RFA veteran Dakota Cochrane (18-7) faces Ryan Couture (9-3) at lightweight in the main card of Bellator 135. We ask the former TUF member how he got started in MMA, why he chose Bellator and what it will take to beat his opponent in his second Bellator bout.
Scifighting: You’ve primarily fought in the U.S. but you had one opportunity to fight and compete in Helsinki, Finland. Where else would you like to compete internationally?
Cochrane: Honestly I don’t know. When that opportunity came up I was very surprised that they’d want a Midwest guy to come out clear to Finland but I embraced it and loved the new opportunity. It was pretty cool. The KO victory made it even more fun.
SF: What is the support like in the Midwest for MMA? How many different gyms are there?
Cochrane: There’s MMA gyms everywhere, but there’s probably 2 or 3 mainstream gyms in Omaha that you would train at to be considered a serious competitor in MMA. So it’s probably more focused on 1 or 2 gyms in a town I would say compared to 3 or 4 really big camps in one city.
SF: What’s it like to be a Father and an MMA fighter? PTA meetings must be an interesting outing.
Cochrane: Yeah we’ve actually had to go into the school and tell one of my daughter’s teachers that I was an actual fighter because she was telling him that my dad’s a fighter and all that. The teacher was telling her no, he doesn’t. We had to actually confirm with the teacher that I do fight professionally.
SF: You competed in track and field in College but what got you into MMA and combat sports?
Cochrane: Yes, I was an All-American pole vaulter. I had a semester off from track in college and was kind of bored so I went to one of the gyms in a small town just to learn some self-defense. I went in and started training with no mindset that I wanted to fight at all, just for self-defense. Then after about six months my coach asked me if I wanted to fight and I said sure if you think I’m ready. I knocked the guy out in 20 seconds, that was it after that.
SF: Did you watch a lot of competitive fighting at that time? What fighters did you look up to or try to emulate?
Cochrane: I would say that I started watching a lot more when I competed. I had seen a little bit but it opened my eyes to just how much hard work those guys put in. You respect the sport a lot more. As far as people, I would say BJ Penn, he was a big motivator. He was about my size and he just had a lot of talent. That’s who I looked up to.
SF: You’ve fought for a lot of different organizations like RFA and VFC, why did Bellator have an appeal to you?
Cochrane: I would say the most of it had to do with Scott Coker. It used to be that you didn’t want to be in Bellator because their contracts locked you in. With Coker, it seemed like it was a lot better to be with Bellator because they were making big moves. I heard nothing but good things from people who fought for him so I was honored. A lot of people like Scott, he and my manager get along real well. There was a lot of people that liked him, so word of mouth is huge. If someone doesn’t like you, people are going to know about it. If you hear a lot of good things about someone, you can trust that.
SF: Would you say your fight with Efrain Escudero was the toughest in your career? Especially when he had you trapped in a body triangle.
Cochrane: Yeah I would say that was one of my hardest fights, more so because he was really ready to fight. He brought 100% and I brought 100% so we both really wanted the win. That was a good fight to win and a hard-fought battle.
SF: Where do you see yourself in the lightweight division after this fight? Who do you like next?
Cochrane: I’m not really sure, one of my goals is to work my way up so that I can fight “Tiger” Sarnavskiy for a rematch. I know I’m not gonna get it right away, but I’ll work my way back there.
SF: Is there anything else you’d like to include for our readers?
Cochrane: Thank you and thanks to my sponsors Premiere Combat Center, Course Premiere, Big Brain Tattoo, Shilke Erectors and Old Chicago.
See Dakota Cochrane fight Ryan Couture at Bellator 135 on Spike on March 27th at 9 P.M. ET.