Mike Trizano isn’t interested in the trash-talking side of the game. He lets his performances speak for themselves.
Unlike some of the other cast members on the show, the Ultimate Fighter 27 lightweight winner wasn’t much of a character. He didn’t need to be.
Trizano defeated Thailand Clark and John Gunther to land a spot in the finale against Joe Giannetti. He came into that fight a slight underdog, but he exited with the TUF trophy and a UFC contract.
After his most recent win against Luis Pena, Trizano made the decision to drop down to featherweight, and he will make his 145-pound debut at UFC Fight Night 152 against Grant Dawson.
Before the fight, Trizano spoke with John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock about training at Tiger Schulmann’s Martial Arts, his approach to fighting and the task at hand in Rochester, New York.
Fighting out of Tiger Schulmann’s
MMA has no shortage of top-tier gyms. Places like American Top Team, American Kickboxing Academy, Hardknocks 365, and many others have been mainstays in the fight game.
Tiger Schulmann’s Martial Arts is not the first organization that comes to mind when thinking about places to pursue a career in professional fighting, but the gym has quietly begun producing a slew of talented fighters. UFC veterans Jimmie Rivera, Julio Arce, Shane Burgos, and Trizano are all members of Team Tiger Schulmann.
“It’s been electric,” Trizano told The Body Lock regarding training at the gym of late. “We’re all fighting around the same time. Everyone’s been helping each other get ready and the intensity in training has just like picked up tenfold.”
Burgos just earned a signature win over Cub Swanson at UFC Fight Night 151, while Arce and Trizano are preparing for fights in Rochester this week. Rivera is set to fight Russian contender Petr Yan at UFC 238.
During the day, the fighters get their training in. The evenings at Tiger Schulmann’s are dedicated to classes for both children and adults. Trizano, as well as other members of the team, stick around to lead classes and train the clients.
While Trizano is preparing to fight on Saturday, May 18, his students are getting set for the Tiger Schulmann’s Challenge of Champions, a biannual tournament that features multiple different disciplines of MMA. The tournament takes place on June 2.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people that come in don’t want to compete, or don’t want to get punched in the face and get hurt,” Trizano said. “They just want to learn the martial arts, and they just want to improve on themselves, so it’s a good opportunity for them to really test their skills and see that the stuff they’re learning works.”
Trizano takes pleasure in being able to work where he trains, and he particularly likes seeing young kids gain skills and confidence through training.
“It’s really cool because they all look up to us,” Trizano said. “These kids coming up are badass. They’re the next generation of martial arts fighters … When I’m 40, 50 years old, I don’t want to be training with them. They’re going to be too good.”
Mike Trizano’s mentality
As for his own career, Mike Trizano is currently sporting an unblemished 9-0 professional record. Staying perfect can sometimes add pressure to fighters when they’re competing, but “The Lone Wolf” looks at it differently.
“I look forward to each fight because I know it’s gonna be a lot harder than the last one, and I embrace the challenge,” Trizano said. “When I go in there, there’s no pressure. It’s an opportunity for me to grow and learn regardless of the outcome, and I think that’s what excites me the most.”
Trizano added that he appreciates each opponent he’s faced thus far for pushing him to be better every step of the way.
In taking the traditional approach to the sport, Trizano also isn’t one to mouth off to opponents. At times, that can lead to him being overlooked. Trizano was the underdog going into his last two fights against, Giannetti and Pena, respectively, but beat them both by split decision.
Still, Trizano doesn’t plan on changing his approach any time soon. He’s a self-described low-key person, a proud American, and above all else, a competitor. He appreciates his following and hopes to turn more people into fans through his performances, but, at the end of the day, he’s not interested in betraying his ideals to sell a fight.
“You’re not going to have all your followers come in the cage with you,” Trizano said. “[It’s] just you and the other guy.”
Mike Trizano vs. Grant Dawson
In his first fight at featherweight, Trizano draws a fellow rising prospect in Grant Dawson. Dawson came up through Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, and he won his UFC debut in March, moving his professional record to 13-1.
Trizano focused on stringing combinations together to increase his output in camp, but he’s also had to tackle the weight cut. Now dropping an extra ten pounds, he has had to restructure his diet to accommodate for that weight, which hasn’t proven to be much of a challenge compared to past attempts.
“My weight is on point right now, and I feel strong, and I’ve been eating a lot of food and I feel good,” Trizano said. “I’m not drained, which is like the greatest thing ever because in the past when I cut to 45, I kind of just did it on my own and figured it out and winged it… I feel amazing. I’m in the best shape of my life right now.”
Making a splash in a new weight class isn’t the only thing riding on this fight. Trizano is expecting a home crowd in Rochester.
Mike Trizano has fought in Las Vegas and Denver in his two UFC appearances, both of which are long trips for his New Jersey supporters.
“It’s always good to be back home,” Trizano said. “I’ve got a huge following back home and I like to represent the area I’m from.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.