Exclusive Interview with Blair Tugman Ahead of His April 22nd Bellator Fight


- The last time we spoke you had a fight with Kin Moy for Bellator on the Bellator 140: Lima vs Koreshkov card. You were winning the first 2 rounds, but then got caught in the 3rd round in a submission. What happened in that fight?

*The fight with Kin was a tough one. Kin is a tough guy and has a great amount of skill and poise. I felt I implemented my game plan very well in that fight up until the last 2 minutes of the 3rd round. I was controlling the center of the cage and the pace of the fight. I was able to land a few take downs in round 1 and 2 and caught Kin with a nice elbow in 2nd round in which I opened up a big cut on his forehead. Going into the last round I really wanted to work for a finish. I could of stayed away and jabbed and moved to just try and get the W but I stayed aggressive and worked for another takedown and eventually gave up the triangle late in the round. I cant take anything away from Kin. He stayed in the fight and did his job. He finished me. It was a very tough loss for me knowing that I was winning the fight convincingly. I have learned from the loss and have used it to motivate me to continue to learn and improve in all areas of my MMA game. I feel I am 1000xs better than I was when I fought Kin 8 Months ago.

- You haven't fought since that fight, what have you been up to? Do you train even when you don't have a fight lined up?

*I have been training consistently the whole time. I have had two fights lined up since my fight with Kin and went through 2 full training camps, only to have both my opponents pull out on me the week prior to the fight. So I have been non stop training and improving since that fight. Intensity in training picks up during fight camps. During fight camps you are doing more rounds, sparring harder, drilling and repping more techniques, eating very clean an getting in more extra strength/conditioning workouts. I have had two 9 week fight camps leading up to this 10 week fight camp.(with a week or so off in-between each camp). I cant wait to fight!

*When I don't have a fight coming up I definitely still train. Times in-between your fight camps are crucial to learning and improving as a Mixed Martial Artist. The training intensity is toned down and I become more focused on learning new skills and techniques that I can implement in my style of fighting. My coach Andrew Calandrelli preaches this concept to all of his competitors. I have always preached being a student of the sport to the wrestlers I coach. Same concept. You do not just train to compete. You train to improve yourself constantly. And when you do have a competition coming up you pick up your training intensity.

- Now you have 2 big fights coming up. What does each fighter bring to the table? What are the likes and differences?

1st fight is on April 22 at Mohegan Sun Arena for Bellator MMA. Who is your opponent? Can you give us some details on him?

*My opponent for Bellator 153 is Jay Perrin. He is currently 2-1 as a pro and was undefeated as an amateur(5-0). He fights out New Hampshire and trains at Triumph MMA. Jay is currently ranked 17th in New England and 45th in the North East. He's a scrappy kid. Jay has a boxing background from what I can tell and I think he likes to stand and brawl. This should be an entertaining fight because we both like to move forward and press the action. I think he is a bit over confident in his abilities but you have to be confident in yourself in a sport like MMA. I'm looking forward to touching gloves with Jay April 22nd to see how tough he really is.

2nd fight is on May 28th for the Bantamweight Title for Reality Fighting Championships. Who is your opponent and what does he bring to the table?
*My opponent for the Reality Fighting Bantamwieght belt is Walter Cottito-Smith. Walter is 4-4 as a Pro and also was an undefeated amateur(3-0). Walter fights out of Team Link Hooksett in Milford, New Hampshire. Walter has fought in Bellator and in big fights before so he has a good amount of experience. We have a common opponent in Kin Moy. Each of us getting submitted in the final round of the fight. I believe Walter is a grappling based fighter but has shown that he has knock out abilities with his striking. This will be another great challenge for me and I'm excited to have the opportunity to fight for the Bantamweight Belt!

- Any changes in your training camp(s) going into these 2 fights?

*My training has stayed consistent the past several months with Coach Andrew Calandrelli and my teammates at the Ultimate MMA gym in North Haven, CT. It will most likely remain the same in-between both fights, except for the fact that the fight in May is a 5 round championship fight. The week after the April fight will be more technique based. Ill get some rest and allow my body to recover from the last fight. Hopefully no major injuries in that fight. Then 2 weeks after the April fight my training will pick back up intensity. Coach Calandrelli has been driving into NYC with me on Wednesdays to train at the prestigious Marcelo Garcia Academy. Marcelo Garcia and his Academy are considered to be the top grappling academy in the world. They consistently win all the top grappling tournaments(Worlds, Pan-Ams, etc.)

*I'm very lucky to be able to train under Andrew Calandrelli and soak up as much knowledge as I can from him. He has trained with and competed with legends in the sports of grappling and MMA.(Renzo Gracie, Vitor Shaolin, Marcelo Garcia, etc). Andrew now runs a Marcelo Garcia affiliate gym out of North Haven, CT(Marcelo Garcia, New Haven). I have a ton of great training partners to work with on a daily basis. Everyone there helps support each other and helps push each other in training. It is a great team atmosphere. I would not be where I am at with out partners like Brett Kerpa, Justin Kristie, Chris Foster, Harry Adamo, Matt Allen, Nick Giuletti, Harris Bonfiglio and many more. Everyone in the gym is a part of my successes as a Mixed Martial Artist.

- Will your game plan change at all between fights? Will you have a different game plan for each fight?

*As of now I am solely focused on what I need to do to get my hand raised April 22nd. On April 23rd Ill start thinking about Walter-Cottito Smith. Right now I have a tough and hungry opponent in front of me in Jay Perrin. Game plan for Jay is to beat him up on my feet and use my footwork to create openings for take downs or big shots. I will be more patient in looking for my takedowns in this fight. I have built up a ton of confidence on my feet so I want to change things up a little. I can always rely on my wrestling and grappling if I don't like how things are going on my feet.

- As Bellator continues to grow and grow under Scott Coker's leadership, what are your feelings on the direction of Bellator?

*I think Bellator is doing an amazing job with the sport of MMA. They are putting on great fights for the fans all over the world. They continue to sign big name guys into their roster. I think Bellator is taking over as the premiere fighting organization in the world. I'm extremely lucky to be able to fight for this organization and I am excited to put on a great show April 22nd!

- Bellator's Bantamweight division is becoming one of its strengths with Marcos Galvao, Eduardo Dantas, Darrion Caldwell, LC Davis, and Hideo Tokoro. What are your thoughts on the division and who out of that bunch would you like to fight next?

*Bellator Bantamweight division is stacked with talent. All of those above guys you mentioned are at the top of the food chain in Bellator. I would be honored to touch gloves with any of them. But I have a lot of work in front of me before I can start matching myself up with the top guys in the division. I will start moving in the right direction with a finish win April 22nd and a Reality Fighting Bantamweight Belt May 28th.

- What has been the latest happenings at Team Tugman Wrestling Club?

*Team Tugman Wrestling club is continuing to grow. I'm very excited for the future of Team Tugman WC. We have around 65-70 Youth-HS kids training with our club right now. Those are pretty good numbers considering the wrestling season just ended. I have a great group of kids in the room right now. We have a very motivated group in our room right now. I love working with these kids and coaching wrestling is my passion! We have transitioned into our Freestyle/Greco training now.(Olympic styles of wrestling) Our kids are loving it! We have some future Freestyle/Greco studs in the room. My wrestlers are a huge inspiration to me when I am preparing for fights. I want them to see that "Coach" is practicing what he is preaching.(Eat right, train hard, don't make excuses, do the extras, etc). I try and be a great role model for them. I do my best to set a good example for them and want to make sure I am leading them on the right path. I take great pride in my wrestlers that give it everything they have. Those are the kids I will do everything I can to help. The kids that really want it!

*I always like to thank my coach Andrew Calandrelli, my teammates at Ultimate MMA, my mom(Debbie), dad(Jack) and two brothers(Blake and Brad) and anyone who has shown support for me and/or my wrestling club throughout this process. MMA and Wrestling are individual sports but it takes a great team behind that individual to help them be successful. Very lucky to have my team behind me!

- Can you remind us of some of your plugs? (Where we can find you at? Website twitter Facebook, etc)

*You can follow me on the following social media outlets:

Facebook: Blair Tugman
Facebook: Team Tugman Wrestling
Instagram: blair_tugman
Twitter: @Blair_Tugman
Website: www.teamtugman.com