After suffering a loss at Bellator 154: Davis vs. King Mo in mid-May, the largest MMA stage of his career to that point, Steven “The Gremlin” Gruber (5-3) was spotted the following Monday morning rolling around with his MMAGOLD teammates on the practice mats with the same positivity and dedication as before. By remaining ready, Gruber’s coaches and management didn’t hesitate to present him with an opportunity to face Shai “Must Be Nice” Lindsey (4-1) at RFA (Resurrection Fighting Alliance) 42 on August 19, 2016 in Visalia, California.
Sometimes, defeat drags a mixed martial artist back to square one; therefore, Gruber beamed, a little brighter than usual, with delight when he realized the lateral direction his career moved in contracting his services at RFA 42, especially in the wake of his defeat at Bellator 154:
“It’s actually an honor to lose in such a big organization and not have to start all over again,” he exclaimed.
Though Bellator is connected with Spike TV, Gruber’s bout against the savvy Josh Paiva (8-1) wasn’t aired, either streamed online for the prelims or on the televised main card, because these Northern California flyweights were turned loose on one another after Bellator 154’s main event, which meant: the power had been cut to anyone outside of San Jose’s SAP Center. Friends, family, and fans were in the dark until Gruber, finally, posted the results on his social media. At RFA 42, Gruber will be featured on the main card, which means AXS TV’s cameras won’t blink and, in high-definition, will capture each feint, combination, or takedown logged by MMAGOLD’s hardest working male flyweight,
“You’d think: this fight being televised would give me a lot of nerves, but it’s not,” he trumpeted with a humble bravado. “I’ve already been fighting for such a long time. Every fight right now is just another fight in my books; to be on camera is just a plus.”
The invitation to RFA 42 may have appeared out of the blue, but Gruber’s readiness wasn’t happenstance. Since he is, seemingly, a permanent fixture inside Urban Sprawl Fitness, MMAGOLD’s home base, there wasn’t a second of dead air for Gruber to formulate his willingness to return to live action. “The Gremlin” discussed the mindset he taps into in order to push his personal walls a little further each day, so he can answer the call when it arrives,
“With me, you always have to stay ready. You can’t get ready because you never know when you’re going to get that call for a fight coming up, and you’ve got to be ready to make that weight.”
Constant preparation assists with the battle of the scales, but it also burns doubt—like calories—when met with the name of your opponent. Xtreme Couture’s Lindsey, in contrast to his nickname, isn’t a nice matchup for anyone rising the ranks at 125 pounds. Although Lindsey and Gruber fight with a similar flare for the finish, either in victory or defeat, the product of MMAGOLD is the only of the two to have been tested for the duration of three rounds. Some extra minutes in the cage with a few more contests under his belt offers Gruber, what he argued, a factor of experience in his favor,
“I always look for the knockout. If the knockout presents itself, I’m going to take it, but if it hits the ground, I’m not too worried about the ground either because I’m a purple belt in jiu-jitsu; I wrestle with solid wrestlers every day.”
Had RFA 42 never fashioned itself as a blip on Gruber’s radar, he was already slated to brawl in the Bay Area at Conquer Fighting Championships (CFC) 3 in October, but this flyweight was itching to buzz around another cage before the fall. Additionally, Gruber doesn’t foresee a cancellation of his visit to CFC 3 because: the longer the string of wins, the easier it will be to tie a bow on where he identifies his place in the sport: the UFC,
“If all goes good at RFA and Conquer Fighting, I might have something bigger. If I keep winning, big things keep happening.”
Since turning pro in 2013, Gruber has never dipped into a two-fight slump, nor does he intend on tasting such a sour feat on August 19th. On the contrary, Gruber views RFA 42 as a way to propel 2016’s conclusion into a winning run.