Credeur teaches from experience
by Jake Martin - posted Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 @ 9:34 am
LAFAYETTE - The fight starts on the feet, every Mixed Martial Arts fight does. Placed inside an eight-sided cage at the highest level of competition the sport has to offer, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, "Crazy" Tim Credeur is introduced to a crowd sporting thousands of people on a September night in 2009.
Broadcasting live on Spike TV, Credeur stands across the cage from his adversary for the next 15 minutes, Nate Quarry. After a touch of gloves, the fight starts slow, a common feeling out process.
The action picks up within a minute, when Credeur lands a heavy body kick that sends vibrations down Quarry's ribcage. He follows it up with a straight right and Quarry answers with a combination. Active on the feet, these competitors trade various strikes. Using the arts of Muay Thai, kickboxing and boxing, fighters use tactics, such as feints and foot movement, to try and lure the other fighter into an unsuspecting punch or kick. At the midway point of the first round, the slugfest begins. No more warming up, no more feints being thrown, nothing but raw flesh and bone colliding with one another.
1:20 left in the first round. Credeur lands a solid right hand that grazes the temple of Quarry. This throws Quarry's equilibrium off and he tumbles on the mat. Victory is in sight for Louisiana's first Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Like a hungry dog going in for the kill, Credeur jumps on Quarry's back and sinks in a rear-naked choke, one of multiple choke submissions that cuts off blood circulation and renders your opponent unconscious. Like knockouts, submissions end fights immediately.
Credeur locks it in but fails to get it underneath Quarry's chin. Quarry escapes, survives. A clap signals to warn the fighters that there are 10 seconds left in the round. The horn sounds.
Quarry's escape can be learned in an MMA gym just outside Lafayette, La. That's where you'll find Credeur today. At 35 years old, Credeur is the head instructor of Gladiators Academy, where he teaches Muay Thai, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu and submission wrestling to ages three and up. He tutors young, aspiring martial artists because he loves it. He instills it because of the influence it's had on his life.
"Realistically, martial arts changed my life. It taught me the values and virtues that is lost in our culture," the Navy veteran says.
There's a flaw in the education system the Breaux Bridge native says, a failure of culture. He feels that schools aren't teaching kids about honor, loyalty and discipline, something that his first martial arts instructor taught him.
"Honor was the greatest gift martial arts ever gave me. You take a high school kid today and you ask him what honor is. That answer is going to be slow coming."
Credeur holds different seminars for his students. He brings in former MMA fighters and BJJ black belts like David Avellan to educate.
"One thing that I love about the Kimura is that it's a technique that can be done by anybody. All you need is two hands," Avellan instructs to a diversified age group.
Credeur watches his students, breaks a smile and smirks at the common misconceptions of MMA. "A lot of people who do not understand the sport look at the decisions that fighters make that cause them to lose and see it as failure," he proclaims.
"The truth of the situation is that we're making decisions that cause us to live our paths as Mixed Martial Artists. Sometimes the outcome of the fight is not going to go the way you want it to. In my life, success only comes from failure. Failure and persistence has equaled great success in my life."
According to the veteran UFC fighter, martial arts represent the constant dire of living a virtuous life on and off the mat. Credeur looks grimly at the mat placed on his gym's floor, "the mat never lies, you know?"
The second round begins much like the first round ended. With a furious pace, both men trade punches and kicks on the feet.
4:46. The fight now looks less like a tactical MMA match, more like a brawl one would find in a bar downtown. Pit, pat, pit, pat, thud. Fighters trade combinations as if they both sensed the end was near. Like Rock-em Sock'em Robots, no defense is shown. It's not about head movement or foot movement anymore. It's about which man can withstand the most punishment. Credeur, the aggressor, pushes forward until it happens. With one quick shot, Quarry turns the tide and plants Credeur on the canvas.
Flat on his back, Credeur is in an inauspicious predicament with Quarry hammering away on top of him. His jiu-jitsu saves him though. Keeping his composure, Credeur throws his legs up around the back of Quarry to nullify Quarry's ground-and-pound, and it allows him to attempt submissions. With triangle chokes, kimuras, armbars and guillotine chokes, Credeur's jiu-jitsu gives him plenty of options to attack off of his back.
Suddenly, both fighters are defensive. Credeur avoids punches, while Quarry prevents Credeur's submission attempts. The fight stays on the ground for the remainder of the round. The 10-second clap sounds. Credeur survives round 2.
"My mind doesn't work the same as yours does…"
Through a lifetime of training, Credeur built his mind and decision-making process to "create a different type of person." The type that Credeur suggests would survive five minutes on the bottom of a professional fighter trying to turn his lights out. With a gaunt-like stare, he says that moment is indescribable, much like stepping inside the Octagon.
"It's like asking someone to describe having a baby," says Credeur. "You just can't do it."
The UFC is the grandest stage for a sport that's found its home on cable network television in the past year, a sport that's done over a million pay-per view buys on multiple occasions. It's the mecca for what Credeur calls "the fastest growing sport in the world." However, that doesn't mean Credeur is living the life of a rock star. More misconceptions.
"Most UFC fighters aren't making millions of dollars a year. They're making 30 or 40,000."
Still, Credeur admits that's a much better payday than the one he received when he debuted in the sport. In 1996, before athletic commissions around the United States sanctioned the sport and placed rules and restrictions, Credeur debuted in Tijuana, Mexico. There he fought in a bare-knuckled fight for $50.
Credeur is still under contract with the UFC, but he hasn't fought since June 2011. He says the pay isn't enough to financially sustain his wife and two babies. His fighting days remain alive, but teaching has certainly become his main priority.
"I discovered that I get a lot more joy in sharing Mixed Martial Arts with others than I do with my own selfish pursuit of fighting," he says.
Still, Crazy Tim concedes to the UFC's Octagon: "There's nothing like putting yourself out there."
Heading into the third round, the fight is tied 19-19 on the scorecards. Like boxing, MMA uses a 10-point judging system, so the winner of the third and final round in this non-title bout will win the decision.
The momentum favors Quarry, but Credeur begins the round with urgency, moving forward as the aggressor. Credeur backs him against the fence and unleashes a wild combination. Right, left, right, body kick.
4:27. Quarry stumbles back, turns his hips and finds home with a picture perfect right hook on Credeur's jaw. Credeur stumbles. His legs give out. Survival mode sets in.
Like drops of rain seeping from the sky, punches are coming crashing down. Every move is significant. One mistake is the difference between continuance and waking up with a flashlight in his face. Credeur grabs ahold of Quarry and pivots his leg almost like a butterfly to sweep his opponent and allow himself enough room to escape and get back to his feet.
Back on the feet, both fighters test each other's chin once more. As if it were a scene from The Walking Dead, both combatants stumble forward like zombies. Punch-drunk and determined for success, the fighters strike recklessly.
3:01. Quarry lands a power shot that gives Credeur spaghetti legs. Wobbling, staggering, slipping. He loses his balance and falls to the canvas. Time is running out. He's on the bottom.
2:16. Credeur goes for a heel hook, a leg lock submission. He locks it in but Quarry escapes. Precious seconds tick away.
0:30. The referee stands them up, as he feels Quarry was not working enough on top. This is Credeur's last hope. The round is Quarry's. He knows he has to finish this fight. In desperation, he throws a head kick which connects on Quarry.
Clap, clap, clap. The race to finish is on. Left, right, head kick, left, right, left, body kick. The horn blows, the fighters embrace.
Both competitors stand in the middle of the Octagon between the referee as UFC announcer Bruce Buffer reads the scorecards. "… Declaring the winner by unanimous decision, Nate "Rock" Quarry…"
The referee raises Quarry's hand. For Credeur, failure is perceived, but success is reality.