Why don't you tell us a little bit about how you got started fighting and the decisions that led for you to focus on mixed martial arts?
Basically I saw the sport first when I was 15 years old and I saw the UFC, and Royce Gracie was fighting back then, he fought when it was tournament style and he was the smaller guy in the tournament and I was pretty small growing up so I was intrigued right from the beginning. And I was always athletic and into sports and when I found this sport I just fell in love and started fighting and actually got a chance to go over and fight in Japan and that’s where I learned a lot of my mixed martial arts.
How did you get your break to fight?
I won a big tournament in Denver where, at that time, the winners were being picked to go fight in the UFC and the year that I fought the scouts from the UFC weren't there, so there was some scouts from Japan there and they asked me if I wanted to go fight in Japan.
Maybe you can tell us a little bit about how the transition from Japan to the UFC in the US in particular has been for you?
Well sure, I mean I've been fighting professionally since 1999, that’s when I had my first pro fight. Since then, I think I've had around 35 fights and it’s taught me a lot. I have a lot of experience, I've learned a lot over the last, I think I’ve been training about 13 years, and fighting in Japan is different than fighting in the states but really as far as like the rules and things like that they weren't much different. I fought in a ring instead of a cage, there were no elbows allowed in Japan, but you could kick to the head on the ground over there, but other than that, really the rules are basically the same. And besides, I had always trained with guys that had fought in cages and stuff like that so it wasn't a big thing for me to change over.
Who would you say has had the biggest impact on you coming up as a mixed martial arts fighter, from a mentoring or coaching standpoint?
That’s really hard to say because I've had so many people that have influenced me throughout my career. I've really been blessed with the best coaches and the best teammates, and right now my trainers are a huge influence on me. My coaches Greg Jackson, Trevor Whitman, Mike Van Arsdale; they’re all world-class instructors and coaches and also Ricardo Murgel, Shane Pitts…probably too many really too mention.
You're a black belt under Greg Jackson, can you tell your fans what it takes to become a black belt?
Well yeah, actually I first got a black belt in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, and that took me about 10 years to get. In Brazilian Jui-Jitsu you have to basically prove that you’re at the level before you get the black belt, you can’t just show the moves you have show that you know how to use them on someone at the same level. And then I started training with Greg, I think about 3 years ago, and he showed me a lot about mixed martial arts that I didn't know, a lot of mixed martial arts specific things. I've always trained in boxing, kick boxing and freestyle wrestling, and also in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, and those are basically the three aspects that go into mixed martial arts. So if you’re good at all three of those aspects, you’re going to be a very good mixed martial artist but at the same time there are some techniques that are very specific for mixed martial arts like things you can do, different take downs you can do with someone with their back up against the cage. So you can practice takedowns in freestyle wrestling but you can't do the takedown on the cage and you can learn how to fight on the ground in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, but in mixed martial arts you can practice the elbows and the strikes and things like that.
So you've had some really nice performances over the last couple years with wins over Joe Doerksen and Dean Lister and Ivan Salaverry. Clearly everyone's really excited about the upcoming Anderson Silva title fight, UFC 73 in Sacramento, how are you feeling coming into the fight?
I feel really good, I think I've trained just like I always have, I’ve always given 100 percent. I trained specifically for Anderson, I’m in great shape right now and I’m very confident that I’m going to win this fight.
How do you feel you're stacking up against Silva who had a very strong performance over Rick Franklin, how do you see this fight playing out?
I really think this fight is going to be a mixed war. It's going to be on the feet, it’s going to be in the clench, it’s going to be on the ground. But I really feel like I'm going to dominate in all areas.
Well, without revealing your game plan, can you give us an idea of what a daily routine for a fighter preparing for a title bout looks like?
Yeah, definitely. Every day is going to be different. When we train down here, our coaches kind of have a game plan set up for us. Maybe we've planned to run on Monday and then do kickboxing at night, and then mixed martial arts in the morning on Tuesday and then wrestling on Tuesday night. But at the same time, they've got to watch us and make sure that we're not being over trained or getting injured. But basically, I'd probably say it's twice a day, one and a half to two hours each training session, and once we start to get over trained or burnt out then the coaches back off and give us a day off. And it's really scientific, but at the same you just got to see how your body feels.
Are you going to be coming in close to weight or are you going to have to cut for the fight?
I've never had any kind of problems making the weight, especially at 85.
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