Gabe Ruediger: Looking Forward
Gabe Ruediger is often judged by his failing to make weight on season five of the Ultimate Fighter. Basing an estimate of Ruediger’s skill and potential on his part of a reality TV show, one that is clearly designed to be a hotbed for drama and conflict is both unfair and a mistake. Ruediger is a genuine Mixed Martial Artist, having gone around the world to train with some of the best representatives from a variety of disciplines and has already achieved a respectable amount of success as a fighter.
To offer a more balanced perspective on Ruediger’s life as a fighter, I wanted to move beyond the jaded lens of reality television, but the Ultimate Fighter was a logical place to start. So, I asked him what he took away from his experience on TUF. Ruediger responded, “That’s kind of a tough question. The biggest thing I guess is my drive to fight again. I kind of lost track of that.”
Ruediger’s training with Ralph Gracie and Team Quest is fairly well known, but the diversity of his training is not. He emphasized his time spent concentrating on Thai Boxing in Thailand and his training with Fairtex. Ruediger has trained in a variety of other disciplines as well, including boxing, Judo, and Greco-Roman wrestling. But like a true Mixed Martial Artist, he said, “I usually just take what works, you know. I don’t think so much about arts.”
Ruediger’s travels are not limited to Thailand. He elaborated, “I’ve actually been all over the world. I’ve been to Australia. I’ve been to Brazil. Sweden. Denmark. Germany. Japan. As far as training, I spent a month and a half training in Japan. [And] I spent a month and a half training in Brazil.”
“The Japanese I think, kind of initiated Mixed Martial Arts in a lot of ways. It was actually a great experience. I trained with a lot of top pros before I started fighting actually. I went up there 2 months prior to my first bout. It was a great experience.”
Training in the countries that originated some of the most famous martial arts in the world is a priceless experience that has a lasting impact on a fighter. I asked Ruediger if training in Brazil impacted his Jiu Jitsu game. He said, “Absolutely. I think it more impacted my partying game [laughs]. Brazil was fun. I went out there and trained with Gracie Baja, and a lot of younger, smaller Baja schools. Yeah, definitely. It gives you a perception of where [Jiu Jitsu] came from.
"And, you know, when you go into a room and there are 15 black belts, and 20 brown belts, and not one white belt in the entire room you realize the level [of skill].”
Despite training in Brazil, Ruediger still appreciated training in San Francisco with Ralph Gracie, saying that “his fundamentals are very very good. His instruction was just unparalleled.”
And how about Team Quest? “I still train with Team Quest. It’s a great team. It’s a phenomenal team. To be able to train with fighters who are good, is a real great experience.”
Since Ruediger has trained with masters from all over the earth, I thought that it would be difficult for him to pick a fighter that he most admired, but he immediately picked Dan Henderson, saying “Dan’s just an incredible athlete and just a good person. He’s a good person to want to emulate. I admire everyone that puts it on the line and fights for the right reasons. People don’t realize how tough it is to fight in the upper echelons of the sport.”
Ruediger’s next fight is on August 30th, at the San Manuel Casino, against George Kassimatis.
I asked Gabe to offer a prediction. He replied, “I don’t really have any predictions. In all of my fights, excluding one, it’s been a finish. I don’t see this one being any different. I’m going to be trying to either knock out or submit my opponent from the beginning of the bell to the end of the fight. I’m looking to finish in the first round. And, I hope it’s an exciting fight. It’s weird, because I’ve had an 11 month lay off from fighting so, I just want to get in a good, exciting fight.”
With so much adventure and training already behind him, what does Ruediger see in his future?
“I try not to think too hard about that type of thing [the future]. It gets too be a little overwhelming. I do it one fight at a time. I’m talking to a lot of the large organizations right now so I’m sure I’ll be signing a contract very soon with one of the bigger ones. But, you know, I just want to fight. I found my drive to fight again, and I just want to focus on being the best that I can be. Enjoying what I’m doing- that’s the biggest thing. If I can’t enjoy it, then I’ll make another decision about what I want to do with my life.”
Before we ended the interview, I asked Ruediger if he wanted to add any final thoughts. He said, “For those that have doubted me because of whatever on the TV show, don’t allow that to gauge what kind of person I am, my personality or [myself] as a fighter. For those that have supported me throughout everything, I appreciate it. It’s always nice to have support.”
Gabe Ruediger has the training and experience to be a powerful force in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Estimating his ability as a fighter on anything but his performance in the ring would be like gauging the ferocity of a lion by the way he naps. When that lion wakes up and starts reeking havoc, the last thing you want to be is the hyena that harassed him as he slept.
Ruediger would like thank his sponsors, Equity Exterior, TapouT, Fairtex, and Sinister Brand. If you are in the area, be sure to check out his August 30th fight at the San Manuel Casino.