While many youth set their sights on playing professional football, soccer or basketball, UFC fighter Tom Breese always had his mind set on martial arts, even before the first time he stepped into a martial arts class.
"I used to set up grappling tournaments with my friends at a local park and use moves I had watched from the UFC," Breese said. "I would always win [in the park], but then when I started going to actual classes, I would get dominated. I felt I picked it up fast, and it wasn’t long before I was out-grappling the more experienced guys in the gym."
Breese then spent his time developing his skills before making his pro MMA debut in Britain on Sept. 25, 2010. After five consecutive victories to start his career, Breese won his sixth bout to win the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts’ welterweight championship. Breese then moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to train Tristar Gym trainer Firas Zahabi, eventually meeting Zahabi’s mentor — John Danaher — at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York, and a good friend and trainee in Gordon Ryan.
Breese made his UFC debut at a UFC Fight Night event on May 30, 2015, defeating Luiz Dutra Jr. via TKO in 4:58.
"I’ve always wanted to compete in jiu-jitsu and always did but at a lower level," he said. "Now [because] I’m a better grappler than I was and I have some popularity fighting in the UFC, I’ve been given opportunities to compete on the biggest grappling events. I first trained with Gordon in NYC and then asked him to come to Tristar to help me prepare for my UFC fights and built a good friendship. Training with him has really improved my grappling and my confidence, that’s for sure."
Breese finally was defeated for the first time after 10 wins at UFC 199, losing via split decision to Sean Strickland. Breese looks to return to the UFC Octagon in early 2017.
"I have a huge passion for jiu-jitsu," Breese said. "I’m trying to be the best fighter I can be, and I believe competing regularly in grappling and MMA will improve me both mentally and physically."