Mike Bronzoulis has made some significant changes in his career. | Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
There was a point in time where Mike Bronzoulis was yesterday’s hype, thrown to the curb to rot alongside the cigarette butts, dead leaves and muck.
Almost nobody stood behind him, and his three-fight losing streak didn’t help matters. Depression set in and controlled his being like a coercive demon and “The Greek Assassin” couldn’t figure out what went wrong.
And then it hit him: he needed to make drastic changes in his life. And not just in his diet or in how he trained. He needed to change every minute detail of his very existence.
“Nothing was going right in my life,” Bronzoulis told Sherdog.com. “When I lost [against Keith Johnson], I was devastated. I was depressed. I stayed in my room for months because I knew that wasn’t my destiny. I was pissed and it took me several months to figure out exactly what I needed to do. Once I did, it was like a switch got flipped and I immediately sought out the team I currently have.
“I got rid of all the dead weight in my life,” he added. “I don’t have a girlfriend anymore. I don’t have anything that is going to weigh me down physically, mentally, to drain me of my energy. I do everything I need to do to remain positive and to train full time in order to become a champion. That’s how I’ve been able to dig myself out of the grave because all of these changes have really worked.”
Bronzoulis said he woke up one day and everything that had been curtailing not only his career but his personal life suddenly was in front of his eyes. He realized who truly had his best interests at heart and when he grasped the fact that most of his former teammates didn’t believe in him, he had to make swift alterations before it was too late. Many of them said he’d likely never win again and that he’d never make the lightweight division, which ate at him like tapeworm.
“I changed everything,” he stated. “The first thing I changed was that I stopped fighting at 170. I went to the weight class that makes the most sense for me, which is 155. I’m faster, stronger, better at this weight. I also changed up my training in that I no longer train with MMA fighters anymore. I now train only with world champion Thai boxers, world champion jiu jitsu players and I actually train in the gi now at Rilion Gracie’s academy. I train in each art separately.”
Looking back, Bronzoulis believes that training with “proper” MMA fighters was counter-intuitive. He said that most MMA fighters aren’t great strikers, most aren’t elite jiu-jitsu players and only a handful are great wrestlers. If he was to master the most important elements of MMA, he needed to specialize his skills with the best of the best. In doing so, he’s rattled off three consecutive wins and finds himself fighting on the biggest card in Bellator history against one of the best lightweights of the past decade.
“Of course he’s going to be one of the toughest fights of my career,” he said of opponent Josh Thomson. “He’s been everywhere. He’s a former champion, he’s lost some close decisions, and he’s dangerous in every part of the fight. But I’m confident in my ability to break people mentally and physically. I don’t believe he’s ever fought anybody as tough mentally as I am and I think this is the perfect time to beat him.”
Though “The Punk” is now 36 years old, he remains the favorite going into the matchup with Bronzoulis at Bellator 142 on Friday. Bronzoulis is aware of the long odds in front of him, but he’s not sweating it.
“He’s definitely coming in as the highly-favored [fighter] but I don’t let any of that stuff get in my head,” he said. “People are going to always have their opinions but they don’t know what a person truly has inside them. That’s the beauty of this thing is that I’m going to shock a lot of people. He’s expected to win but that’s not what’s going to happen that night. People can say and think what they want, but I don’t care. They can go jump off a building; I don’t give a damn.”
A win over Thomson would bring his resurgence full circle, but that would only be the beginning for the Texan. There are bigger fish to fry and much more lucrative purses to win and he’s not about to relinquish all of that hard work by losing on Friday.
“I worked my ass of to get back here,” he proclaimed. “I went from three losses in a row and being forgotten about, made these changes and then getting the call to be a part of Bellator’s biggest card ever. I know the crowd is going to boo me when I come to the cage but they’ll be applauding me when I’m done. They’re going to love my will, my heart.
“I’ve already won this fight and all I need to do is go out there do it,” he concluded. “I truly believe this.”