the UFC and doing nothing but winning and winning,” Wade said. “I know that we push each other and we all go at my gym, so I am 110 percent confident that I’m going to start doing damage immediately. With the wrestling background and my athleticism, I think I can go with almost any of those guys.

“I’m not naive—I know that I have to develop more. I know that I definitely have things to work on to be with those guys in the top 10. Those real elite guys are sharp. They’re ahead of you, and it’s like chess. I’m not going to say I can go out there and wreck anyone, because there’s a lot of very talented guys at 155 in the UFC. But there is no doubt in my mind that I can give any of those guys way more of a go than they would be content with at this point.”

Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat has been a great place to learn and grow, but Wade is not getting any younger and life on the regional circuit isn’t exactly champagne and caviar.

“I just want to prove how complete I am at this point and that I’m ready for that next step,” Wade explained. “I’m getting to an age now where it’s all well and good, but I live on Long Island and the cost of living here is up there. I feel blessed to be at Ring of Combat, but I am really looking to impose my will. And although my opponent is very skilled, I am at that level where it’s time to make that move.”

Chris would like to thank all of his coaches for taking care of him and taking him under their wings. Follow Wade on Twitter: @CWadeMMA

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.