Congratulations Brian - how does it feel to be recognised and awarded your IMMAF Black Belt by the world governing body of MMA?
Being on this journey and seeing how MMA has developed over the last few decades and watching IMMAF grow from grassroots to where it is now, it really is an honour to be recognised. It's an exciting time to be a part of such a fast growing and innovative sport with its development, especially with the belt and grading systems coming in to play.
Did you notice the number on the certificate? No3 in Australia!
I did! Yeah thanks Richie!
We know your journey in this sport is long and expansive and you've achieved so much. So how satisfying is it now to be in the position of IMMAFA National Head Coach with the ability to give back to the sport and share your extensive knowledge with the next generation of athletes?
So, I’ve been coaching for such a long time now, started way back in school in the US. I really enjoy just the day-to-day on the mat coaching, as well as noticing those pitstop moments every 3-4 months where you can stand back and really notice how an athlete has progressed through their own determination and hard work, it's always a privilege to be a part of that journey.
I hope that I instill in my athletes the integrity and the high standards that my coaches set for me and also keep an excitement and love for the sport at the same time.
In my role as National Head Coach for Australia I am excited to have an opportunity to take the team to competition and watch them grow and excel, helping them to bond as a team. Having these shared experiences with people who share your passion for MMA is amazing and hopefully we can extend that into cultural exchanges where these young athletes have opportunities to make lifelong friendships with their counterparts.
Can you share with us a highlight in your career that might have flown under the radar of your followers and MMA fans? It needs to be kid friendly too ;-)
So many highlights, but one that stands out was in 2004 when I was fighting for Euphoria – Russia Vs USA and our team turned up not expecting too much of a battle, as on paper the Russian’s looked like they had not so much MMA experience, however after watching their first guy fight my opinion soon changed! The fighter I was fighting was heavier and the Russian karate champ, but I dug in and managed to get a TKO to win. After that I moved up a weight class!
What was your journey into Martial Arts?
I watched my uncle wrestle, my dad asked me if I wanted to join the local wrestling club and eventually I did – aged 5. Joining the club was the start of meeting a lot of the older school kids who I looked up to, so watching and learning from them was a big influence. In high school I was working hard and gaining a reputation in wrestling, so I was able to secure a scholarship to Eastern Illinois University and it was there that I was introduced to MMA.
In 2000, in the third year of school I lost my scholarship, after being arrested for fighting a hockey player, who had heard that I was making a bit of a name for myself and wanted to pitch himself against me, I broke his arm and the aftermath was months of court cases with the charges eventually dropped.
After that I moved to California and started training with Frank Shamrock at the American Kickboxing Academy. In 2006, I went on to sign for IFL but before I had chance to fight for them, I had the infamous fight with Shannon Ritch and for a bit of fun was led out on the night by a female body builder on a chain. The Head of the Athletic Commission didn’t really approve of my antics and even though I won the fight it was later changed to a no contest. After that I decided to take up an offer to fight in Brisbane, then went over to Perth for a fight and was offered a job coaching in a gym, so stayed there for a couple of years, fighting on the regional circuit winning 12 out of 15 fights.
Then the urge to travel came again and I went off on around the world ticket, travelling around India, Kathmandu, Vietnam, etc. Eventually ending up in Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand. Luckily for me, I did come back to Australia and met my soon to be wife and convinced her to move back out Thailand with me where I continued coaching and training with some of the best.
By 2011, I was signed to UFC and fighting professionally, by 2014 I was back in the States fighting in Vegas and Florida, reconnecting with family and friends. After a long UFC career, I retired after my last fight in 2016 and by 2017 we had a baby daughter.
I was then offered a job as MMA Team Coach for Singapore where we lived for a couple of years until heading back to Australia.
Since then, I have been happy to be back in Australia, coaching and training and excited about my new role of Head Coach of IMMAF.
Back to IMMAFA, where do you see the Australian Federation in the next 12-24 months and long term, what's your thoughts on the drive for MMA's Olympic recognition?
I can see it continuing to grow rapidly and hopefully with all the pathways in place, we will all be pushing for that Olympic recognition.
Lastly, life outside of MMA?
Being a dad! I’m really enjoying watching my 4 year old daughter growing and developing every day and spending quality time with the family is top of the list. My wife recently bought me a meat smoker so I’m really getting into that, learning how to create the perfect spice blend and sauces! Still happy to find time for a round of golf, an afternoon of fishing and maybe I can still go a game of basketball!
"Receiving a Black Belt should be regarded as a pinnacle moment in the journey of any true martial artist. A testament to their commitment, dedication and iron will, reinforced by the countless souls who shared the mats along the way who found reason to quit.
A Black Belt in MMA doesn’t have the history of other arts, but all those who train within it understand the demands it places on its students, as well as the sheer volume of technical knowledge and ability required is unlike any other martial art.
It's a true honor for me to award Coach Brian Ebersole his IMMAF Black Belt".