I began my interest in martial arts at a very young age. Inspired by Bruce Lee movies, I trained in Taekwondo briefly from the age of nine to eleven. I then spent most of my teenage years playing in rock n’ roll bands, and exploring my creativity through music.
Just before my 18th birthday in 2008, I began training in MMA with the intention of becoming a professional fighter. I took a fight with very little experience, and lost quickly; getting choked unconscious in the opening seconds. This would end up being a great lesson. I soon left the gym I was at, and I was invited to join Agallar Combative Systems in Racine, WI- led by UFC vet Nick Agallar and his brother, Hank, WEC veteran Sherron Leggett, and future UFC contender, Gerald Meerschaert.
Developing under ACS, I compiled an amateur record of 6-2, and later, a professional record of 1-1. Sadly, ACS closed its doors in 2011. I tried to continue my fighting career, but I suffered a health issue in early 2012 that left me out of action for sometime. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Parkside in 2013, I returned to martial arts competition in late 2014- taking bronze in the expert level no-gi division at Combat Corner Grappling Championship. Shortly after, I was awarded my blue belt in the gi by Daniel Vianna.
I have since found a full time home at Valko Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in Chicago, IL, where I train gi and no-gi jiu jitsu with head coach Jay Valko, and an amazing team of grapplers, as well as boxing under golden gloves champion trainer, Mark Allen. Additionally, I hone my wrestling skills weekly with the Chicago Wrestling Club, led by Peter Haag.
Outside of martial arts, I work full-time in special education, and I am currently pursuing my master's degree at Northeastern Illinois University.
I’m an active musician. I run an after school guitar program for junior high age students, and play out live with my groups, Los Moruchos, and Bone Talk.
I’ve been vegan for several years- giving up meat shortly before my last pro fight in 2011. I am a strong proponent of a plant-based lifestyle, and there are now more high level vegan athletes than ever before.
Q&A Session Between Dylan Falduto and Elite Sports
Question:What inspires you about BJJ? MMA?
Answer: The honesty. Martial arts are an incredible avenue for self-development, and the purest opportunity to truly face your fears. The good, the bad, and the ugly will always come out in the heat of competition, and this continues to inspire me.
Question:Who inspires you, past or present? Why do they inspire you?
Answer: In martial arts, I am inspired everyday by the intelligence, skill, and hard work of my coaches and teammates: particularly those in their later years.
I have a great deal of respect for the work of Gustavo Dantes- the BJJ mental coach. I think the mental side of martial arts training is very underutilized, and his strategies have helped me a great deal as a competitor, martial artist, and person.
I’m grateful to have a cool dad that got me into playing music young, and supported my decision to become a professional fighter.
As a special educator, I am extremely inspired by the hard work and dedication of my students, and their families.
Question:What are your goals for this year? Next 3 years? Next 5 years?
Answer: My current goals are to simply compete as much as possible, improve my skillset, and be the best teammate I can be.
My long-term goal is to compete at the highest level possible, and earn my black belt. I want to become a great coach, and give back to the next generation the same way all my great coaches and mentors have given to me.
Question:How long have you been training?
Answer: I began training mixed martial arts in 2008. After a health-related hiatus in 2012, I returned to training in 2014, and have since taken on the new challenge of training and competing in the gi, in addition to no-gi, wrestling, boxing, and muay thai training.
Question:How often do you train?
Answer: I train as much as possible. Being a full time teacher, most of my training is in the evening. I take advantage of weekends, and off time, to get in hard morning and afternoon sessions as well. Generally, I train grappling 5-6 sessions a week, boxing 2-3, and 1-2 sessions of strength and conditioning work.
Question:Any major accomplishments you’ve been able to achieve in that time?
2008-2011: 7-3 MMA Record
2014: Combat Corner Grappling Championship Expert Level No-Gi Bronze Medalist
2017: NAGA Adult Blue Belt Gi Gold Medalist
2017: 2-0 XFO Professional Grappling
Question:Do you have a go-to finishing move?
Answer: In grappling, I am very confident in my chokes from all positions. Standing, I have a very powerful left hook.
Question:What do you think it takes to be a champion in your sports?
Answer: Dedication and passion. You have to be able to grind it out day in and out, but enjoying the process is equally important.