Wrestling season is in full swing in New England and on February 6th at NEF 21, several former top-ranked state champion wrestlers will be stepping into the cage. As a result, NEF will be profiling these high caliber athletes over the next few weeks as part of our new ‘Wrestling For Fighting’ series. Stay tuned as we ask questions to learn more about why it’s so important to start in the sport of wrestling early and how a strong wrestling base can lead to success in the MMA cage. Today we’re speaking with NEF MMA veteran, Derek “Shatterproof 2.0” Shorey. Derek fights Josh Lange (3-2) on February 6th in Lewiston.
Derek “Shatterproof 2.0” Shorey
Age Began Wrestling: 12
Wrestling Accomplishments: ME High School State Champion
MMA Record: 3-4
Do you think starting wrestling at a young age is important and, if so, why?
I think the earlier the better. It’s better to learn the basic techniques as early as possible so that by the time you get to the more competitive ages—high school and college—you’re focusing more on physical conditioning and not so much technique. I got a late start.
What is your earliest wrestling memory?
Walking into the cafeteria one day in seventh grade after I was let out of detention and seeing a bunch of kids throwing each other around. I joined the team that day, halfway through the season, and took 2nd place in my first tournament.
What is your proudest and/or most favorite moment from your time on the wrestling mat?
In 1998, my brother moved in with our mother and I stayed with our father. It came down to him and I in the finals of every tournament that year, including the State Championship match, which was the only one I did not pin him in. It was a great match and my favorite memory from wrestling.
How did wrestling help to prepare you for mixed martial arts competition?
Wrestling is the only sport you can play in high school that prepares you physically and mentally for mixed martial arts (MMA) competition. It’s the purest form of competition. Nothing but the human body to prove a point—to prove who’s better. Not who can hit or throw a ball, or who can put a ball on target, but who can physically render the other man/woman incapable of victory—defeated.
Why do some of the most successful fighters come from a wrestling background—in what way do you see the two sports as similar?
Some fighters are great strikers and some fighters are great submission specialists. Wrestling for MMA is the ability to decide which you are better at and keeping the fight there. Honestly, wrestling is less “brutal” or “violent” to the average every day onlooker. There is no hammer fisting, or spinning heal kicks that may render your child unconscious in wrestling as opposed to MMA. However, a well-placed slam could do the trick. Wrestling is the passive way to decide which athlete is “Alpha.” But really, the only difference between the two sports is pain from the impact of strikes, pain from hyperextension of joints, being choked to almost being unconscious. Well, in short, I guess pain is the difference.
What is your advice to young wrestlers that might want to step into the MMA cage one day?
Train hard, stay focused on your physical health, eat well, find a good gym that you are comfortable training at and—most importantly—learn another martial art. Do not assume wrestling will carry you to the top any more. You need to respect the value of the other art forms and learn as much as you can.
What did wrestling teach you about life and about being a good person?
A wrestling team is an odd thing really. We’re a team, yet the outcome of any given match relies solely on the man or woman competing at that time and their own skill level. We toss each other around all afternoon, not trying to hurt each other, but trying to learn our moves. You put your health and wellbeing in the hands of your teammate who you trust. All around us every day, there are people whom we consider part of our “team,” but really, no matter how much input they may give you, it is up to you to decide if you win or lose today. When you’re a good person, this team of yours is more apt to throw their input in wherever you may need it and, in life, you need it.