Update: Ed Verdel won his three-round fight by unanimous decision. All three judges scored the fight 30-27 in favor of Verdel.
After tangling for three 3-minute rounds to win by decision in his first-ever mixed martial arts match, Ed Verdel went on a nearly three-year hiatus from the cage to focus on his career in real estate.
This Saturday, the 5-foot-8-inch, 185-pound Fair Lawn High School grad and former Cutters wrestler will make his triumphant return. Verdel is scheduled to go three 3-minute rounds with the 5-foot-11-inch, 160-pound Jarred Moore (0-1-0), who lost his first MMA fight by unanimous decision in October 2010.
Wrestling for Fair Lawn, Verdel went 70-30 overall, winning 45 of 59 matches his final two seasons. After being appointed captain his senior year, he placed second in counties, second in district three times and fourth in regionals.
The Rutgers School of Business grad now splits his hectic schedule between real estate and training for this, his second time in the ring. Ed recently sat with Patch to discuss the sport, his days wrestling under Fair Lawn’s coach Frank Guadagnino and his upcoming bout.
Q & A
How did you get into the sport?
I started lifting weights in 8th grade, in 1997. I finished college in 2007, so by that time I had been lifting for 10 years. Lifting became really boring for me and I needed to change things up. I also had a big void in my life at the time because I hadn’t done a real sport in 10 years. On top of that, I was about 205 lbs, chubby, smoking cigarettes and partying. So essentially, I knew that I needed to get in shape and I needed some sort of competition to fill that void in my life. MMA was the perfect outlet given my wrestling background.
You took nearly three years off from fighting; why such an absence?
I have had seven fights cancelled in the past due to injuries or entire cards being canceled. I was supposed to fight at the end of 2011 but got injured and had to have hand surgery. I'm back in the ring now because I love to compete.
How did you get on to the event cards in Atlantic City?
My first fight was in Atlantic City. There are amateur shows all over the place. The best organized and most well-known amateur shows are in Atlantic City. Anyone who fights can try to get on one of their cards though.
Which division are you fighting in?
I’m fighting at the Amateur division, which is basically the first step of competition for any aspiring MMA fighter.
You’re a successful real estate agent; how do you find time to train?
I actually have two careers right now so it’s been very difficult. I try to keep a routine Monday through Friday but weekends are definitely tough.
How is training for this Saturday's match going?
Training is going well. We have several great amateur guys that I train with. We push each other and we’re all constantly learning.
How has your experience wrestling at Fair Lawn High helped your MMA game?
Wrestling has been a huge help and definitely the foundation of my fight game. The discipline that you learn in wrestling translates very well to MMA as well as to life in general. The technique also is a great help when training jiu jitsu. Wrestling builds physical and mental toughness and I feel that without it I probably wouldn’t be fighting today.
What and/or who is your source of inspiration when training, fighting?
I can’t say I really have a source of inspiration. I am just a competitive person who doesn’t like to go to the gym without a purpose. There are, however, definitely fighters I look up to such as BJ Penn, Junior Dos Santos, Frankie Edgar and Dan Henderson because those guys aren’t afraid to fight anyone.
If you could have one dream fight with anyone, who would it be?
I think I would enjoy getting my butt kicked by BJ Penn just to say I fought a legend.
What does it mean (for you) to be a fighter?
For me it’s a fun hobby that keeps me in shape and competing. I’m constantly learning so it never gets boring.
How do you think MMA makes you a better person?
It teaches you mental and physical toughness. Those translate to so many things in life.
What would you say your training philosophy is?
Always learn and always have fun.
How do you prepare mentally for a big fight?
For this fight I feel way different than my last one. My last fight I took on two weeks notice so I was pretty nervous. For this fight I’m very relaxed and prepared.
What would you say your most memorable match is?
Probably my last fight because I was nervous the two weeks leading up to it and it felt very surreal being in the cage. The setting was very different than wrestling so I definitely wasn’t used to it.
What impact does the crowd have during your fights?
None, I don’t let them affect me. I concentrate on the fight itself and my coach’s voice.
What's your favorite strike/submission to use in any fight?
As long as I’m landing strikes and attempting submissions I’m happy. I don’t have a distinct favorite.
Do you like to stand with your opponents or take them to the ground?
It really depends on the opponent. If I’m outstriking my opponent then I’ll be hunting for the knockout. Otherwise I’m comfortable on the ground.
What separates you from every other fighter in your division?
My wrestling background and the power behind my punches.
What do you want to be remembered for at the end of your career?
Just as someone who wasn’t afraid to get in there.
Will you continue to compete after Saturday's match?
It’s hard for me to find time to train consistently because I have to travel for work and the two jobs makes it nearly impossible to train enough to keep competing.
Any advice for anyone looking to get into the sport?
Join a gym and start training - it will change your life. You’ll be very humbled at first, but eventually you’ll find yourself beating people. It’s very addicting and it’s way more fun than any other workout.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of MMA?
Travel and snowboard.
Name: Edward Verdel
Nationality: Russian American
Born (Location): 4/2/84 in St. Petersburg, Russia
FLHS Grad Year: 2002
Alma Mater: Rutgers
Occupation: Real Estate Agent
Weight: normally around 185
Styles: Wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, Boxing
Team: LA Boxing Hoboken
By Knockout: 0
By Submission: 0
By Decision: 1
Date/Time: 3/2/2013 at 8PM
Venue: Golden Nugget Casino
Opponent: Jared Moore