Interview With Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Fighter Steve Heath Interviewed by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com - June 2008
CRITICAL BENCH: Steve, welcome to Critical Bench. Tell Critical Bench about yourself!
STEVE HEATH: My name is Steve Heath, I'm a mixed martial arts fighter out of
Stockton. I've done martial arts since I was 15. I started fighting in
underground bouts in 1998. I am a former IFC Light Heavy weight Champ and I'm
one of the original Gracie Fighters.
CRITICAL BENCH: You were one of the original Gracie fighters, that is impressive.
Royce and Rickson were small and unstoppable a long time ago. Beating every
David and Goliath in existence. Steve, when did you get started in MMA?
STEVE HEATH: I got started in MMA before it ever went mainstream. I enjoyed
training because it was a good escape from my everyday life. I had an awesome
trainer named Eric Shingu who believed in me.
CRITICAL BENCH: Was turning pro and being an amateur fighter a very different experience for you?
STEVE HEATH: Turning pro and being an amateurs fighter has been no different. I
still work everyday, take care of my family and train as much as possible when I
have a fight coming up. Everything I have learned has been from practice, practice and more
CRITICAL BENCH: As a fighter, what do you think about before you're in a huge
fight and during a fight? Do you have a fighting philosophy that works for you?
STEVE HEATH: Before I fight I think about making weight! During a fight I don't
really have time to think about anything. I'm just fighting. The only
philosophy I have about fighting is showing respect. Every guy/girl who steps
into that cage/ring needs to be respected whether they win or lose. It takes
serious dedication and courage to fight in front of thousands of fans.
CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any sick stories about destroying someone in a
STEVE HEATH: My first MMA fight was an illegal underground bout. There were no
weight class, no rules. It was an 8 man tournament. You continued to fight
until 2 men were standing. I had 4 fights in the same night. The first guy I
fought everyone thought he would smoke me. He was twice my size. The fans were
placing bets on me losing. I went in there and arm barred him in the first
round. It was a great feeling to be the underdog in the beginning of the
tournament and walk out the winner at the end. I gained mad respect after that.
CRITICAL BENCH: So far in a fight, what has been your most powerful moment?
STEVE HEATH: My most powerful moment was my first California Sanctioned fight
in my hometown. It was the first time after a long journey I was able to fight
as a professional MMA fighter in front of my family and friends. It was my
first fight back after being down and out from two knee surgeries.
CRITICAL BENCH: Have there been any moments in your fight career that have
really changed you? What moment has changed you the most?
STEVE HEATH: Every fight changes you. You grow with each victory and defeat. I
can't pin point one fight that changed me. I do know one thing, had I beat
Chuck Liddell when we fought I'd have more money in my bank account!
CRITICAL BENCH: A lot of people would like to be more hardcore and gutsy like
you. What is your advice for the sissies of the world and how to make fearful
STEVE HEATH: Fighting does not make you hardcore or gutsy. That's a
misconception. My last opponent Josh Haynes has a child with an illness. I
admired his tenacity and courage. If it was my daughter I think I would
crumble. People who face life threatening diseases and continue to keep their
head up are the gutsy ones. If something happened to my daughter I don't know
what I'd do. People like Josh Haynes and his family are the brave ones. I'm
just a fighter in the cage.
CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us something that you have done that you are proud of!
STEVE HEATH: I'm proud of all the fighters who have trained under me. It makes
me happy to know that I helped bring the sport to my hometown.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are the best and worst things about being a fighter?
STEVE HEATH: The best thing is your feelings of accomplishment when the fight is
over. The worst thing is how quickly it's over. You train for weeks, months. The
entire fight is over in minutes. It's often anti-climatic.
CRITICAL BENCH: What was the best advice you were ever told and what was the
STEVE HEATH: The best advice I've ever gotten applies to life in general. I have
been told to live in the moment and enjoy life without feeling guilty. I have
a hard time taking that advice but I'm trying. The worst advice I've ever gotten
was more of a lifestyle then advice. I use to surround myself with people
that didn't believe in my dreams. I wasted many years fighting for my dreams out
of the cage
more then in the cage. It was very difficult but, I have made some
personal changes and now I only surround myself with positive people.
CRITICAL BENCH: What injuries have you had to experience before and what
adversities have you had to overcome? How did you make it through them and what
is your advice for anyone going through a physical or emotional traumatic event
STEVE HEATH: I tore my ACL and Meniscus in 2004. I had two major knee surgeries
in 2005. The second one landed me in the hospital for 9 days with a severe bone
infection. I had to have a home nurse for 6 weeks after I was released from the
hospital. I was restricted from many activities and the doctors told my chances
of fighting were slim to none. In between those surgeries, my father moved in
with me due to some health issues, I was going through a messy divorce and was
raising my daughter who was 7 at the time by myself. I took some time to
mentally and physically heal. In the end, I refused to believe my career was
over so I worked my way back into the gym and entered the ring again in 2006.
My advice is don't believe everything people tell you. Believe in yourself and
you'll be okay.
CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
STEVE HEATH: To have my own MMA school that can unite with other local schools
to make 209 area the strongest fighters around.
CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any hobbies or are there any things that you like to collect?
STEVE HEATH: I am fascinated by many different knives and guns. I don't fight
with them but I enjoy collecting them.
CRITICAL BENCH: How do you see the future of MMA?
STEVE HEATH: I hope it blows up bigger and bigger. I'd like it to surpass boxing
and become a recognized, respected sport. It'd be great if MMA fighters got paid
like professional boxers!
CRITICAL BENCH: If you could main event at Wrestle Mania and challenge 3 people in
full contact fight who would you choose and why?
STEVE HEATH: I'm sorry I don't watch Wrestlemania. I have a daughter that
monopolizes the TV with shows like Hannah Montana, American Idol, iCarly, etc.
CRITICAL BENCH: What do you like doing away from fighting?
STEVE HEATH: I love to spend time with my daughter. We enjoy a lot of the same
activities. I also relax by riding my Harley and hanging out with family and
friends. It's good therapy.
CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any sponsors? Tell us about them!
STEVE HEATH: Chase Chevrolet, Max Muscle in Lodi, Warrior Wear, Minutes to
Cal Combat, Hire a Husband, and Sam Freita's have helped me out with my
upcoming fight against Jamie Jara. The fight is on May 9, 2008 at the Stockton
Civic Auditorium. It is promoted by PureCombat.
CRITICAL BENCH: What does your family think about you fighting?
STEVE HEATH: My sister and brother are always right there cheering me on. My
sister handles the management side and my brother helps me promote my fights. I
also have extended family and friends who are there to lend a hand anytime I
CRITICAL BENCH: What is your advice for someone who would like to be a fighter?
STEVE HEATH: Train hard and don't give up. Success isn't measured by your fight
record, it's measured by the effort you put in it.
CRITICAL BENCH: It has been an honor interviewing you today! In
closing is there anyone you would like to thank?
STEVE HEATH: Thank you to my family, friends, fans and sponsors. I really
appreciate all of you.