Quick Hits

Quick Hits

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VERBAL JAMBALAYA

HUMAN WEAPON

“On the airplane, my buddy says, ‘Do you want the aisle or window?’ I said, ‘Aisle, because if some guy tries something, I’ll mess him up.’ My buddy—who does Krav Maga—says, ‘But what if he has a weapon? I’m better for that.’ I said, ‘I AM a weapon.’”

—Bas Rutten on Twitter.

THAT BITES!

“My brothers would always ask me, ‘Hey, can I get a bite of your sandwich?” I’d give them some and they’d take three gigantic bites and hand me the crust. I learned that you can’t really share in my family and whatever food came out should be eaten quickly. My older brothers made me suffer for the majority of my childhood.”

—Kenny Florian to FIGHT! about growing up in a big family.

GET IN THE GAME

“Video games? No, I’m a grown man for God’s sake!”

—Pat Miletich to FIGHT! about his favorite video game.

Sound the Horn

“I can quit today and I’d be happy with what I’ve done. I’m not a rich man by any means, and I wish the sport had caught on when I was at the peak of my career. But I’ve led the life that I wanted to lead. I’m grateful, really, because I got to live my life doing what I love and answering to nobody. You can’t complain about that.”

—Jeremy Horn to sherdog.com.

REALLY OLD SCHOOL

“If you watch an HBO boxing match, the only thing different between 30 years ago and today is HD [high definition]. Even the fucking announcers are exactly the same. These guys are 140 years old.”

—Dana White on the Opie and Anthony radio show.

Heavy Hitters

“This is going to be a great fight to watch. You are going to see two guys go at it. We’re two guys who are athletic, who have power, and we’re both well-rounded.”

—Cain Velasquez to espn.com on his upcoming bout with Junior dos Santos.

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Haw, haw, haw—the UFC finally makes a return to “The Big Easy.”

New Orleans is a pride-filled American city that is back on its feet…and that’s just where Dana White wants the fans in Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Sept. 17 for UFC Live: Shields vs. Ellenberger.

The Fans

Miami. Los Angeles. Vegas. All of these cities are filled with TapouT t-shirts and guys in board shorts. New Orleans is filled with linen shirts and paunch bellies. As a sport and lifestyle, MMA hasn’t quite taken hold in the Crescent City. However, according to Jeff Duncan—a sports writer for The Times-Picuyane for the past 11 years—the MMA lifestyle could be taking hold with the city’s changing demographic.

“The UFC can definitely make inroads here,” says Duncan. “They must see the same marketing potential that the NBA now sees in New Orleans. The city is filled with entrepreneurial 20-somethings, all with disposable income and interest in sports. Just wait 10 years—I think it can be a major sports city.”

The Fighters

Pat Barry and Melvin Guillard are two of the most outspoken—and entertaining—fighters in the UFC, and they both call New Orleans home. Melvin Guillard’s seven-year stint in the UFC is finally starting to show signs of rocketing north after a solid streak of wins over top contenders. Barry, the converted kickboxer known for his witty retorts and dangerous limbs, is a fan-favorite. Both are street-tough and the type of fighters that the UFC hopes will continue to emerge from New Orleans.

The Soul

The 1892 world heavyweight boxing match between “Boston Strong Boy” John L. Sullivan and “Gentleman” James J. Corbett was held at the Olympic Club in New Orleans and was one of the most important events in combat sports history. The fight was held under the Marquess of Queensbury rules, which stated that competitors must wear gloves and that rounds must be limited to three minutes each—although there was no limitation on the numbers of rounds. In addition, it was the first fight to be held indoors under electrical lights at the Olympic Club Arena, packing in 10,000 fans.

The Story

UFC Live will be the seventh time that the UFC has marched into Louisiana, but the first since 2000, which means that this will be the debutante ball of the Zuffa-owned UFC in the bayou. The UFC’s first appearance in Louisiana took place at UFC 16 in 1998, which marked the “meteoric” rise of play-by-play announcer Mike Goldberg, as he was in the booth for the first time, calling the action with guest commentator Tank Abbott.

BIG EASY LIVING

When UFC Lightweight Melvin Guillard gets back to his New Orleans hometown, he’s sure to hit his five favorite places.

• FRENCH MARKET—six blocks of retail shops, live performances, restaurants, cafes, and a flea and farmer’s market.

• JACKSON SQUARE—historic buildings that include an open-air art district, retail shops, museums, art galleries, and restaurants.

• RIVERWALK MARKETPLACE— unique shopping and entertainment on the Mississippi riverfront, including 130 stores, kiosks, and restaurants.

• CITY PARK—1300-acre park that features a botanical garden, arboretum, sculpture garden, and museum.

• BOURBON STREET—famous avenue of non-stop partying, which includes bars, restaurants, stores, and live musical acts.

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Toe Jam
Head trainer John Hackleman was the man behind Chuck Liddell’s famous painted toenails. He convinced Liddell to paint his nails a decade ago, but he can’t persuade pupils Court McGee or Glover Teixeira to follow suit.

Take On Me
In his unanimous-decision victory over Abel Trujillo at UFC 160, Khabib Nurmagomedov registered a UFC record 21 takedowns.

Losing Steam
With Miesha Tate stepping in for injured Cat Zingano against Ronda Rousey, it will mark the fourth time this year a fighter coming off a loss will fight for a UFC title.

Sweet Science
While waiting for Bellator Season Six Featherweight Tournament winner Daniel Straus to heal from a broken hand, Bellator Featherweight Champion Pat Curran is expected to make his pro boxing debut this summer.

Perfect Score
Four members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Wrestling team have a combined MMA record of 29-0—Daniel Cormier (12-0), Ben Askren (11-0), Henry Cejudo (4-0), and Steve Mocco (2-0).

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Say It! Say It! Say Matté!
UFC on Fuel TV 10 set the record for submission finishes for a single UFC event. Eight submissions occurred on the card, topping the previous total of six that was held by three events.

Bigfoot Facts
In two fights against Cain Velasquez, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva landed a total of five strikes. He ate 71 punches from Velasquez.

MMA Club for Men
Not only is Ray Sefo the World Series of Fighting president, but he’s also a client. Sefo fights Dave Huckaba at WSOF 4 on August 10.

Bye Bye Babalu
After his loss at Bellator 96, Renato “Babalu” Sobral retired from MMA, making a symbolic gesture by leaving his gloves in the middle of the cage. The former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion finished his 13-year career with a 37-11 record.

Photo Finished
In his spare time, Rashad Evans likes to torment his Blackzilian teammates by using his iPhone to superimpose unflattering pics of them. We expect Blackzilians Michael Johnson, Anthony Johnson, and Tyrone Spong to seek revenge.

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Boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. disdainfully dismissed mixed martial artists as “guys who couldn’t do boxing.” Why would they want to? MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, while boxing seems to be hanging on by the thread of their silk robes. In fact, boxers are the ones who like to push the envelope and test their mettle inside the cage from time to time. Although there have be some “hits,” most pugilists miss the mark when they trade the 10 ounce gloves for the four ounce gloves. Here are five of boxing’s biggest misses.

 

5. RUBIN WILLIAMS VS. KAZUSHI SAKURABA
(10/4/09)

 

This 2009 Dream 11 bout featured a mismatch of epic proportions. Rubin “Mr. Hollywood” Williams couldn’t make the cut in professional boxing when he stepped up to face quality opposition. For some reason, he attempted the transition to MMA by fighting PRIDE great Kazushi Sakuraba. Bad idea. Within seconds, Sak peppered Williams’ with leg kicks, took him down, tenderized him with body shots, and locked in a fight-ending kimura.

 

4. FRANCOIS BOTHA VS. YOSHIHIRO AKIYAMA
(12/31/04)

 

Francois “The White Buffalo” Botha faced six world champions during his boxing career, including Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. In December 2004, he decided that stepping into the ring to face Japanese judo star Yoshihiro Akiyama was a good idea. Although Botha had a significant size advantage, “Sexyama” had no trouble scoring a takedown, securing mount, and tapping Botha with an armbar in less than two minutes.

 

3. ART JIMMERSON VS. ROYCE GRACIE
(11/12/93)

 

Art Jimmerson was a former cruiser weight boxing contender who had the misfortune of accepting an invitation to the first Ultimate Fighting Championships in Colorado in 1993. Jimmerson stepped into the Octagon equipped with only one boxing glove to fight BJJ master Royce Gracie. The Brazilian took Jimmerson down, mounted him, and locked in double grapevines for control. Before Gracie could attempt a submission, Jimmerson tapped out.

 

2. RAY MERCER VS. KIMBO SLICE
(6/23/07)

 

Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and Olympic gold medalist, Ray Mercer thought he would simply outclass Internet brawling sensation Kimbo Slice. He was wrong. Slice attacked immediately, punching, kneeing, and elbowing the overwhelmed Mercer,who could do nothing but cover up. Then, Slice secured a takedown, locked in a guillotine, and pulled guard, forcing Mercer to tap at 1:12 in the first round.

 

1. JAMES TONEY VS. RANDY COUTURE
(08/28/2010)

 

Having held numerous world championships in multiple weight classes, James “Lights Out” Toney is the most accomplished boxer to try his hand at MMA. After Toney talked his way into the Octagon, he got more than he expected from Randy Couture. “The Natural” took Toney down with a low single, pummeled him with a few dozen punches, and secured a fight-ending arm-triangle at 3:19. Toney never even threw a punch.

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If someone told you she was involved in MMA, you’d probably assume she was a ring girl. You’d be wrong of course. Michelle Waterson’s knockout looks may have earned her the nickname “Karate Hottie”, but she’s a bonafi de pro MMA fi ghter. This month, Michelle talks to us about fi ghting, training at Greg Jackson’s, and helping to carry the torch for women’s MMA.

Hi Michelle, So tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Aurora, Colorado, and spent some time in Germany as well.

How did you get interested in Martial Arts?

Well, I started studying American Freestyle Karate when I was about ten, thanks to my brother. I competed in a lot of tournaments and did point sparring for a long time, but once I got my black belt I got curious about other styles. I studied Wushu for awhile which focuses more on traditional kung fu forms and acrobatics, competed internationally and did pretty well, but it was always in the back of my head if I could really fi ght and defend myself.

And how did that lead you into combat sports?

My mom, who is Thai, made a trip to Thailand and I went with her and did a 2 week Muay Thai camp while I was there. I absolutely fell in love with how challenging it was for me. When I came back I was really interested in fi ghting but I didn’t know any gyms to train at for Muay Thai. I ended up getting a job as a ring girl and became friends with one of the fi ghters, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. I told him I was interested in fi ghting. He was like “well if you’re serious about it, get your ass in the gym and we’ll start training”. I thought it was cool that he was willing to help me out with the training. I got a couple of amateur Muay Thai fi ghts in and then Donald was like “let’s do an MMA fi ght!”

Very cool. So before you were featured on the reality show Fight Girls, were you already competing in MMA?

I had taken my fi rst pro bout about a month before I went out to Vegas to shoot the show. I had no amateur fi ghts before that.

Just jumped right into the deep end huh?

Yup, go hard or don’t go at all!

So how was your fi rst experience in the cage? Obviously you liked it if you’re still fi ghting.

Oh yeah, it was an adrenaline rush like no other. I was nervous, excited, there were lots of emotions. You know before that, I had a few Muay Thai fi ghts, little smokers and stuff, and then I take a pro MMA fi ght in front of 9,000 people. It was crazy.

You just fought recently right?

Yeah, I just fought July 12, against Thricia Poovey. She’s a scrapper man. Our original game plan was to take her down and ground and pound but we ended up just standing up and boxing.

And you won by TKO?

Yep, TKO second round, she didn’t come out for the third. It was a good feeling, but that fi ght was really challenging for me mentally. You know there was a part in the fi ght where I was like “I don’t know”. She had me against the cage and was throwing bombs at me. I was thinking “she’s about to win right now” and I was arguing with myself I was like “no no no.. she can’t.” So I turned it around and took it to her.

Do you think training at Greg Jackson’s place has been a big part of your improvement?

Oh yeah, tremendous. Just everything about it, the family atmosphere, coach Jackson is great, and coach Winklejohn and Vanarnsdale are very motivating. And of top of that I have great training partners like Julie Kedzie and Holly Holm. It’s just a great place to learn and advance.

Do you train with the guys a lot?

Oh yeah.

How does that work? Do they ever go easy on you because you’re a girl?

Well, usually what happens is they go easy on me until I kick them in the face, and then they don’t go easy on me any more.

Haha… so do you think people tend to underestimate you because of the way you look?

I think sometimes yeah. But either way, when you get in the ring and you start going at it, it tends to go away. Whether someone underestimates me or not, is their fault.

Have you ever had issues with making assumptions about your opponents based on the way they look?

I have in the past, but I’ve come to realize that we’re all human, we all bleed the same, and I’m gonna hit her as hard as she’s gonna hit me.

So ultimately, what do you want to do with your fi ghting career?

My goal right now is to fi ght on national tv and hopefully get a belt. I wanna fi ght in Japan because I know theres a lot of good smaller girls out there.

So what do you do for fun when you aren’t training?

Well, I love to rock climb… sometimes we go paintballing, that’s a lot of fun. And theres a country bar we go to on Thursday nights and we all do some line dancing and some two steppin’.

Line dancing? I would have never guessed. That’s awesome.

haha.. well Albuquerque is such a small place you know, there are less distractions so we’re able to train more. When we do have free time we usually try to relax.

So do you like listening to country music?

You know, I do. I hated country music growing up, but Cowboy wouldn’t let me listen to anything else. It drove me crazy, but I love it now. I love all kinds of music though, I grew up on hip hop.

What would you say to other women that might be interested in the sport?

I’d just tell them if you want to get into it, you’ve got to be able to handle the pressure. But once you get in the ring, it’s on and fi ght or fl ight takes over. I’d tell them to go for it and not be scared. Its 80% mental.

Speaking of the mental aspect, do you do anything special to prepare mentally for your fi ghts?

I do a lot of visualization. I write a lot of inspirational quotes on my mirror just to help me stay motivated. Sometimes I wake up and I’m sore as hell and I ask myself “why am I doing this.. do I really have to go to the gym every day and get beat up?” But then I remember that I’m fi ghting for more than just me, I’m fi ghting for my gym, for my family and for the people that are looking up to me. My mom will tell me about her friends daughters that love watching me fi ght, and that means a lot to me. To be a positive roll model to other young women out there, because it’s tough to be a woman in this sport and represent yourself in a positive light.

Well you’re doing a fantastic job. We look forward to seeing more of you inside and out of the cage!

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At 23, he’s one of the youngest fi ghters in the UFC; and he sports a 10-2 career record with a fi ve-fi ght win streak after becoming the TUF 5 Lightweight champion a year ago. He’s got undying love and respect for his hometown of Stockton, Calif, and the brother he calls his coach. So what else is there to know about Nathan Diaz? Below is an impressive list of little-known facts.

1 Prefers being called Nathan over Nate.

2 Attended fi ve different elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools due to his gift for clowning around in class.

3 Grew up watching a lot of movies featuring martial artist and actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, who he considers one of his heroes.

4 Got into Jiu-Jitsu when he was 16, after his brother, Nick, got his friend, Rudy Hernandez, into classes. Nathan was so competitive with Hernandez that he joined classes as well.

5 Was 19 when he had (and won) his fi rst MMA fi ght at WEC 12.

6 His fi rst career loss was to Koji Oishi by decision less than 3 months after his brother, Nick, knocked out Oishi at UFC 53.

7 Earned a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu in just oneand- a-half years, and earned his brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu under Cesar Gracie in 2008.

8 Didn’t fi nish high school, but feels 4 years of Jiu-Jitsu training has been his form of a college education for the job he’s doing now.

9 Is also a triathlete and has competed in countless events with his brother, Nick.

10 Rarely takes breaks from fi ghting, and when he does he gets bored easily and winds up back in the gym anyway.

11 He rarely—if ever—watches television. He reads triathlete and health magazines and surfs the Internet.

12 His diet? Nondairy, no-land animals, all organic whenever possible.

13 Feels Nick, Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez, Cesar Gracie, and his training team have shaped him into the fi ghter he is today.

14 Says his mom is so stoked about both of her boys being mixed martial artists that she reads up on it and is very knowledgeable about the sport.

15 Feels winning the TUF 5 Finale due to Manny Gamburyan’s verbal submission took something away from his win, and feels he only would have gotten better as time went by in that fi ght.

16 Seventy percent of his wins have been by submission, with the Triangle Choke being his most common fi nishing move.

17 His victory over Josh Neer at UFC Fight Night 15 was his fi rst decision win, and it won Fight of the Night honors.

18 Wouldn’t mind fi ghting Hermes Franca again and avenging his only other career loss.

19 Is only 6 feet tall, although people often think he’s taller.

20 Usually walks around at 180 pounds, and at some point would entertain the thought of moving up to the Welterweight division.

21 Was so caught up in the moment of his submission win over Kurt Pelligrino that he didn’t fully realize he’d given the “double fi ngers” to the crowd until after the fi ght in the locker room.

22 Watches old Gracie fi ght clips on YouTube to pick up pointers.

23 There is no sibling rivalry between he and his brother, Nick, and he says they’ve never been in a fi ght.

24 Says he and Nick are completely different, with Nick being more serious and Nathan being the clown.

25 Says fans can sometimes be a bit crazy, but he enjoys it nonetheless. Could do without the “Hold my baby” requests.

26 Some of the best advice his brother, Nick, ever gave him: “Whatever you do, don’t get no girl pregnant!”

27 Has vowed to become better at doing interviews, as the art of staying out of the limelight and dodging interviews may have him in hot water with the UFC

28 Fighters who have inspired him: the Gracies, Murilo Bustamante, Ninja and Shogun Rua.

29 Goals? Black belt in BJJ. Win the lightweight title. Take a shot at the welterweight division.

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Minnesota native Rachel Olson isn’t afraid of being in the spotlight. The 23-year-old aspiring pro bikini competitor and ring card girl spends her free time in the gym when she’s not keeping MMA fans entertained with her trips around the cage. FIGHT! shined its spotlight on her for the day, and we’re positive you’ll be pleased with the results.

The word on the bikini circuit is that you’re about to go pro?

[Laughing] Is that what they’re saying?

Yes, what’s the scoop?

Well, I did my first amateur competition this year, and I won. I’ve got another pro show coming up in a few weeks, and if I place in the top three, I’ll get my pro card.

How many hours are you spending in the gym?

About two or three hours every day. Working out is the fun part—it’s the diet that’s no fun. And it’s not like I’m dieting. I’m eating lots, but if I see another sweet potato or piece of salmon, I’m going to go crazy. Eating clean is so boring. I don’t even look forward to lunch or dinner. I can’t wait for the competition to be over. I’ve made a whole list of foods that I’m going to eat.

What’s on the list?

Chicagostyle pizza, cheesecake, cheesy pasta, cheese.

I’m sensing a pattern.

Cheese is Jesus [laughing].

Cheese cannot walk on water. It does, however, go straight to the thighs.

And the butt. That’s why I’m in the gym crushing out squats. I can do around 175 to 200 pounds.

That’s pretty good…for a girl. Just kidding. That’s awesome. So, do you like those bodybuilder types?

No, I like a fit guy—I want a guy to be able to protect me. Bodybuilders are too big. They can’t even move—all they can do is smash. A little monkey could dance around them and beat ’em up.

What else are you looking for in a guy?

I’m an Alpha girl. I need a man strong enough to handle me. No wimps. He’s also got to make me laugh, without being lame.

Have you run into some lame ones?

The last guy just walked past me when I was working as a ring card girl at a fi ght and said, ‘Hi, I’m a manager,’ and he gave me his WalMart business card, but it was this minicard. It was like half the size of a normal card. Was that supposed to impress me?

You could have gotten a discount on produce, tires, and laundry detergent.

I guess that’s a big perk [laughing]. But you’ve got to try a little harder than that.

How is the ring card girl business?

It’s great. I’ve done four or five shows for SEG [Sterling Entertainment Group], which holds shows up in Minnesota where I’m from. I love MMA. And ring girl work is great—it’s the best seat in the house.

Who’s your favorite fighter?

Georges St-Pierre.

Well, you’re basically in Canada, so that’s acceptable. Have you ever done any MMA training?

No, but I’ve picked up a few moves here and there. I’ve been watching MMA for years.

What’s your best move?

Let’s just say that I’m not afraid to take GSP on. I’m pretty tough [laughing].

What do you do up in Minnesota to keep yourself busy?

I work fulltime in personal home care, so I’ve been doing that for five years. I love to take care of people—to be able to help them. It’s a tough job, but it’s so rewarding. When I’m not at work or in the gym to train, I love being outdoors—hiking, camping, fishing, and I love to travel.

Do you have any trips planned this summer?

I’m definitely hitting the road after my bikini competition, but I don’t know where. I’m going to play it by ear. I’m spontaneous like that. Summer is short, so I want to take advantage of the weather and go some place fun.

If you win your competition, I’m going to send you a big wheel of cheese that you can enjoy on the open road.

Perfect. Consider it done. I’m going to dominate. That wheel of cheese is motivating me [laughing].

Thanks, Rachel. Good luck in the bikini competition.

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Right now in the IFL, there are some guys who are really hot…and I don’t mean good looking! They are, however, very talented fi ghters.

First, there’s Ben “Northstar” Rothwell. He’s 8-0, and now holds the record for the fastest KO at thirteen seconds. He’s a big guy that moves really well

on his feet. I had the pleasure of meeting his parents, and there is no doubt where he gets his great personality. They own a restaurant and Ben helps them out from time to time.

Then there is young Chris Horodecki. He’s only 19, and he looks 15! Chris is unbeaten to date, having posted a 10-0 record. Six of those wins are in the IFL. He’s a great fi ghter with amazing striking and take down defense. He goes through people with ease and has excellent conditioning. On top of all of that, he’s a great person and an even better interview!

He’s incredibly popular. Girls and older women like him because he’s cute. The boys his age like him because he’s such a cool guy. The older guys like him because they want their sons to be just like him. I mentioned all this in a press conference, and he told me I had to stop because he was about to cry! He’s always quick with the jokes.

The next standout performance was put in by Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko who is 4-0. He acquired his nickname because he “mops the floor” with his opponents. The guy looks very intimidating, but when you talk with him you realize that he is a real comedian. He has phenomenal wrestling skills, great ground and pound, and good submissions…all while having very heavy hands. He’s smart and articulate and is a great ambassador for the sport, in and out of the ring.

Benji Radach, 4-0, came in this year as the new 185 pounder for the Anacondas. He suffered some injuries that kept him from competing for a while. Despite this, when Mike Pyle left the Anacondas, the fi rst guy I called was Benji. I had trained with him a long time ago and knew how capable he is. During the season, he stopped all but one of his opponents in the first round. Benji is the real deal.

Some folks will tell you that Antonio McKee, 4-0, is not that exciting of a fighter. I say, so what, he gets the job done! He’s a confident fighter who takes his training very seriously, and always shows up in great shape. He’s a super wrestler that got each of his opponents to the ground quickly. He loves the side kick and ground and pound, and if he sees a submission opportunity, he’ll take it. He has an amazing story. He fell on hard times and started hanging with the wrong crowd…was even stabbed. He found MMA and says that it saved him. Now, he teaches kids and shows them there are better ways than being a thug!

Finally, there’s Antoine Jaoude. Antoine, 3-0, said his dream growing up was to be an Olympic champion of any kind, and to work for the United Nations. He was a silver medalist at the Pan Am Games and competed at the 2006 Olympic Games. He speaks five languages! Funny guy and a great fighter.

With so much talent emerging in just its 2nd year, the IFL is shaping up to be one of the most fruitful sources of talent in all of MMA.

Party On,

Bas

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I heard you recently crossed the 7-foot mark. Are you still growing?

Stefan StruveIt’s true. Now, I am 7-feet tall and still getting a lot heavier. That is the biggest thing for me right now—getting heavier and putting on a lot more strength.

Does your height make it difficult to find comfortable yet stylish pieces of furniture to fill up your place?

That is not really a problem. It usually just comes down to what type of couch you want. If you look hard enough, you can find anything.

You’re 25 years old, what do you do outside of training to make sure you are still enjoying your youth?

Well, right now there is a bunch of snow in Holland, so there isn’t a lot to do here. I’m really focused on training, and when you are training, there isn’t a lot of time to do other things. When I’m not in training, I’m hanging out with friends and trying to do as many fun things as possible. But the weather isn’t good for that right now.

You have a big fight coming up against Mark Hunt in Japan. Having fought all over the world, what are you looking forward to in Japan?

It is going to be a first for me, and I’m excited about it. I’ve been to South Korea, and that isn’t too far from Japan, so I’ve already experienced what it is like to make that flight. I remember the jet lag not being too much of a problem back then. It is going to be a fun place to see and a good experience for sure. It’s going to be good to fight in front of the Japanese crowd. I’ve heard really good stories about their crowds. I’m looking forward to it.

Is it nice to not have to cut weight during fight week?

To be honest with you, for this fight and the fights that come after, I need to focus on my diet a little bit more because I’m getting heavier and heavier. It’s not a big deal right now. I train really hard and that automatically gets me down around the 265-pound mark.

Coming from the Netherlands, is there anything about the American culture that has taken you by surprise?

It is just something you have to experience for yourself. People all over the world are a little different, but I really like the culture in America. When I’m in the U.S., I spend a lot of time in L.A. It is a cool place, and I really like it over there. I have been fighting in the U.S. for the past three years, and I really enjoy it.

You started off your time in the Octagon fighting against monsters like Junior dos Santos and Roy Nelson. Do you think that experience ultimately helped you?

It’s been a good learning experience. To be honest with you, I wouldn’t want to change a thing because I’ve learned so much from the losses I’ve had. I don’t look at the Internet a lot, but it is funny to me when I hear things from my friends and training partners that people are online talking about how I don’t have a chin. It was never about having a bad chin. When you get hit clean in the heavyweight division, it is lights out. It was more about getting rid of those mistakes in my stand-up and making sure I don’t get hit like that anymore—making sure I don’t put myself in the position where my opponents can get that shot off on me. I’ve become a lot better as a fighter by learning from my mistakes.

What would you be doing with your life if you weren’t competing inside the cage?

That’s a hard one, man. I’ve been doing this since I was 16 years old. I’ve been fighting as long as I can remember, but if my career never happened, I’m sure I would still be doing something with sports.

What does an ideal 2013 look like for Stefan Struve?

It would start by knocking out Mark Hunt. Then another knockout over the next guy the UFC gives me, and a knockout over the champ. That would a great 2013, but we’ll see. I have a plan, and we’ll see how it all works out.

Can you help me understand why Europeans seem to like techno music as much as they do?

I think it’s because that music is part of our culture. Europe, and especially Holland, are places where those kind of parties started. It goes back a long time. I know they have had those parties in Holland for years.

Are you a dancer?

Give me a bottle of Bacardi and anything is possible.

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