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Wednesday, 07/24/2013, 04:18 pm

EXCLUSIVE | John Howard Talks Octagon Return at UFC Fight Night 26 Against Uriah Hall | Late Night Cage Side Radio

By JAKE CHASTAIN

BJPenn.com’s Late Night Cage Side Radio, hosted by our own Chase Raymond and Kinch, presented a spectacular show this week as they invited on John Howard. Howard was a UFC welterweight when he first came into the UFC but experienced mixed results at that weight and was released from the organization. He has put together a 6-1 record at middleweight since leaving the UFC and is now set to make his return to the famed octagon on August 17th at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston against Uriah Hall. Howard joined Kinch and Chase to discuss his training for the return, his new home of middleweight, and what the fans can expect for his return to the UFC. Here are some of the highlights from John Howard’s interview on BJPenn.com’s Late Night Cage Side Radio:

Howard, who is from Boston, was first asked how he felt about making his octagon return in his home town and what kind of support he was expecting at the TD Garden come fight night:

“I’m very pumped. I’m real pumped because I’m back in the UFC and I’m really pumped that it’s in Boston,” he explained. “I’m expecting a whole lot of hoorah over there so it’s going to be awesome.”

He then explained the situation that led him back into the UFC for the fight with Hall:

“I guess someone pulled out and got hurt,” Howard said. “It just makes sense I guess for them to find someone within the whole region.”

Howard signed with CES MMA, a local MMA promotion on the east coast, following his release from the UFC in 2011 and he talked about how that situation played out and how it was good for his career in the long run. Howard explained,“CES has been really good to me. I became the champion right away, the middleweight champion right after I left the UFC and they’ve been really good to me, man. They’ve been treating me really well and they got me the right fights at the right time and it’s because of them, I give credit to them because now I’m back in the UFC, so I really appreciate them.”

John was also asked to comment on the new contract he signed with the UFC. He replied, “The contract was good. I can’t really discuss the details for obvious reasons, but it looks good and I took it and I’m just satisfied with it. I’m happy that I even got the opportunity.”

Howard has fought some of the biggest names in the UFC welterweight division and has a ton of experience on his side heading into this fight against Uriah hall. However, Hall probably has more hype and fan support behind him. When asked if Howard was worried about Hall’s hype or skills coming into the fight Howard stated that he didn’t even consider his opponents name when signing his new UFC contract.

“I didn’t care who it was. It could have been Anderson Silva, I really don’t care. I fight anybody. I’m not scared to fight. I’m not scared to go out there and sacrifice getting my ass whooped. Even when I’m getting my ass whooped I still love to fight with all my heart,” Howard explained. “I found out later on that day who it was and I was really excited because he’s a really good striker.”

“I think that this fight just makes a good night for fireworks.”

Howard has never fought in the UFC middleweight division but he wanted the fans at BJPenn.com to know that, although he’s a short middleweight, he’s still a very dangerous one. Howard commented on his choice to move up to 185 pounds following his first exit from the UFC:

“It just made sense. What people don’t know, man, is that I’m short, I’m 5’7, but I’m a big guy. Before I made the cut to 170 I use to walk around at 215. My first MMA fight ever was 205 and then the more serious I got was to 185,” he said. “I know I’m short for a welterweight, I’m definitely going to be the shortest middleweight in the UFC, I’ll guarantee that, but I’m not going to be the smallest.”

Howard’s thick frame and muscular build makes him look like a powerhouse at welterweight, but his move to middleweight may be a concern for some fans. John Howard assured the fans that he will still come in as a powerful, dangerous fighter. He explained, “Since I left the UFC, went to the 185 division, I’ve been knocking people out left and right. So it shows you right there that I still have the same power, if not probably more power, because I don’t have to kill myself with the weight cut.”

He continued, “I think I’m going to be more healthy, stronger, higher level of energy, and I’m going to have a lot more power. I just can’t wait, man. I’m excited.”

He also commented on how things change during training due to his change in weight class. Howard stated, “It’s the diet, man. It’s the diet. I have a good diet and now I can eat more protein and stuff like that. I can’t really eat fatty foods because if I eat too much I get too big, easy.”

“When I used to make welterweight I couldn’t eat nothing. I had to measure all of my meals and time my meals all over the schedule,” he explained.

“That sucked, bro. It was hell. Every time I had a fight to get ready, it was depressing. It was depressing times” Howard continued. “I was like a girl on my rag.”

“Now I can have a good diet, a clean diet, eat a lot more protein, eat the right stuff and feel good. So it’s worth it for me, man. But I’m gonna put this out there: not to say I wouldn’t go back to 170 if it was worth it. But we’ll see how I do at 185. If I can turn some heads and knock some heads at 185 I’m planning on staying there.”

Howard then went into depth about the weight battle he’s dealt with for the majority of his career. He touched on a time that he tried out for The Ultimate Fighter show and had a great showing as he looked to make the middleweight cast for the series. However, he was rejected because he was told he was too short for the division.

“Dana White met me,” he explained. “He looked at me and was like, ‘you’re too short for 185, I think you’re 170.’ I was like, ‘really?’”

“He said, ‘You make welterweight, talk to me.’ Only thing I can say is that he kept his word and once I made welterweight and I was knocking people out at welterweight he took me in.”

When asked about how much pressure he felt coming into this return fight in the UFC against a dangerous opponent like Uriah Hall in front of his hometown fans in Boston Howard explained that he didn’t really think too much about it.

“I’m just happy to be fighting and making my dreams come true. Win or lose it doesn’t matter to me. I’m at the point in my life where this is a dream come true. Not everybody who does any type of combat sport can say they get to fight in their home town in a big venue,” he said. “The bonus would be if I win.”

Howard, who was released from the UFC following two close decision losses to Thiago Alves, Matt Brown, and dropped a TKO loss to Jake Ellenberger due to a swollen eye, was asked if he was surprised when the company decided to let him go.

“Yeah, I was surprised,” he replied. “Everybody knows I don’t go out there to win the decision. I go out there and try to knock people out.”

“Even though I lost three times, like you said, look who I lost to and look at how I lost.”

Howard continued, “I was fighting top-ten guys and taking them to decisions and giving them the fight of their lives. For me to get dropped, I was like, whoa.”

Howard has always been a fan favorite because of the style of fighting he brings into the cage. He is always game and looks forward to fighting the top-fighters in the world.

“I don’t ask for easy fights. You put him in front of me I’m fighting him.”

The conversation shifted to his upcoming fight with Uriah Hall and Howard was asked to comment on the striking style of Hall and how he was going to prepare for such a dangerous fighter on the feet.

“I’ve been striking for ten years. I’ve sparred, fought some of the best strikers in the world. I think Uriah Hall is a great striker, man,” Howard stated. “Anything can happen in a fight. A fight is a fight, but I’m a lot more experienced.”

Howard also touched on how difficult it must have been for Hall to have his opponent switched three times because of injuries.

“It sucks for him because he has to prepare for three different opponents, and then getting me,” Howard confidently stated. “I have knock-out power just like he does.”

“He has some high level striking, but I’m on the same level,” he continued. “He hits hard but I hit just as hard. He has to worry about that. A lot of that flashy stuff, he’s not going to get away with on me.”

Howard also commented on the toughness and veteran grit that he processes and is going to bring into the cage on August 17th. He explained, “I’m not a fighter that gonna quit. I don’t quit. There’s no quit in me. I could be nearly dead before I quit.”

John was then asked what he has been doing differently in training and if the fans can expect the same kind of fighter that they saw in the UFC before he departed from the company back in 2011.

“I’ve been working with Vinny Paz,” Howard said. Vinny Paz is a former boxing champion and Howard explained that Paz was helping elevate his game. He stated, “I was naturally a boxer. I went back to that old school stance.”

“You’re going to see a whole new ‘Doomsday’,” Howard confidently said. “I’m ready to come back.”

John Howard will be looking to make a successful return to the UFC on August 17th but he’lll have a very tough test in front of him in Uriah Hall. Howard was asked to give his thoughts on how he felt the fight was going to play out.

 “I see a war, man. I see a war. I see a fan favorite. This is going to be one of the fights you want to watch. This could easily be fight of the night, knock-out of the night, to anything…anything could happen in this fight,” Howard said. “Expect nothing but fireworks out of the gate.”

Howard concluded by saying, “There’s going to be blood on the mat after this fight.”

We would like to thank John Howard for joining Late Night Cage Side Radio and we look forward to seeing him go to work on August 17th at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston against Uriah Hall.

-Jake Chastain

@jchastain45

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