By: Nick Portella
What’s good fight fans? Today I had the chance to sit down with a jack of all trades in the world of combat sports, Erik Purcell. Erik is a fighter, coach, trainer, and corner. He also is the owner of MPR Endurance gym in Langhorne, PA. Erik, his staff, and his gym have produced champions in MMA and Jiu Jitsu, along with many top contenders. Members of the USA Sambo Team also train at his facility. Let’s have a seat with Erik and get to know about him.
Erik began his training in combat sports a little later than most. As a child, all he wanted to do was train karate and fight. Unfortunately for him enrolling was not an option at the time. His father was a wrestler so as soon as that was available to him he started training. Erik wrestled in the ninth grade in Bucks County and was immediately hooked. He appeared on the varsity team throughout his high school years at Neshaminy until 1995, when he graduated. Once his final all-star match concluded he began training Russian Sambo at a school that is now closed called Philadelphia Sambo.
Since his high school days, the training has never stopped for Erik. Through years of hard work and persistence, Erik has made many accomplishments. He currently holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Pat Stano and the legendary Sergio Penha. He also holds a black belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu under Cardo Urso who is recognized as a UFC and local athletic commission judge. With the plan to rededicate himself to obtaining a black belt in full swing, he holds a brown belt in Judo. Sambo, unfortunately, does not have a belt system, but some of Erik’s highest accomplishments have come as part of the USA Sambo Team. Erik continues to train striking for MMA and Combat Sambo on a daily basis.
In 2006 Erik decided to get serious about stepping into the cage and fighting for a living. His goal was to get custody of his 4-year-old daughter at the time. Erik realized that working 5 days a week at a 9 to 5 job would ruin his chances of getting custody, so some very tough decisions had to be made. It was obvious to him that he would have to be able to train and compete while having the needed flexibility to raise his daughter. That is basically how it all happened. His debut fight was for Asylum Fight League and he faced current UFC and Bellator veteran Jay Silva. Erik won the match via unanimous decision.
Erik has been to the top of the podium in his career a handful of times. He has claimed titles at Naga, Goodfight, and Newbreed Championships. All three are highly recognized submission grappling tournaments. Outside of the grappling world he also won a national championship with the USA Sambo team a few years back, which he admits is the one feat he is most proud of to date. If all of that was not enough he also holds an amateur MMA title under Asylum Fight League.
While clearly having a great resume on the mats or in the cage he has also made other accomplishments that should be noted. Erik has been featured on television shows such as Good Day Philadelphia, CBS Talk Philly, Versus Network and all over television in Europe. NBC.com featured Erik’s show which was an MMA instructional series for roughly two years called MMA with Erik Purcell. When the World Series of Fighting began to air on NBC his series was pulled from the website.
With grappling, MMA, and television all under his belt opening his own training facility was always part of the plan since day 1. Realistically, a very small percent of fighters make enough money to retire off of and live on after hanging up the gloves. With that in mind, Erik set course and MPR Endurance was born. It was Erik’s solution to making a living and being a gym rat for the rest of his life. He has a passion for training himself and others, coaching, and competing. MPR Endurance is the place where he can make it all happen. He gets to be a part of building amazing athletes and fighters. He also gets to empower men, women, and kids with the knowledge of real self-defense. The entire experience is beyond fulfilling to him.
Erik has had so many memorable moments since his gym has emerged onto the scene, it was hard for him to pick the most memorable one. In his honest opinion, he feels like MPR and its members are constantly setting the bar a little higher every day. MPR is one of the top MMA teams in the tri-state area, with multiple MMA champions. MPR fights and competes around the world with USA Sambo. There are Olympic athletes and NFL players training at MPR. It is all very surreal. To put his finger on one moment, it would have to be last year’s USA Sambo team. They were invited to fight at the President’s Cup in Scotland in front of the Princess of Wales. Each country was only allowed to bring 4 combat Sambo fighters in predetermined weight classes. The United States as a team had never won any of the events. They took 4 professional MMA fighters from MPR, which included Erik. Patrick Sabatini and Evan Chmieleski won gold, while Johnson Jajoute and Erik won bronze medals. They officially put the United States on the map as a serious contender, while stealing the show and dominating the tournament. Erik will always look back on that day as being one of his fondest memories.
I have to say it was a pleasure to sit down and talk with Erik. He is a great person, trainer, and gym owner. I wish him all the best in everything he does from here on out. If you get a chance swing by MPR and see what they have to offer. I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. Signing off for TheMMATakeOver.com this is Nick Portella. @NickPortellaMMA