Our story with the “Man Child” Derek Falk all started a long, long time ago… Okay fine, maybe it was more like a few months ago, with a t-shirt contest and a picture where we both look totally handsome, and not awkward whatsoever.
But let’s be honest here: it was before the holiday season, now it’s already almost two weeks into 2017, so it feels like an absolute eternity. Time flies, and now we’re just days away from TKO37: Rivals, live from La TOHU in Montreal, a venue designed for the Cirque du Soleil which apparently makes for a great viewing experience for fans. TOHU, according to The Godfather (if my memory is accurate), was described as being the, “best [damn] place to watch a fight.” For those of us not fortunate enough to be in attendance, the fights will be broadcast internationally through UFC Fight Pass, and locally in Canada via The Fight Network.
Another fighter from Bruckmann MMA, it just so happens that our former contest winner happens to be taking on Stevie Yhap this weekend, on the preliminary portion of TKO37. The Man Child was kind enough to give us some of us time during his preparations for the upcoming bout, where we discussed his beginnings in the sport, his fighting style and his fight against Stevie Yhap at TKO37.
We started our discussion off with a personal favourite question of mine (hey, hopefully yours too!): where did the nickname come from? According to the Man Child, the nickname was a gift bestowed upon him by none other than The Godfather himself, when a 14-year-old Derek Falk,
“showed up [at Bruckmann MMA] had some wrestling background, and then I started rolling with these guys and they said, ‘ah we got a little man child there,’ and it just stuck.”
While the grappling experience seemed to be somewhat of an awakening for Falk, wrestling was something he’d been doing since he was a kid. Falk first started wrestling at age 6, with Team Impact, getting a much earlier start in the sport than most Canadians, I suspect. As Falk got older, he realized wrestling was just a piece of the puzzle-of-fighting that he was solving, knowing that he, “always wanted to do something more than wrestling. I loved [to wrestle], but there was always something that said, I want to try more.” With a referral from a friend to Bruckmann MMA, Falk began his 9-year relationship with the club.
Although wrestling was what led him to mixed martial arts, Falk said that he, “doesn’t really look at [himself] as just the wrestler-guy anymore. I like to think of myself like a little bit more than a wrestler, I also like to use the finesse of a striker, I find they’re much more finesse as opposed to that wrestlers grinding mentality – and then jiu-jitsu is a cool mix of both.” Falk feels as though he’s began to encompass all of the attributes of each art and is a lot more than, “just being that wrestler that’s going to come in, shell up hard, get the takedown and ground-and-pound, that worked 15-years ago but I think times have evolved obviously.” With so much time spent in training, the most important aspect for the Man Child is to prepare as diverse as he fights, believing that he “[prepares] to be the best that I can be. So if that means that I divide my time through my training, my strength and conditioning, my jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, wrestling. And just try to be the best that you can for each situation.”
TKO37 will mark just the second professional bout for the Man Child and for fight fans, it’s always hard to even imagine what a fighter must be feeling as they begin their journey in the sport. We asked Falk about whether or not he’s nervous before a fight, and he said, “oh yeah, totally. You know, the first few fights I was trying to block that out, [telling myself] I’m not nervous, it’s fine, it’s whatever. But I find the more you try to block [the nerves] the worse they actually get. So you almost just embrace it and say ‘I will be nervous that day,” and then kind of prepare for that. Don’t prepare for [not being] nervous this time, because you will be. It’s a fist fight against another human, you’re gonna be scared. You just suck it up, go in there, and throw down.”
And with those words, we all remind ourselves why we’re the ones sitting at our computers, TVs, or in the stands and not the ones in the cage. An interesting quirk to the upcoming bout for Falk, is that his opponent, Stevie Yhap, is from a small town not far away. In the small world of the MMA community, Falk had heard stories of his opponent through word of mouth, describing the 2-0 Yhap as having, “really good jiu-jitsu, he’s good on the ground, he’s slick off his back, really good pressure on top and good kickboxing. He’s the new breed of guy, he’s a diverse slick guy on the bottom, good pressure on top, a good kickboxer, so he’s a really tough test. He’s undefeated for a reason, he’s a tough test for anyone in the division.”
Derek “Man Child” Falk and Stevie Yhap will square off on the preliminary card for TKO37: Rivals. Be sure to catch the fights on UFC Fight Pass, or The Fight Network and stay tuned for our post-fight coverage.