Just Scrap Radio: What’s going on with you?
Pretty much the same old same old, I’m a pretty boring guy to be honest. Just training, been in the gym, but to be honest, I’ve been doing a little bit of traveling for the UFC, for my sponsors. I’m trying to finish up all this traveling so I can get my focus back on fighting. Because obviously that’s pretty important to me, I want to make sure I’m 100% prepared for that
Just Scrap Radio: But you’re always training, you have to soak it up, and enjoy the ambiance. You’re the champ!
Yeah, but in life in general, I definitely want to, not just go through life and take time to soak it all up. Enjoy the process and enjoy the journey, life is a journey; I want to try and enjoy every step of it. Sometimes I have a hard time with that. I’m just so focused on one thing, that’s all I care about. And then I realize, wait a second, where are my boys. My buddies just had a baby, that’s a beautiful thing. It’s amazing. But I’m just so focused on fighting. I have to enjoy life, and enjoy the journey a little bit more. I do have a hard time with that.
Just Scrap Radio: You’re one of the more cerebral guys. I’ve seen you, sitting ringside, reading a book. You’re a real intellectual guy. Having looked back now, on the first fight with Frankie, what are some of the things you’ve been able to internalize and maybe in your mind come up with something different as to what you may change on your game. What are some things you know you can capitalize on going into number two?
Good question. Looking back, not only in my mind’s eye, but also in film, my coach, Tom Crouch, watches it maybe 500x, saying to look at this, watch when he does this, and all that. But for me personally, when I watched the fight I definitely see a lot of holes. I have to make my holes a lot smaller. But Frankie left a lot of holes. We knew he would. We thought that he would. In that Gray Maynard fight, he left a lot of holes open. He was able to capitalize on that in the rematch. I’ve seen a lot of holes open and Grey capitalize it from the first fight. But we knew Frankie was gonna leave some openings. Looking back at our fight in Japan, I’m amazed at how many openings he did leave for me and how many times I didn’t take advantage of that. If I woulda just stepped in a little more, or dropped down a little more. There was a bunch of little things that I know. I think he’ll leave openings again. But this time I want to be able to catch that right away. As soon as it happens, I want to be able to capitalize on it.
Just Scrap Radio: Growing up, who are some of the guys you looked up to? Was it the guys like Jens and Randy Coture? Or was it just something inside of you?
I definitely looked up to those guys, Josh Barnett, Randy, and Jens. I remember watching those guys on tv and playing the video games they were in. but really I had much aspirations to be a professional fighter. I never really considered it until I took my first fight on a dare. With a volunteer assistant wrestling coach in college. We took the fight on a limb. And I thought- this is pretty cool this is pretty fun. This gives me an avenue to continue some sort of athletic event. I just graduated college and I still had a strong desire to compete and MMA thankfully filled that void. But definitely coming up in high school, seeing the success that wrestlers have such as Barnett, randy, and Jens, it was big for me seeing that it can happen. It left the window opn- like Hey, that’s a possibility. And after I took my fight I thought- yeah, I do enjoy this.
Just Scrap Radio: Your twitter posts always show you enjoying and having fun training. What’s it like for you to be able to coach, and mentor and be on that side of the coin?
It really is awesome. I have a great group of guys out here. Myself, Efrain Escudero, a kid named Chris Gruetzemacher, you will be hearing from soon. He’s 145 lbs and he’s been my main training partner since I first moved down to Arizona like 5 years ago. He’s tough as nails and he’s like 10-1 now. We’ve got the Meza Brothers, Victor and Yaotzin Meza. Jamie Varner, that comes to our gym half the time he’s at his gym, the other times he’s training with us. My coach Tom Crouch was in his corner for his last fight. His first fight back in the UFC . He got a W, so we’re happy about that. We have a ton of great, and tough guys out here, their pretty much egoless. There aren’t a lot of egos here at the MMA LAB. These guys are tough, and hungry. No one’s gonna give it to us, and we understand that, we don’t want you to give it to us, we want to take it. Joe Riggs just came to our gym, he’s been a great addition to our team. He’s so amazingly skilled. Our coach is amazing with reviving guys, helping them mentally to overcome whatever it is they’re having a hard time with. Let them unleash the skill they really have inside the cage. We have a lot of guys who come over like Joe, and Jamie Varner. We have guys who came in when they were 15-16 years old, and now they’re 4-0, 7-0 amateurs looking to make their pro debut. We have a lot of young guys and its awesome to be a part of that, to be pushed every day. It’s awesome to have that and not have to worry about some cheap shot that has a bad attitude- arguing with his wife and comes here and hurting guys. None of that. Just tough guys who are hungry and want to get better.
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Just Scrap Radio: Now, instead of being the hunter you’re the hunted . Is it more difficult now, to focus on these guys like Nate Diaz, Grey Maynard. Do you keep your eye on these guys that could be contenders- or do you just let it play out and take what unfolds.
You kinda gotta let it play out. I can’t be so focused on everyone else. I’d give myself a headache. I just take it as it comes. I keep my eye out obviously see who the next 2-3 guys in line are. Eventually it’ll boil down to the number one guy. Some guys like to take time off and want to wait for the championship fight. I respect guys like Anthony Pettis, hats off to him. He had a #1 title shot. He was offered a fight against Clay Guida, he took it. He didn’t have to, but he said I’m a fighter. He could have waited if he wanted to, but he took it, and he ended up losing pretty bad and losing the title shot. I just gotta keep bringing my A game. I’m the hunted. I’ve got a bulls eye on my back but I enjoy it, I like it. I can hear the thousands of guys who want what I have. Guys who aren’t even in the UFC just fighting the small, local fights, that want what I have- my belt. As I’m talking, there are guys that are training their butt off to get what I have. I enjoy that. It motivates me to work even harder. Knowing that that kid is out there training to beat me. But I enjoy it.
Just Scrap Radio: What was it like going back to Korea? Thoughts on the Korean Zombie
He’s right up there. He’s skilled. I think after Aldo is healed, Korean Zombie’s next in line for Aldo’s title. I think it’ll be a fun fight. He’s really good. The biggest thing I like about Korean Zombie is his improvement. How much better he’s gotten since his WEC days. He gets better every fight. Some people think once they’re in the UFC that they’re good where they’re at. He’s not one of those guys. He’s trying to get better, he’s not complacent and he shows that in all of his fights. He’s known as being a zombie and just taking it and walking forward, but he realized after his fight with George Roop, he got KO’d by head kick, that he can’t do that against these upper echelon fighters. So he worked on that and came out awesome since then. I’m really excited about Korean Zombie. I got to train with his team; they’re super nice guys, with great coaches, and a great team vibe. They train hard. As far as UFC in Korea, I hope so. I will definitely be on that card. But I don’t know. I’ve heard rumors about another UFC in Asia though.
Just Scrap Radio: Have you been to Korea with your mom?
Yeah, both times I went over to Korea, I was able to have my mum accompany and chaperone. IT was pretty cool to be able to go with her back to her home country.
Just Scrap Radio: Are you a self-professed momma’s boy?
Absolutely, I don’t deny that at all.
Just Scrap Radio: Do you still do hot yoga?
Yeah, I didn’t have a place to do Bikram Yoga here in Pheonix for a long time. The closest place was maybe like 45 mins away. But they just opened a Bikram yoga place like 2 mins away from my gym so I’ll be there frequently, but yeah I still use it to cut weight.
Just Scrap Radio: Does it help you avoid injuries? Benefits of yoga in your fighting
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Well to be honest, it’s not just the physical stuff, but it does help a lot physically. Flexibility, injury, and cardio, the muscles being able to breathe, there’s definitely a lot of physical benefits. For me, it’s my quality me time. Life’s so hectic, even before I was a fighter, I started doing yoga. I guess I started doing yoga right when I started fighting. I was always very hectic, always late somewhere. Everything is so hectic. So for me, being able to do yoga, and take 90 mins and just breathe, doing stretching, relaxing, not watching tv or on my phone.