From The Lions’ Den to the cage: Fileccia’s career in fighting and instructing
Mark Fileccia, ’93, first opened Staten Island Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym with his partner, Joe Peteroy, on 407 Manor Road in October 2021. Staten Island Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu/MMA moved to a new location at 1230 Castleton Avenue earlier this year.
Fileccia, a fire captain at Ladder 85, started fighting when he was in high school. First, he began on the karate team which was run by Bill Monks, a Farrell math teacher at the time. He then started wrestling shortly after that at Farrell, as well as running track, before taking his skills to MMA and Jiu-Jitsu.
Mark Fileccia, '93, competing in an MMA bout in New Jersey.
Fileccia wanted to create his own gym because he loved to fight and found that there were not many MMA gyms on Staten Island. He decided to make his own gym so he and his team could compete within the five boroughs.
After high school, he did not get a scholarship to college for wrestling, but he got a scholarship to Wagner for track. In his time at college, when he wasn’t racing, he went to Manhattan to get trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, and Muay Thai kickboxing. In fact, Fileccia became the New York State Champ for kickboxing. With this background, Fileccia went on to compete in MMA for eight years.
Fileccia believes that track helped him a lot with fighting. The similarity between both sports for Fileccia is that you need to hold on until the end and push hard at the end. When you are in a race and the finish line is so close you must put all your effort into finishing strong. In MMA, when you are fighting an opponent and you take multiple blows from them and you're fighting back you are bound to get tired.
"Track really helped with the endurance part at the end when you think you don’t have any more fight in you," Fileccia said.
Fileccia said the hardest opponent he ever fought, by far, was Shane Burgos, who was a ranked fighter in the UFC recently before departing to the Professional Fighters League (PFL).
“Track really helped with the endurance part at the end when you think you don’t have any more fight in you,”- Mark Fileccia, '93
Fileccia says his OCD aided him in being prepared for this fight. His OCD helped him to fight better because he would study the opponent so much, he would not be surprised with any moves. He would have multiple plans in his head if his opponent pulled a certain move on him or how he would take his opponent down.
Mark Fileccia's Staten Island Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym, located on Castleton Avenue.
The only thing that surprised him was how strong Burgos was.
"I knew thirty seconds into that fight there was going to be a problem," Fileccia said. "I remember I grabbed him, pressed him up the cage and then he shrugged me off. I remember just the way he did it I knew he was a lot stronger than me."
When Mark started his gym, he did not look for a profit but just to teach others his skills but that exceeded his expectations and the gym itself is doing very well for itself.
"There is a big sense of community in the gym," Fileccia said.
Staten Island Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu/MMA offers not just Jiu-Jitsu training, but also Muay Thai, kickboxing, MMA, and wrestling. It is also very affordable compared to other Jiu-Jitsu gyms.
If you want more information, go to their website https://sibjjmma.com