By Matt Jenkins
Tyson Chartier often leaves practice battered and beaten.
These are good days as far as Chartier is concerned.
Chartier, a locally trained mixed martial arts fighter, recently joined the professional MMA ranks and he understands the beatings he takes in practice only help in preventing them when he steps inside the cage for a sanctioned fight.
"I get beat up every day in training. I've been injured and had more black eyes. Some days are really tough," Chartier said. "That's what prepares you to deal with situations. Guys are more experienced and they beat you up. Rick Hawn was in the Olympics for judo and not one night goes by that he doesn't throw me around."
Chartier and Hawn are teammates from Team Sityodtong, a Boston-based Muay Thai and MMA Academy that currently has 20 professional fighters. Chartier fights under the banners of Sityodtong Boston and North Shore, as well as Boston Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and North Shore Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a Salem-based Jiu-Jitsu Academy.
"Some guys go sideways and won't engage, but other people like myself and Tyson have to take those beatings in order to become better," said Hawn, who was a teammate of Jimmy Pedro on the 2004 Olympic Judo team. "If you don't take those beatings you won't know how to improve. You're going to take some beatings, you're going to get punched in the head and in the face. We've all been there and done it. We've all walked out (of training) with black eyes and bruises, but that's part of it."
Chartier trains in both the Sityodtong Boston and Sityodtong North Shore gyms, at North Shore Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Salem, and does conditioning at Swampscott's TD Athletes Edge. His list of trainers/coaches is long, but typical of a sport that requires the ability to be strong in all disciplines of MMA.
Gloucester native Neil Legallo is the owner of Sityodtong North Shore, which is located in Beverly, and trains Chartier once or twice a week in Muay Thai. John Johnston of Sityodtong Boston also trains Chartier in Muay Thai.
At the North Shore Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, which is where Chartier started on his road to MMA, Chartier trains under Danny Morera and Chris Owen.
Brothers Tim and Scott DiFrancesco handle all of Chartier's strength and conditioning at Athletes Edge.
Legallo, Johnston, Owen and Mark DellaGrotte — owner of Sityodtong USA — are Chartier's cornermen.
"I think if you had to work on all these things at once (at the same time), then you could over-think things or become overwhelmed. But if you really work on wrestling and Muay Thai and boxing and jiu jitsu, then put it all together it comes more instinctually," Chartier said. "Some schools only train MMA and they're not going to break it down. I think that sort of makes you well rounded and okay at everything, but not great at anything."
A striking issue
Chartier, who is sponsored by Deathwish Inc. and Code Blue Recovery Drink, grew up in New Hampshire and has a background in wrestling. Before getting involved in MMA, Chartier started taking a class on jiu jitsu, which is a martial art that focuses on grappling and ground fighting.
Once getting involved in MMA, Chartier had a deficiency in his stand-up fighting.
"For my fourth (amateur) fight I started training in Beverly," Chartier said. "Then I realized how bad I was in striking."
Even with minimal striking experience Chartier piled up a 7-1 amateur record fighting at 170 pounds. His amateur career culminated with a trip to Las Vegas to fight for an amateur title in the Tuff-N-Uff Amateur Fighting Championships in September.
Although his only amateur loss occurred in that fight, he made his professional debut in early December at CES (Classic Entertainment and Sports) MMA 3 - Snow Brawl, where he defeated Justin Switzer by rear-naked choke in the third round.
His striking still may not be a strength, but Chartier is putting a lot of work into it and making progress.
"Since we've met (less than a year and a half ago) he's made huge gains," Legallo said. "When we first met he had no sparring experience at all. He was like a fish out of water. He came with minimal amounts of experience. He was strong in jiu jitsu, but he had no striking ability. He's definitely put his time in. He's either at my place (in Beverly) or at Somerville (Sityodtong Boston)."
To say Chartier puts his time in is akin to saying heavyweight Brock Lesnar is a pretty big guy.
Nearly every waking hour of Chartier's week is full of MMA training in one form or another.
He spends a portion of every day working on cardio and lifting and has a rigorous schedule of jiu jitsu, Muay Thai and team sparring the rest of the week.
His only down time tends to fall on Sundays, but even then he's usually working out on his own.
He also manages 15 fighters, including four professionals and two soon-to-be pros.
"Luckily right now it's what I do full time," Chartier said. "I have the time, but if I had to a 9 to 5 it would not be feasible. I'm putting in probably 40-45 hours a week in training."
Training for tomrorow
The difficulty for young professional MMA fighters is that much of their time is spent training without knowing when, where or who their next fight is coming from.
Chartier was expecting to fight at the end of this month, but that was recently called off when an opponent couldn't be found. Now, Chartier is scheduled to fight on April 9 at UMass Amherst's Mullins Center, although his opponent for that fight is not set in stone yet either.
"You train for a fight, but they have to find somebody. You have to say, 'If they don't have anyone by this day, then move on,'" Chartier said. "I'm tentatively scheduled to fight someone who is 0-1. He's been active in grappling and he verbally agreed, but he hasn't fought since 2006. He's fighting again this Saturday, so we'll see how he does in this fight and wait to sign contracts."
Chartier knows eventually he'll fight again, hopefully in April, but he's happy to keep training. As for how far Chartier takes his MMA career, he chooses to not look too far down the road.
"Really, I think the meathead answer is UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), but it's very hard to get there," Chartier said. "It would be awesome to get to UFC or Strikeforce, but I'm not putting pressure on myself. I'll see where it takes me and enjoy it wherever I go."
Tale of the Tape
Name: Tyson Chartier
Weight: Fights at 155 pounds, walks at 175.
Hometown: Deerfield, NH
Resides: Waltham. Has lived in Danvers, Beverly and Peabody.
Record: 1-0 professional. Finished 7-1 as an amateur.