On January 24 2014, Chris Wade took a major step in his mixed martial arts career when he defeated Pat DeFranco to earn the Ring of Combat lightweight championship. Now, the New York native finds himself in a position to launch his career into the bigger mixed martial arts promotions if he can earn one more victory. On May 16 he's set to face off against undefeated prospect, Frankie Perez, in a battle that will catapult the winner to larger promotions within the sport. MMA Ratings writer, Raphael Garcia, had the opportunity to sit down with the current ROC 155 pound champion to discuss his career and where he is today in the fight game.
Raphael Garcia: How did you get started on your MMA journey?
Chris Wade: It's a little bit weird on how I got started. I've been wrestling my whole life; ever since the third grade. Then I started to take it seriously and made it to a division one program after high school. Even though I put in three years of college wrestling, thing's didn't work out as I planned. I went into coaching afterwords and was helping my father run a children's program. There I met Joe Panariello who I would have small talk with about mixed martial arts and the UFC. He invited me to try out kickboxing in his basement and I started hitting mitts. From there I was hooked.
RG: Do you have any big influences on your career?
CW: I'd start with Joe, he got me into it from the beginning. My high school wrestling coach, Joe Patrovich because I wouldn't be in the fight game at all right now without him. Greg DePasquale who is my Jiu Jitsu instructor and current UFC fighter, Ryan LaFlare who gives me a lot of help everyday.
RG: How would you best describe your style? Is there anyone that you draw parallels from?
CW: I don't want to get lumped into one style. Instead, I'd like to have an evolving, hybrid like style. I'm looking to emulate people who are successful in their game. I look towards fighters such as LaFlare and Dennis Bermudez for aspects to add to my arsenal. To me that is what embodies a successful fighter.
RG: What advantages do you think you have coming up in today's MMA industry?
CW: It can be a double-edged sword. I like the growth in popularity but that has made it more difficult for someone like me as a lightweight. It makes it harder to distinguish yourself. In the past you were able to get to the top level a little big quicker than you are today. It's great that the sport is growing and people can earn livings now; but it's still hard to get to the big stage at this point.
RG: What do regional promotions mean to fighters at your level?
CW: I think I'm fortunate to live where Lou [Neglia] puts on his shows. He's been a rock here for so many years. He's pulling guys from all over the East Coast. So many promotions are jokes, so it's a breath of fresh air to be in a regional promotion that takes things so seriously. They are looking to showcase, recruit and move guys up. He does the best job I've seen of that. I'm really grateful with promotions that are established like Ring of Combat. This area is no joke. Makes me proud that I come from this area.
RG: Let's talk about your appearance for the World Series of Fighting in 2013.
CW: My fight for World Series of Fighting was a catch weight. It was supposed to be at 155 pounds but was asked if it could be moved up to 161. At the time I wanted the extra exposure. I wanted to be on television and I thought taking the fight was the right step. Looking back on that, it was a huge mistake. Ozzy [Dugulubgov] was the most physical guy I've been in the cage with at this time. He was throwing bombs from the start. Not forcing him to make weight or passing on the fight when it was clear he couldn't was a real big mistake by me.
RG: Let's talk about the upcoming fight against Frankie Perez on May 16. What were your preliminary thoughts when the fight was announced?
CW: No real surprise for me there. We've been asking for a fight with Frankie for about the last three fights now. We've asked to fight him before because I want to fight the best guys to get noticed. I think he's a great fighter. He's won so many fights, so there really aren't any other options. The fight makes sense at this time.
RG: How do you think you shape up against Perez?
CW: I think I shape up great. I don't care who you are. There's a reason why this fight was turned down three or four times. Frankie's a grappler that likes to use his Jiu Jitsu to take guys' backs and choke them. A real premium, physical wrestling game puts that BJJ in check a little bit. Provided that I stay technical and don't get sloppy.
RG: Let's talk about some random Chris Wade facts to get to know you outside of fighting? What's your biggest interest outside of fighting?
CW: I'm in love with all types of sports. I'm always arguing with my girlfriend about turning on Sportscenter. I used to play baseball, soccer and hockey.
RG: Mets or Yankees, Giants or Jets and Knicks or Nets?
CW: Mets and Giants. I'm also a Knicks fan but I'm in hiding right now. I don't like what's going on there.
RG: Have you used the same walkout music for all your career – if so, why?
CW: I change my song every time cause I don't like superstitions at all. It might be the same artist, like Eminem, but I'll switch it up. When I fought for World Series of Fighting they sent me out to an awful Journey song and it just threw me. I tried to pick my own song, but they wouldn't let me because they were worried about profanity on television. They told me not to worry at all. But Ozzy walks out to “I Love Bad B******” (A.S.A.P Rocky) and I was like “What the heck is this?” “Don't stop believing,” I think that's the song they sent me out to.
Chris Wade will defend his newly obtained lightweight championship against Frankie Perez at the planned Ring of Combat 48 which is set for May 16 at the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Chris Wade can be found across social media at Twitter/IG - CwadeMMA.