TW// talks of suicide
Blake Bilder is 32 years young, 8-1(1-1- UFC) and perhaps has some of the best hair in the UFC. This is one of those fighters that the hardcore fans should keep an eye on now so they can watch him grow into a potential world-beater and say that they saw it coming from the early goings of his UFC career.
With four wins by submission and one by TKO, Blake clearly hates losing and doesn't care to hear what the judges think of his fights. Bilder was nice enough to give me the time to chop it up with him about life in California, how to bounce back from loss and what he wants from his fighting legacy.
Blake Bilder Exclusive Interview
Things started with us giving our own anecdotes of near-death experiences involving fires. His was due to his laundry machines, and mine was due to negligence. And, it wasn't really “near-death”, I just like to be histrionic with my story telling.
We then went on about our hair routines, which will be available to see in the video interview, but I'll go ahead and get to the whole fighting thing. Bilder is no stranger to fighting on someone else's home turf, I had to ask about this.
Blake in the Backyard
I've heard you say that because you've fought in so many backyards, you actually kind of like it.
“For me, man, no matter where we go – if it's in the states, it it's out of the states – basically, I'm just unbothered. When it comes to [fighting], I don't care if [the fans] yelling at me or yelling for me. Yelling for me would definitely give me a little different energy. It's definitely nice hearing my name yelled. And, people cheering, it's kind of nice. But, these days, it just doesn't phase me. Honestly, when they were booing me, it gave me more energy!”
Do you kind of like being the heel in a situation?
“I just know who I am, you know? Maybe if I was younger it would have bothered me and messed with me a little bit. But, nowadays, I just know who I am as a person and as a human being and I know that I'm a good guy. If you're a good guy or good person, you don't have to prove that to anybody, it just shows through your character.”
Home Team or an Away Team Kind of Guy?
You're from Minnesota, moved to California… If you had the opportunity to fight near any of those locations, which one would you prefer, and would you prefer over getting booed?
“Yeah! I mean, for sure, when they were cheering for [Shane Young], it gave me energy, but definitely.”
Blake then elaborated on what it means, and the feeling of winning with a hometown crowd backing him.
“There's a different feeling after you win a fight, it's such a spiritual experience; you go through such rigorous training, such a mental battel within yourself, you have such a physiological change because you're doing a weight cut and you're dieting… Your whole entire life changes, especially in the last two weeks leading up to the fight… It's just knowing that you get the win; you're caught in the moment, then all of a sudden you get done and you see your family, your friends, your acquaintances — I used to teach kids class, so there'd be some kids from jiu jitsu or Muay Thai or boxing class.”
The Influence of Coach Flame on Blake Bilder
Of course, I had to ask Blake about Christian Guevara, AKA coach Flame.
How big of a part do you think coach Flame has played into your career so far and your life in general at this point?
“Oh man… When me and Flame got together, it was like Moses getting the ten commandments. It was divine intervention. My little brother just committed suicide and Flame hit me up to get some training in; I met him a couple of months prior to that and this guy was just larger than life. He had really good fighters. In that time, that two months of him losing all of his fighters through management that he brought in and trusted, he lost all of his fighters and I lost my little brother… I lost a little brother and gained a new one.”
Blake Bilder then went on to explain how Flame helped him not just in a time of needing someone, but how he was able to sharpen the skills that Blake already had.
“My striking wasn't that confident in my fights… Even though I have twenty boxing matches and ten kickboxing matches under my belt, something with the MMA gloves just short-circuited my brain. I had some doubt. So, [Flame] really brought that [confidence] out of me. He was like ‘We're going to be fight specific, we're going to wrap our hands every time, we don't wear f*cking little Title wraps around our wrists, that's disrespectful'. Just the way he did everything and tailored everything, he completely changed my life… All he did, really, was awake a sleeping giant… After the first day I trained with him, the next day I went to sparring and I almost knocked out two guys, two or three guys, and I dropped three guys with body shots.”
So, he was just the missing piece?
“He was just a missing piece. I mean, it was clear as day — he's my best friend, he's my brother and my mentor, he's like, all of the above… When I lost my little brother, I came to him and I was like ‘Hey, man, sorry I missed a couple of days. My little brother just committed suicide…' Everyone would be like ‘Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry.' but [Flame], he was different, he would go like ‘My condolences, but papi, life is what we make it' he's like ‘why don't we make it the best and knock this motherf*cker out and go get another championship belt?' and it motivated me.”
Blake Bilder added a bit more about his struggles and how he got through some hardships of his own.
“[Flame's] like ‘Relax, put a smile on! Have fun.' just so much of that all day, everyday left an imprint on my subconscious mind… I used to have really bad depression and suicidal thoughts and all of that… hanging around with Flame helped me out a lot. I was listening to Andrew Tate one day and there was a guy at the UFC that was like ‘Ew' and I was like ‘Dude, f*ck you, it helped me.”
The Hardships of Making It to the UFC
When discussing fighters taking risks with short-notice fights and leaning too much on their confidence and athletic mindsets, we got to discussing the grittiness of Blake Bilder's ascent to the big show. It was not easy, as one could imagine. Making it to the UFC is a difficult task in and of itself, but Blake had a particularly difficult route.
“I had an MMA fight, beat the guy – smoked the guy the whole time – but my coach in Minnesota did not want to turn me pro. After that fight, I was like ‘What do you need to see from me in this fight?' and he goes ‘I want to see you out-wrestle a wrestler', I was like ‘Alright, bet'. This guy wrestled his whole entire life — I picked him up, slammed him against the cage, dumped him on the ground and purposefully didn't finish him because I just wanted to grapple him… I go back to my corner and I go ‘What do you think about that, coach? I out-wrestled a wrestler' and he goes ‘Yeah, you could've knocked him out' and I'm like ‘Bro, what the f*ck?”
One day later, Blake Bilder then went to a boxing gym and signed up under a former coach. He got some work in and was asked if he wanted to compete on Wednesday, just four days after his wrestling masterclass victory.
“I just fought on Friday, Saturday I sign up with him, I get my boxing license on Monday and we're headed down to Independance, Missouri on Tuesday. Wednesday, we get the fighter briefing and then Thursday-Sunday I fight all four days and win the Ringside World Tournament at 165lbs.”
So, I just want to condense this, because in my opinion, this might be the most beautiful level of petty: your coach is like “You should wrestle this guy” and you're like “Okay, I will”, so you do and he's like “You should've knocked him out. So, the next day, you sign up for a boxing gym, you go all the way down to Missouri, you fight four days in a row, beat this guy that has 10lbs on you and win a title?
“Yeah. And, I get back, I've got the Ringside world title, and I'm like ‘Coach, you see that?' and he's like ‘Yeah, I know, I saw. You didn't even wear a Spartan jersey.' I was like ‘Bro, I swear to God.'”
Now That Blake Bilder Is in the UFC, What Are We Jamming To?
I'll never not be interested in a fighter's walkout music.
What's the thought process in picking a walkout song? And, do you like to switch it up?
“Yeah, I like to switch it up. So, I was going to walk out to “Back Then” by Mike Johns… but then I was just vibing in the gym and I was bumping some Clever — this song that my boy Clever made, shoutout to Clever — him and Lil Wayne made a song called “Call Me Nobody“ and it's just a f*cking banger, bro. I walked out to it and Clever actually hit me up and he put the reel of me walking out on his Instagram.”
A Tattoo Tour
While talking about the arts, I had to get a little tour of Blake's ink.
Wrapping Things Up With Blake Bilder
In a perfect world, how does your career pan out and what impact do you leave on the sport and those close to you?
“I see myself elevating in skillset so rapidly and so fast that I just keep shocking the world. The underdog every time, coming in and taking over the show and being pound for pound the greatest. That's really what I want, that's what I've been aiming for this entire time since I started fighting. I think the impact that I leave is that you can get a late start in life, you can get a late start to like, getting it. Statistically, I'm not supposed to be where I'm at — I'm supposed to be in jail or prison or hooked on drugs or an alcoholic… I've fought through all that adversity and I came out on top and was able to get to where I'm at right now. I think it'll be something that people take away where they're like ‘Damn, this guy lost his little brother and he overcame that, won a title a month later and then made it into the UFC'. Omce people really start seeing my life, I think they'll see a lot of themselves in me.”