Interview by: Fist-ta-Cuff Radio

Alliance Training Center's Head Coach Eric DelFierroWe recently caught up with Alliance MMA’s head trainer Eric Del Fierro down in San Diego.

Del Fierro is the head coach for Alliance MMA which houses such notables as UFC heavyweights Joey Beltran and Travis “Hapa” Browne as well as Brandon Vera and Dominick Cruz. Del Fierro talks about how he got into coaching as well as juggling being a firefighter and professional coach.

FCR: How did you get into MMA?
EF: I started back in 1996. I was always into martial arts. I practiced Kenpo, Karate, Eskrima, Kali, Arnis (Filipino weapons fighting) and traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. I began in MMA with Ken Shamrocks Lions Den in San Diego when he opened a school here. I got into it as a hobby to stay fit, to help me in my regular job of firefighting. Within a month of training there I was invited to train with Fight Team. I don’t think because of my skill, I think they just needed bodies.

FCR: You coach the pro team over at Alliance MMA, who are some of the guy’s you work with?
EF: I work with Dominick Cruz, Brandon Vera, Phil Davis, Joey Beltran, Travis Browne, Rolando Perez, Alexander Gustaffsson, Kerry Vera, Edward Ratcliff, Shannon Gugerty, Erin beach, Diego Garijo, Wade Shipp, Danny Martinez, Thomasz Drawl and numerous others that I am probably forgetting right

FCR: You have quite the list of guys that you train, who is the toughest to coach at times and who is the workhorse of the team?
EF: That’s a tough question, I don’t think I can say there is someone that is toughest to coach. It is just certain athletes respond to different types of coaching or motivating. Some respond to being yelled at and some respond to a more passive approach. It is just figuring out what works for each individual… and I think they all work hard. Dominick Cruz is the unofficial team captain, due to what he has accomplished in under four years.

FCR: What do you love most about working with the fighters, and what is the hardest part?
EF: Seeing them succeed. I basically turned my hobby in to my passion and I dedicate alot of time to helping these fighters grow into their full potential as professional athletes. The Hardest Part for me is the time I spend away from my family.

FCR: Tell us how you feel and cope as a coach when one of your guys lose,but also when they lose and don’t follow the game plan?
EF: We all take it hard as a team, when a teammate loses. I try to give the athlete their time to reflect by themselves for about 3 to 5 days then we get together and see what went wrong. Sometimes it’s not as easy as following the game plan, sometimes the opponent just capitalized on one mistake. Most of our guys compete at the highest level of this sport, so the opponents are very talented.

FCR: Can you tell us who to look out for coming out of Alliance MMA in 2011?
EF: Everybody! All the guys are training hard and we have a lot of fights coming up. Joey Beltran just fought, Rolando Perez is fighting for Gladiator Challenge belt, Danny Martinez fights in 1 week, Alexander Gustaffson is fighting in the UFC, Phil in April and Travis in May. So it is a full schedule.

FCR: MMA is not your only job, your also a full time fire fighter correct, how do you manage your two schedule’s?
EF: With a good Android phone and monthly planner. I also have some great coaches that work with the team to get them ready when I am not there. My schedule at fire house works into the team schedule. I have my boxing coach Adrian Melendrez and my BJJ coach Casey Ryan running our team practices when I am not available.

FCR: How does the rush of your day job (Fire fighting & Paramedic) compare to walking your fighters to the cage?
EF: Well I would like to say that my fire department job helped me deal with pressure and stress of the fight game. I do not think I can compare the two. In the fire department I respond to people in help or distress or some type of emergency. Where walking fighters to the cage is fun and a reward in itself to see these guys succeed.

FCR: What is your best memory to this point as a trainer?
EF: I have so many, but I can give you this idea and I am sure other coaches can relate. There comes a time in coaching an athlete where you finally see that you and the athlete click. That you are on the same page and both the coach believes in the athlete and the athlete believes in the coach. When that happens the sky is the limit for that fighter.

FCR: Tell us one thing piece of advice you would give to guys who are just getting into the game of becoming a trainer and long to have a squad like yours?
EF: You have to love martial arts, and enjoy the rewards of coaching for the fun of it.

FCR: Is there a favorite fight that stands out for you?
EF: Small Show, Diego Garijo vs Jens Pulver.

FCR: Are there any sponsors or friends you would like to thank?
EF: I would like to thank and Headrushbrand