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15 Minutes of Fame: MMA fighter grapples with full-contact WoW schedule

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – both the renowned and the relatively anonymous. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about at 15minutesoffame (at) wowinsider (dot) com.

Ah, the boundless energy of youth. The world is Jerry Friestad's oyster, and he's losing no time digging up every pearl that catches his eye: raiding, college studies, a burgeoning career as an mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter ... Jerry's truly nailed his main character, a Blood Elf Hunter named Pewpewblzer: they share the same insouciant air and the same over-the-top sense of attack, both online and off. 15 Minutes of Fame caught up with him to find out how he finds time and energy to balance everything on his plate.

15 Minutes of Fame: Introduce us to your characters, Jerry. Who do you play?
Jerry Friestad: (My main is) Pewpewblzer, 70 Blood Elf Hunter, Cult of Reason, Tichondrius US. I also have a 70 Troll Shaman (Pewpewfzer), 70 Blood Elf Paladin (Pewpewlzer) and a few scattered Alliance 60s from pre-Burning Crusade raiding.

College student, end-game raider, and MMA fighter – that's a lot of commitments. What does a typical weekday look like for you?
Most of my classes are online this year, so I've been able to take a lot of time to train. I wake up at 6 a.m. Get my morning run in, which is about three miles. I get back and do all of my Quel'Danas island dailies and Ogri'la/Netherwing dailies over two different 70 characters. Then I sit around and do school work until it's time to go to practice. Each day is split up into a different aspect of MMA, and as a team we drill basic moves and spar live. Then at around 8 p.m., I'll get another three-mile run in, then come home and play WoW. Even if it's a special occasion -- like this week, Grand Theft Auto IV came out -- I'll still remain logged in playing with the Auction House and talk to guildmates.

Don't your coaches or trainers ever tell you to lay off the video games and focus on your training?
Actually, I've been pretty fortunate in that my main MMA coach, Jamie Varner (current WEC 155-lb. champ and UFC veteran), doesn't know about all of the video games, comic books, anime and OC remix video game music I'm into -- he makes fun of me for being small enough, as it is. I'm always the hardest working and most rapidly improving fighter they have now, so the only suggestions I get are related to technique. My conditioning is always top notch.

Does the time you have to devote to raiding vary according to your fight and training schedule? How do you balance that?
Lately, I've had to cut weight and prepare for a few fights I have coming up, which is a shame, because my guild has been progressing so well through Hyjal/Black Temple lately. Since my practice schedule conflicts with my raiding schedule, I usually wait for weekends to do Karazhan and Gruul's/Mags. I try to be a benefit to the guild, however, by farming mats for pots and making drums and throwing those in the guild bank. We're big and geared enough as a guild to create a second raid group to farm SSC/TK on off-raid nights for alts and other guildmates, and I will be running that raid, most likely.

How do you keep the temptation of playing WoW from oozing over into your training time?
Prioritize. You need to think about what is important and what can benefit your life further down the road. My girlfriend has broken up with me recently because I've canceled hanging out with her to raid, and I've been late to several practices because I was 20 minutes away from finishing my daily heroic. When the expansion comes out, I plan on doing what I did with the first one -- and that's cut everyone out of my life for a week until I get one of my characters to level 80. I'm sure once I reach a higher level of competition it will demand a certain conduct and mentality from me as an athlete, but until then, nothing beats a nice day off to play WoW for 10 hours, drinking Mountain Dew and eating Panda Express.

Give us a snapshot of your MMA career.
I started training in high school because I wasn't good at wrestling and I wanted to impress girls on MySpace. Towards the end of my junior year in high school, my mother and I moved to Indiana from Arizona. I had no friends over summer, so I found a training camp and all I did for months was work out and play WoW, EQ2, Guild Wars and Eve. A promoter for a local show saw my talent and got me fighting in amateur fights that were undocumented for a small amount of cash. I racked up about eight fights when I was 17 and then moved back to Arizona to finish high school, where I trained and fought four more times at the local show out here. I've always been a wrestler/submission fighter, but ever since I've moved to a good camp, I've taken almost a year off to learn kickboxing. I plan on seeing my career to the top of the 135-lb. division as a striker.


Lay out your vitals for us: current weight class, pro record, plans for the future.
I'm 135 pounds officially. I have an amateur record of 7-1 and a professional record of 3-1. I've taken nearly a year off from fighting to get better as a fighter, and I'm about to dive headfirst into a higher level of competition with more exposure.

Tell us a little bit about your fighter persona, The Prince.
Well, it's kind of an odd story. You see, on a distant planet, Gargon, when the king's first-born reaches the age of 18, he is to pass on his crown if it is a boy; if it's a girl, there is a long, five-tiered process where applicants must fight for the approval of the princess so she can decide who will take her hand in marriage. A brave and funny boy, PewPewlazer, overcame all of the trials and against all odds swept the princess off her feet with his witty one-liners and fantastic hair.

The king, however, did not like the prince and found a loophole in this contract: the prince must present the king with a gift for the ceremony to be complete. The king decided his gift would be that the prince must conquer an alien planet by proving himself to be its strongest warrior. The planet was Earth.

The prince was not able to make it to the planet whole, so he manifested his personality in the soul of a young shy video game nerd named Jerry. The Prince has taught Jerry how to talk to girls, given him the confidence to deal with crowds and how to push past the limit of exhaustion like a true warrior would. In other words, Prince PewPewLazer is the reason I am the fighter I am today.

Ever done any tabletop roleplaying?
Yes, I was way into D&D early into high school, but my DM and two of our party members moved away, so I was left with no one to campaign with. I'm friends with boring, non-video-game-playing, go-out-and-drink-four-nights-in-a-row college types, so I can't convert them. I'll be picking up the ruleset Book 4 June 23, though, baby! Maybe I can find some people to play D&D with me when I'm famous.

Do any of the other fighters you play with or know play WoW?
Nope. Every time I try to bring it up to one of my teammates, they make fun of me.

How long have you been playing WoW?
Three weeks since it came out. I was a die-hard EverQuest player before this slew of MMOs and WoW clones came out and was hoping EQ2 would kill WoW. Once I got into the core mechanics of WoW, I threw away all of the other MMOs I had touched and dedicated six hours a day minimum to playing over a five-month period. Since then it's been pretty stable.

What's your guild currently working on?
Archimonde and Gurtogg. We just got Archimonde down.

Has your interest in MMA influenced the games you like, the class you chose in WoW or your WoW playstyle? Do you enjoy PvP?

Absolutely. Once you know the specifics about fighting mechanics that I do, you start dissect game combat and what it gets right/wrong. I used to enjoy PvP, but I missed the Arena curve when I took a long WoW hiatus. Now it's just pimps with epic gear selling off spots on their Arena teams for points. I'll be hardcore into Arena come next expansion, though, because I'm a competitive PC gamer.

Have you ever wished for an open-hand fighting class in the game, such as a Monk? What would you want to play and why?
I've thought about it, and in other MMOs I've taken the route to be a hand-to-hand class. It's just I couldn't think of a proper way to do it that wouldn't be identical to combat Rogues with fist weapon specialization. Balancing the classes has to be the most stressful thing for Blizzard, with their success, because any change they make is guaranteed to anger 100,000 people. I couldn't imagine how they would make it work, and I'm glad they haven't just shoehorned something like it in. Plus my hunter would just kite a Monk class to death anyways.

Any other video game favorites, past or present?
My Top Three are Chrono Trigger, Ocarina of Time and Metal Gear Solid 3. From there, I'm basically into Japanese RPGs and MMOs exclusively. I'll play big titles like GTA when they come out, but every time a big JRPG comes out, I get excited like a 12-year-old school girl about to go to a Hannah Montana concert.

What are you studying in college? Any plans after graduation?
I'm currently working on getting the proper credits and GPA to get into the journalism program, I've always enjoyed writing my own sci-fi novels when I was growing up. My talent is in fighting, but I'll always have a soft spot for writing and I want to see it through with school for my mom.

When's your next fight scheduled?
I'm going to be doing a local show in Arizona May 31, but some time mid-August I'll be going up to Seattle, Wash., to fight for a larger promotion. I have a lot of fights coming up towards the end of the year, so you can shoot me an ad on Myspace and I'll keep you guys posted.

Best of luck, Jerry!

Peek behind the curtain with 15 Minutes of Fame, from the guy who's won the Gurubashi Arena chest booty event more than 700 times to Noor the pacifist player (who's leveling up without killing anything). Or tip us off to a player you'd like to read more about by e-mailing us at 15minutesoffame AT wowinsider DOT com.

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