Every kid sees a pro athlete and wants to be just like them when they grow up. For many, it's superstars like Michael Jordan and other all-time greats that shine beyond the reach of the average person. For Joe Solecki, it was his experience at Cage Fury Fighting Championship's inaugural show that helped him to find his calling.
Joe Solecki was a twelve year old boy attending CFFC 1 when he watched his Jujitsu classmates step into the cage at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. On that night Joe Solecki knew what he wanted to do with his life.
Back in 2006, the school I attended, Hasset Jujitsu Club, had like four guys on the card that night. Up to that point I had only watched UFC fights with guys like Tito Ortiz, Royce Gracie, and whatever else was at Blockbuster. When you watched guys like that you knew they were the best of the best. They were sort of on an unobtainable level, but when you see people you know fighting you say to yourself 'Oh my god, I could do this.'”
Solecki says that the personal connection to the event is what influenced him most.
I was just twelve years old then, but I knew that once I was an adult, this was something I wanted to do. It really inspired me to see my coach John Hasset cornering our guys. Everything was just so cool to me. I got a picture with all of these fighters that I knew personally. I was so excited. From then on a career as an MMA fighter no longer seemed out of reach.
Even though he has extensive training in jujitsu, Solecki always had his eyes set on MMA.
There’s an energy and rawness about MMA that has always had my interest. In every sport guys talk about how they’re going to beat up their opponent, but in MMA that actually happens in the purest form. It’s so honest and sincere. Even though I have done well in BJJ tournaments up and down the coast, I still wondered how I could translate that to MMA. Growing up I did MMA classes at jujitsu school every so often and I thought my grappling skills were better for MMA from the start. I'm a little less technical, but a little more practical. In the back of my mind I knew that even though I wasn’t going to start in the UFC, I could start here in CFFC and work my way up.
Solecki, a south NJ native now living in Myrtle Beach South Carolina, made his professional MMA debut at CFFC 61 ten years after he attended our very first event. The jujitsu practitioner came away with his sixth straight, first round submission victory and made the transition from amateur to pro look easy. He says he won't stop until his ultimate goal is achieved.
I’m all-in with my MMA career. My ultimate goal is to hold that UFC world title. I don’t do anything half-hearted, and right now I honestly don’t do anything else. When I commit myself to something, It’s going to happen.
Solecki says once he does make it to the big show, his experience with CFFC will keep any Octagon jitters from arising. This is something Shane Burgos echoed after winning his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night Albany this past weekend.
Fight week for CFFC 61 was huge for me. Signing posters, meeting with Burt Watson to check our weight, taking fight pics, the production, and being behind the scenes. It felt like I was in an episode of UFC Embedded, which is what I had been envisioning since day one. It felt very professional and when the time comes and I'm in the UFC, it will just feel like another fight week.
Hearing that from two fighters on both sides of the regional MMA spectrum means that we here at CFFC are doing our job. Our fighters are getting the best possible experience from the day they sign the contract, to when they walk out of the cage after their fight.
When asked by CFFC.tv about his upcoming fight against Andrew Chirico at CFFC 62, Solecki responded with confidence and respect.
I don’t know a whole lot about him (Andrew), but I’ve watched some footage by looking him up just like any other opponent. I know he has a lot of submission wins, which is interesting because I don’t think I’ve fought a grappler thus far in my career. I know he’s tough, he comes from a good camp. Any camp with Renzo Gracie lineage is sure to be great. But regardless, I still feel like this is a good matchup for me.
Solecki and Chirico exchanged pleasantries on twitter a few weeks back which is something CFFC and Alliance MMA love to see. Solecki says it was refreshing to see Chirico being cordial.
That was cool of him. Sometimes you get guys that want to posture and talk smack, which is fine, but that’s not really my style. We’re going to see who the better competitor is no matter what at CFFC 62. I did appreciate that he reached out though.
Despite there being a lack of bad blood amongst the two of them, Solecki doesn't think the mutual reverence will keep their battle from getting gritty.
"I think the fight is going to get ugly. I want to make it a dog fight. I’m going to try and break him wherever the fight goes. Whether it’s round one, two, or three it doesn’t matter. I know it’s going to end with me winning. I’m ready for whatever. Obviously doing BJJ my whole life makes that is my biggest strength, but a lot of the times it’s been my opponent that chose to take the fight there. I know Andrew has a wrestling background so I’m sure we could end up on the ground. I welcome that, but I’ve also done a lot of striking during this camp. I think people are going to be really surprised when they see how hard I’ve been working on the other aspects of my game."
Make sure you come to CFFC 62 and catch Joe Solecki vs. Andrew Chirico. This is sure to be one of many battles at the 2300 Arena on December 17th! Don't miss it!