Virgil Zwicker (12-3) isn’t a loud talker, but he’s tried of sitting back and waiting for people to take notice.
While he’s been fighting professionally for more than a decade, at 31 years of age, he’s ready to get busy and stay busy.
During a two-year stint with Strikeforce, Zwicker fought just three times. And after making his Bellator debut in September of last year, Zwicker had to travel to Poland late last year to stay busy.
But now, he’s got another fight under the Bellator banner, and he’s ready to make the most of it. Zwicker will be facing Linton Vassell, the current UCMMA light heavyweight champion, at Bellator 122 on Friday in Temecula, Calif.
“He’s a lanky, big guy. Supposedly a pretty good wrestler,” Zwicker told MMAWeekly.com when revealing the fight.
“For this fight, I want to make a statement. I’ve been doing this for so long, I’ve always felt like I’m never appreciated by these big promotions,” he continued.
“If I don’t feel like I’m getting my respect, I’m gonna go out there and take it. That’s how I was raised. That’s what I’m going to do in this fight; I’m going out there to earn my respect.
“I’m gonna go out there and stuff him and put him in his place and make sure that they know and everybody else knows in Bellator that I am a force and I am looking for some gold.”
Having grown up with five older brothers and six sisters on a reservation, Zwicker has been fighting his entire life.
As he said with a smile, “That’s how I learned how to fight, fighting for food. We didn’t have a lot of things, but we were strong, strong minded, and we were appreciative of what we did have.”
Zwicker, however, didn’t always make the best of the situation. Falling in with wrong crowd, carrying a rather large chip on his shoulder, Zwicker often found himself in trouble with the law growing up.
From the time he was 11 years old, he spent the next 13 years or so in and out of incarceration of one type or another. Charges stemming from carjacking to attempted murder to assault with a deadly weapon eventually saw Zwicker locked up with Level III and Level IV inmates, who are at the highest security risk of the inmate population because of the serious and sometimes violent nature of their crimes.
Tired of running with the wrong crowd, and just plain tired of running from the law, he decided it was time to make a change.
“Back in 2000, I went to prison for five years. While I was in prison, I refocused on what I wanted to be,” Zwicker told MMAWeekly.com. “When I got out, I got with my girlfriend and had kids and to this day that’s what changed my life, my children.
“I wasn’t a criminal minded guy. I cut all my ties with everybody and started focusing on myself. I just stopped hanging out with all the idiots that I did. I thank God that he was able to help me see who I needed to be for my children and be a good father. Being from the reservation, where we’re heavy into our tradition, also helped make me a better man today.”
Today, he’s a professional mixed martial artist on a mission, not the slugger that he was originally. He trains alongside longtime coach Billy Scheibe and is based out of Team Quest in Temecula.
“I was notorious for just brawling and beating people up, that’s who I was. When I started growing with the sport, that can only take you so far,” he recounted.
“I hired my coach Billy Scheibe. He literally took my killer instinct and toned it and we’ve been molding it ever since and I’m still with him today.
“I moved up to Team Quest about seven years ago, that’s where I got a lot of humbling working with guys like Krzysztof Soszynski, Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, all these killers.”
Since making the decision to take the sport seriously, Zwicker has learned a lot about himself, realizing that he has the rare element that, with the proper honing, can sometimes separate a professional athlete from an elite fighter.
“There are a lot of athletes in this sport that aren’t really warriors. I’m a warrior,” he stated proudly. “I’m a warrior who is trying to be an athlete. Once I get them combined all the way, I don’t think I can be stopped.
“I’m ready to take my respect in the cage.”