I did an interview for Cageside MMA with with North Carolina fighter, Steven Thigpen (4-1) who represents Triangle Jiu-Jitsu at the BullCity Brawl 13, on October 12th, 2013.
Steven Thigpen fights out of Triangle Jiu-Jitsu and trains with Royce Gracie black belt/faixa preta, Jacob Whitfield. Thigpen returns to action since last winning by a quick triangle (1:49 of the first round) at Bull City Brawl 12 back in July of this year. Prior to that Thigpen racked up 3 wins (2 by submission, 1 by TKO) and lost a very close split decision to Lucas Burwell but was sidelined by ACL surgery.
Thigpen has never been finished or submitted.
How long have you been training and under whom?
I’ve been training for 5 years, started fighting in 2010, so about 3 years. Jake Whitfield has been my head instructor the whole time
How did you get started in MMA/what made you want to start fighting specifically?
I started with Jiu-Jitsu, after a month of just jiu-jitsu, doing some kickboxing with Jake, hitting the pads, a progression began where I became interested in competing. I’ve always liked competing, what better way to see if what I was doing actually worked, and what better way to see if that was the case other than step in the cage
Any thoughts going into this fight, expectations of your opponent ?
I’m expecting a tough fight. I know he’s good, know he has good jiu-jitsu so I’m training for a good, hard fight. I never take anyone lightly. I feel that I train hard and I’m prepared for whatever happens in the fight, and of course I feel like I will come out on top. I’m looking to finish, if you look at his fight and my fights, most of our wins come from a finish. I’m expecting to win the fight with a finish. I respect CJ, I respect his skills like I respect all my opponents.
Thoughts on fighting 5 rounds as opposed to 3 rounds:
Of course, I had to train and prepare to go the 5 rounds, to the distance, so we’ve done the conditioning differently to adjust for the length of time, more rounds of sparring. Overall, especially with the type of game that I like to play, the more classic style, the more time I have, the better it will go for me. I don’t have to rush, I got time to work.
Favorite cheat meal?
For the most part, I keep it pretty clean, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, once in a while I like to switch it up and I’ll get chicken sausage and grill it. The main thing that keeps me going as far as food in training camp is peanut butter. Granola Bars also make it easier.
How do you divide your time up in training?
I have a lot of faith in my coach, Jake Whitfield, he’s fought amateur and professionally. He’s been training for a long time; he comes from a good line of people who know what they’re doing.
3 days a week, I’m in the gi for jiu-jitsu. Then we have 2 days at least that we’ll have kickboxing or mma sparring. I usually try to get in a day on the weekends depending on who’s available on the weekend. Our main focus is Jiu-Jitsu but we work everything else: conditioning 3 days a week, but situational rolling, working from bad spots and drilling.
Favorite part about fighting ?I fight to represent my team, triangle jiu-jitsu and Royce gracie jiu-jitsu which I take very seriously. I enjoy it b/c I get to go out there and show that this works and that we’re serious. We like to put it on the line, win lose or draw. For two months for a fight, I’ve been training, win lose or draw I feel like during that time I’m testing myself, and do what a lot of people aren’t willing to do. It motivates me to get out there and do what I do.
Least favorite part about fighting ?
Of course, it’s going to be the weight. Getting down, changing my eating habits, clean it up. I’m a pizza chicken wings, rib type of guy normally. Going from that to steamed vegetables and then the worst part would be going without my craft beer, to cut out those extra calories.
Favorite piece of training gear?
Towel: if I don’t have a towel, I just have to have it. There’s no special equipment , I always have a towel.
Favorite position/technique?Whatever gets me the submission or gives me the win.
Any superstitions?Two: one is whenever it is, I start training for my fight, when camp starts, I don’t shave my beard until after the fight. Another is: black underwear, shorts underneath my shorts have to black.