Steven Mowry is tired of overthinking.
With five submission victories, he is no longer stressing out about the lack of striking in his fights. It’s a different message than the one he shared after his last victory at Bellator MMA 231 on Oct. 25, 2019.
He criticized himself for not showcasing his standup as much as he wanted to. The 27-year-old is keeping it simple now and going for the win; that’s it.
“Everybody I fight, the path to victory just so happens to be through my wrestling and jiu-jitsu,” Mowry said. “I’m sure at some point my striking will come out, but I’m kind of learning to abandon that and just commit fully to going in there and smashing people.”
Going to the Sunshine State
Striking is one of the main reasons Mowry made the move to Florida. He began training with the formerly-known, Blackzilians four years ago.
Today, he is still training with most of the same teammates at Sanford MMA in Deerfield, Florida. Throughout the entire time, he’s trained under world-renowned striking coach Henri Hooft.
Mowry is the first to admit he’s taken criticism from Hooft on his striking. The heavyweight can even perform his best Hooft impression in the process.
Whether he is on his feet or not, he is still a perfect 7-0 after submitting Gokham Saricam in his last outing. Much like Mowry, Hooft will take the win.
“Henri is a funny guy, he’s hard to please and he sets the standards high. For the most part, especially after a fight like my last, Henri was like ‘You need to shut up and just keep winning,’” Mowry said. “I really think when I graduate from ‘Steven, why do you fight like you’re 5 feet 8 inches, but you’re 6 feet 9 inches?’ I’ll move into ‘That’s what I’m f*****g talking about.’”
Mowry is a proven finisher. He’s never gone to a decision and only entered the third round once in his professional career.
The heavyweight contender owns one knockout victory and another win by technical knockout, both while fighting under the Titan FC banner. He’s rattled off three-consecutive submissions since making his Bellator debut on Sept. 21, 2018.
Mowry is finding ways to win, it just happens to be on the ground more often than not. Winning his bouts by submission is still not keeping him from polishing his standup at the gym.
“Overtime, different opportunities present themselves,” Mowry said. “One thing I’ve seen in my successful teammates is they kind of are like ‘I need to stop worrying how this is going to happen, I just need to go in there and make it happen.’”
He is climbing up the Bellator ranks in a division full of seasoned fighters. Based on the 26 heavyweights listed on the promotion’s current roster, the median age is 36.
Mowry is one of seven heavyweights under 30 years old. There’s also 13 other fighters who are 35 or older.
Ryan Spillane , Davion Franklin  and Adam Keresh  are the only athletes younger than Mowry in the division.
“A lot of the best guys don’t leave and don’t leave for a long time,” Mowry said. “Sooner rather than later, I feel like I am going to be standing across the cage from someone I grew up watching.”
Being one of the younger guys is nothing new for Mowry. He filled the role at Cubs Boxing and Wrecking Crew BJJ when he started his career in Pennsylvania. He was considered one of the younger fighters when moving to Florida as well.
Mowry sees it as a chance to learn from veterans of the sport, including his 32-year-old training partner, Stefan Struve of the UFC.
“I was just somebody who got in with the right people at the right time, who wanted to cultivate that growth and that distinction of skill,” Mowry said. “One of the reasons I ended up making it work down here for so long was Stefan Struve already had 35 fights by the time I started being his training partner.”
Mowry found a home in Florida and in Bellator. He plans to continue his rise to the top of Bellator’s heavyweight division as soon as possible.
Hard Knocks 365 is helping him get there. He may have made the trip to Florida for a particular reason, but he is staying for more than that.
“I really came down here to develop an individual striking game and I’ve seen some growth there, but I’ve seen growth in my wrestling and grappling too,” Mowry said. “This move has been the best thing for me, definitely a turning point in my career skill wise.”
Connor Northrup once covered municipal meetings and promised himself never again. He is now combining his passion for Mixed Martial Arts and reporting all into one.