Chasen Blair is a welterweight prospect from San Diego, California, currently living out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He made his MMA debut at the beginning of the month. It was at Cage Warriors 136. Blair won with a first-round TKO to move to 1-0.
The Scrap had the pleasure of speaking to Chasen Blair to learn more about the athlete he is.
Blair started wrestling at the age of ten. His dad had wrestled when he was growing up, and Blair got into the sport because he had already been training BJJ, wanting to improve his takedowns for competition.
“Transitioning from BJJ to wrestling was hard at first, but I came to enjoy the challenge,” said Blair. He was training in both jiu-jitsu and wrestling until he reached the eighth grade. At that point, Blair decided to devote all his attention to wrestling in preparation for when he got to high school. “The initial thought process was that I would focus on wrestling while in high school, and then after I graduated start competing again in BJJ.”
During his sophomore year, Blair started coming into his own and that’s when he started having aspirations to wrestle at a Division 1 university. He ended up getting recruited to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“In the sport of wrestling, I was a three-time California State placer, California State Champion, NHSCA National Champion (Sophomore), NHSCA National Finalist (Junior), D1 competitor at UNC Chapel Hill, and Competed at U23 World Championships in Budapest Hungary representing the Philippines.”
Blair had aspirations to compete in MMA ever since he was a kid as Blair’s dad was a big fan of the sport after he started training BJJ.
“Growing up my family would host UFC PPVs at our house and would have parties. I went to my first fight when my dad got into reffing MMA,” said Blair. “I knew I wanted to be a professional MMA fighter going to my first pro event in San Diego. I watched Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley live from nosebleed seats and it inspired me to fight. The energy in the arena was unreal.”
Residing in San Diego, Blair trains out of Studio 540 with coaches Justin Flores, Jake Buracker, and Jhanex Alviz. For his first fight in Manchester, England he was at Next Generation MMA Liverpool training. He was able to get in there with guys like Adam Cullen, Matt Bonner, and Ben Kelly. Blair was training with UFC lightweight Paddy Pimblett for his fight against Vargas when an opportunity to compete for Cage Warriors came his way.
“There were six other guys from NextGen training for the card so there was a great atmosphere in the gym leading up to the event. This gave me a lot of confidence going into the bout. It was an unreal experience having my first ever fight to be on one of the biggest stages in Europe,” said Blair. “The energy in the arena was electric and the card was stacked with great fights. Can’t thank Graham Boylan and Ian Dean enough for the opportunity to compete, and the rest of the Cage Warriors staff for putting on such an amazing event.”
In that fight, he took on England’s own Rickie Moore. Moore who had five fights as an amateur, fought Blair who was making his MMA debut. It only took Blair around a half-round to ground Moore and pound him out for a TKO stoppage.
“I believe the fight went well. I stayed to my strengths and embraced the moment. I came out of the bout with no damage and a first-round finish. I knew before the bout that if I got the fight down onto the canvas I would get a finish. The fight was what I envisioned because I believed I would come away with a first-round victory.”
With hardly any MMA fight experience, Blair has a ton of wrestling experience that has prepared him for MMA. You see a lot of guys nowadays coming from wrestling backgrounds and other disciplines like kickboxing, boxing, and jiu-jitsu. Completely skipping any amateur experience, his coaches felt he was already good enough to go straight to the pros. It’s worked out for him so far…
“I believe wrestling is the best base for MMA because you can dictate where the fight takes place. I also believe it takes longer to become a competent grappler than a striker,” said Blair. “Even if your technical striking ability is inferior, the threat of takedowns can open up opponents for big strikes, (ex. Khabib vs. Conor/Chandler vs. Hooker).”
“I believe the training I did for wrestling has helped a lot in my transition into MMA. Wrestling training is very intense and includes a lot of strength and conditioning. The training is pretty similar except there are a lot more techniques and drilling sessions in MMA because there are a lot more threats and scenarios.”
Some wrestlers Blair enjoyed watching and looked up to growing up were Morgan McIntosh, Joey Davis, and Isiah Martinez. They were all California State wrestling champions that would go on to have very successful collegiate wrestling careers. And with wrestlers that have transitioned to MMA, Blair has drawn inspiration from and looked up to.
“There are a lot of wrestlers that have transitioned into MMA that have had a lot of success. My personal favorites are Kazushi Sakuraba, Michael Chandler, and Mark Munoz. Kazushi Sakuraba is tied with GSP for my favorite fighter of all-time. I loved his creativity, showmanship, and courage. Watching his bouts in Pride when I was a kid had a major influence on me,” said Blair. “Michael Chandler is currently my favorite fighter to watch and someone I try to emulate. Being half Filipino, seeing Mark Munoz in the UFC smashing people was very inspiring. It was someone I could identify with and take motivation from. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a BJJ tournament as a kid and he was very kind and gave me words of encouragement. A very special moment.”
Chasen is only 1-0 and with nothing but time on his side. He plans on fighting four times this year, and already has another fight scheduled. It will be on Cage Warriors 137. “I will be fighting again on June 10th in San Diego, California,” said Blair. “Having lived here my whole life, I am excited to put on an exciting show in my hometown.”
“Within three years’ time, I will be Cage Warriors welterweight champion and one of the top prospects in the world…”