Tobias Baker takes on Charles Gilpin at Submission Underground 14. The broadcast goes via UFC Fight Pass on Sunday, May 31 in Portland, Oregon. Baker has been a part of American Top Team Portland for a relatively short period of time but it has been an impactful tenure all the same. “I’ve only been up here for about going on two and a half months now. But it was familiar from day one you know. They welcomed me with open arms,” Baker quipped, “Very, very, very smooth transition. And I think training with the highest level of competitors on the west coast was the way to go.”
Grappling during a pandemic is something that some SUG competitors have heard negativity about. There are many detractors who think that something like submission grappling should not be happening with COVID-19 still as prevalent as it is. On an anecdotal level, Baker has not heard much of that vitriol though.
“I think that athletes have the superior immune system”, Tobias Baker stated, “Luckily, all of the comments. The love that I’m getting from some of the fans. And some of the people closest to me. They’re nothing but happy for me and very excited to see me get this opportunity.” Preparations have been largely similar but virtual training with his strength coach has been used as a workaround.
Baker articulated that the only downside of this corona virus-minded competitive framework is that he cannot have a corner for this one. Still though, it takes Tobias Baker back to the roots of how he came up as a competitive martial artist. It reminds him of being in the finals of a wrestling tournament. A dimmed down arena with a spotlight on the competitors and unwavering focus on the action taking place.
Beyond submission grappling and wrestling, MMA efforts are also a priority for The Heathen. “Right now, you know with the whole gym change and everything. We’ve been taking things nice and slow. Originally before all the quarantine broke out, I was planning on fighting in May. I’m just trying to keep myself active and not get complacent.” The 2-1 MMA pro wants to fight in UFC by 2021 or 2022. He was looking to fight for promotions like LFA prior to COVID-19 breaking out.
His opponent this weekend Gilpin has a victory over Jake Smith on the last Submission Underground card and has a level of amateur MMA experience too. Charles Gilpin is certainly someone Baker is familiarized with.
Tobias Baker said, “We were actually supposed to fight on the same amateur card. And I think his fight fell through or something. I’ve seen some of his tape, he’s a really gritty guy and I’ve got a lot of respect for him. So I’m excited to go up against him and put my skills on display. He’s already got accolades in the Jiu-Jitsu world. He’s a purple belt with Brazilian Top Team. No-Gi bronze placer at Worlds. He’s no slouch and I have to come in there prepared and ready to put it on the line.”
Matt The Hammer Hamill initially sparked that competitive fire in Baker. Not just for wrestling but for MMA as well. It was something that Tobias Baker had an immediate connection to. He quipped, “I mean I fell in love with MMA the first moment that I laid eyes on it. When I saw it. It definitely sparked something deep in me that I didn’t even know was there yet. I think it was something that kind of ran in the blood. Runs in the family and is genetically intertwined with my DNA.”
Tobias Baker is someone who is battle-ready but not in an agro sort of way. It’s motivated by the love of competition and the quest for self-discovery/ actualization.
The SUG 14 competitor quipped, “I welcome battles with anybody. I joke around with my friends, you know, I want smoke with everybody. I think a warrior’s mindset, kind of falls underneath that anime category. If you look at a guy like Goku from the Dragon Ball Z series. Never wanted to destroy the world. He never wanted to be evil. But he always wanted to fight the strongest guys. And that is just engrained in me. I want to fight the biggest, baddest, strongest guys.”
He continued, “I feel more prepared than I’ve ever felt before. I even feel prepared for a fight right now. I’m ready, I’m ready to get ready for a fight.”
UFC Fight Pass
CBD and medical marijuana are a key part of Tobias Baker’s recuperation process. Baker said, “With aches and pains especially with like sparring, you start bruising up your shins. You look for things that help alleviate that pain for a little while until you do it again the next day. Just keep getting stronger and stronger. CBD and medical marijuana, those things help free your mind. From overthinking and thinking about those injuries.”
He continued, “Usually, will smoke after a practice, you know, be super sore and hurting. Or I might even smoke in the morning before practice. If I wake up just feeling like I got hit by a truck.” Mental health benefits from cannabis are something that Baker sees as beneficial. Not just to MMA fighters or submission grapplers but to athletes and human beings in general. Tobias Baker versus Charles Gilpin goes at Submission Underground 14 via UFC Fight Pass this Sunday, May 31st.
Check out the video from my interview with Tobias Baker below!