MFC’s Anthony Birchak: The energy of being in the main event, with all eyes on me, is something I thrive on
By Bryan Levick
MFC President Mark Pavelich has done a tremendous job of promoting his organization & has watched it grow into a legitimate MMA promotion. They’ve done this by signing a long term deal with AXS TV, utilizing social media & signing both young talent & established veterans. One such talent is 27-year-old, Tucson, AZ native Anthony Birchak.
This past May at MFC 37 Birchak defeated Ryan Benoit in his MFC debut. That victory was enough to earn him a spot opposite Tito Jones this Friday at MFC 38 in a bout that will determine the first bantamweight champion in the organizations 12 year history. The past week has been especially busy as well as very eventful for the 10-1 bantamweight.
As if training for a title fight isn’t enough, life has thrown some curve balls at Birchak, both expected and unexpected. Whether he is facing adversity or extreme happiness, Birchak doesn’t allow anything to get him too high, too low or take his focus on the task at hand, winning the MFC BW championship. These days he has very little time in between training and promoting this upcoming fight, but he somehow manages.
“I’m on my way back to the hospital right now, trying to fit in a training session in between having a newborn son,” Birchak told Alchemist Radio. “I also had a funeral today; it’s been a roller coaster. This is the life of a fighter and you have to be willing to talk about stuff, it’s all good no worries. My little boy is named Jett Alessio Birchak and he was 9lbs. 9ozs, 21 inches long. He’s huge; I thought I was making a bantamweight baby!”
With the birth of his son and a huge title fight upcoming, Birchak was given more good news recently. Pavelich announced that he would allow the fans to choose the main event of MFC 38. Their options were the heavyweight title bout between Smealinho Rama and Anthony Hamilton, the middleweight title match featuring Sam Alvey and Jason South and of course the bantamweight title fight pitting Birchak vs., Jones. Lo and behold the fans chose the 135lb. title contest.
“When Mark told me he was going to let the fans decide, I was like are you kidding me,” explained Birchak. “I thought Alvey was going to blow me out of the water. He was in the TUF house, he was a big knockout artist in Bellator and his wife is McKey Sullivan who had a big following from her time on America’s Next Top Model. I thought they were just going to smash me.”.
“I have a little secret weapon of my own; Mercedes White is the mother of my child, my manager and co-owner of Luta Elite Sports Management with me. We’ve been doing everything our way and it’s been going the right way. I want to thank all of my fans and supporters for rallying behind us and giving me that push to be part of the main event.”
Birchak is committed to the MFC and appreciates the opportunity they have put in front of him. He is looking forward to fulfilling a promise he made to Pavelich when he first signed with the organization. The faith they have put in him means a lot and he plans on showing them the investment they made was more than worth it.
“The whole family aspect that the MFC brings to the table is something I love,” stated the 27-year-old Arizona native. “My fight team is my family and my family is my fight team. For them (MFC) to be doing something so close to home as a family means a lot to me. They’re super passionate and if you’ve heard Mark talk it sounds like he has Red Bull going straight into his veins. Anytime an owner is that passionate he’s going to want to make big moves.”
“The guy is constantly looking for forward progression. They treat me like gold, the people in Edmonton treat me like gold, and they supported me in my first fight there. I’m glad I have a good support system out there in Canada. They offered me a home and I’d love to finish out my four fight deal there. I promised Mark I’d be his first MFC bantamweight champion and I want to defend it as long as I can.”
Birchak is no stranger to fighting in the main event. It is something he thrives on and he has learned to make sure he studies up on his opponent as much as he can before stepping into the ring with them. Birchak has watched Jones compete live and feels he knows enough about him to have the upper hand.
“This will be my fourth main event in a row and I love it,” explained and excited Birchak. “The energy of being in the main event with all eyes on me is something I thrive on. I’ve had the privilege to watch Tito fight live in Phoenix and we were actually supposed to be matched up on that card. Long story short they gave me a weeks’ notice to fight him and we had been training for an orthodox fighter and my trainers didn’t like me going from an orthodox fighter to a southpaw.”
“I got to watch him the fight a short stocky wrestler and the guy chased Tito around the cage for 15 minutes and I got to see Tito’s counterstriking. He waits for his opponents to over commit to something big and then makes him pay for it. I think I can win small situations that turn into bigger opportunities.”
Although he is based out of Tucson, AZ, Birchak spent some time training with some studs and former champions in San Francisco.
“I’m still in Arizona right now, but I had taken my camp out to San Francisco for a week,” Brichak said. “I got to train at the El Nino Training Center with Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields who both have fights coming up. Shields and I are both fighting five rounds and I also got to train with Darren Uyenoyama. I brought my teammate, training partner and coach Chris Cariaso along with me. We got some good rolls out there, me and Khabib Nurmagomedov were out at Ralph Gracie’s at the same time while he was preparing to fight Pat Healy.”
Beginning his career in 2009, Birchak racked up six straight wins with five coming by way of submission. After suffering his one and only loss in September of 2011, Birchak has since gone on to win four straight fights, three of them coming by way of TKO. He maintains he is focusing just as much of his attention on his striking as he does his ground game. He has also learned to take advantage of whatever opportunity presents itself.
“I think I’m a dangerous fighter wherever it goes,” admitted Birchak.”I think my strength is the fact that I’m unpredictable. I think Johny Hendricks is such a big success because everyone fears the wrestling. When everyone fears the wrestling their hands drop anytime you change your level. When their hands drop you come up swinging and knockouts happen. I did that to Greg Jackson’s fighter Matt Leyva out in New Mexico. I gave him a subtle little level change and then a one, two and it landed right on the button. I’m always trying to improve my game. If I work on my wrestling, my striking drops down a few percentages. When I work on my striking, my wrestling drops back down.”
“I always try to keep everything nice and rounded and I’ve been training a lot of Muay-Thai for this fight. My Muay Thai instructor is Sumart Symphosy out of Titan Fitness in San Francisco, he’s a two time Lumpini World Champion. My striking game has been locked down and my ground game is handled by several blackbelts here in town. Just being able to go from wrestling to Jiu-Jitsu was a pretty seamless transition. All in all I’m trying to stay or become the full package as a mixed martial artist”