Will Chope is 6"4' tall and this weekend the American will be making his bantamweight debut at the much anticipated URCC XX. His fight with highly rated Filipino Jerson Estoro is far from the main event on a card which features an incredible five title fights but it might well be the most entertaining.
Estoro stands at 5"6' meaning that Chope, who is in the process of cutting a cool 20lbs, is going to have an astonishing size and reach advantage. The Filipino will probably be the favourite because he holds a 4-1 record with all four wins coming by way of first round stoppage but the potentially unprecedented size difference means that absolutely anything could happen.
At 2-4-0 Chope's record is not exactly stellar but when he steps into the ring at URCC XX in Manila on Saturday it will be the fifth different country he has fought pro MMA in. To put this into perspective Chope, aged 21, has already fought in more different countries than Matt Hughes and Randy Couture combined.
It is a very unusual route for an American mixed martial artist to take but then Chope is far from your average fighter. On paper he will be the underdog against Estoro, who has a 4-1 record with all four wins coming by way of first round stoppage, but the Filipino will have his work cut out trying to deal with the difference in size and reach.
Chope answered a few questions about his fight, his weight cut, fighting three times in 10 days and being one of very few foreigners to ever train in Baguio, the home of the top Filipino fighters like Eduard Folayang, Eric Kelly, Honorio Banario, Kevin Belingon and Roy Docyogen.
You are 6"4' and you are planning on fighting at 135 lbs, how is that even possible?
Luckily I only have to cut to 139 the URCC's Bantamweight division is 130-139 so i get to keep 4lbs hahaha.
How much weight do you have to cut and how are you cutting it?
I am cutting 20lbs for this fight, and am cutting it just by fasting (No food No water) for 2 days and making many trips in and out the Sauna. Sounds ridiculous and a little primitive but I have done it many times before and have never felt drained the day of the fight, The sophisticated part is my awesome recovery plan is to where I'll gain the 20lbs back and feel a 100%.
Have you ever got down to 135 lbs before?
I have never been down to 135 the lowest I have ever gone is 140. So 139 although it will suck it's not a problem.
You are only 21 but you have fought so many times in so many places. Why do you fight so often?
I fight so often because I love it, a cliche I know but I live for my daughter and for the thrill of the next fight. It's what keeps me going.
I got out of the US Air Force when I was 19 and didn't have many options so I decided to sacrifice it all and move to Asia and try to "Become a Fighter" hahaha it was pretty naive to come to think about it. But It's been well over a year now and things couldn't be going better.
How has the training in Baguio been? Can you tell us a bit about what it is like down there and the people you have been training with?
Baguio has been awesome, Manny Paqcuio always starts his fight training camps there due to the altitude. Baguio is up north in the Mountains. Really awesome place much different than Phuket. I have been training with Eric Kelly at Engage MMA Academy with my good friend Mark Striegl. They are two of the best Filipino Featherweight fighters so working with them has been awesome. My ground game has vastly improved during my month with these guys.
Estoro has got four first round stoppage wins, what are your thoughts on facing him?
My thoughts are he is pretty short, and I heard he fancys himself a Muay Thai fighter with little ground. And Being based at Phuket Top Team in Thailand I feel like it is my job to show him what real Muay Thai is all about.
There was a bit of bad blood before your last MMA fight at DARE Championship 1/11 in Bangkok because it was the first ever between Phuket Top Team and Tiger Muay Thai. Did that affect you and how happy were you to win?
It put a lot of pressure and media attention on the fight knowing it was PTT vs TMT, I definitely knew I had to go in and do everything in my power to not lose or I'd never hear the end of it so it really motivated me to perform better. And after winning that fight was the best feeling ever.
Didn't you once fight Muay Thai six times in a month or something ridiculous like that?
Nah it wasn't six more like seven. Hahaha just kidding, But one time I did fight five times in one month; one MMA fight, one K-1 fight and three Thai fights. The funny thing was three of those fights were in a 10 day period everyone called me stupid and crazy but I did pretty well and wasn't injured so I was like "Hell Yea" . It's not in my blood to turn down fights.
How come you are so tall for your weight, is it natural or do you have to diet?
I am 6'4'' but I am naturally thin, fast metabolism hahaha. But Honestly I have never weighed over 170lbs in my life. I walk around 165-168lbs/75-76kg usually. So it is pretty natural but I do have to diet sometimes just like any other fighter.
Anything else you want to add...
Thanks so much for your time, and I just want to thank all my friends and family for supporting me, Give a huge shout out to Phuket Top Team and Mark Striegl for getting me ready for this fight, and special thanks to Engage and Eric Kelly for making me feel at home in the Philippines. And thanks to Pro Nutrition for all the support through my training camps.
Peace and see you at the FIGHT!
URCC XX is taking place on November 5th at the World Trade Centre in Pasay City and features a stellar card with the following fights on offer:
Rodel Orais vs Jilmar Tangayan
Mac Sabiano vs Pete Brooks (for vacant Cruiserweight Title)
Andrew Benibe vs Sulpiano Laurio
Honorio Banario vs Patrick Manicad (for Banario's Lightweight Title)
Lando Espinosa vs Adam Cacay
Will Chope vs Jerson Estoro
Dexter Mistades vs Froilan Sarenas (for Sarenas' Middleweight Title)
Ryan Palinawan vs Igor Subora (for vacant Heavyweight Title)
Nicholas Mann vs Christian Luna (for vacant Light Heavyweight Title)
Reydon Romero vs Jessie Rafols (for Rafols interim Bantamweight Title)
For more information about URCC XX visit the URCC website.