Shtegu Vrajolli: The Lion Heart MMA Fighter and Martial Arts Champion

Shtegu Vrajolli is an MMA fighter and among the best athletes in the sport. Vrajolli is currently ranked nr. 9 in the German featherweight. He won the International German Championship in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in 2012. He is a tough, hard-working, and a young Albanian MMA fighter competing in the featherweight. He has participated in several national events such as, We Love MMA (WLMMA), and also in international events, including the Fight Night Liechtenstein (FNL) and Tsunami Fighting Championship (TFC). 

Shtegtar was born as Shtegtar Vrajolli in Sigmaringen (Germany). His parents came from Kosovo to Germany in 1993 as war refugees, along with his then one-year-old brother Atdhe Vrajolli. He grew up with his family and younger sister in Leibertingen, then moved to Tuttlingen in 2007. Following his brother’s advice he began to practice Mixed Martial Arts three years later.

After his first training sessions under Damion Thomas, Shtegu Vrajolli discovered his love for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and decided to end his soccer career in the 2nd league. A little later he trained under BJJ ace Thomas Buschkamp, who co-founded the Planet Eater Team in Tuttlingen together witch UFC fighter Peter Sobotta, and then lead the performance center BuschkampBros. There Vrajolli spent most of his time and trained with professional fighters like Martin Buschkamp – also an UFC-fighter. Motivated by his brother he began to wrestle at KG Wurmlingen/Tuttlingen to further enhance his fighting style and his competition experience. In 2013 he had his first pro fight in MMA.

Shtegu Vrajolli is an accomplished fighter and martial artist. He now has the purple belt in BJJ and has a professional fight record of six wins and zero defeats in MMA, ending all of the fights prematurely. He is studying architecture at the University of Stuttgart and recently began to practice at the Stallion Gym along with UFC veteran Alan Omer.

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Shtegu at his 4th fight at TFC (Tsunami Fighting Championship)

NY Elite Interview with MMA Fighter Shtegu Vrajolli

NY Elite: When did you start training in martial arts? What inspired you to get involved?

Shtegu Vrajolli: I stared practicing martial arts about seven years ago, at the age of 16; my older brother Atdhe inspired me to start. I was very successful playing soccer at that time and even played in the second league of Germany. My brother, encouraged me to attend an MMA training session. I can remember the gym very well. Everything looked so undergroundish because the sport was not as popular in Germany back then.

NY Elite: Could you provide a brief overview of your training history and main instructors?

Shtegu Vrajolli: I started playing soccer at the beginning for 10 years. I think that it brought me advantages when it comes to my stamina. When I started to train MMA under my first trainer Damion Thomas, I practiced both soccer and MMA parallel. That meant three times soccer practice, two times MMA and one soccer match per week. It was very hard for me to choose between my two beloved sports. But looking back I know that it was one of the most important and best decisions of my life. This sport means a lot to me and really shaped my life and character a lot.

My journey went on with three German-Brazilian brothers (Thomas, Martin, Matthäus Buschkamp) with all of them I trained with, opening their own gym. I followed them and trained with eight other men under the name “Painfactory”. The team continued to grow and made a lot of acquaintances with known fighters. And so we started to work together with “PlanetEater”, the team of UFC fighter Peter Sobotta.

In 2013 I completed my first pro MMA fight under one of the best teams in Germany which I could win prematurely. More fights followed and during that I was again inspired by my brother to join a wrestling team as a professional. In 2015 I moved to Stuttgart to study architecture and started to train at the “Stallion Cage”, also one of the best teams in Germany and owned, among others, by UFC veteran Alan Omer.

In end of 2016 I completed my first pro fight under “Stallion Cage” and could end it in the first round.

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Shtegu with his coach Alan Omer (Photo by Ante Samarzija)

NY Elite: Do you have any special memories of training with your instructor?

Shtegu Vrajolli: I have a lot of great memories of training. And I always had a good relationship with my trainers. We were on several training camps and in competitions and laughed a lot together. But one particular thing always comes to my mind: I was at my first BJJ competition and had just made the fourth place in my weight class. I was supervised by my trainer Thomas, who is an incredible BJJ-Fighter. In addition to that there was one more category in which all weight classes could compete. My first opponent was a 120 kg heavy muscular man. To everyone’s surprise I was in the lead, but ended up losing according to points after seven hard minutes. After the fight, Peter Sobotta came up to me, shook my hand and said: “Shtegu, you have a lion heart”. That was my first encounter with him. But I also experienced a lot with my friend and trainer Alan Omer, who now is like a brother to me.

NY Elite: Where do you train now and what programs are available there? What do you focus on?

Shtegu Vrajolli: Currently I train at the “Stallion Gym” in Stuttgart. You can practice Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, K1, MMA, Wrestling, Judo, Submission-Wrestling and BJJ. But there are also power sports and fitness programs available.

As an MMA fighter you have to keep in mind to get through in all disciplines. For me that means my focus shifts depending on the progresses I am making in the individual Martial Art. But personally I put much value on Wrestling. If you are good at stand-up fighter, you have to be good at wrestling in order to stay up. If you are good on the ground, you need to know throw techniques to bring your opponent down. It’s inevitable for MMA and for me the best basis.

NY Elite: What are some of the lesson from martial arts that can be applied to daily life scenarios?

Shtegu Vrajolli: There a lot of analogies to the everyday life. A very special one is, that with difficulty comes relief. Patience and discipline do pay off.

NY Elite: What martial arts do you still practice today in your personal training? What value do you derive from it these days?

Shtegu Vrajolli: I practice a lot of Wrestling, Submission-Wrestling and Boxing. I put a lot of value on all Martial Arts. But Wrestling and BJJ shape my fighting style.

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Shtegu during his last fight

NY Elite: How has martial arts evolved over time? Do you notice any changes in your practice over the years, perhaps tried or incorporated something new?

Shtegu Vrajolli: It’s unrecognizable! When you watch the fighters after 1990, like in UFC 1, 2, 3 and 4, you can see that everybody was focused on only one martial art. Famous boxers competed against excellent wrestlers. Judokas fought against karate-fighters, and so on. At that time BBJ-fighters dominated the scene and could make their unknown sport more popular. Today there is barely a fighter, who isn’t trained in all disciplines. More MMA specific situations are practiced, like pounding on the ground or wresting at the cage. When it comes to popularity, a lot of change happened as well. Back then you had to explain what you are actually training, nowadays every second one talks about Connor McGregor. You can watch this amazing sport getting more and more established in the society.

New things are constantly getting incorporated. In my opinion there is still room for improvement when it comes to technique and training methods. But generally speaking everything gets more specific. You train a lot with MMA-gloves (4oz) which can do much when it comes to a fighters reach.

Different techniques are practiced at the cage and on the ground.

NY Elite: What physical aspects are most important when training?

Shtegu Vrajolli: Because it’s a versatile and challenging sport, every aspect is important. It’s difficult to pick the most important one. Speed, stamina, power, mobility, reaction speed, charge, inter- and intramuscular coordination- everything should be as advanced as possible.

NY Elite: What can you tell the next generation to preserve from martial arts?

Shtegu Vrajolli: Don’t listen to what other people say. What’s important are your goals. If you really want something with all your heart the universe will conspire, so that it comes true.

NY Elite: Tell us about some of the accomplishments and competitions you have taken part in.

Shtegu Vrajolli: I have won several BJJ and Wrestling competitions. In 2012 I became German champion in BJJ. But since my pro debut, I put more value on MMA. To this day I competed in six professional fights, all of them I won prematurely. In addition to that I am currently ranked number nine in the German featherweight class.

NY Elite: What are you currently working on?

Shtegu Vrajolli: Right now I am working on my striking with a coach named Serdar Karaça and, if god wants, I will soon compete also in Boxing and Kickboxing fights.

NY Elite: What can we expect from you this year in 2017?

Shtegu Vrajolli: I think 2017 is going to be a calm year, because I have to focus on my studies. But I still want to compete at least in one fight. My goal for 2018 is to sign with a big organization. Now there are a lot options, such as UFC, CageWarriors, BellatorMMA, BraveMMA, M1, KSW, OneFC, Rizin and others.

NY Elite: Where can your fans follow you? Social media …. Website…

Shtegu Vrajolli: Facebook: Shtegu Vrajolli

Instagramm: shtegu_vrajolli

And of course on my homepage: www.shteguvrajolli.de

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Weight in before Shtegu’s last fight

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Shtegu at Stallion Gym in Stuttgart, during training

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Shtegu Vrajolli (www.shteguvrajolli.de)

 

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