Steven Gruber: Finding A Home In MMA

steven gruber 6The positivity pumping through the veins of Steven “The Gremlin” Gruber (5-2), a mixed martial artist nearing the biggest fight of his life, somehow congeals to depict images meant to hoist spirits, which actually peek through his skin for all to see. Peering through the peepholes of a cage, one may interpret the ink splashed on Gruber acts as a superstitious armor; whereas, in the comforting atmosphere of Urban Sprawl Fitness in El Dorado Hills, California, he candidly opened up, as if sitting in a living room with family, about a hidden shade of life lessons behind his tattoos. Discovering safety and honing survival techniques without a roof over his head is nothing new for Gruber, especially since he spent the first fifteen years of his life homeless; therefore, his adaptability in new environments suits his first move out of the regional MMA circuit. On May 14, 2016, Gruber wipes his feet on Bellator MMA’s welcome mat at Bellator 154: Davis vs. King Mo to face Josh Paiva (7-1) at the SAP Center in San Jose, California.

At twenty-five years of age, Gruber solidified the mental fortitude of a gladiator long before contracting three rounds worth of real estate. In fact, Gruber discussed the metal most often surrounding him in childhood: the family car,

“Growing up, I was never part of the richest family. I’ve always been going in and out of the homeless shelters, living on the river, and going through a bunch of that drama. So, growing up, it’s been really rough, and I’ve always had to fight and scrounge for everything I’ve had. MMA has kind of played into that, too.”

A gut-wrenching narrative detailed in an upbeat, matter-of-fact tone personifies Gruber. One gruber 5may surmise the strain in not knowing where you’ll lay your head at night stemmed Gruber’s desire to fight. Turns out, Gruber’s brother exposed him to the sport, and after some escalated sibling rivalry, he, several years later, sought training,

“I guess it all started when I was twelve years old. I started watching UFC with my brother; I started liking it then. I started really getting picked on by my brother and his friends, and that turned me to want to train.”

Immediately, Gruber noticed MMA was something he could return to each day, kick off his shoes, and soak in solace. He wanted the deed to this feeling, so, after four week or so, he participated in his first sanctioned fight,

“I took my first fight about a month after starting training. I ended up losing my first fight, but it kicked off a new love of the sport for me.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 8.38.50 AMEven in loss, Gruber’s passion to thrive in the sport spun his mind like Rumpelstiltskin spooling thread into MMAGOLD. Eventually, Gruber collected a title belt in a promotion known as Rebel Fighter, though a different MMA gleam caught his eye that night. He remembered speaking with Dave Hirschbein, team manager of MMAGold, after his victory about joining the team, but he already knew he wanted MMA’s Midas Touch,

“I had noticed a lot of MMAGold going around, and I was like, ‘Man, how do I get on that team?’ So when he [Hirschbein] came up to me, it was really cool; it was like an opportunity that had been waiting for me.”

A decade removed from his nights living in makeshift lodging and a few calendars into hissteven gruber 4 training with MMAGOLD, Gruber houses all the happiness in the world, and, as his chest reads: “Sky’s the Limit.” After a yearlong layoff, he is hungry to perform against Paiva, a Northern California native whose only loss forced him to be dragged the distance, as a master chef in the kitchen, too small for two. He explained,

“It’s like a dream come true. I’ve been fighting and training for almost eight years now, and to finally be fighting for Bellator; it hasn’t really clicked in yet. Right now, I’m on a one-fight deal with them, but hopefully, if I put on a good enough show, they’ll have me back for the next card. That’s what I’m hoping for.”

steven gruber feature picFrom an early rollercoaster ride to a bullet-train gliding on a goal-oriented track, nothing can derail Gruber, not now. Even when “The Gremlin” appears drenched in sweat and blood, the splatters on the apron only decorate the inside of the cage as a Jackson Pollock replica hanging over the mantel, enabling him to endure when suffering punishment,

“Experiencing homelessness made me so much mentally stronger than I ever could imagine. I’ve found myself totally getting pummeled in fights and being like, ‘I’ve been through way worse than this, so…let’s stick it out.”

The characteristics that drew the eyes of MMAGOLD to Gruber will strike the interests of MMA households around the world. Gruber would encourage you to tune in to Bellator 154 on Spike TV because,

“I’m a really exciting fighter. I don’t just go in there to fight; I fight to win, and I go in there to put on a show.”

Follow Steven Gruber on his path to construct a mansion of a career in MMA:


Twitter: @GruberSteven

Instagram: @gruber2

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