Trust in coach paying off
Trust has been one of the biggest factors in the rise of Snuneymuxw's Eli Wyse.
In particular, it's his trust in his coaches Robert Biernacki and John Punt that has him pushing his limits and climbing the mixed martial arts ladder.
On Saturday at the Marcus Soares Invitational Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament in North Vancouver, Biernacki, his coach at Island Top Team, encouraged him to fight two levels up from his white-belt classification.He hardly gave it a second thought.
Not only did he win the tournament at his weight level, but he then went on and earned gold in the absolute division (open weight class) as well.Why did he fight up? Because his coach asked him too."I'll do whatever he asks, then ask why after," said Wyse, 23.
In that kind of a situation, believing your coach knows exactly what he is doing and is not going to put you in a bad situation is key.
Wyse sees it all the time where fighters are getting bad advice, or no advice, at all at MMA events."They get hurt out there and I wish a lot of guys that I meet in the circuit would have (Biernacki)," said Wyse. "I've been very lucky to have Robert Biernacki behind me and John Punt; they take care of me."
Biernacki says he wanted to test Wyse to see just how far he had come. He had won earlier tournaments fighting in the bluebelt division as a white belt, but this was a new challenge.
He ended up fighting three times on Saturday, and won all three fights by armbar submission, beating guys who have been in the martial art for five years. Wyse has been in BJJ for seven months."
We were not expecting him to win at all, we just wanted him to challenge himself and see what the next level was like," said Biernacki. "For him to come in and submit everyone was unbelievable, we were elated."
Wyse did not even officially sign up for the absolute division, but his name was called anyway. At that point, he felt the obligation to fight again."
I didn't have time to have a reaction, basically the whole crowd got out of the way and looked at me," he said. "There was a guy staring at me, basically trying to mean mug me, so I'm not going to tell them I don't want to. If he wants to tussle then we can do that."
Wyse says the biggest challenge was adapting to the pace and the speed of the purple belt fighters.
But he has experience practicing with a couple purple belts at Island Top Team, and works out with Biernacki, who is a black belt, as well."
Anything they were going to throw at me would have been something I had already seen," said Wyse.
Marcus Soares Invitational is in its first year of operation and takes a new approach to BJJ. It is sanctioned by the World Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Federation and instead of judging and scoring matches, they focus on wins by submission.
For Wyse, who picked up BJJ to improve his ground game for a fledgling MMA career, this was the perfect event.He hates letting fights go to the scorecard and believes a judged decision is really a draw.
"When I come to a fight, whether it's in the cage or on the mats, it's real to me," he said. "I feel like if I finish you then I've won and if you finish me then you win."Wyse (6-4, 4-2) will be back in the octagon in March for Battlefield Fight League 28 where he will take on Achilles Estremadura (5-0, 4-0 BFL) for the vacant lightweight title. The exact date has not been set yet."
It's a long time coming. I've been putting a lot of work into this," he said. "I've been in the top five for some time now, I've fought all the top five guys, and it's just unbelievable that they're giving me this shot. I'm more than ready to."
In May, Wyse will be at the BJJ World Championships in Long Beach, Calif.
Still his coach says there are areas where Wyse needs to refine and improve to take his ground game to the next level.
"He tends to go for submissions in situations where they're not available and takes a risk that doesn't need to be there," said Biernacki. "Other than that, he's awesome. I have very high hopes for him at worlds."