Former Strikeforce lightweight title challenger Josh Thomson joined BJPENN.COM Radio this past Wednesday, March 27. Currently, Thomson is in training camp at the American Kickboxing Academy for his upcoming fight against Nate Diaz on the UFC on FOX 7 card airing on April 20th.
Regarding his preparation and game plan, Thomson was blunt in suggesting that because of Diaz’ physical size and skill set, he cannot plan too far ahead.
“You’ve just got to get the win, that’s the biggest thing is making sure you go out there and get the win no matter how it happens. Nate poses a threat I think for anybody because, like GSP said, stylistically [the Diaz brothers] are hard to get guys to train with that are that good. If the guy is that good at boxing and he’s that long where he’s 6’1”-6’2”, you know, they’re long, good boxers. It’s hard to get a guy that’s long, and a good boxer, but is also a black belt in jiu-jitsu that also knows how to roll. So just stylistically, it’s hard to find guys that are the best of both worlds to match-up against them.”
In preparing for Diaz, Thomson has relied on tall sparring partners and world class grapplers like Leo Viera, the founder of Checkmat, to prepare him for Diaz’ well-rounded arsenal. He made it clear, however, that he’s not preparing to stand and slug-it-out with a fighter who has made his name doing just that.
“The one area I want to stay out of with him is in that slug range. I don’t want to get into a brawling situation with him; it was the same thing with Gilbert [Melendez]. I think just the Cesar [Gracie] guys, with the exception of Jake [Shields], with Nick [Diaz] and Nate and Gil, those three guys, I mean they don’t mind mixing it up; they don’t mind getting hit two or three times to give you one good one. So I think with those guys, you have to really make sure you come in, you throw your combination, get in and get out or you basically just put a lot of pressure on them, make them try to back up. The key is to make sure you’re never standing directly in front of them, you’re creating angles and you’re letting your hands go; your hands, your knees, your feet, everything. Put it all together and just let it go.”
For Thomson, this fight is a homecoming of sorts. Having previously fought in the UFC until the elimination of its lightweight division, Thomson most recently made his name in Strikeforce, where his last fight saw him unsuccessfully challenge for Gilbert Melendez’ lightweight title in a closely fought contest. The return to the Octagon, however, does not sound like it fazes the veteran.
“Coming home, it just seems like I left the UFC right where I’m actually walking back into it. I left the UFC as the number one contender, and possibly should have been fighting for the UFC title, and I’m right back where I should be as I come back into it. So not much has changed from when I left UFC to now: I’m fighting a number one contender with the potential of being the number one contender, and with the chance of fighting for the title next. Who can argue with that? I can’t be mad at that, that’s exactly where I want to be and I feel like I’m right there.”
The Northern California fighter also made note of how, in his return to the UFC, he feels that he has nothing to prove. After roughly 15 years in the fight game, he’s been able to stand-and-deliver in both flashy fights that showcased his ability to put all aspects of MMA together, as well as doing what he had to in order to win. Also, Thomson referenced his innovations from his early days in the UFC ranging from being the first to execute a “Superman Punch” and punching the front of his opponent’s thigh, which was seen most recently in Ben Henderson’s victory over Thomson’s next opponent, Nate Diaz.
Thomson also just recently returned from six weeks in China filming a remake of the film “Moving Target”, of which gave a brief rundown of his experience as well as the plot of the film:
“I meet a girl online, and we’ve been talking for a while, and I go over to China for the first time to meet her,” Thomson began. “We have a lunch and I go by her work to kind of surprise her with flowers, and basically everyone in her office is dead. So I spend the whole movie looking for her and along the way I kill about sixty-something people- like brutally kill them- and at the end of course, you get the girl. That’s kind of how the whole storyline usually goes, right?”
A low budget production, Thomson mentioned that he has already been approached to film an additional two films in continuance with the remake down the line, as well as the fight scenes being “way better” than the original. Having no restrictions on work in Asia, the days were long and the diet was less strict for Thomson, who returned to training on March 15th.
Self-admittedly, Thomson says he does not feel that he’s given himself the proper time to prepare for an opponent of Diaz’s caliber, but believes that he has all the tools to still come out victorious; the most important of which is self-awareness of who he’s fighting.
“I don’t think anybody ever goes into a Nick-and-Nate Diaz fight and says, ‘I’m going to go in there and just smash him.’ They can take a punch, they’re good on the ground, and they’re good at avoiding damage. I mean you would have never- if you looked at the GSP and Nick fight, you would have thought that Nick won. He really didn’t have any marks on him, and he took some shots and he lost all five rounds” Thomson mentioned, once again referencing the toughness of Cesar Gracie’s main core of fighters.
“If you go in there thinking, ‘Hey, I’m just going to go in there and rip their head off in the first two rounds’, you’re going to be standing there in the third going, ‘man, they haven’t dropped and I’m dog dead tired’ and odds are they’re probably going to finish you.”
To hear Josh Thomson’s interview in its entirety, including his thoughts on “grinding” fighters and what he felt when Zuffa first purchased Strikeforce, listen to the player below or visit the BJPENN.COM Radio channel archive.