EXCLUSIVE | Brendan Schaub on Metamoris Pro and Fight Against Matt Mitrione | Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio
UFC heavyweight fighter, Brendan Schaub, will be engaged in a fierce competition in just under three weeks; only it’s not what you would expect. Schaub will be competing at the June 9 Metamoris Pro Jiu Jitsu Invitational against Robeto “Cyborg” Abreu. Schaub still has a fight lined up for UFC on FOX 8, a July 27 bout against Matt Mitrione, fellow cast member of The Ultimate Fighter 10: Heavyweights.
Schaub spoke with BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio Sunday night to talk about his two upcoming bouts.
For Schaub, who is well known for his transition from semi-professional football player to UFC fighter, the Metamoris Pro is an opportunity to compete at one of the martial arts he truly loves.
“Jiu jitsu is my passion,” said Schaub. “[There are] so many disciplines when it comes to mixed martial arts that I have to work on, but I just gravitate toward jiu jitsu. I just happen to be pretty damn good at it. I really haven’t had to showcase it too much in the UFC. This gives me kind of the biggest stage in jiu jitsu to kind of show people what’s up… It’s more of a thinking man’s kind of discipline. I don’t know, I just gravitated towards it. The first UFC I ever saw was Royce Gracie just doing work on these bigger guys, and I just couldn’t get enough of it. When I moved out here to California, I instantly made a connection with Rener and Ryron Gracie. Man, those guys have just been life-changing for me, not just in jiu jitsu, but in life in general. For me, to compete in Metamoris, it’s something I can do and I can give back to jiu jitsu. You know, and there are some phenomenal jiu jitsu practicioners on the card. You’re talking about the best 12 guys in the world. There’s a reason people are talking about myself and ‘Cyborg’ competing so much. I think it’s the most talked about fight on the card.”
For Schaub, his experience at the very first Metamoris Pro ignited his desire to compete in the upcoming event June 9.
“You know, I grew up, and what got me involved in mixed martial arts is the movie ‘Bloodsport.’ And when you go to Metamoris, it is the Kumite, man, there’s drums, there’s a crowd around, it’s the white canvas kind of slanted just like the Kumite. It was love at first sight for me.”
Of course, Schaub would have to deal with the UFC, whose contracts with fighters generally include a restriction on such competitions. As it would turn out, Dana White was nothing but supportive of Schaub.
The fighter recalls, “I ran into Dana White and just said, ‘Hey man, I want to do this jiu jitsu tournament, this jiu jitsu match, just one superfight,’ and he kind of was like, ‘You know what, do you have anything coming up?’ I said, ‘Yeah I do, July 27,’ and he was like, ‘You know what, don’t get hurt, have fun.’ Then he was like, ‘Submit the guy.’ I was like, ‘Dang, that’s it?’ I called up Ralek freaking two minutes later, and here we are now.”
Ralek Gracie, organizer of the Metamoris II, also spoke on Sunday night’s radio show; and he had nothing but positive things to say about Schaub competing. He said to anyone doubting the UFC fighter’s skills that they can put on a gi and roll with the heavyweight to find out for themselves.
Upon hearing that, Schaub laughed. “Yeah,” he said, “I extend that offer. If you have a problem with me being on Metamoris, I’m at the Gracie Academy in Torrance six days a week, show up any time, I’ll probably be there and let’s see what’s up. For me, I don’t have anything to prove, you know what I’m saying? I compete at the highest level in the world, man, as long as people are talking about it, that’s all I care about. I’ll go out there and kind of show people what’s up come June 9th. Win, lose or draw- listen, man, to put it on the line against a guy like ‘Cyborg’ is something I’ll never forget. I’ve grown as a fighter, especially my jiu jitsu game has gone through the roof. This is just a step for me in my career. Everything I do is geared towards becoming the UFC champion, and my jiu jitsu is some of the best in the heavyweight division. There are only like one or two guys I wouldn’t take down in the UFC and the world. I’m just excited to go out there, showcase my skills, show everyone up. I’m looking forward to it.”
The rules of Metamoris are quite different from a UFC match. Looking beyond the obvious difference in the two sports, the Metamoris Pro features one 20-minute round per fight without a break. The weight limit is also different for Schaub, at 235 lbs instead of the UFC’s limit of 265 lbs. For Brendan, however, he is approaching the Metamoris simply like it were training for his July 27 UFC fight.
“As far as training camp- listen, man, my number one priority is getting that UFC belt, so I still have to work on my boxing, I’m sparring, still wrestling, every day doing my strength and conditioning for my upcoming bout [on] July 27 on FOX against Matt Mitrione. It just so happens I have this Metamoris coming up June 9 that I signed up for that I have to make weight- I have to make 235 lbs, which has been another animal in itself. Also, I do jiu jistu twice a day, six times a week. Also, twice a week, I’m grabbing a world-class jiu jitsu guy and we’re going twenty minutes at it. The only difference is there’s just, I’d say, three or four more jiu jitsu practices instead of, when I’m in camp for an actual fight, I don’t put that much emphasis in jiu jitsu. I still do, but not this much.”
Schaub’s training has also branched out to include some top level jiu jitsu competitors located in Southern California.
“Obviously Rener and Ryron Gracie: I train with them on a daily basis. Jason Manly, if you haven’t heard of Jason Manly, look this guy up. He’s an absolute monster with leg locks and you name it. I’ve been working a ton with him in Orange County at Reign Training Center. Then Xande [Ribeiro], who’s a world champion. He just beat Braulio Estima the other day in Brazil. I’ve worked with Xande a couple times. I’ve worked with Buchecha previously- I haven’t for this camp, but previously I have. So you’re talking about the who’s who in jiu jitsu. These guys are asking me to come and work with them. It’s just crazy. My game is getting better, and hopefully I’m helping them. As far as grappling goes, I’ve got the usual suspects down at Reign with Mark Munoz and Pat Cummins and [Satoshi] Ishii, so we have all sorts of monsters down there. So things are good man, couldn’t get any better. One thing’s for sure, I won’t be underprepared, that’s for sure.”
Once that preparation is complete and Schaub competes at the Metamoris II, he will have to immediately switch gears and finish preparing for Matt Mitrione. Schaub says the extra work he has put in for Metamoris has him it top physical shape, so the last month of camp will merely be fine-tuning.
“Matt is a good friend of mine,” Schaub said of his upcoming UFC fight. “It’s not easy, us agreeing to fight, but business is business. We’re going to have to put that behind us and put on a show come July 27. As far as Matt as an opponent, at this level, they’re all tough. Matt’s super explosive, he’s a great athlete, he comes from a great camp. You know, I expect the best Matt Mitrione we’ve seen yet, that’s for sure. For whatever reason, when I fight guys, they definitely come ready to go. 2013 is going to be a huge year for me, especially in the UFC. It started with Lavar Johnson, Matt Mitrione’s next, I’m sure it’s only going to get tougher, bigger, badder dudes from here. I’m looking forward to it.”
Brendan Schaub has been moving his way up the heavyweight ranks, and he believes it is due to his intelligent approach and superior skills.
“I’m just fighting a little smarter now. Anyone in the UFC, you want to box? Let’s box. You want to wrestle? Let’s wrestle. You want to do jiu jitsu? That’s fine with me too, I can kind of take it anywhere I want. I don’t think a lot of guys can say that. So if you suck at something, you best believe I’m going to take advantage of that. With the Lavar Johnson fight, am I a better striker than Lavar? Hell yeah. Am I a harder hitter? No. He’s probably the hardest hitter in the division. So you weigh your options, and you go where you’re going to win the fight. I fully expected to finish him, but it takes two to tango, and he just wants to hold me on the ground. That’s not jiu jitsu there, that’s just praying to god, hoping you don’t get submitted and hoping you get stand back up. Makes for a boring fight. It’s not my fault he didn’t work on his jiu jitsu or wrestling, you know? In the Mitrione fight, I’m just going to take what he gives me, however he wants to lose, I do not care. If it’s wrestling, a submission, a knockout, they all work for me. All the bonuses are the same: whether you get fight of the night, submission of the night, knockout of the night, they’re all the same.”
With two top-level competitions in front of him, Schaub is driven for victory. When asked about whether merely competing at this level is a win-win for him, Brendan replied bluntly, “No, I think that’s a cop-out… I think that’s what people say when they’re preparting to lose… As far as a win-win, no, I gotta come away from this thing with a victory for it to be a win.”
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