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How do you handle the verbal attacks that go on before a fight?
“To me it’s like a breath of fresh air. It’s good to have an
antagonist to promote a match. It can’t just be you. I think it’s hilarious. We need
people to stir up the pot and prove that the fight is worthy. The fight
is going to happen regardless. There has to be some passion behind it. I think
Nick’s a wonderful guy. It doesn’t bother me personally. I’ve been around way too
long for it to.”
Nick is an emotional fighter in the cage. What are the positive and negative
aspects of fighting such an emotional fighter?
“The positives are that his focus can be broken because your emotions tend
to cloud your judgment a little bit. But on the flip side, someone who is
passionate about something will go above and beyond their own physical
ability. I always worry about the quiet guy and the emotional guy. I think for Nick it
works. He’s at the right age where he can go in there and get his emotions
What will your approach be once you get into the cage?
“I’ve made some statements in the past about wanting to be less
entertaining. When the game is on I work it as an art form which means I
try to do the most amount of damage with the least amount of effort and the least
amount of damage to myself. I’ve had the skill set where I could play around and
mess around but I normally don’t cross that line unless I really feel like
I’m completely dominating somebody. I have changed my entire style over the past
decade being one that is exciting and somewhat dangerous. But I still
hold true to the principle of not damaging myself. I’ve just gotten distracted in
past years with the entertainment aspect. I want to get back to the basics of
just finishing people as quickly as I can and not messing around.”
How does a fighter build mental toughness?
“It’s really three-fold in my opinion. The first is to make a conscious
decision to do something which a lot of people have a fear of. The second
thing is that every time you do something you feel more confident in it. And the
third thing for me is having a community or a foundation of general support
like getting someone to pat your back and say you did a good job. If
there is one factor that factors into all this is that you have to take your lumps
because that is what teaches you to understand what it is and to not be
afraid of it. I don’t think a lot of people take those lumps even if they have that
nice support system in there. You got to get your butt kicked every once in
awhile to know that you can survive it.”
How has Mixed Martial Arts changed over the years?
“The sport has evolved into a very dynamic athletic sport but it’s
really moved into the striking arena. When I got into the sport in 19… Oh, God
I’m old…a very long time ago it was really a grappling art and now it’s
really turned into a striking sport. The submission percentage is going down
considerably. I mean, the easiest way now to win is to punch in the head,
kick in the head and damage the brain. The level of the athlete has skyrocketed since I
got into the sport. The understanding of how to use your body and the
dynamics and the mechanics have just gone through the roof. I mean, our athletes now
are neck in neck with every other pro sport.”
What types of problems does Nick Diaz pose for you?
“I think his length and that he’s got a well-rounded game. He’s
comfortable throwing punches and standing up punching and he very comfortable and
skilled on the ground. I’ve always had trouble with long guys because
as a shorter guy I have smaller explosive movements and a lot of long guys I can get
trapped inside of them. He poses a problem for me which is what I like.”
How big is this fight for you?
“For me it’s not going to make a difference what I do in this fight.
To me, I’m the most important fighter in this weight class. Pound for pound I
think people are going to want to see me fight more than anyone else. I don’t
see why not.”
Who do you like to watch fighting?
“There’s a Japanese guy I like to watch. His name is Shina Aoki. He
has a complete game. I do a lot of the same things he does. He doesn’t like
getting punched--I don’t know who does--but he especially doesn’t. I’m sure
I’ll be fighting him sooner or later hopefully if I make my way back to Japan. There
are a lot of fighters that come to mind but he’s the main guy.”
You’ve sparred with boxer Andre Ward in the past. Would you ever consider
going back into the boxing ring?
“Yeah, I have sparred with him, but that’s kind of a seasonal thing.
They call me and I make my way in. I’m more on call with them as opposed to
having him on call for me. I absolutely would but I would like more money.
It’s just ridiculous. I don’t want to make $8,000 or $10,000 for a small fight in
Sacramento to get my face all cut up. I’d really have to look into
pursuing it but I’m not sure it’s something I want to do.”
What are the biggest obstacles you see in fighting Frank Shamrock?
“I don’t see any. I feel like I have all the answers for Frank
Shamrock. I have an answer for everything. What does Frank Shamrock do compared to what
other people I have fought? Nothing. I think it’s going to be fine to
come in and just do as I always do.”
On what we can expect from him on April 11:
“I’m always going to have an aggressive fight and put my hand on the
person and just try to get in and get out. I had the chance to evolve some
techniques that I believe will stand out as far as the MMA world goes.
I’ve had a chance to work on my muay thai and my ground game because those are some
things that I haven’t had a chance to show because my fights have usually only
lasted a minute. You may see more of that from me depending on how the
fight is going.”
On how he’s preparing for “Abongo” with limited tape?
“There is not a lot of tape out there but what I’ve seen is that he
likes to kick. At this new gym I’ve been working out with a lot of guys who
do muay thai so I am preparing myself for a guy that likes to kick. So if
that’s his style then he’s going to bump into a little bit of a problem because
I’m a big guy but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a slow guy. And just
because I’m big doesn’t necessarily mean my gas tank is going to be low. He said
he was 12-0 but I’ve only found like two or three tapes.”
On the prospect of fighting Kimbo Slice in the future:
“I knew this question was going to pop up. You know what, it’s like
this: I will fight anybody at anytime. Kimbo knows how to contact me. If he still
wants to get in the ring then he knows my number. It’s that easy.
It’s not that hard. I’m not going to hunt him down. I thought he was going to
win his last fight in the first round and then he got beat by somebody that’s
not even in his weight class. That was just mind-boggling to me. He knows how to
get in contact with me. As far as everybody who is above me, I’m hunting for
Because I know how this business is. You have to beat someone that is better
than you to make yourself that much better and to move up the mountain.”
What can the MMA fans expect from you?
“I’m coming in at around 245 pounds. You can expect a lot of
movement…I like to move and I like to mix it up. I definitely like to stand up and
strike. I’m a new talent and I think I’m pretty multi-faceted. I’m kind of like
Brett in that a lot of my fights haven’t gotten past my hands and my
legs so they haven’t really had a chance to see my ground game. Hopefully this fight
they’ ll get a chance to see that. If not, then the fight will end with a punch or
a kick.”
What does your experience on the television show “Iron Ring” mean to you
and what did you learn from that?
“That’s a good question. My experience on “Iron Ring” was
fascinating. I faced some pretty good opponents there. I think if you look at the
ratings the shows did very well and was comparable to the Ulitmate Fighting reality
show. The guys on that show definitely have something to offer the guys
in the MMA world.”



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