Both fighters are new to mixed martial arts and, as amateurs, Grybos (0-1) and Pippens (0-0) are getting set to square off on the preliminary card of the 247 Fighting Championships’ Brawl in the Burgh 3. But that doesn’t stop them from also understanding exactly what fans want. After all, they are heavyweights. They realize that people want to see them knock someone out.
As Pippens remarked, “That’s what they say about heavyweights—it just takes one shot.”
Fortunately, both fighters seem willing enough to take that shot heading into their March 14 fight at the Printscape Arena in Canonsburg. Grybos comes into the match with a background in kickboxing, while Pippens just wants to put his striking on display. And, neither fighter has a plan to take it to the ground—if they can help it.
“Well, it starts standing up,” said Grybos, who plans to weigh in at 245 pounds. “So, we’ll start there and take it from there.”
Added the 255-pound Pippens, “I’m probably not going to look to take him down. I’m probably just going to strike.”
So, Grybos and Pippens seem to share a common strategy. But, the stories of how each got to this point also share similarities as well.
For Grybos, it started some four or five years ago. That’s when he started watching MMA on television, and he took a shining to the sport. Eventually, Grybos’ interest found root in a middle school friend—Eric Strausser. Strausser owns the Mid World Fight Club in Bloomsburg, Pa. And, it was Strausser who first talked Grybos into training at his gym just to stay in shape.
“I came to a kickboxing class and thought, ‘This is great. I love this,’” Grybos said. “And I just went from there.”
Pippens, meanwhile, was playing semi-pro football in his spare time when a friend also intervened. Pippens had a stint with the Pittsburgh Pride a couple of years back, but was finishing up a season playing for the Pittsburgh Seminoles last year (as a defensive lineman, offensive lineman, running back, and linebacker) when his friend, Edwin Vera, began to recruit him to The Mat Factory, in Lower Burrell, Pa. Pippens eventually gave in to Vera’s efforts. And that’s when Pippens got his first taste of grappling and wrestling this past July.
“I finally went,” Pippens said. “I started training for a couple of weeks and thought, ‘This is for real. I can really fight.’”
And so, both Pippens and Grybos began to grow their skill sets. Each used the resources that they had around them, entering regional martial arts or grappling tournaments, and cross-training with other gyms in their areas.
Grybos has spent his developmental time working on keeping his striking strong through kickboxing—including a second round technical knockout in his United States Karate Alliance (USKA) debut in December. But, he has also been focusing on his wrestling and ground escapes, spending time with other heavyweight fighters at Williamsport’s Team Vicious, and putting his growing skills to the test in North American Grappling Association (NAGA) tournaments. Still, it is in his own gym where Grybos has developed a bit of a reputation for quickness and speed—despite his size and frame.
As his Mid-World teammate Dylan Harnish said of Grybos, “He’s one of the biggest guys in the gym, but he moves as if he’s one of us little guys.”
Pippens, meanwhile, has tried to develop in all areas—from his wrestling, to jiu-jitsu, to whatever he can pick up on from those around him. He spars with fighters from The Academy in Pittsburgh every Friday. And he goes to StoutPGH (also in Pittsburgh) on Saturdays to work on his Muay Thai.
“It’s been a big advantage,” Pippens said of his training across gyms, “I’m learning from all angles of the game.
Added Pippens’ Mat Factory teammate, and Brawl in the Burgh 3 co-headliner, Fadi Shuman, “[Pippens] is a killer inside the ring. He’ll throw a jab at 80-percent and take my head off…The guy is a sponge. He picks up everything that we show him. Grappling-wise, he’s gone leaps and bounds beyond where he was when he started.”
However, despite all of their efforts to branch out and expand their game, all roads could very well lead back to striking on March 14—standing up, where each fighter feels most comfortable, and where fans will likely want to see these two fighters square off the most. After all, as Pippens opined, it just takes one shot.
“Everyone loves a heavyweight fight,” Pippens said.
Or, as Grybos concluded, “I’m just excited to put on a show.”
And what a show it will be! Tickets are available at our homepage, as well as with your favorite fighter on the card! Get them now to see a great night of MMA action!