Up-and-Comer: Pete "Drago" Sell
By Jim Genia
Drago: Ready for action
He sports a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, is a regular at the local grappling tournaments, and has earned a record of 2-0 in mixed martial arts competition. And though Pete Sell (nicknamed "Drago" after the "Rocky IV" villain) may not have the most remarkable resume on paper, once you’ve seen him fight, you can’t help but be impressed. He’s intense, is always looking to finish, and is a constant threat right up until the end of the match. Many have compared his style of fighting to that of UFC lightweight stud Matt Serra – which is an astute observation, as Serra is his trainer. I tracked the Long Island native down after his victory over Ted Govola at Ring of Combat 2 to ask him some questions.
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu?
I started in October of 1999. So a little bit over three years.
How’d you get started?
Actually, I was at my Tae Kwon Do school at the time, and white belts from Renzo’s in the city came in. They knew our instructor, and he asked us to try to hit them. They were like, "Yeah, you can try to hit us," and they took us down and choked us, put us in triangles and stuff like that. And I had no idea what was going on. I was kinda cocky, I was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and I couldn’t do anything — they just choked me. So then I started learning the Jiu-Jitsu. I quit Tae Kwon Do and I stuck with it ever since.
You showed some striking in your fight with Govola. Is that from Tae Kwon Do?
I got my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but I really don’t use the kicks too much. I’ve been training a lot with Ray Longo for stand-up. He helps me a lot with my conditioning, my stand-up — that’s where I’m getting my hands from — and I’m going to add the kicks in soon. I’m pretty much going to be an all-around fighter. I want to be able to stand with the guys. I know I’ll be better than everybody I fight on the ground because I train with the best guys — you know, Matt and Nick and Team Renzo, and we’re the best on the ground. I feel confident enough with my submissions where the guys are going to have trouble hitting me from in my guard, and if they open up too much, I’m going to tap them. And that’s the bottom line.
Drago lands on Govola
You’ve only fought MMA twice, and your second fight was against an undefeated Mass Destruction champ. What’s the story there?
I’m jumping in there, I’m not warming up — I’m jumping right into the heat, know what I mean? I love to fight. Some people, they do it for the wrong reasons — they do it for the fame, or this and that. I just do it for the fight. I could care less about everything else. I love to fight. I’ll fight anytime, anywhere. I just love doing it.
Are you nervous before your fights?
Not really. My first fight I was little nervous. But the second fight, the one I just had, I was calm, I was ready, pumped. Basically, the way I look at is: the guy has to finish me to get me to stop fighting. ‘Cause every time I’m fighting, I’m trying to end the fight no matter what. With my fight with Ted [Govola], I was going for the submissions, I was going for the knockout blow, I was going for it. I wasn’t trying to win the decision — you’ll never see me do that. I’m always going to try to win the fight. Some people get their rushes from different things, they’ll jump on a roller coaster or whatever — I just love the rush of a fight.
Working an omoplata shoulder lock on Govola
So the rush of the fight is what motivates you?
Mentally, I’m not scared of anybody. I don’t care. If my opponent wants to hit me, he can hit me — I’m coming back for more. But there’s always going to be that chance that I’m going to submit you or knock you out, no matter what. So you can’t take that away from me.
For all those MMA fans out there who have yet to see you fight, what should they expect?
I want people to have no idea what to do with me. They’ll have no gameplan with me — they’re not going want to stand up with me, they’re not going to want to go to the ground with me. I’m getting everything good in my game. I’m working with wrestlers for my takedowns — I want to kill everybody.
And your ultimate goal in mixed martial arts?
I like the UFC. I like what they’ve done for the sport.