When Trevor Prangley moved to the United States from South Africa becoming an MMA fighter was not his intention.
“I came to (America) for wrestling,” Prangley told Hector Castro in a recent interview with MMA DieHards. “I came and wrestled at North Idaho College for two years. I was going to go back (to South Africa) to try out for the Olympics, but I got into the MMA scene and never went back.”
While the Olympics may not have worked out for the two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, MMA, on the other hand, has been a fruitful endeavor. He currently holds the light heavyweight title in the Shark Fights organization, and also competes in other promotions such as Strikeforce.
Prangley is currently stationed at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., alongside Josh Koscheck and UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez. His career record is 23-6-1 and includes fights that took place everywhere from BoDog to the UFC.
“I’ve had a long career, and I’ve hardly ever been finished,” Prangley boasted.
Of his six losses, only three were finishes – two via submission and one by way of knockout. That is not terribly bad considering the amount of wins Prangley has amassed, but a sub-par run in 2010 had the AKA fighter contemplating his future.
“I thought to myself, ‘Is it time to retire?’,” Prangley said. “I asked Javier (Mendez) and Crazy Bob (Cook) and they said, ‘No, just keep going and we’ll let you know when it’s time to (retire)’.”
Prangley put together five wins in a row from 2008 through 2009 before he fought to a draw against Karl Amoussou in February of 2010. He followed that fight with a submission loss to Tim Kennedy in June. The South African was frustrated and his thought, influenced by those setbacks, turned to retirement.
“(I had) a couple of bad runs and I’m getting close to 40 (years old) now,” Prangley admitted. “I don’t want to be one of those guys that is just fighting to collect a paycheck and have a bunch of losses at the end of your career.”
Prangley has such faith in Javier Mendez and Bob Cook, owners of American Kickboxing Academy, that he is leaving his retirement in their hands. He trusts them greatly and commends AKA for their outstanding staff.
“Good coaching helps a lot,” Prangley stated. “Those guys (Bob Cook and Javier Mendez) give me confidence and they’re good friends of mine too. They’ll be honest with me and let me know when it’s time to pack it up.”
Prangley began 2010 with a 0-1-1 record, but he listened to the boys at AKA and accepted a fight against former UFC fighter Keith Jardine under the Shark Fights banner. Jardine was looking to win a few fights and get back to the famed Octagon, but Prangley was not about to aid Jardine’s journey back to the UFC.
“I’m not going to be used as a stepping stone,” Prangley asserted. “I know Keith Jardine was using me to get his career back on track. That kind of thing motivates me more than a guy talking shit about me.”
Prangley defeated Jardine via split decision when the two met at in Texas last September. The victory put the South African back in the win column and gave him a 1-1-1 mark for the year of 2010. More importantly, it gave Prangley something he desperately needed: confidence.
“(Beating Jardine) got me back in the game,” Prangley explained. “I’ve always had the confidence to get in there with anybody. I’ve always believed that on any given day, I could beat any guy.”
Prangley’s victory over Jardine was not only a morale boost, but it also reassured him that he deserves to be in the cage with the world’s top fighters. Currently fighting under the Strikeforce banner, Prangley awaits his next foe, Roger Gracie.
Gracie brings a level of jiu-jitsu that most fighters have never encountered. It is a foregone conclusion that anyone sporting the Gracie name is a submission expert, but Roger is touted as one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in MMA today. Prangley recognizes Gracie’s talented ground game, yet he feels he has the tools and game plan to beat the Brazilian.
“I’m going to keep him out of his element,” Prangley said. “My plan is to keep him off the ground at all costs, and I don’t think he’s going to make it through three rounds standing with me.”
Things do not always go according to plan, and Prangley realizes that there is a strong possibility that Gracie will take this fight to the ground.
“I’m not stupid enough to think that this couldn’t go to the ground,” Prangley admitted. “I’m not going to stay in his clinch game. I’m not going to carry his weight. (Roger) is going to have to work for everything he gets on me.”
Working hard is something Prangley is familiar with thanks to his AKA teammates and training camps. Between the fighters and coaches that make up the respected fight team, Prangley feels secure when it comes to training for any opponent.
“Camp has been good,” said Prangley. “It’s freaking tough as always, it’s always tough down at AKA. I got so many guys that are so good at mimicking the guy you’re going to fight and I think we got a good game plan.”
“I’ve (also) been working with Kyle Kingsbury. (We are) working on my feet, (Kingsbury’s) tall, (he) throws good straight punches, and (we are doing) a lot of clinch work. I have (been working) with Luke Rockhold, putting myself in bad positions, letting him take my back. It’s been pure hell, this training camp, but it’s necessary for when I get in the fight.”
Prangley is putting in the time and effort to be the victor when he locks up with Gracie on Jan. 29 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. Prangley has the training partners working him and the proper coaches to guide him to success, and even more so, he has his confidence back, which makes him all the more prepared for Gracie.
The light heavyweight’s intercontinental move was inspired by dreams of becoming an Olympic wrestler for South Africa, but the reality of the move is that Prangley is now a successful mixed martial artist. After 10 years of fighting, and multiple titles, it seems as if MMA was destined for Trevor Prangley.