I saw you tweeted that you were taking suggestions for your last cheat meal before your upcoming training camp for Gabriel Gonzaga. What did you end up eating?
Haha, I had an extra-large Dominoes pizza. They've really changed their game up.
You have a fight with Gabriel Gonzaga coming up for UFC 121, and you train with Shane Carwin every day at Grudge Training Center in Colorado. Have you talked with Shane much about his own fight with Gonzaga? Is it even applicable to have him give you some insight or was their fight just too short?
Of course I train with Shane working out my gameplans, but our styles are just a little different. He kind of came right at Gonzaga, whereas I like to lead a guy into things. You just can't take too much from Shane's fight. We're completely different fighters, but at the same time, Shane did gameplan a lot for him. He was able to finish him quickly so he's definitely helping me out on this one.
Could you tell me a little about how you and Carwin got set up together?
Shane and I first got together at Nate Marquardt's gym, High Altitude Martial Arts, about five years ago. I just showed up for jiu jitsu to get some work in. I walked in and there's big Shane, all 300lbs of him, and they said 'there's your training partner.' He's been my main training partner since day one.
I've heard that you are adamant about never fighting Carwin, is that true?
That's true. That's 100% true.
So Dana could never throw a fat check out there and try to pull a Machida vs. Silva?
I don't think so, no.
What kind of cardio do you guys do at Grudge? With so many heavyweights, do you guys do more functional training and less roadwork?
Yes, exactly. At Grudge we just push each other. Whether it's sparring five rounds or rolling and doing drills, I do most of my cardio at practice. As far as running outside or riding a bike? That's not fighting, so I only do things that are going to help me in the Octagon. Just pushing myself for more rounds at a higher pace in training. Your focus should be grounded in what you do, and that's fighting. I'm getting my cardio that way.
Do you go back and forth between Jackson's in Albuquerque and Grudge in Denver?
I'm at Grudge 100%. I really don't go anywhere else. I might go to Jackson's for a couple days, Montreal to start the camp, but I'm at Grudge full time. Monday Wednesday Friday at Grudge, Tuesday Thursday Saturday at Easton BJJ.
Do you think guys like Carwin and Brock Lesnar are the new breed of heavyweight? Or are they just anomalies and outliers?
I actually think the new breed is guys like Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, and myself. Fighters who are lighter and more athletic. I think Lesnar and Shane are just absolute freaks. I don't think you're going to see another heavyweight like either one of those guys. As big and technical as Shane is? It's something unique. I think the division is headed towards the more athletic, technical guys as opposed to these big monsters.
What do you think about fighting a guy like Gabriel Gonzaga? He's pretty dangerous on the ground, but he also wobbled Carwin with a punch. How are you approaching this fight?
For me, this is the reason I've always dreamed of fighting in the UFC. Fighting top level competition. Guys like Gabe, Randy Couture, Dos Santos, and the Lesnars. All the studs, the who's who of MMA. It's just a great opportunity for me. I'm fighting on another absolutely stacked card. The way I show my appreciation to Dana White and Joe Silva for putting me on these cards is just to put on a show. I'm just going to go out there and do my thing. I have all the tools I need to beat Gonzaga.
Speaking of that UFC 121 card, you really did get put on one of the most stacked cards of the year. Do you look at this and ask yourself- 'how the hell am I going to get a bonus out of this thing?'
No, not really. My first real UFC fight was a prelim on Versus 1 and that card was stacked. My next fight was UFC 116 with Shane and Brock, another insane card. I see all these stars fighting around me and I just try to stand out. On the Versus card I had a 47 second knockout and on the UFC 116 SPIKE prelims I had a 67 second knockout, so I can find a way to separate myself, find a way for people to talk about me. I grew up a huge Tito Ortiz fan, so it's an honor to be on the same card as someone like him. It's a unique opportunity for me.
What are your thoughts on the heavyweight landscape? I was talking to Justin Wren, one of your fellow training partners at Grudge, and he thinks Carwin and Overeem are the best in the game right now.
I definitely think Shane is the most dangerous heavyweight out there. Honestly, if you're not fighting in the UFC, I could care less about you. I don't care about guys like Overeem or anyone else fighting in these other organizations. If you want to prove your worth and prove you're one of the best in the world, you need to be fighting in the UFC. These other organizations are kind of half-assed to be honest with you. Shane's on another level. Obviously you can't put him above Lesnar right now because he did end up beating him, but if they get a rematch I think it's a different story. Carwin is the most dangerous heavyweight in the world. I think you can put all the top five to six heavyweights right behind him, they're all dangerous.
I have to ask at least one Kimbo related question. When he walked into the gym, did everyone want to fight him?
I really don't think so. Some guys might have been a little intimidated by him. I think the true fighters were there to fight anyone and could care less. Some guys just saw Kimbo as a way to make a name for themselves, because he's such a big name. For me, I saw him as just an easy way to get a win and move on in the tournament. Kimbo's a good guy, a great guy actually, and I wish him the best. He could be trouble for guys if he had started younger, just based on his talent and work ethic.
Speaking of your time on TUF, are you interested in a rematch with Roy Nelson?
People ask me all the time, but honestly, I'm not really interested. I'm putting the whole 'Ultimate Fighter' thing behind me. I did well on the show and made a name for myself. If Roy is holding the title belt I'll fight him again, but I don't really focus on it. He's a good guy and a friend of mine, and right now I have bigger fish to fry fighting Gabe Gonzaga. I'll take whoever Joe Silva and Dana White want me to fight.