Joe Schilling is going all in on mixed martial arts.
The two-sport star told MMAFighting.com on Friday that he plans on soon moving his family to South Florida from Los Angeles to continue his training at American Top Team in Coconut Creek. Schilling has been at ATT for weeks and will complete his camp there in advance of a fight against Hisaki Kato at Bellator 139 on June 26 in Mulvane, Kan.
"I think I've improved a lot," Schilling said about his time at ATT. "Obviously I won't know until I'm with somebody that's a lower level than the Olympians that are beating my ass every day. I think my overall awareness and understanding of the game of MMA has improved a lot. I think it's going to be a big difference. All my instincts have been kickboxing for the last 10 or 12 years."
Schilling (2-4) is one of the biggest stars for GLORY kickboxing and one of the most accomplished American kickboxers around. He still plans on competing for GLORY, but MMA is beginning to take a priority in his life. The 31-year-old wishes he started earlier growing up in Ohio.
"I wish I would have wrestled at a younger age," he said. "I wish I would have taken it more seriously years ago."
Schilling said the cost of living in Florida compared to LA also plays a factor in his decision. He has two children and the school system is also good in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.
"It's a lot more affordable to live here and fly there then live there and fly here," Schilling said from Florida. ... "In the next year or so, I'll probably relocate out here and go back and forth to Los Angeles. "
After falling to Rafael Carvalho by split decision at Bellator 136 in April, Schilling set out to polish his MMA skills further. Carvalho managed to grind the fight out, but Schilling still believes he won. Previously, Schilling had done some ground training with Cesar Gracie and at Millenia MMA in California. But now it has become his full-time thing.
"I'm more aware of the strategies and the game of MMA," Schilling said. "I'm competing at a high level. I was pretty far behind in my understanding of MMA and the transitions and my reactions. That's why I'm here and I'm working with all these guys. I'm learning every day. Whether I'm getting my ass kicked or I'm having a good session, I'm learning a lot and I think that's gonna pay off in the fight. My reactions are going to be different to what goes on."
Kato (4-1) is known as a striker, but so was Carvalho. Because of his kickboxing prowess, Schilling knows that very few MMA fighters will stand with him. So he's working on staying off the canvas, so he can accentuate his strengths.
"My kickboxing pedigree has gotten me to this point, but it's definitely nice to know I have other options," Schilling said. "The main focus has been me stopping [Kato] from doing what Carvalho did the last fight. If I'm gonna lose a fight, it's going to be somebody beating my ass, not somebody just stalling out. I think it's kind of sad and pathetic that you can win a fight by nullifying a fight. His goal to win the fight was making sure a fight didn't happen. I can't control what they do, but I should be able to stop them from doing that and getting the fight to be a fight."
Schilling has not closed the door completely on GLORY. Actually, he plans on returning to the ring later this year and he's hoping it's a middleweight title fight against his rival Artem Levin.
"I still love kickboxing," Schilling said. "I think I can still compete at a really high level in GLORY. I'm still very eager to get that rematch with Artem Levin, maybe later on this year, and get my belt back. It's exciting times for me. I get to compete in two sports and I'm pretty well-paid in both. I'm always going to kickbox. As long as there are opportunities for me to kickbox, I'm going to do that."
It just won't be his main priority moving forward.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing how it plays out in this fight," Schilling said. "It's hard to really judge. They tell me I'm getting better, but I just see myself getting my ass beat every day. But I guess that's how you get better, right?"