Steamboat man brings Brazilian jiujitsu skills to professional stage
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Michael Argeroplos wishes he won for his team.
In his professional Brazilian jiujitsu debut, Argeroplos, 31, competed in a five-minute round at Fight 2 Win Pro event in Denver on Saturday, Nov. 2. He got the initial takedown and was confident in how he was performing, but with mere seconds left, he had to tap out when an ankle lock prompted a few pops from his ankle.
“I didn’t choke. I was still working. There were just moments when I woulda, coulda, shoulda. I kind of held back. I was upset I let my team down more than myself,” Argeroplos said. “I had a bunch of people come down, leave their families and come support me for the weekend. It was a big deal.”
This weekend, the Steamboat Springs resident will go back to where he competed at the National Western Complex in Denver, but this time, as a coach for some first-time competitors in a bracket-style competition.
“He had a fantastic fight. He worked so hard. He was moving well, he just got caught. It happens to all of us,” said Steamboat Springs Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Professor Nate Daughenbaugh. “The great part is Mike isn’t the kind of guy who looks at that in a negative light. He’s using this as a learning experience.”
Still, Argeroplos said he plans to heal his sore ankle and sign up for another pro bout in a few months. Surely, how he holds himself and bounces back from a loss will be just as valuable to his team, family and students than if he had won.
The night before the fight, Argeroplos stared down his opponent, Dillon Dewberry of Ludwig Martial Arts. Leading up to the fight, it was very similar to televised fights. There was an intro, lights, loud music and a dramatic walk down the aisle to the mat.
“It’s just cool that our little gym here in Steamboat can hang and go down and compete with these huge academies,” Argeroplos said.
The match was his first try at the professional level. He applied after finding success, submitting a trio of opponents to take gold and earning a promotion to purple belt, which Argeroplos said is the start of professional-level competing.
“I went down and competed again a few months later, just thinking since I stepped up a notch, I was gonna get kind of humbled,” he said. “I ended up getting gold in that as well.”
Daughenbaugh said Argeroplos hit a new level of his training this year as he found an “inner warrior” within himself. With a 6-0 record in recent months, Argeroplos decided to sign up for a professional match scheduled for early November.
Argeroplos wasn’t even thinking of the event as it crept closer, assuming he didn’t make the cut. Two weeks ahead of the match, he got a call asking if he wanted to compete at the 150-pound weight class against Dewberry.
While it was his first professional competition, Argeroplos has fought 20 times and has been training in Steamboat for seven years. He began his training in martial arts back in his home state of Ohio with Muay Thai. When he moved to Steamboat, he heard there was a Brazilian jiujitsu gym.
It took Argeroplos awhile to find it, though. The gym is now in the Excel building, but at the time, it was at the old funeral home near the LiftUp Food Bank.
“I remember driving around, and I went over there because I heard it was in the area,” Argeroplos said. “I just looked in the window, and I saw a Brazilian flag, and I was like, ‘This has got to be it.’ No one was there, so I just scoped it out for a week or so until I saw the lights on. I just walked in.”
Over the course of seven years, he’s been ramping up his training with Daughenbaugh.
Now, Argeroplos is sharing what he’s learned through coaching.
“Mike has a real gentle nature behind him that I think most people respond really well to,” Daughenbaugh said. “He’s very clear on his details for competing and teaching. People are able to pick it up very quickly.”
Steamboat Springs Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is slowly growing, and Argeroplos is constantly encouraging more people to try it out and do exactly what he did, just walk in.
“That’s what I tell a lot of new students. The hardest class is your first one — just walking in the door, not knowing anyone,” he said. “Once you get to know everyone, we have all walks of life. Everyone is super nice. It’s a family nurturing gym.”
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