Chad “The Freak” Finnerty proves that age can only be a number in MMA
When most people are asked what sport is synonymous with the state of Indiana, their answer might be basketball or auto racing. However, Mulberry, Indiana can boast of having a unique athlete among its 1,300 residents. Chad “The Freak” Finnerty is a professional mixed martial artist who fights at middle and lightweight.
Now, let’s go back a moment. Finnerty had a successful high school wrestling experience at Clinton Prairie High School. A school society nestled between two corn fields in a small farming community in central Indiana. This success he found in high school wrestling led him to become a member of the wrestling team at Purdue University, where he trained and wrestled alongside his fellow Boilermaker and veteran of the ‘UFC, John Fitch. He was a member of the Indiana Greco Roman and Freestyle wrestling teams and has a career record of 192-8.
About 18 years later, the overweight, divorced corporate salesman decided to change his life and at 38 he added a mixed martial artist to his repertoire. Finnerty is still working full time and training every day for his next bouts.
His first fight in MMA saw the father of two, Finnerty, defeat his 25-year-old opponent and gain the respect of fight fans in the building and the mixed martial arts community. Finnerty is starting to move up the promotional ranks and is currently in talks to sign with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.
I spoke to Finnerty, now 41, who currently sits at 2-0 as a Pro to discuss how he’s got to where he is currently in the sport and where he wants to go with his career. in MMA.
Tell me about your first wrestling match and compare it to your first MMA fight.
Finnerty: “Wow, my first wrestling match was back in 1992. I wrestled for Willow Creek College. We were wrestling in Hobart and I won 16-2. It’s funny because my very first MMA fight was against Trent Anderson, who was several years younger than me. I fought my very first MMA fight when I was 38. Trent was 24 or 25 in Rainsville, Alabama at AFC 1. I took him down and checked him every round and won a judge’s decision 30 to 27. ”
What prompted you to step into the cage at an age when most people wouldn’t even try?
Finnerty: “My good friend Sam McAlpin approached me to help him make a takedown defense for Trevor Peake’s next fight. I started helping them with that and then I just became part of the team. Sam was persistent about “Hey, you gotta try this,” and I told her I would as long as they found someone my age. So they found someone my age and about three weeks before the fight he pulled out. Trent was the only one to intervene on short notice. I told him (Sam) I was doing one and I was done and it’s been 12 fights.
You struggled in a little country high school in central Indiana. How does that compare to wrestling at a university as important as Purdue?
Finnerty: “Day and night my stay in Clinton Prairie has been absolutely brilliant. Once I got to Purdue it was all about business, everything was planned out from the weightlifting program to the workout program to the conditioning program and actual practice. It was more of a business and it practically trained me in the schedule or schedule that I have to follow today.
Of all your fights, which was the most difficult?
Finnerty: “Probably my two fights against Charles Philpot. He has several other victories, several years of combat experience. I lost both fights, but those are the two that really defined what I need to work on the most in my game.
Where does your fight name “The Freak” come from?
Finnerty: “So we were in our gym in Alabama and we brought in a young man named Jacob Harold who was trying because he said he wanted to fight. He did a round with Sam and then he had to do a wrestling round with me. (Jacob was just coming out of the Marines) I picked him up and hit him hard, he got up and got sick and then came back and he finished the round.
Someone asked him, “What do you think is going against the old man?” He sort of laughed and shook his head and said, “This man is a freak of nature.” He’s just a monster. At that point, everyone was like, ‘Yes, that’s the name! This is what we stand by! “”
Who inspires you?
Finnerty: “My children and my hometown. I did this at first just for fun. As a professional athlete you get paid and I do it for the kids. We are taking a vacation. It just helps with that. Then there is the pride thing. I do it for my small hometown. I don’t think we had a professional athlete from Mulberry, Indiana. So that’s what keeps me going.
Tell me about your children and what they think of you as a fighter?
Finnerty: “My son Zion is 16 and he trains with me when we are together. He seems to like it and he knows most of the fighters. He follows him pretty well. My 13 year old daughter Carlie absolutely adores each of the fighters. If a fighter enters the room, I’m a trash can and she runs towards them. They think it’s cool that daddy goes in there and fights.
Who is your hero?
Finnerty: “Marty Rohrman. My high school wrestling trainer. He is solely responsible for my tenacity, my courage and my attitude to never give up. After graduating he became one of my closest friends. He passed away in the summer of 2020 and it almost created an even greater will to succeed because I knew it was something he wanted me to do.
Where do you see yourself in three years?
Finnerty: “Dead, (laughs) in three years, I hope I hung up the MMA gloves and coached in my old high school, and if I’m still struggling I may continue as a Bare Knuckle fighter.
Where is your battle camp and what is the most brutal part of it?
Finnerty: “My battle camp is in Madisonville, Tennessee at Wolves and martial arts. My head coach is Adam Silvey. The hardest part of any fight camp for me is losing weight. I’m not the best at dieting and usually wait until the last minute. I love workouts, I love training, but I can do without weight reduction. “
Of the two weight classes you fight in, which one best compliments your fighting style?
Finnerty: “When I’m at the lightest weight, 185, I’m generally bigger than most of the guys I compete with. At 205, they’re big and strong, and they hit hard. My style of wrestling is to shoot you down and crush you. So I guess you can say it’s more complimentary for me to be at 205. My style of grinding them really sucks their breath and works their cardio a lot more.
Talk about yourself like you’re someone who just fought you?
Finnerty: “Several of my competitors have said that I am terribly strong. You wouldn’t think that getting in there against a 40-year-old would have the grip strength and sheer toughness of wrestling that I do. A lot of them think, because they’re going against this forty year old man, that they can go out there and smoke him. I know all aspects well. I started with nothing more than a wrestling game, and it only got me this far. I started the transition to hitting, then I joined Eric Turner at KMAA and we had to do Jiu Jitsu. As a wrestler I don’t like to be on my back, but to be successful you have to be well balanced.
Tell me about your next fight?
Finnerty: “My fight on July 10 is with the Alabama Fighting League owned by Willie Evans. I will fight in the main or main event against Timothy Blevins for the 205 pound title fight. It’s a rematch of a match that took place over a year ago, which was my last amateur fight. I won this fight in 34 seconds and Tim made it clear to several promotions that he wanted a rematch and that was the first chance we could get there, so we’re going to do it.
You recently signed with Bare Knuckle Fighting. Tell me about it.
Finnerty: “I went to a trial run with Harrison Aiken in October of last year. I just started to like this aspect. This is my weakest aspect in the game, and so about a month ago I went to try for Bare Knuckle Fighting in Birmingham, Alabama. We did the full tests. We had to shade, hit heavy bags, a punch counter and a work pad. After that, Nate Shook offered me a deal to debut in Bare Knuckle Fighting later this summer.
What is your ultimate goal in MMA?
Finnerty: “To be successful. I have a title fight coming up. I want to win a belt. Just to keep improving. I want to be called up by a big promotion. It hasn’t really happened yet, but I did. had the Toe The Line Series with Bare Knuckle Fighting, so I’m on the right track to achieving those goals.
Thank you, Chad, and good luck in all your future endeavors.
Photo credits: Battle of Valor Challenge