It’s a typical weekday for UFC Fighter Chris Gruetzemacher. It’s 5:30 in the afternoon and he’s just finished up his practice at 2 Knuckle Sports MMA Academy in Surprise, Arizona. The air is thick and the smell of sweat brings a sense of hard work and accomplishment. Gruetzemacher, also known as Gritz, is a leader in the gym. His day isn’t over yet, as after practice he then stays at the gym and coaches classes, sharing his knowledge and passion of martial arts.
Gruetzemacher’s hair is disheveled from his practice and his shirt is soaked from the hard work he has put in. He is training his body to be a modern day warrior. Gritz, like many others in the sport, has been training various forms of martial arts for many years. He is preparing for his second official battle in the UFC’s octagon. Grutzemacher had three un-official fights on the FOX Sports 1 hit show The Ultimate Fighter season 22, where he was a member of Urijah Faber’s Team USA.
This upcoming fight for Gruetzemacher is different than any of the ones in his past. After beginning his martial arts journey at a gym in Glendale nearly ten years ago, he left in the beginning of 2016. Since his departure, he has spent time training various different forms of martial arts to continue crafting his skills.
“People who spend time perfecting their craft are able to perform at a faster rate with higher quality and ease,” said Gruetzemacher. He recently has spent his time trying to approach martial arts from a different angle. “It’s not really learning new things, it’s learning the same things from a different perspective,” said Gruetzemacher.
Gruetzemacher traveled to North Carolina where he worked with top-ranked Muay Thai instructor Master Kru Paul, a former Thailand National fight team member and a multiple-time Muay Thai world champion before finding his way to 2 Knuckle Sports in September. He had trained there on occasion in the past, but now he had found his new home.
The dojo is a traditional martial arts gym that is focused on giving back to the community that allows them to keep their doors open. It was a complete change from the gym he had come from, where the emphasis was on fighting. Gruetzemacher will be the first fighter to represent 2 Knuckle Sports in the UFC when he makes his walk to the cage on February 4th in Houston.
Glen Baker, one of Gruetzemacher’s training partners at 2 Knuckle Sports, spoke about what it has been like to get him ready for this fight. “I’ve been sparring with him, rolling with him, mitting him, point sparring with him. It’s been just a little bit of everything,” said Baker. “Hopefully we go get that W.”
Not only has he found a new gym to call home, but he has a solid foundation for strength and conditioning. A former teammate turned trainer, Benjamin Williams, invited him to come do some strength and conditioning at his new gym when it opened in early 2016. Since then, Williams has helped elevate Gruetzemacher’s strength to a new level.
“Chris has improved a great deal in mobility, speed, strength, and dexterity. Even kinesthetic awareness has progressed,” said Williams. Williams also talked about what he feels sets Gruetzemacher apart from other mixed martial artists. “Chris is special, and I don’t think there is one coach that has worked with him that will tell you different,” said Williams. “Chris grasps the character, the heart rather of a martial artist. Anyone can wrap up their hands and step into a fight, it takes a special understanding to become the fight.”
Gruetzemacher will make his return to the 145-pound featherweight division after a brief stent in the 155-pound lightweight division. With an overall record of 13-1, he has six wins by TKO, three by submission, and four by decision. His single loss came early in his professional career when he was submitted by Joe Cronin in February, 2009. Since then, Gruetzemacher has been on a 12-fight win streak and is looking to make it 13.
His opponent also boasts an impressive record. At 16-2, hometown hero Chas Skelly will also be looking to add another one to the win column. Skelly has three wins by TKO, nine wins by submission, and four by decision. Skelly, “The Scrapper”, has had all 7 of his last fights with the UFC and is looking to make it 2 wins in-a-row.
When asked about how he was feeling, Gruetzemacher said, “My weight’s on point, I’m ready, and I’m focused.”
Gruetzemacher and Skelly will be facing off on the FOX Sports 1 prelims beginning at 8:00 pm ET. This featherweight bout between “Gritz” and “The Scrapper” will surely be action-packed and should not disappoint. To follow Gruetzemacher’s journey, you can like his official Facebook page and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.