It only took 1:17 for Andre Petroski to choke Nick Maximov out cold on Saturday. The Philadelphia native has been tearing his way through the UFC and is now 3-0 following his first-round win. But if you were to congratulate him on his success, he’d probably smile and tell you the job isn’t finished.
After the fight, he decompressed in his hotel room before going out to a bar, watching the rest of the fights and enjoying some food. It took only 48 hours for him to mentally move onto the next challenge and turn his attention to what the future holds. Speaking to him on Wednesday, his head is down. He’s focused, and he’s clearly hungry for more of what the UFC is serving him.
Petroski embodies everything that being from Philadelphia stands for. He’s wrestled since he was four years old and has only recently made the jump to MMA. While he’s enjoyed a quick rise up the UFC rankings, he’s actually only just been able to commit to fighting full time. Until a few months ago, he was still working security part-time. Not that you’d know it watching him fight.
Cerebral would be the word I’d use to describe Petroski. There has been a growing sense of patience in his fights. It’s not an all-or-nothing round 1 romp, there’s a level of technical prowess that’s blossoming in the Renzo Gracie Academy Gym in Philadelphia, and that’s reflected by their combined 14-0 record with 9 stops. Betting against them would be ill-advised, especially as Petroski continues to hone his skills and build on his foundations. His extensive fighting background gives him a unique mental edge that he fully intends on maximizing.
When it comes to competition, I’ve experienced every type of emotion that could ever come about from fighting. Not to say its easy, but when it comes to the mentality, I approach fighting like its a competition. I want to win. Staying calm, being able to think and set traps is where i do my best work.
It’s been a long journey for the 28-year-old, who was a semi-finalist on the ultimate fighter not too long ago. But the progress is evident. After losing to Bryan Battle, he came away knowing that the biggest weakness in his game was conditioning. Without hestiation, he got to work, bought himself a push-bike, and started to fall in love with the process of endurance sports.
We did a 32 mile ride 2 weeks before the fight (win over Maximov). I’ll continue to fall in love with the process of becoming an endurance athlete. I’m so explosive, especially in that first round, it’s about extending that through the rest of the fight
I dont want to lose that killer instinct. It’s just a matter of being smarter and wiser with when you have something and when you dont. If its something youre doing every day in practice, you know when you have it and when you dont. If you dont have it, you dont want to wear your arms out trying to get it.
Outside of the Octagon, Petroski has grown a stern reputation for calling things how he sees them. He wants to fight the best and isn’t here to make a quick buck or pick up some clout. Fighting is all he knows and he won’t stop until he’s a world champion.
“I came into this sport to be a world champion, don’t get it twisted” he told me. “I might not become a world champion this year or next year, but im going to.”
That self-assuredness is impossible to be mistaken for arrogance. While talking about his path to the UFC and his obsession with getting better, there’s an occasional giggle in the background. Those innocent laughs were coming from his young daughter. Her Father is a real-life superhero, winning fights on television in convincing fashion. She keeps Andre humble, grounded, and helps him keep a balanced perception as he wades through uncharted waters.
Most of my self-esteem comes from wins and losses. The relationship with my daughter is a rare one, she doesn’t give a shit whether i win or lose. As long as we’re gonna go pick daises, she doesn’t care if i win or lose and thats unique in my life.
He used to work seven days a week on top of training and dedicating all his spare efforts to his fighting career, that’s when he wasn’t playing Super Dad. He made sacrifices so he and his daughter can live the life they live now, having prayed that one day all he has to do is fight for a living. He takes his daughter to daycare, goes to practice, then gets some quality time in with her if he can before grinding the night away. His dream of fighting for a living is now a reality, but there’s another Mountain that needs climbing.
He knocked off Maximov who was around 10 spots ahead of him in the rankings. He wants to fight this Summer, and he has his eyes set on climbing even higher up the rankings.
The next six months will be key for Petroski, whose push to improve his cardio and conditioning went unrewarded in the win against Maximov, a fight that only lasted 72 seconds. He knows that won’t always be the case, and is adamant that was once his greatest weakness will become his biggest strength.
Whenever things don’t quite go to plan, whenever he hits a bump in the road, Petroski asks himself ‘who cares?’. He puts his head down, gets right back to work, and smashes through any obstacle in his way, be it personal or external. He wants to prove the doubters wrong. He embraces being the underdog, and he’s relentless in his pursuit of championship gold.
Andre Petroski is Philadelphia through and through, and if you don’t know his name yet, you’re about to.
Photo Credit: Curtis Graham (@_curtisee)
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