Sunday, July 17, 2016

Jon Delbrugge is finding his voice

A phrase I’ve become fond of is “a closed mouth doesn’t get fed.” After all, how will anyone know what you're striving for and what your goal is if you don't tell them? Maryland fighter Jon Delbrugge definitely looks like he is adopting that philosophy for himself, in his own way. Delbrugge recently spoke with me and admitted “it’s time to get a voice for myself.”

Delbrugge's (9-2) strongest talk to date has come courtesy of his fists and with the work he puts in the cage, and it's served him well so far. His most recent bout at Shogun Fights 14 in Baltimore in April is a prime example of that. Delbrugge choked out the defending Shogun Fights welterweight champion Micah Terrill in the second round and took the belt home for himself. It was an outcome that Delbrugge had zero doubt about achieving.

“Any knowledgeable person would have known that,” Delbrugge told me recently. “MMA math is fuzzy, but I was 8-2 coming into that fight, and [Terrill] is now 6-6 or something like that. He basically would have to go undefeated for 15 fights to get into the UFC.”

Delbrugge was quick to acknowledge that Terrill is a tough fighter and that Delbrugge had to be careful when facing him. “He could have knocked me out, but I knew that wouldn’t happen,” Delbrugge said. “I don’t know why people picked against me in that fight.”

(Full disclosure: This writer picked Terrill to defeat Delbrugge, a faux pas I’m still trying to live down. I admitted to Delbrugge that I was so impressed with Terrill’s previous two performances, when he won the Shogun Fights welterweight title from Jeremy Carper in just 36 seconds and when he put on one of the best fights I’ve ever seen against Cole Presley at Shogun Fights 12 last year.)

Delbrugge is enjoying his reign as Shogun Fights welterweight champion, but at 30 years old and having trained and fought MMA full-time for roughly the last nine years, Delbrugge knows his window to make it on the big stage is starting to close, which is spurring his desire to make his presence more known.

“I don’t want to fight on regional cards forever,” Delbrugge said. “I’ve been staying busy hoping for a call from the UFC.”

Part of staying busy for Delbrugge means continuing to compete, as he is scheduled to do for Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) next month. Delbrugge is scheduled to face Michael Wilkins (6-2) in a lightweight bout. Delbrugge competes at both welterweight and lightweight, but considers lightweight his preferred weight class should he get the call from the UFC.

“I’m fighting a tough wrestler from Pennsylvania, but I feel really good and I have great talent around me,” Delbrugge said. He trains with Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs, which he feels helps to give him an edge in preparation of his bout with Wilkins.

“I have great talent around me there,” Delbrugge said of Team Lloyd Irvin. “I’m just a guy on the mat there. I haven’t fought anyone like my training partners, and I knew 170 pounds wasn’t a permanent home for me. My coaches and manager don’t put me in a bad position, and I’m around people that know what they’re doing. I’m getting as far as I can, and I’m ready to fight whoever, wherever and whenever. I don’t care anymore.”

Delbrugge described Wilkins as having a “capable” stand-up game and “some, nice reactive takedowns. He’s a southpaw, but I train with a really good southpaw who fights for Titan FC. I’m looking forward to fighting a tough guy – I know he won’t just let me take him down and choke him out.”

While competing in the UFC is still Delbrugge’s ultimate goal, he is learning from his coach, Lloyd Irvin, and others to prepare for a life after fighting. In addition to his fighting career, Delbrugge is the owner at Vivid Salon & Spa, a family-owned business in Columbia. But don’t expect Delbrugge to trade in his gloves for a cushy desk chair quite yet.

“I have a good support system and I’ve been delegating everything,” Delbrugge said. “Both sides of my family help me out, since I have to be proactive if I want to get into the UFC. An entry-level fighter for the UFC makes triple what I make, and I feel I’m a pretty good fighter and my style suits the UFC well.”