Having concentrated mainly on kickboxing during his combat sports career, Joe “Stitch ‘em Up” Schilling returned to MMA this past November after a six-year absence with an upset win over Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 131.
Schilling scored a second-round TKO, and considering the time he spent away from MMA and difficulties he dealt with during his preparation for the fight, getting the win was a huge accomplishment.
“Melvin was a fight that I’ve always wanted,” Schilling told MMAWeekly.com. “He’s a guy I’ve looked up to and respected for a long time in this sport. When they offered him, I jumped at the opportunity. I knew it was going to be an exciting fight.
“Coming into the fight I had a really tough training camp. My father and my cousin passed away about three weeks before the fight, so to get that win and to get the huge response from the crowd and media was incredible.”
Schilling admits it took him a bit to get settled into the fight due to the differences between MMA and kickboxing.
“Everything is different,” he said. “The cage is different. The rules are different. The floor, the canvas under your feet feels different. Stylistically it’s different.
“In the first round after we had a few exchanges it kind of hit me that this is a fight and it’s something I’d been doing for 12 years, so I started getting comfortable and it showed in that second round.”
Schilling (2-3) will get an even tougher test in his Bellator return on April 10 in Irvine, Calif., against Rafael Carvalho (10-1) in a feature bout.
“In his 10-fight winning streak he has nine knockouts, so he definitely knows how to win fights,” Schilling said of Carvalho. “Even though he’s won most of his fights by knockout, he’s defended the takedown and submissions well. It’s definitely going to be a tough test for me.”
While Schilling currently doesn’t have the most impressive record around, he is looking forward to turning that around with a solid 2015.
“I have a lot of goals for myself,” said Schilling. “I want to go undefeated in 2015. It’s going to be a busy year for me fighting for two promotions in kickboxing and MMA. I plan on staying active. I’ve set goals for myself in MMA and being a part of Bellator is a huge part of that.”