The world of Mixed Martial Arts is never far from Jake Cochran’s mind. Even when watching “Animal Planet,” he learned to tweak his guillotine choke to something similar to an “alligator’s death roll.”
An alligator will grab its prey using is jaw then roll several times still grabbing hold of its victim. The prey has no chance of survival.
Cochran hops over his opponents’ backs and spins them while they’re falling.
“It’s a hell of a lot better, and you get people to tap a lot quicker,” Cochran said. “I’ve heard people say, ‘What is this guy doing? He just got airborne on a guillotine. That doesn’t happen.’”
Cochran, a junior communication studies and sociology major, is now looking to use his MMA background to raise money for the Salvation Army.
Cochran is competing in the 2011 Grapplers Quest Worlds, Pro-Am World Championship Dec. 10 in Asbury Park, N.J, for the “Points for Salvation” campaign. For every point Cochran gets in the match, money will be donated to the campaign.
“I knew I did well in my last competition, so raising the money for the Salvation Army by using my talent was a no-brainer,” Cochran said.
Similar to wrestling, a grappler gets points each time he puts his opponent in a hold or gets a takedown during the fight. Donations are made either per point or as a flat rate.
Grappler’s Quest has the same rules as MMA with the exceptions of striking and slamming. Cochran found out the hard way during the national championships for the Cruzer weight division. During that championship match in the summer, he slammed his opponent and lost the match. While he was disqualified, the runner-up finish gave Cochran a second place national ranking in that weight division.
Cochran admits he likes the fact that he doesn’t have a wrestling background, especially when he’s facing wrestlers.
“Wrestlers do more clenching than I do,” Cochran said. “A lot of these guys are hot-headed and come into the fight thinking, ‘oh, I want to beat the hell out of this guy.’ They just shoot in and I sprawl them into the ground, then I just grab their neck and choke them out.”
Cochran, who is president of the MMA Club at Wilkes, is also bringing along freshman mechanical engineering major Omar Urena to Grappler’s Quest.
Urena, who is relatively new to the sport, was a wrestler in high school and joined MMA after deciding against wrestling at Wilkes.
“I’ve always liked combat sports, and I was really interested in the MMA program at Club Day,” Urena said. “Since I wasn’t going to wrestle, I was like, ‘hey why not.’”
Having a wrestling background-or a lack thereof- is beneficial for both grapplers who are using it to their advantage.
“In wrestling we learned how to go for certain points to get our opponents down easily,” Urena said. “That helps my transition to Jiu-Jitsu.”
“He’s so much better at throwing his weight, but I like not having a wrestling background, because people don’t know how to prepare against me. It’s harder to mimic me, but it’s a lot harder to wrestle Omar who’s throwing me around,” Cochran said.
Cochran and Urena now train at the School of Combat Arts in Wilkes-Barre under Michael Gioe, an MMA expert who has been fighting for 26 years. Gioe, who is a very straight forward hands-on coach, noted how much they’ve both improved since coming to his dojo, training place.
“Their stand-up has improved significantly,” Gioe said. “I could tell they’ve been training on their own for a while, but now with real coaching, I feel like I can make these guys into champions.”
In addition to coach Gioe, both fighters are quick to point out each other’s mistakes.
“I’ll stop and tell him to try to do this and that. Sometimes we even do situational things where he goes on guard, and I try to score points off of him,” Urena said.
Cochran agrees that this system balances things out perfectly.
“It works really well because we’re both our biggest critics, but then we have each other to help out by saying, ‘oh, you’re doing your armbar wrong, you need to twist your legs.’ He had to tell me to keep going for the angle since my legs are so long, and I was forcing it.”
Cochran also works on his techniques outside of the School of Combat Arts by taking notes during Pay-Per-View matches.
“I like to sit down and take notes on what I see during matches then I’ll read my books on how to transition based on what’ve I’ve seen,” Cochran said. “I’m always working on techniques. I’ve literally sat and worked on the same things over and over to the point where people start asking me what I’m doing when I’m training. I just want it to be muscle memory.”
Using his communication background Cochran began hosting a weekly MMA talk show which he says is starting to pick up a strong following. He’s been contacted by people via Facebook to call in, and even promoters are looking to place ads during his show.
With so much dedication into the sport, Cochran said he would one day love to pursue a future in MMA both as a fighter and eventually as a broadcaster. He feels he could outshine current host Joe Rogan.
“I would definitely take Joe Rogan’s job and do it 10 times better,” Cochran said. “I’d love to do play-by-play for the UFC. I want to stay in this business because I love it so much.”
The Points for Salvation campaign is still accepting donations for the Dec. 10 fight. To sponsor Cochran, fill out a form at the information desk in the S.U.B., or contact Cochran at [email protected]