A True California Fighter: PRO MMA exclusive interview – Casey “The Underdog” Olson

Casey “The Underdog” Olson made his presence felt in the California mixed martial arts community by reeling off four straight decisive victories to wrap up 2008. Olson (11-2), a former Fresno State wrestling product, found his way into mixed martial arts with the help of Chuck Liddell and members of The Pit.

The 28-year old Fresno native returns to action for the first time in 2009 at PFC-13 on May 8th, in Lemoore, California. A win next Friday continue to show why Casey Olson is one of the top prospects in the state of California.

PRO MMA: Casey you will be fighting on the Palace Fighting Championship-13 card on May eighth, but you recently made the cover of California Fighter’s debut edition. What was that experience like?
OLSON: Well I’m really thankful to be on the cover, but as far as the experience, it was nothing really new from what I have been doing with other magazines and local things here in Fresno. I guess being that it’s based out of Fresno, it seemed kind of the norm for me. But the fact that it’s all over the state is pretty awesome.

PRO MMA: How has the reaction from fans and the media been like since making the issue has come out?
OLSON: Well the reaction from my valley support was about the same. I have so much love and support around the valley, I couldn’t ask for a better support system. But around the state on online, I had A LOT of great reaction and feedback. Everybody loved it, and said a lot of great things. So I’m very appreciative of that.

PRO MMA: Most fans might not know that you are good friends with Chuck Liddell and have roots that go back to The Pit. Is there anything that you have learned from Chuck that has helped you in your career?
OLSON: Well I think Chuck and I became good friends because we have the same competitive mentality. We’ve worked hard to get where we’re at, him on a worldly level, me, just on a local and national level. What I have learned from him, and I think he is the best at it in the sport, is fan appreciation. The eight-nine years I’ve known him and watched him grow in the sport, I have never seen him turn down a fan for a photograph, a hand shake, saying hi, an autograph etc. No matter what kind of mood he is in. And I believe that is just one of the reasons why is and will be the most popular person to come out of MMA.

PRO MMA: You’ve stated in interviews that Chuck said that you had a lot of potential in becoming a mixed martial artist and you quit your day job in order to pursue an MMA career. What was that experience like making the transition from being a nine-to-fiver, to a professional fighter?
OLSON: Well I’ve competed in sports my whole life. And I really loved wrestling because of the one-on-one aspect of it. I love that nobody is out there with me. If I make a mistake, its on me, I have nobody to blame. It makes me work even harder. But the experience as far as transition wasn’t the hard part, it was working hard and learning the new skills that made things rough. I was back to a beginner again. And that’s a very humbling experience (laughs).

PRO MMA: What was the most challenging aspect of becoming a professional fighter?
OLSON: Just like I said, the transition of learning the new skills. The training side came natural as I have done that my whole life, and BJJ wasn’t too bad cause I already knew the feeling of rolling around. The hardest though was and still is my stand up. Trying to get to a point where I feel just as comfortable on my feet as I do on the mat has been a challenge. But I do love challenges.

PRO MMA: How did wrestling at Fresno State help prepare you for a pro career?
OLSON: Well, wrestling division one just really prepared me to step up to the next level of training. I thought wrestlers were the most conditioned athletes until I started MMA. Boy was I wrong. You know how hard it really is to throw punches for five minutes straight when you’ve never done it before? Its no walk in the Park.

PRO MMA: Most former collegiate wrestlers are regarded as the best mixed martial artist and some even believe that wrestling is the most important aspect of MMA, do you think that is true?
OLSON: I don’t know if its the most important aspect, because I believe every skill is a very important aspect. Yeah, you may be able to take your opponent down, but then what. You have to worry about being submitted, and you have to do some damage yourself on top. But I do believe, wrestlers have the easier route to becoming great mixed martial artists for a couple reasons. I think its easier to teach a wrestler stand up than it is to teach a stand up fighter how to wrestle and how to feel comfortable on the ground. And I believe for the majority, a wrestlers mentality is perfect for the sport. They’ve been through the cutting weight, the hard work outs, the working on low energy before. But that’s just my thoughts

PRO MMA: Before we get into your PFC bout, what is your contract status with the PFC?
OLSON: This will be the last fight on my contract with them.

PRO MMA: Are you in talks with other organizations? You’ve fought for Cage Combat in the past, would you consider returning to that organization?
OLSON: Well, I fought for Cage Combat for one reason, they had their fights in Fresno. Any organization who comes to Fresno to put on a show, I’d like to be apart of. I love fighting in front of my hometown. I fought for Strikeforce as well, and have many friends who also fight for them, I wouldn’t mind fighting for them again. They are coming back to Fresno on the fifteenth, and we tried to get on that card as well, but the California State Athletic Commission wouldn’t allow it because I wouldn’t have the regulation days of rest after this (fight).

PRO MMA: What do you know about your next opponent Eddie Yagin?
OLSON: He’s a veteran. He’s a energetic, hard paced goer. He doesn’t mind banging and has one heck of a guillotine. He’s gonna bring it, and I think it makes for a very exciting fight.

PRO MMA: He has fought some tough opposition like Vitor “Shaolin” Riberio and Rich Clementi, with his past experiences is it safe to say this is your toughest fight to date?
OLSON: Um, yeah, I’d probably say he is my toughest opponent to date.

PRO MMA: Thanks for joining us Casey, before we let you go are there any sponsors/shout outs you would like to throw out? Any websites or anything you want to plug?
OSLON: I’d like to thank PRO MMA (promma.info) for choosing me for an interview. The Pit fight team for all their help in preparing me for this next fight. Zinkin entertainment, Toe 2 Toe, Wahoo Tacos, Laundry Room, my chiropractor Dr. Sergio Bali, Moda Star Swimwear, Netricks, my close friends, my family, my girl, and everybody who is a part of Team Underdog. You know who you are. Please check out teamunderdog24.com, and feel free to hit me up on any one of my online accounts. Thank you so much for the interview.

By: Matt De La Rosa

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