Although most casual fight fans watch some of the major UFC pay per view and FOX shows and the occasional Bellator event on SPIKE, there is a whole other world of fighters out there. These are young scrappers fighting their way towards the big time, ‘chasing the dream’.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Fighting out of the red corner, weighing in at one hundred and fifty five pounds and fighting out of San Diego, California he is….. Steve “THUNDERBEAST” Kozola.
Steve is a Lightweight prospect who trains at Team Quest. Steven has won all seven of his pro fights by stoppage, with six knockouts and one submission. He has never let a fight get past the second round. So how did he get involved in the fight game?
“I got into the fight game in 2009 when I transferred colleges from North Central College in Naperville, IL to Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. I found myself still wanting to compete after playing one year of division 3 football, so I found a small local MMA gym in Cortland, IL called Peak Performance MMA (which later became United MMA and Fitness and is now United Elite) run by my first coach, Shawn Jackson at the time. I had previously trained in martial arts, achieving my 1st Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do at the age of 12, and thought I'd give mixed martial arts a try since the UFC was becoming more popular then. After 6 weeks of training I had my first, and only, amateur kickboxing fight. I won by first round TKO. A week later I had my first amateur mixed martial arts fight and won by 1st round submission (guillotine choke). I was 19 years old and I became obsessed, I became addicted!”
Who were some of Steve's favourite fighters to watch growing up?
“I was always inspired by Team Quest legends such as Dan Henderson, who I train with now, Randy Couture, Chael Sonnen and Illinois fighter Matt Hughes.”
Currently fighting in The World Series Of Fighting, Steve previously competed in Bellator MMA. What did his time in Bellator mean to him and his career?
“Bellator was my first major fight promotion opportunity! It meant that this dream was becoming real and I was a real professional mixed martial arts fighter. I was made for this, I sacrificed so much for this and I'm ready!”
Steve's career goal is not a complicated one. He is direct and knows what he wants out of MMA.
“I want to make this my full time job and be able to provide for my family. I want my wife to be able to stay at home with our 9 month old son. I want to represent God, the United States, my family and my teams Team Quest, Oceanside Jiu-Jitsu and Torres Boxing with courage and honour. I will become a champion! I will continue my undefeated record and finishing my opponents.”
So after winning his WSOF debut back in April, when will we be able to see Kozola back in the cage?
“That been quite a challenge lately and a frustrating topic. I'm currently signed with World Series of Fighting, but they don't plan to fight me til January 2017, which is a little too long. I don't like to wait between fights being that my last fight was April 2016 where I won by first round KO. With my record and finishing rate I feel I shouldn't have to wait that long to fight. I want to fight asap!”
Some of Steve's regular training partners include:
“Dan Henderson, Sam Alvey, Sean Strickland, Fernando Gonzalez and Ashlee Yoder are just a few of the many awesome fighters that make Team Quest, Temecula!”
My final question for Steve is the same question I usually ask at the end of each Volume of “Chasing The Dream”. How did Steven Kozola become known as “THUNDERBEAST”?
“My friends Eddie and Bryan were in a car with me heading to Las Vegas for a fun weekend. On the ride to Sin City Bryan said, “Steve, we need to get you a nickname!” So after some time saying names that didn't fit I just googled “fighter nicknames” on my iPhone to pass the time, occasionally I'd said some aloud I thought were funny or just plain stupid. One nickname that I classified as both funny AND stupid was “Thunderbeast.” Eddie and Bryan instantly looked at one another and yelled “THUNDERBEAST!!!!” at the top of their lungs. They continued this on a consistent basis throughout the entire trip. Before my third professional fight, Eddie secretly went up to the DJ and audio guy and told them to announce me as Steve “THUNDERBEAST!” Kozola! I couldn't believe my ears when I heard that announced as I walked into the cage. “That SOB!” I thought to myself as I knew it was Eddie responsible for this. I KO'd my opponent in less than a minute and instantly saw Eddie laughing uncontrollably as I left the cage. “Dude, you have to keep it now! You just KO'd that dude in less than a minute!” he said. I unenthusiastically agreed.”
Any final words from Steven Kozola?
“Shout out to all my sponsors: Clinch Gear, Nutrition Zone Carlsbad, Westcoast Chiropractic, Dedicated Tattoo and Project Hero. I call out the same person as I did in April who is Coros Fodor.”
For More info on Steve “Thunderbeast” Kozola you can check him out on social media. His facebook is Steve “Thunderbeast” Kozola, Twitter and Instagram at @kozola17. Be on the look out for “THUNDERBEAST” as he continues to dispatch his opponents quickly, he really is “Chasing The Dream”.
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