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Sunday, October 18, 2015

No Holds Barred: Steve Mocco on 'Beast' 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with Olympic wrestler and American Top Team MMA fighter Steve Mocco.

He is one of the fighters extensively profiled in Doug Merlino's new highly-acclaimed book, Beast: Blood, Struggle, and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial Arts.

This book chronicles the recent events in the lives of four American Top Team MMA fighters: Jeff Monson, Steve Mocco, Daniel Straus, and Mirsad Bektic. From 2012 to 2014, Doug Merlino followed them from fight to fight, training camp to training camp, and country to country, and ably and candidly recorded what happened in this book.

We spoke with Steve Mocco at a book launch party Monday in New York.

"I think Doug did a very good job capturing the highs -- and the lows," he said. "Some of the stuff in the book, it was hard to read, but it was hard to live, too. I think he did a very good job capturing the energy, and the highs and the lows of not only me, all the guys in the book, that we all went through."

He added, "And it's kind of neat to see now to have that in front of us and see that part of our lives in a book form. You don't usually see that too often. For me I thought it was kind of cool. I really enjoyed it."

The book chronicles his first five MMA fights, in which he won the first four but dropped a decision in his fifth fight. He has since returned to action, picking up another win in April 2015. We discussed his decision loss in his February 2014 fight with Smealinho Rama, and what he learned from that fight.

A two-time NCAA Div. I national college wrestling champion and a 2008 U.S. Olympian in freestyle wrestling, he discussed his transition from wrestling to MMA when his wrestling career was over.

"I'm definitely a wrestler that's in MMA," he said. His style of fighting is based on grappling and wrestling, while he is evolving as a fighter and even scored a ground-and-pound TKO win in his last fight.

We also discussed how MMA has been "great" for former wrestlers, how his judo background has helped in both wrestling and MMA, how he still is more comfortable on the ground than in standup fighting, his current recovery from injuries, how he will return at some unspecified time to fight again for the World Series of Fighting, his training at American Top Team and with Ricardo Liborio, and much more.

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