Alp Ozkilic talks Titan FC 25 fight vs Grindstaff

 By Jimmy Range of US Combat Sports

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In his first fight since being an assistant coach to Dominick Cruz on The Ultimate Fighter 15, Alp Ozkilic will face Ray Grindstaff at Titan Fighting Championship 25. He brings a 5-1 record into this fight and looking to rebound from a unanimous decision loss to Chico Camus in the semifinals of the Tachi Tournament at LFC 52.


Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, Ozkilic immigrated to the United States on a wrestling scholarship at Nassau Community College in New York. He accepted a wrestling scholarship to Nassau, after visiting the U.S. twice, in high school, while wrestling for his national team.


Even with only having a background in Greco-Roman wrestling, he quickly adapted to the folk-style wrestling at the collegiate level placing twice at the Junior College Nationals. This led to several offers before chossing to attend Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. As his collegiate career wrapped up, Alp followed the advice of teammate Josh Sampo and entered the world of MMA.


Ozkilic began training at St. Charles MMA/Rodrigo Vaghi Jiu Jitsu, home to Matt Ricehouse (Strikeforce), Lance Benoist (UFC), and EJ Brooks (Bellator). When asked what it's like training with fighters of that caliber, Alp responded, "We're like one big family, we have each other's back on and off the matt."


This level of competition on a daily basis not only pushes the fighters to a higher level but also forces them to become more well-rounded. With his background in wrestling ("I'm not a fighter, I'm an old school wrestler"), he strives to be at that top level and works on his Jiu-Jitsu and striking ability to help get him there.


Prior to being part of TUF 15, Alp had trained with Cruz for a few years, which helped land him the opportunity. Even though he wasn't competing, "the opportunity was amazing". Working with Phil Davis, Eric DelFierro, and Ross Pearson provided plenty of insight and experience to share with his fellow teammates.


This of course highlights his desire to continue to give back to the sports of wrestling and MMA. He just wishes wrestling was able to get more exposure than it does as was reflected in the Olympics. When asked about coaching vs. competing, he is holding back on coaching for the time being so he can focus on fighting.


The need to travel is too important when competing. When his former teammates and wrestlers at the collegiate level say they want to quit wrestling and go pro, Alp's response to them is "Don't do it, you need to pay your dues." He applies this to himself as well and is not rushing to get himself to the UFC.


Asked about his upcoming fight, he responded, "He is a brawler with KO power and is a very tough guy, but I'm on a different level"


Ozkilic is part of a stacked Titan Fighting Championship 25 card on September 21 that at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The night's headlining bout is between Tommy Speer and Zak Cummings and will feature a number of top competitors.


Professional MMA

175 – Tommy Speer vs. Zak Cummings

145 - Ramiro "Junior" Hernandez vs. Sean Soriano

185 – Dustin Jacoby vs. Jake Collier

155 - Thomas Gifford vs. Zach Freeman

145 – Kevin Croom vs. Mirsad Bektic

135 – Ray Grindstaff vs. Alp Ozkilic

265 – Jeff Robinson vs. Junior Karanta