By Steve Westlake
As we reported earlier, Five Element Sport MMA and Fitness in Vestal, NY, will be supplying half of Team Syracuse Gladius in the upcoming world competition Saturday, April 26th, versus Nashville, TN. Here we profile two more Five Element fighters.
Tyler Bayer will be fighting in the heavyweight (205 lb) class against Nashville’s Deshawn Boatwright. Tyler tells us he is not training any differently for this than his last four fights except that this will be a jump in weight class, so he’s doing more lifting. But otherwise the same program.
Tyler, 4-0 in his MMA fights, wrestled all four years of high school at Union-Endicott where he won the sectionals in both his junior and senior years. He says people still ask a lot if he knows or trains with fellow U-E graduate Jon Jones. The answer is no, but he says Jones is considered a good role model by the younger guys. Coincidentally, Jones is defending his UFC light-heavyweight championship at the same time that Tyler and his teammates will be competing in Cortland. “It sucks that it’s the same day,” Tyler says, “’cause I wanted to watch that fight.”
Tyler’s plan was to get a scholarship in wrestling or football, then after four years of college get into MMA. But he got hurt wrestling at the end of his senior year, making it impossible for him to participate in sports competition the whole following year. It killed the chance at a scholarship, so he decided to get a jump start on his MMA career. He wants to take it as far as he can, with the UFC being the ultimate goal. Recently he quit his job to focus full time on his training. “Been living broke the past couple months,” he admits.
Tyler’s opinion on pro MMA being illegal in New York State is “It’s completely ridiculous. There’s no reason it should be illegal.” He points out “Boxing is a far more dangerous sport and New York State is known for having all these great boxing fights in Madison Square Garden. So it’s hypocritical for them to say MMA should be illegal.”
Asked how boxing is more dangerous Tyler explains, “You take a lot more head shots in boxing. In MMA you can wrestle, grapple, do submissions, and if you do get hurt the fight’s over right then. In boxing you have no choice but to stand in front of someone and just throw punches at each other, which is where guys tend to get brain damage, I think.” The reduced hand protection in MMA versus boxing limits the number of punches as well. “You’d break your hands if you threw that,” says Tyler. “You can throw 100 punches a round in boxing; you’d never throw that much in mixed martial arts.”
The four fighters from Five Element competing this Saturday are not just separate individuals says Tyler. “We’ve always been a team. We train together pretty much every day. We also go up to Ithaca and work with the guys at Ultimate Athletics.” So there’s a real camaraderie that will be accompanying the group as they move forward. As for his opponent this Saturday, Tyler says he’s moving up a weight class, so Deshawn Boatwright is the biggest and strongest he’s faced so far. But “I feel confident I’ll get the job done.”
Derak Heyman, the Art of Combat featherweight champ, will be fighting Nashville’s Charlie Costello in the 145 lb weight class this Saturday. Derak says his opponent seems well rounded but most comfortable off his back, which Derak says is good for him because his chief strength is wrestling. “I’ve basically won every fight by just grinding it out,” he tells us.
Derak is 5-0 in MMA competition. He started as a two-time New York State wrestling champ out of Tioga Center, NY. Then he made the Binghamton University team, but quit to join Jason Porter at Five Element. His goal is, first, to be the Fighters Source world champion. “It’s a goal I think is achievable,” he says. “It’s only four fights away; not that far from world title. I’ve won at the highest stages in wrestling at the national level and state level. And the plans are just to take this as far as it can go.”
Derak looks forward to turning pro, but plans to go back to college first. He explains he’s only been competing for a year. “I’m very young in the sport. There’s a lot of time to grow still.” And he wants to finish what he started at college. But no matter what happens, he doesn’t expect to leave MMA. “When I’m training everything else in my life goes right,” he says.
About the illegal status of pro MMA in New York, Derak says “It’s outrageous. We have two UFC champions right now from New York, Chris Weidman and Jon Jones, and they can’t compete in their own state.” But he is optimistic. “I think it’s just a matter of time. I would love to one day fight in Madison Square Garden. That would be a dream.”
Team Syracuse Gladius competes versus Nashville at Gladius XI on April 26th, 7:00pm at the JM McDonald Sports Complex, 4292 Fairgrounds Dr, Cortland, NY. This is the first round in the Fighters Source world MMA championship. The national championship will take place this summer in New York City. And the MMA World Championship will be held in London, England, later this year.
Read profiles of Five Element owner Jason Porter and middleweight champ Tom Connolly here.