A lot of people were criticizing your gameplan against Nick Diaz. Do you think part of the problem was that you didn’t put the exclamation mark on him like you have so many other opponents?
I think there are a lot of different reasons why people aren’t happy with it, but yeah, that’s one of them. I felt like I fought a great fight. I think it’s really easy to be critical from the comfort of your armchair. I think I fought a good fight, and it was a close fight, and that’s why I was willing to do a rematch.
What was it like being followed around by the UFC Primetime crew leading up to that fight?
It was stressful. Doing all the cameras and all that stuff is probably one of my least favorite things to do. But it’s part of the job.
A little bit of both. I want to finish fights, and I wanted to finish that fight. I was throwing with bad intentions to finish the fight. But I didn’t get it done. I thought I fought a good fight, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with my performance.
With no Diaz rematch, are you leaning toward waiting on Georges St-Pierre to marry up the belts, or are you contemplating taking a fight before that?
It all depends on GSP’s recovery time and how quickly he’s going to be ready to fight. If it’s at the very end of the year—or even next year—I’d entertain the idea of taking another fight. But if it’s more like September, which is one of the things I’m hearing, I’ll probably wait.
You only had one fight in 2011. Earlier in your career, you were stacking up fights pretty fast, particularly between 2006-07. Is it frustrating to fight less as you go up the rungs toward the top?
I would like to fight about twice a year. Last year was frustrating because I had that knee injury that kept me out of the Chris Lytle fight, and another fight was cancelled because of Georges St-Pierre’s injury. It was frustrating. I like to be busy, but I think that guys who are too busy, well, that becomes a detriment. Some of these guys fight a ton of times, and I don’t care how good you are, you’re always rolling the dice.
What do you think of a potential rematch with Jake Ellenberger?
You know what? Ellenberger is a hell of a fighter. We had a really, really close fight the first time around, and a rematch with him is something I’ve been anticipating for a long time. The first time through, I felt like I won two rounds to one. That’s really all I can say. That’s the scoring system, and I won a split decision.
When you enter the cage, you look genuinely disgruntled—just an intense look of focus and general nastiness. What’s going through the Natural Born Killer’s head as you step in the cage?
I’m focusing on taking my opponent out and doing whatever it takes to do that. The quicker I can do that, the quicker I can be back out of the cage.
Do you look at it as a fight or as a competition?
I’m looking at it as a fight. You know, at this point in my career, when I’m competing at this level, I have to keep my wits about me. I can’t just let it be all about emotion, but the emotional part does play a big role.
At the end of 2012, where would you like to be?
I hope to be the undisputed UFC Welterweight Champion. In a perfect world, Georges will heal up and I’ll get a chance to fight him. I want to end 2012 as the undisputed champion.