There are numerous Mixed Martial Artists actively competing who boast undefeated records but without question there is only one Chad Robichaux. A veteran of the sport who made his debut a decade ago, Robichaux has racked up eleven straight wins in his career while also serving as a Special Forces Recon Marine, actively lobbying on behalf of injured veterans, and juggling the responsibilities of owning a successful family of Gracie Barra training centers in Texas.
Robichaux’s lifetime of hard work comes to a head this Saturday night at Bellator 41 when he fights 12-2 bantamweight champ Zach Makovsky as part of a stacked card including Joe Warren against Marcos Galvao and the semi-finals of the Season 4 Featherweight Tournament, and if things go as planned on his end the promotion may find itself with an uncrowned champion in next year’s 135-pound field.
The 35-year old’s journey towards potentially shaking up Bellator’s bantamweight scene officially began in his early 20s when he stumbled across a Gracie Barra school though, as Five Ounces of Pain learned in a conversation with Robichaux, the spirit of the sport is something that’s thrived in him for much longer.
“Martial arts has been a part of my life since I was five years old. There’s never been much of a gap in my life where I haven’t been active in martial arts,” Robichaux explained.
The comment even applies to a period from November 2004 to January 2009 where Robichaux’s military commitments put his MMA career on hold.
“It was always my intention (to keep fighting). Even when I deploying overseas I did eight tours over four years in Afghanistan, and a lot of my tours were 3-4 months so I’d come back for three months, and when I came back I’d spend the whole three months getting back in shape doing boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing.”
As far as the lost time in the ring “Robo” wouldn’t have had it any other way given his service to the country, saying on the matter, “I went into the Marine Corps when I was 17 years old so I was in the Corps before even my first amateur MMA fight. When things kicked off with 9/11 my commitment to the country became more demanding. I had a great opportunity to go do my specific job for the military, I jumped on it, had a great time, and had a good opportunity to serve my country and (there are) no regrets about that.”
Regarding the experience and how it helped mold him as the fighter he currently is, Robichaux conveyed the mindset involved in combat as having sharpened his awareness in the cage.
“When you come under pressure you perform differently than someone who hasn’t been under that life pressure. Whether a sport or combat, there are physiological affects that happen to your body and being able to learn how to control those things is a big part of our sport. Guys like Tim Kennedy and Brian Stann…you’re not going to see those guys buckle under the pressure. We’re able to have a pretty clear vision that this is just a sport and the parameters of safety are different, the consequences aren’t irreversible.”
Robichaux’s professional debut came in 1999 with his follow-up fight on the same evening after winning the opening round of a four-man tournament where his enduring love of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ultimately brought him a pair of submission victories. The art was first introduced to him in 1997, a vastly different scene than as is the case today as he recalled.
“The thing to do at the time was BJJ and compete in MMA since we were the only school around. It was pretty easy in that area to compete and we were kinda the best school in the area and were kind of the big kids on the block,” Robichaux said of his roots. “Now everybody does it and everybody is so good now. It’s so much different than back then.”
“My second amateur fight was in Florida against Din Thomas and I’d never competed against somebody else who knew Jiu-Jitsu so it surprised me. I was like, “Whoa! This guy knows Jiu-Jitsu!”
Now owner of three Gracie Barra schools in Houston, the fire to compete burns as strongly now for Robichaux as it did ten years ago even if he doesn’t have the same financial motivation as most when it comes to putting his health on the line in a cage.
“I’m just a competitor,” Robichaux said in summation. “Right now I feel I’m in better shape as a martial artist with fitness and skill levels than I did in my 20s. Now I can really show all the skills I’ve put together my entire life (and do so) at the top level.”
“My business as a martial arts school owner is more lucrative than competing and some people would probably argue it doesn’t give me the right motivation or drive. But that’s not the case. I fight for something I’m real passionate about and I believe in and that’s the arts we represent – Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai – so I’m one of those guys who wants to go out there and show the work my team puts together.”
The undefeated Robichaux will have a chance to do just that at Bellator 41 against Makovsky whose strap may not be on the line in Arizona but whose reputation most certainly is. As far as the bout’s lack of gold, Robichaux expressed the thought of a championship was nice but not nearly the driving force behind his preparation process.
“I’d be lying if I admitted I didn’t want the (title). The competitor side of me wants that belt. I’m gonna go and beat the champion so it would be nice to walk away with the belt,” Robichaux started before drawing a silver lining around the situation. “But I’m not going to let it distract me. I’m there to compete against one of the top guys Bellator has and I’m gonna beat him. That’s the priority, not the belt. I’ve got a ton of medals and belts hanging on the walls in my academy and even stored in boxes in the attic.”
“Really these (superfights) are a way of keeping the champions active,” Robichaux continued while mentioning his hope is to solidify a spot in this fall’s bantamweight tournament by beating the division’s champ. “I’ve gotta make 135 and make sure I finish it to show I could’ve beaten Zach in a title-fight.”
The prospect of a champion losing without a belt on the line is one Robichaux admits Bellator may be uncomfortable with, even hoping in a sense he falls rather than deal with the fallout of Makovsky being defeated.
“Yeah, I do feel that and I don’t mean that with any disrespect. I do feel that they’re bringing in guys to lose but they’re bringing in tough guys. They haven’t brought in any slouches,” Robichaux said while referring to last week’s event. “With Ben Askren and Nick Thompson, that was definitely a tough match. So they’re bringing in tough guys but at the same time they want to show how powerful their organization’s champions are by having them beat the top talent.”
It’s a notion Robichaux willingly accepts and actually plans to use to his advantage.
“It definitely inspires me. I’m not going there to lose or just to have a good opportunity to compete. I’m going there to win. I’m not there to validate their champion. He’s in for a fight and it’s going to be a good one.”
“I’d love to see it go to the ground. I know I have the skills to submit him,” Robichaux stated before paying respect to Makovsky. “He’s definitely evolved a lot since those submission (losses). One of those submissions was at 145 and he’s definitely a natural 135er. And they were high level guys when he was still evolving. He’s one of these guys who came out of wrestling and that high pedigree put him at the top right away, so he’s never had it easy – he’s had to grind his way through some tough opponents.”
“So I’m definitely not thinking he’ll be easy to submit. He’ll be a tough guy to submit. But I have a different Jiu-Jitsu style and a very aggressive style of fighting. I put a lot of pressure on guys and wear them down. I’m gonna be putting pressure on him to make a mistake. I’m not going to let him do what he’s done in the past which is kinda sit back and grind out a decision. There’s going to be constant pressure, he’s going to fold under it, and when he does I’m going to be right on top of him to finish it.
In closing, Robichaux also discussed one of his other passions – helping out American troops injured in the Middle East through an organization providing a very necessary service.
“Soldiersangels.com is a charity and what they do is when a soldier gets injured in combat, in primarily Afghanistan and Iraq is where they focus at, if he has certain capabilities he’s unable to handle they make sure to help with moral support and making sure guys feel welcome coming back home. They supply backpacks with phone cards and clothes so they won’t be stuck in a hospital gown. When they get home they give them a laptop and help them get their lives back together, help provide for the families. It’s just an incredible movement.”
As far as why the cause is dear to him, other than the obvious reason, Robichaux went on to say, “I think a lot of people misinterpret what happens when somebody gets injured on the battlefield. They just assume our government is able to take care of them and make them feel comfortable and that’s not the case. It takes private efforts to do that. Anything donation wise helps these guys too. It’s people like me and you, your average American, who is willing to give these guys their lives back. It’s not just someone losing a hand or a leg – its people losing their spirit. It’s about getting back mentally the way you left, back to your families at home. I’ve been doing it since the last time I came back from Afghanistan and something I’ll spend the rest of my life to make sure I’m part of the effort to help get people back.”
In closing he also offered his thanks to those who have helped along the way, saying, “Always first, thank God for giving me health enough to do this and a platform to bring support to positive causes like Soldiers’ Angels. My team at Gracie Barra, my family, the guys at Alchemist. My sponsors Ranger Up, Cash4Gold.com, Saved.com, Cardwoo.com, and Lexani Wheels
Robichaux has ten submission victories in his eleven wins including five armbars, a handful of chokes, and an ankle lock. He last saw action in August at “Strikeforce: Houston” en route to a Split Decision win over Humberto DeLeon.