“It was crazy,” Chapman told MMAWeekly.com. “My first fight was one of the biggest adrenaline rushes. Walking into the cage, surrounded by a crowd who want to see a good fight; it was definitely different from a wrestling match.”
From there, it’s been nothing but near perfection for Chapman. Having won all but one of his 14 combined fights, it’s clear to see why he’s fast becoming one of Ohio’s best up-and-comers.
Having wrestled in high school and college, Chapman feels that success wouldn’t be so if it weren’t for his already solid base.
“Wrestling’s been a big part of my game,” he said. “It gives you that control factor.
“Most fights will end up on the ground, and you’re always working for position in jiu-jitsu and that works right into wrestling, because you’re always trying to get in a position that benefits you.”
Like many other fighters in the NAAFS, Chapman had an extensive amateur career before turning pro earlier this year. He feels that starting out in the amateur ranks allowed him to hit the ground running in his two pro fights.
“Down here, we always say you should always make sure your tools are sharpened, so as an amateur it was the perfect time to get all the information you can, take in every move you can and work everything you can to make sure whatever move you want to hit at the pro level can be the best way you can hit it,” he said.
“You don’t want to rush into the pro level because it’s a whole different ballgame. As an amateur I could prepare (so that) I was ready to enter into that next level.”
Chapman will continue his ascent as a pro on Friday when he faces Mike Nesto at Rock-N-Rumble 6 in Cleveland. It’s a fight Chapman feels will allow him to showcase his growing MMA skills outside of wrestling.
“As far as what I know from what I’ve seen (of Nesto), I feel like my advantage will be on the feet with my stand-up,” said Chapman.
“I’m confident in my ground game matching up against his, and if it does go to the ground, that is where it will get a little more interesting to see how we clash with each other, but I feel my advantage is in the stand-up.”
With finishes in 10 of 14 total fights, it seems Chapman could very well be the fighter to beat at 135 pounds in the NAAFS. The only thing that’s missing is a belt, which he hopes earn a shot at before the year is out.
“I’m hoping for the opportunity (to become a champion),” said Chapman. “I’m just going to keep training hard and perform the best I can, and if I get the chance to fight for the title that’d be great.”
(Photo courtesy of Isaiah Chapman)