Michael Ballard is a long time professional mixed martial artist competing out of Remedy BJJ Academy in Pensacola, FL. He is a multiple-time Combat Jiu-Jitsu veteran and is the reigning Shogun FC Lightweight Combat Jiu-Jitsu champion and is a multiple-time ENDO Athletics Jiu-Jitsu PRO veteran.
In 2018, he was one-half of the very first Combat Jiu-Jitsu bout to take place in the state of Tennessee and will look to make history again on February 29th as he competes in Tennessee's first Combat Jiu-Jitsu Grand Prix at ENDO Athletics Jiu-Jitsu PRO 4 for the Featherweight ENDO Athletics Jiu-Jitsu PRO Championship.
Recently we were able to catch up with him to get his thoughts on his opening round opponent as well as the Grand Prix as a whole:
EA: You will be facing Chris Pemberton in the first round of the Featherweight Grand Prix. Do you have any comments on your opponent and what challenges he brings to the table?
Ballard: Chris is a tough guy with plenty of heart. His triangles look nice and quick. He brings length and sneaky moves to the table. I'm definitely gonna have to use experience as my advantage.
EA: Who do you see as your biggest challenge in the bracket?
Ballard: The biggest challenge in any tournament is always the man in front of you... that being said, I'd like to see Mr. Gilbride one more time...
EA: You competed extensively in MMA before jumping into Combat Jiu-Jitsu. Which do you prefer and why?
Ballard: MMA will always be my first love and I have a true passion for the sport and the atmosphere. However, Combat Jiu-Jitsu provides a way to hone your skills and provides realistic hand to hand combat, while also limiting the possibility of major and life altering cumulative head shots.
EA: What does it mean to you knowing you competed in the very first Combat Jiu-Jitsu match in Tennessee back in 2018 and now will be competing in the very first Combat Jiu-Jitsu tournament in Tennessee?
Ballard: I love being a pioneer to the sport I have poured a majority of life into. I hope the younger generation of combat athletes can take something from my career, or have more opportunities due to my willingness to jump in whatever combat sport picked against whomever stands across from me.
EA: What is your predictions for February 29th?
Ballard: My predictions are an explosive show and group of matches.
EA: What are you doing to prepare for this Grand Prix?
Ballard: Working in the E.R., Studying anatomy and opponents, and as always I get great help from the best place to train in the Florida Panhandle at Remedy BJJ/MMA.
EA: What can fans expect on February 29th?
Ballard: Not to brag, but while I may not always win, (like I said, I'm one of the few in the sport who doesn't pick and choose opponents), I do always make the crowd leave their seats in excitement. My match with Nick Baker gets talked about everytime I come to Tennessee as the best Combat Jiu-Jitsu match of all time. Whether I'm Rampage slamming someone multiple times like the last guy (insert his name), or slamming someone off my back Hulk style, or talking $hit mid-flight, I will excite you to the max... everytime!
ENDO Athletics Jiu-Jitsu PRO 4 will take place on Saturday, February 29th, 2020 in Crossville, TN at the Historic Palace Theatre. Doors open at 4:00pm with the first matches starting at 4:30pm. Tickets are available now at www.endoathletics.com!