Glenn Ortiz Interviews Mike Ciesnolevicz

Glenn Ortiz
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Introducing future UFC Fighter Mike Ciesnolevicz.

Glenn: Hello Mike, it's good to talk to you again. Congratulations on the launch of your website (mikecies.com)! You've really come a long way since BAMA Fight Night 20 (Mike's first fight.) Also, congratulations on being signed by Monte Cox (one of the industry's top managers); you should be on the fast track to the UFC! Thanks for agreeing to this interview.

Mike: Thanks for having me, Glenn!

Glenn: I'd like to discuss what the training regiment is like in MFS (Militech Fighting Systems, the team he represents)- what makes it unique and what exactly do you guys do. I'd also like to get your advice on competition and how to supplement income between fights. What I'd like to ask first is how you knew that MFS was the right place for you to pursue your career as a professional fighter.

Mike: Pat Miletich has the reputation as the worlds greatest trainer and one of the most well rounded fighters of all time. That is the reason I came out here to visit in the first place. Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, Robbie Lawler, Jeremy Horn, Tim Sylvia, Tony Fryklund, Jason Black, Joe Slick, Justin Eilers, Nate Schroeder&I could sit here all day and list names. After visiting Iowa for a week, I knew this was the place for me. Pat was one of the nicest guys I ever met and treated me like family from day one. MFS is a strong team oriented unit. My week visiting here, Pat taught me some things and Jeremy Horn and Jason Black beat me up all week. I realized these guys had something I lack. They all had the same goals and the right training partners which is essential for success in this sport.

Glenn: It sounds like you found a home. Describe your training schedule/regiment.

Mike: My training regimen is broken down into usually 2 hard workouts a day. In the AM at some point I focus on my lifting and cardio training. I usually hit one body part a day covering my whole body over the course of the week. I'm big on weight training for fighters. After lifting I make sure I get my cardio in. Nothing is worse than being big and strong and not having the gas to do anything with it. Sometimes in the morning I'll also work bags, pads and do light grappling.

In the PM I do all my Fight Training. Each day of the week is a different focus area of training. Tues/Thurs are grappling days and Mon/Wed/Fri are mostly standup days. Also I'll do an extra workout now and then with other fighters on our own, etc.

Glenn: What is the curriculum like?

Mike: Well Pat's gym "Champions" has something for everyone. In the AM we have kickboxing pads class M-W-F, Grapping T-R. All day we have Abs class, Aerobics, Karate, Judo, there even day care. At night we have the live hard sparring classes for the pros M-W-F Striking, T-R Grappling. Also an hour before the Pro Sparring we have a basic class just like the AM, mostly for technique purposes or for guys who aren't looking to wrestle Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, etc.

Glenn: What do you focus on (moves) in grappling training?

Mike: I have a series of moves that I am very proficient at. I don't want to give them all away :) I have been working lots of leg attacks lately. It depends on who I'm wrestling and what I feel like doing that day. If I'm wrestling someone who isn't a great grappler, I might concentrate on one move while grappling and try to get only that move. However, if I'm grappling a guy like Pat Miletich or Matt Hughes, I'll just go w/ the flow and try my best to work everything.

Glenn: Describe striking training and sparring (face cages worn, etc.)

Mike: Most of our team does wear headgear here at MFS while sparring. Some guys prefer not to but I think that is dumb. If you get cut in training unnecessarily you'll never make it to the fight. Our sparring practices are pretty brutal. We have some solid pro boxers that train with us which helps everyone out. Then we have guys like Tim Sylvia, Nate Schroeder, and Ben Rothwell. All great strikers and people I get thrown in with all the time.

Glenn: How often do you spar?

Mike: I spar hard on Monday and Wednesday nights. Friday night is a light sparring session, lower intensity.

Glenn: What did you do to prepare for your move to MFS?

Mike: Actually I needed a change, I was just existing in Pennsylvania after I graduated college (Lock Haven University). I was missing something. I knew I wanted to fight and deep down I knew Iowa was the place for me. One day I just called my parents and told them I was going to Iowa. I kind of did everything necessary in a week. I packed up my car so much that I couldn't even see out the windows and hit the road. I think it was about 10 days after I decided that I left. It was Valentine's Day and I drove straight through 15 hrs.

Glenn: 15 hours?! That's a lot of caffeine& Who else have you trained with besides MFS?

Mike: Well, my first instructor was John Korab (John and Glenn were in Mike's corner for his first fight in South Plainfield, N.J.; April '03)...a very innovative and creative guy when it came to fighting. He always has an idea and his mind is always working.

Glenn: He does. John gave me some good advice regarding pursuing a Doctorate.

Mike: Yeah, he's a very intellectual guy and responsible for most of what I am today as a fighter. He really put a lot of time and effort into me...from the time I was 15 until now. He originally was a black belt in Shorin-Ryu Karate but totally geared to the street. When the UFC came around, being the intelligent guy he was, he adapted. I also trained w/ Ty Dewees who tried out and made the Lion's Den years ago. He was very tough and really geared towards the street also, but had a good blend of MMA skills. Not someone you would have wanted to meet in the street. Otherwise, I bounced around at a bunch of boxing gyms, kickboxing, Sambo, Judo, etc. Until I found a former Ricardo Almedia BJJ affiliate. I trained a lot there over the course of a year and a half, off and on; but after visiting Iowa there was no turning back.

Glenn: What do you do to help recuperate from training?

Mike: I have a great sponsor in (MuscleMerchandise.com) that hooks me up with great supplements. I drink lots of protein shakes obviously. I take a great multivitamin/mineral, etc, I take Branch Chained Amino Acids, Glutamine, Extra antioxidants like C and E. I really have access to a bunch of great supplements. I also have a section on my webpage dedicated to nutrition tips.

Glenn: Tell me more about your diet.

Mike: Right now I have been enjoying food a little bit. I'm actually weighing 235 which is heavy because I fight at 205. However, for the most part I eat lean protein sources such as egg whites, tuna, chicken, and shakes. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I drink over a gallon of water a day when training hard. As far as carbohydrates, I don't consume a ton of them but I do eat them in moderation as they play many important roles in the body with brain functioning, glycogen stores in muscles, etc. When I do eat them I use brown rice, whole wheat pasta/bread, and oatmeal for the most part.

Glenn: Your team is one of the most decorated, if not the most decorated, in the world. Tell me about the MFS Gym environment.

Mike: It's a great place to be if you are a fighter. You have so many great athletes and tough fighters walking around, you can't help but get better. I have met so many good friends from being here, fighters and non-fighters. We have a lot of fun and joke around a lot. It's actually a relaxed environment and everyone is really friendly. However when 6:30-7:30 pm comes around, it's pretty much business and time to get things done. That is our Pro Fight Team practices.

Glenn: What kind of equipment do you guys have?

Mike: We have a blend of everything. I'm pretty sure some big company sponsors our gym but not sure exactly who it is right now. We have equipment from everywhere and most of the guys buy their own stuff so everyone has something different. Fairtex and Aries are two of the big ones we have dealt with.

Glenn: Talk to me about the coaches and your training partners; what are they like?

Mike: Well, I don't even know what to say about Pat Miletich. The guy is a legend of MMA and everyone out here looks up to him. He's the glue that holds the gym together. Pat Miletich is to MMA is like what Dan Gable is to wrestling for us out here. Pat is still tough as nails too, you don't have many guys in the gym that like sparring w/ him even now that he has not been as active in competing.

My sparring partners are mostly: Tim Sylvia, Ben Rothwell, Mike Whitehead, Justin Eilers, Nate Schroeder, and Sam Hogar. As you can tell that is a tough group of guys to have to spar w/ daily. I'm the smallest of the group. As far as what they are like, they all have a different personality. All those guys bring different attitudes and skills to the table.

Glenn: Who teaches the striking/ grappling/ conditioning classes?

Mike: Pat pretty much runs everyone of our professional practices and he makes sure we are in peak shape. Nate Schroeder or my roommate Rory Markham usually runs the Thai Pads class and Spencer Fisher runs a lot of the basic jiu jitsu classes. Three really tough guys that excel here at MFS. Nate doesn't really compete anymore in MMA, but watch out for Spencer and Rory in the next year. They are killers.

Glenn: Describe their coaching/ training styles.

Mike: All 3 of those guys are extremely well rounded. They can do it all in every aspect of MMA. Nobody in the world would walk over those guys in an MMA fight. They are really tough and know how to mix it up. Obviously, they are also good at coaching, otherwise Pat would never have asked them to run his classes and teach his students.

Glenn: What special benefits do MFS Fighters get? (equipment discounts, sports psychologists, massage therapy, etc.)

Mike: Well a lot of the guys have sponsors and people that will give them equipment or fight wear so that helps out a lot. Some guys, like myself have nutritional sponsors or sponsorships with other websites. You can check my sponsors section of my webpage. There is a discount that comes with being a fighter as far as massage and chiropractic care but I'm not exactly sure what it is as I haven't been taking advantage of it.

Glenn: Mike, what's next for you on the competition agenda?

Mike: I am looking at doing NAGA West Coast Championships in September as well as fighting MMA also. Of course, my MMA has priority over all. I'm not sure exactly where I'll be fighting. I'm just waiting for my manager, Monte Cox, to figure that out. He's the best in the business.

Glenn: What is your weight cutting program like?

Mike: It's no secret that weight cutting is not the most enjoyable thing in the world. I walk around at about 235 lbs. and I have to get to 205 for fights. When I'm training for a fight I eat very disciplined and that is hard for a lot of people. There are a lot of temptations out there. Not all of us can get down to one percent bodyfat like you, Glenn (laughter).

It's funny you ask this question, I was just talking about this today w/ my roommate Rory Markham. I came to the conclusion that there are hundreds of different ways to cut weight and people have to learn about their bodies and how they handle it. You have to know how much weight you can float over night, how much weight you can lose in an hour, how hard it is to get those last few pounds off, etc. For me personally I drastically reduce portion sizes the last week or so. I make sure that the last week I'm consuming 2-3 gallons of water a day and flushing my system. Then the night before weigh ins, I stop drinking water and go to bed. From that point on, the weight cutting begins through urinating, and sweating it out the next day. If you do it right, you should be able to weigh in and then gain it all back by the next day w/out being too fatigued. Some people cut out water a day or 2 out all together and I think that is totally wrong.

Glenn: How do you think up and coming fighters can get on better paying fight cards?

Mike: Well, finding a qualified manager or someone to handle you would be good. Also, I think you have to start out at smaller events and prove you belong on the better fight cards, which is my goal right now. Promoting yourself is a good idea too, for instance a website and having sponsors. You should try to get to know and meet as many people in the MMA world as possible. You have to do something to get known at first, like establishing yourself on the grappling circuit. Promoters would then be more likely to put you on their show than some guy off the street who says he's a fighter but really can't fight his way out of a wet paper bag.

Glenn: Which promoters and managers do you consider respectable?

Mike: Well I'm not sure I know that many managers or promoters really. I know that Monte Cox is by far the best manager in the sport. The guy has a piece of just about every show in the midwest and he does a lot to help promote the sport of MMA. He knows the ins and outs of the sport better than anyone else in the world. He's a really intelligent guy when it comes to managing, mma, etc.

Glenn: Tell me about the fight purse negotiation process.

Mike: Really, I'm not sure because I have only had 3 fights and there wasn't much of a negotiation. It was basically told me what was being offered and I accepted because at the time I just wanted to fight. I'll let my manager handle of all that stuff from now on.

Glenn: Do you do anything else for employment besides fighting?

Mike: I am a hard working man right now. I am working on buying a house with my girlfriend. We just bought a used Grand Cherokee too. I work M-F as a substitute teacher. About 3 days a week I work in a restaurant/bar as a bartender and then I bounce at a big club on the weekends. I do all this in addition to training/fighting. I have a busy schedule.

Glenn: What other part-time jobs would you recommend that had carry-over for someone in your field, that wouldn't interfere with training?

Mike: Really, bouncing is about the best thing because the hours work around your training. However, the drawback is the smoke and breathing all that in. It's hell on your cardio at times. A lot of the MFS guys work as bouncers in their spare time. Other than that, there are lots of part time jobs that you could work around and still train hard.

Glenn: Is there any non-physical training that you'd recommend to a fighter? Mike: I think that there are many other things that you can do to improve your training. Watching videos is a big one and reading books. You can learn a lot from that stuff. I also suggest that you take a break once in a while. MMA is a very demanding sport and taking a few days off here and there to unwind, go out to eat, see a movie, go fishing, are good things that will prevent mental burnout.

Glenn: What advice do you have on getting sponsorship?

Mike: You have to put a packet together about yourself. It can include a resume and pictures. A website is a good start. That way people can explore and learn about you. I'm really excited about my website. My webmaster really hooked it up for me.

Glenn: How do you think fighters should advertise themselves to potential sponsors?

Mike: A website is a must in my opinion. You can also do as I said and formulate a packet w/ pictures, resumes, etc.

Glenn: What else can a pro fighter do for extra money?

Mike: You can do personal training and private lessons. You can start bouncing/bartending or you can get a regular 9-5 job and just work hard and train hard. I know lots of guys who do all the above mentioned.

Glenn: Is there anything else you'd like to say?

I just want to thank you and Scientific Wrestling for doing this interview with me. If anyone has any questions you can email me through my site at www.MIKECIES.com I also think scientificwrestling.com and groundfight.com are great websites with lots of great products; especially the Mark Schultz tapes. I rewatch those often. Everyone should check them out! Also, there is more to life than just leglocks&

Glenn: **** you! (laughter)