Gregor Gillespie is an American graduated collegiate wrestler and a professional mixed martial artist who currently competes in the lightweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He was the Lightweight Champion of the Ring of Combat, where he formerly competed.
Gregor was a three-time EWL and PSAC conference champion for the Edinboro Fighting Scots, a four-time NCAA Division I All-American, and the 2007 NCAA Division I National Champion at 149 pounds. Besides being a folkstyle wrestler, he also briefly competed in freestyle wrestling.
This is only a short introduction of his accomplishments, and today we will see what Gregor has to say. I am genuinely excited and eager to hear his inspirational story.
1. The Story of Gregor Gillespie
Q: Can you tell the audience a little bit more about yourself, who is Gregor Gillespie, and how did you discover your love for this sport? What does it mean to be a fighter?
A: I wrestled my whole life, starting from 5 years old. My father got me into it and coached me until I went to college, where I attended the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
I was a division 1 NCAA 4 time all-American in college, and I was a 1-time NCAA champion. My wrestling career led me into the sport of MMA!
2. What’s the Most Important Skill In MMA?
Q: What’s your favorite strike/submission to use in any fight? Do you like to stand with your opponents or take them to the ground? What is the most important skill in MMA? Do you have a favorite martial art, and if yes, which one is it?
A: My favorite submission to finish a fight is a tough question to answer because I take whatever opportunity is there at the time based on where the fight goes! But I really do love the ground aspect of the fight and prefer to be on the ground, which is obvious because of my wrestling background!
The new aspects of the ground game I have discovered through the sport of MMA (specifically grappling) have ignited a new love and interest!
The most important skill in MMA is wrestling and not because you can take someone down whenever you want, but more because you can decide where you would like the fight to take place.
For example, if the guy you are fighting is a better striker than you, a wrestler can take the fight to the ground, and conversely, if the guy is a great submission artist, a wrestler can decide to fend off takedowns and keep the fight standing! The ability to dictate where the fight takes place is the reason wrestling is the most important.
3. What’s Your Biggest Inspiration and Dream Fight?
Q: Who is your idol and biggest inspiration, and how do you want to be remembered? If you could have one dream fight with anyone, who would It be?
A: My dad is my biggest influence, not just in my career but also in my life. He guided me in wrestling and gave me a great example of how to lead a good life.
If I could fight anyone in the history of the sport, my dream fight would be a fight against GSP! He was such an iconic figure that shaped sport and gave everyone a great blueprint of not just how to win but how to act when you win!
4. Is There A Secret to Success?
Q: Are there any specific things in your past that affected your present career objectives? How did you reach your record of 14-1? Is there a secret to success, and do you have it?
A: The biggest piece of advice or tricks of the trade I could give to anyone in sport would be persistence and consistency. Skills are not gained overnight, and improvements take time, so the ability to see the long game is such an important attribute. Also, the ability to do more work than anyone else and have the gas tank to outlast someone within a fight can offset any discrepancies in skills that may exist in a match-up!
Meaning, get someone tired, and technique goes out the windows. Make someone exhausted and uncomfortable, and they start not to care what the outcome is. However, there is a catch with this strategy. You must be ok with being exhausted and uncomfortable! That’s why it’s not for everyone!
5. Making Friendships with Other Fighters
Q: Have you made friends with other top fighters during your travels?
A: Yes, I have made some great friends over the years of training and fighting! One of my favorite experiences was going to New Mexico, training with cowboy Cerrone, and staying on his ranch!
I met a ton of cool people out there as well! I ended up going back a few times.
6. Macedonian Traditional Food
Q: Food is the most important part of any kind of athlete. Your girlfriend is from Balkan, Macedonia, a place that is famous for its delicious food. Have you ever tried traditional Macedonian food, and can you share a few nutrition tips?
A: My girlfriend Christina is such an important person in my life, and I try to spend as much time with her and her family, who are all from Macedonia.
I love being around them, and I have been able to sample some Macedonian foods on several holidays! On Christmas Eve this year, I got to try kifli and zelnik. I’m not sure I’m spelling or using those words right, but I know that’s what I remember trying, and they were delicious!
My girlfriend is making fun of me, though, because I say I’ve eaten Macedonian food, but she says that’s just snack’s not Macedonian meals! My tip with diets is to be consistent and to stop calling them diets.
They have to be a lifestyle, just the way you always eat! I’ve eaten the same thing every day for almost 11 years! (Minus the few times I’ve eaten kifli and zelnik, haha!)
7. How Do You Stay Motivated?
Q: In any sport, there are ups and downs. Is it hard to come back after injury, how do you stay motivated, and how do you handle stress, pressure, and anxiety?
A: Injuries and losses are just part of this sport! If you fight long enough, you WILL lose, and you WILL get hurt.
My college coach Tim Flynn told me one time that you have to have amnesia in this sport. Forget it and move forward, whether it’s a win or a loss or a hard time! Don’t let it affect what the future holds!
8. How Do You Spend Your Free Time?
Q: Where do you get inspiration and motivation for a healthy lifestyle? Is it challenging to maintain a balance between private and professional life? What makes you happy besides fighting, and how do you spend your free time? Do you have a hobby?
A: My biggest inspiration in sport is seeing the people I love and those who support and help me happy when I win! That’s the best feeling in the world when these people you love are all so happy that you won, and that alone is enough for me to endure the hardships that come with this sport!
Outside of fighting, I love fishing, and also, this past year, my girlfriend got me into climbing mountains! We are currently on our journey to climb the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondack mountains, all of which are over 4 thousand feet! It’s called the 46er challenge, and we are constantly trying to get up there and knock off more and more along the way!
9. How Did COVID-19 Affect Your Shape?
Q: Many people found 2020 as a big challenge. Professionals also found it hard to keep in shape. How did you handle the situation, especially with the lockdowns? How did 2020 and Covid-19 affect your shape?
A: It’s tough, but it’s also very easy to break it down when you look at it without emotions involved. You can work out anywhere; you don’t need much equipment. You can do so many great workouts in a small space with just your body weight! It was such a double-edged sword being in lockdown due to COVID-19.
It was tough being stuck at home and not being able to train like normal. Still, the silver lining is that I got to spend so much amazing time with my girlfriend, and it brought us so much closer together, and I also got to spend the most time I’ve spent with my family that I have in 10 years!
I train and live in Long Island, New York, and my GF and family live in our hometown in upstate NY, and it’s an hour away. During the lockdown, I spent 4 or 5 months up there with everyone and doing my workouts on my own in my brother’s basement!
10. What Is Your Message to The World?
Q: Your motto and message to the world, especially for young fighters?
A: My motto and mantra would be this… Be comfortable being uncomfortable, and consistency is the most important attribute to have! Be ok with not getting instant results and see the long game.
I call it “delayed gratification.” I’d much rather have less right now as a trade for much greater things down the road, be patient and work hard quietly!
Thank you, Gregor, for all your honest responses. You are truly an inspiration. We hope to see you on the scene for many years to come, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
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