Interviews

Gassaway Ready for Veteran Test in Landi-Jons


Brian Gassaway weighs-in for UFC 54: Boiling Point. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Similar to his long-time training partner Shonie Carter, Brian Gassaway has fought and won in various mixed martial arts promotions all around the world.

The experience he has gained can’t be measured in terms of it’s importance, it’s obvious that it adds an entirely different dimension to his game compared to those who only have a dozen fights or so in the sport. However his experience will likely be put to the test later tonight, as he will take on fellow veteran Jose Landi-Jons in the main event of TKO 32: Ultimatum.

Despite riding a constant wave of disappointment - Landi-Jons has lost nine out of his thirteen bouts since knocking out Matt Hughes in 2004 - Gassaway still acknowledges the former co-founder of Chute Boxe as one of the greatest fighters out there.

“I have to say that it’s an honor to fight someone as good as “Pele”,” Gassaway said during a recent interview session. “I have to be honest, I’m going into the twilight of my career. Who knows how much longer I’m going to be fighting. At this stage, I just want to be able to fight the best guys that I can and Landi-Jons is definitely one of them.”

Gassaway is coming off of two unsuccessful stints inside the confines of the Zuffa-owned Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Extreme Cagefighting promotions. Despite not looking very good in his either of his fights, the Chicago native hopes that he can win enough fights in order to receive one more shot.

“The biggest thing I regret in my fights against Sanchez and Alessio is that I wasn’t aggressive enough,” Gassaway said. “I don’t know what it was, maybe the bright lights and everything, but I definitely should have opened up and thrown my hands more. I’m not going to make that mistake in this fight though, that’s for sure.”

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Masvidal Set to Continue Rise Against Healy

 


Jorge Masvidal throws a right hand at a downed Yves Edwards at BodogFight: Alvarez vs Lee in July 2007. Photo by David Singer.

It’s no secret anymore. Jorge Masvidal is one of the best young prospects in mixed martial arts.

After settling in with American Top Team close to five years ago, Masvidal quietly rose through the lightweight ranks, even picking up an impressive victory over current Ultimate Fighting Championship standout Joe Lauzon along the way.

Masvidal spent few years of his career fighting exclusively in the southeastern half of the United State before signing with a fledgling Bodog Fight promotion in 2006. After racking up two straight wins inside the Calvin Ayre-owned organization, Masvidal had his coming out party last summer, knocking veteran Yves Edwards unconscious with a devastating head kick.

“Looking back on it, that fight was huge for me,” Masvidal said during a recent interview session. “Yves was a such a big name and being able to get a win over someone as notable as him really jump-started my career. All of the hard work I’ve put in over the years paid off in that fight. Everything is falling into place now. This is actually one of the first fights where I’ve been the favorite going into it, one of the main attractions on the card. It feels good.”

Masvidal will now look to continue his winning ways later tonight at the Bodog Fight-sponsored “Strikeforce at the Dome” show, where he will take on hard-hitting Team Quest product Ryan Healy, who has won three of his last four.

“I’m really excited to get in there against Ryan,” Masvidal said. “I think this is going to be an entertaining fight because of the styles we bring to the table. We both like to stand and bang. Those kind of fights play right into my game. I’m comfortable anywhere the fight can go but I’m extremely comfortable standing.

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Spratt Wants to Make Statement Against Ford


Photo courtesy of Pete Spratt.

When Pete Spratt returns to Canada tomorrow night to take on undefeated welterweight prospect Ryan Ford in the main event of Maximum Fighting Championship’s “Rags to Riches” event, it will be the first time the former “Ultimate Fighter” cast member has done so since being submitted by current UFC champion Georges St. Pierre nearly five years ago.

While his first experience up north wasn’t so pleasant, Spratt is determined to make this time around different.

“It really doesn’t matter that my last trip to Canada didn’t go so well, Ryan Ford isn’t Georges St. Pierre,” Spratt said during a recent interview session. “Georges is an amazing fighter and one of the best in the world while Ryan isn’t. I stand by my original comments that made him angry. I’m going to tear through him big time.”

The comments Spratt speaks of stem from Ford’s recent interview with Sherdog’s Andy Cotterill where the 25-year-old stated that he took exception to Spratt’s words and will now use them for motivation.

According to Spratt, Ford is going to need a lot more than that if he wants to come away with a win.

“All the confidence in the world isn’t going to help you if you are going up against a better fighter,” said Spratt. “That’s what this is. I’m a better fighter than Ford and I intend to show that this weekend. As my career goes on, every fight becomes more important. I don’t care if Ryan Ford only has four fights to his credit. I’m not going to look past him. I’m coming into this fight to win and to make a statement.”

Spratt has indeed made a statement in his last couple of fights. Since being released from a second stint with the UFC and suffering a string of defeats that included three straight losses by way of submission, Spratt has made it a priority to improve his ground game in hopes of extending his once promising career.

Recently earning his blue belt from Rodrigo Pinheiro this past November, it’s now visibly apparent that Spratt is serious about adding new elements to his game.

“I want to do things that will lengthen my career,” said Spratt. “For the longest time I was always getting submitted buy I’ve started working my jiu-jitsu and wrestling and it’s really paid off. I still want to keep my striking sharp but the ground game is my main priority now. If he wants to take me down he should be prepared that I’m not the same fighter anymore.”

Will Spratt continue the road back with another victory or will Ford continue to improve his stock as one of Canada’s best young mixed martial arts prospects? We’ll find out tomorrow night.

Mir Continues The Road Back


Frank Mir weighs-in for UFC 48: Payback. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Winning the UFC heavyweight title is one thing. Working your way back from a near career-ending motorcycle accident is certainly another. After an over three-year nightmare where he almost lost everything he had worked for in his career, the feeling has returned to Mir. The physical and mental feeling of being back to his old self that is.

The former champion now approaches what just might be his biggest and most crucial fight yet when he takes on one-time WWE superstar and former standout collegiate wrestler Brock Lesnar at UFC 81: Breaking Point, which will take place tomorrow night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

“I remember sitting at the intersection and thinking that this car wasn’t going to go during a yellow light,” Mir said when asked to recall the accident during a recent interview session with MMA on Tap. “It had stopped all of the sudden. So I went ahead and unfortunately the car did too. I remember hitting my head on the pavement and then rolling onto a patch of grass. All I knew was that my head hurt and that I couldn’t feel my leg. I told the EMT’s that I thought I could get up and walk but then they told me the extent of the damage.”

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Swick Ready for Explosive New Beginning


Photo by Justin Grant. Courtesy of MikeSwick.com

Imagine you naturally weigh around 180 lbs. In a fight game where all of the athletes basically fight below their natural weight in order to use their size as an advantage, imagine fighting a weight class above yours and even a higher weight class than that just to participate in a reality show.

This was the situation that Mike Swick found himself in for nearly three years. After originally participating at 205 lbs during the first season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, Swick dropped down to middleweight where he went on a five-fight winning streak, defeating former title contenders Joe Riggs and David Loiseau along the way before finally running into Yushin Okami.

To say that Okami brought it to Swick is an understatement. Plain and simple, Okami pushed Swick around. Realizing that he still had the opportunity to finally fight a tad below his natural weight, Swick opted to make the drop to welterweight, the UFC’s most crowded and talented division.

Swick’s debut at 170 lbs will come later tonight, when he takes on fellow former Ultimate Fighter alumnus Josh Burkman in the main event of the twelfth edition of UFC Fight Night live on Spike TV.

According to the man they call “Quick”, we should all be prepared to watch an all-around better Mike Swick.

“I feel great going into this fight,” Swick told MMA on Tap during a recent interview session. “I had an awesome training camp, so many great guys to work with at AKA. I actually feel stronger than I did going into the Okami fight, which sounds a little weird considering that I’m dropping down a weight class for this one but it’s the truth. I feel stronger, faster, more explosive. This has the makings of being my best fight to date.”

When Swick fought at middleweight in the past, he’s stated many times that he didn’t have to cut any weight at all in most cases. If you haven’t done it before, cutting weight and then fighting the day after can be a lot to handle. However Swick says there’s nothing to worry about thanks to some good old practice.

“I’ve cut down to 170 lbs a few times while training for this fight and it went very smooth each time,” said Swick. “I felt fine afterwards and then went right back into sparring and training for other things right after so I don’t see any problems popping up.”

While Swick brings many tools to the table, one thing that has been lacking in his game has been solid wrestling. Unforunately for him, Burkman’s biggest strength is wrestling, being a former wrestler that has trained in the past with other talented grapplers at Team Quest.

“We’ve worked to develop a game plan that will bring out my strengths and allow me to impose my will on Josh,” Swick said. “I’m always working to improve my wrestling. Two of the best wrestlers in the UFC, Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch both train with me at AKA so I’m confident that my wrestling is always improving.”

At the end of the day, a fighter has to be confident that he’s going to be able to win in any fight that he’s going into. When there’s no added pressure going into the bout, it always makes things a lot easier.

“There’s no pressure going into this fight,” said Swick. “No pressure. I’m coming in with a clear mind and I’m very focused. I’m really excited to get back into the swing of things. I feel great. I’m going to try and finish the fight as fast as I can and as impressive as I can but I’m not going to make any mistakes in an attempt to do that. I don’t think this one will go the distance though. I feel I can finish him.”

Catching Up With Daniel Puder


Daniel Puder delivers a leg kick to Michael Alden at the BodogFight: Paradise Lost tapings. Photo courtesy of BodogFight

When Brock Lesnar makes his UFC debut against former heavyweight champion Frank Mir next Saturday, the correlation and transition of pro wrestlers competing in the sport of mixed martial arts and vice versa will be more evident than ever.

Ken Shamrock, Don Frye, and Josh Barnett have all seen success on both sides of the spectrum. Kurt Angle has wanted to throw his hat into the ring for over a year now.

However what happens when a former professional wrestler becomes one of MMA’s top prospects? That’s the exact position that Daniel Puder finds himself in these days.

The former winner of WWE’s Tough Enough reality show has already won six straight fights and remains undefeated all while fighting in some of MMA’s top promotions.

We had the opportunity to catch up with Puder and discuss a variety of things in a brief interview session, including his next fight, his newest business venture, and his beef with Angle among other things.

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Stevenson Ready to Prove Doubters Wrong


Joe Stevenson weighs-in for UFC 74: Respect. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

It’s no surprise as to how B.J. Penn received his nickname of “The Prodigy”. After all, it only took him three years to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, making him the fastest American to do so in history. (It usually takes a normal person 1-2 years of training just to earn their blue belt.) However you can also consider Joe Stevenson a prodigy himself. By the age of 16, Stevenson was already fighting professionally and took on then-future UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver in just his third career fight.

The two are set to clash for the vacant UFC lightweight title when the Ultimate Fighting Championship travels to England for the third time in the last two years for UFC 80: Rapid Fire, which will take place this Saturday at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle.

What was originally slated to be a battle for the interim lightweight championship became a fight for the real thing after the California State Athletic Commission decided to reduce the suspension Sean Sherk received for a positive steroids test rather than overturning it and clearing his name. Following the CSAC’s decision, UFC president Dana White had no choice but to strip Sherk of his belt. The Minnesota native will now have to wait to face the winner of this weekend’s title bout in order to get a shot at regaining his prized possession.

Interim or not, the fact that this fight is for the title means something to Stevenson.

“The fight being for a title, it definitely has a lot of meaning behind it,” Stevenson said during a recent interview session. “It’s something that I’ve aspired to have ever since I started watching and following this sport.”

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Tanner on Quest to Regain Championship Gold


Evan Tanner rests during a recent workout session. Photo courtesy of Evan Tanner.

Ask anyone to make a list of the most underrated fighters to ever compete in mixed martial arts and you will usually see Evan Tanner’s name on there every time.

Originally teaching himself submission and grappling techniques using instructional video tape, Tanner rode a roller coaster of ups and downs all the way to becoming the third middleweight champion in UFC history when he defeated David Terrell over two years ago.

“I never really set out to do that the first time,” said Tanner during a recent interview session. “I just kept winning fights and next thing you know, I’ve got the middleweight belt. I was just trying to pay the bills.”

The fall from grace was hard for Tanner. After losing his belt in a rematch against Rich Franklin in his next fight, Tanner would lose consecutive bouts for the first time in his career when he fell to David Loiseau just months later. He got back on track last April when he picked up a submission win over Justin Levens at UFC 59. It was his last fight to date. After taking a hiatus from active competition, it will be nearly two full years since the last time Tanner stepped into the Octagon.

At age 36, it would seem that Tanner is gearing up for one last run, wouldn’t it?

“I’ve been competing for over ten years,” Tanner said. “I didn’t start out fighting with any kind of plan. Wait that’s wrong. I did have a plan. I was only going to fight one night in a heavyweight tournament and then I planned to move on to other adventures. It was just something I was going to do once for kicks. I had never done any kind of MMA training until about two months before that fight. So I wouldn’t say I ever took any kind of run at fighting. It was, at best, a part time hobby that I enjoyed doing that also happened to pay fairly well. You can say I’m taking a run at it now. I’ve got a lot left in me. I’m training full time, year round for the first time in my career. I’m going for the belt.”

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Davis Ready for Challenge Against Fabiano

L.C. Davis prepares to throw a diving right at Jay Estrada during an IFL event in May 2007. Photo provided by IFL. Getty Images.

It’s one thing to be a wrestler going into the sport of mixed martial arts. Throughout history it’s been shown that those with superior wrestling skills have been relatively successful. However it’s a different situation when you are a standout college wrestler and have been deemed by Pat Miletich himself to be the next great fighter in the featherweight division.

That’s the situation L.C. Davis finds himself in. It’s been a little more than a year since Davis quit his job as assistant wrestling coach at Pratt Community College in order to move to Bettendorf, Iowa and train at Miletich Fighting Systems full time. The move has paid off as three days from now, Davis will find himself fighting for a world title just 20 months into his professional career.

Davis is slated to take on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu standout Wagnney Fabiano for the IFL Featherweight Title at the promotion’s Grand Prix Finals this weekend at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The bout will be the first featherweight matchup in IFL history.

Sounds like a lot of pressure, right? Davis doesn’t think so.

“There’s no added pressure going into this bout,” Davis said during a recent interview session. “I’ve been trying not to think about the fact that it’s for a belt too much and it’s worked pretty good so far. I’m just taking this fight like it’s just like any other.”

While Davis may be the superior wrestler in this bout, more talented on the ground than his opponent he is not. Fabiano is widely considered to be one of the top ground specialists in MMA today - all four of his wins in the IFL have come by way of submission.

“My game plan is going to be sprawl and brawl,” said Davis. “I’d like to keep it on the feet. I believe that I’m a more well-rounded fighter than he is and that’s where I can expose him. I’m not worried if the fight goes to the ground though since I feel that I’ll be prepared to hang with him there.”

Regardless of the outcome of the fight, the two will automatically be established as anchors of the new featherweight division. If victorious, Davis can expect to have a chance to defend the championship gold a couple of times in ‘08 due to the IFL’s revamped schedule for next season. None of that matters right now of course, the fight against Fabiano comes first.

“The key to this fight is my ability to adapt to any position,” stated Davis. “I’m confident that I’ll be able to do that. As long as I stick to my strategy and make smart decisions, I don’t see any reason why I won’t come away from this fight victorious.”

Davis is being sponsored for this fight by Premier Fighter. You can check out their selection of shirts, shorts, and hoodies at their official website.

Spratt Discusses Win Over Tristan Yunker

Photo by Keith Mills. Full Contact Fighter

MMA on Tap was able to catch up with Pete “The Secret Weapon” Spratt who discussed his win over fellow welterweight Tristan Yunker at HDNet Fights: Reckless Abandon this past weekend.

When asked about the direction that the fight went in, Spratt said that he expected it to go the way it did.

“It went the way I thought it would,” said Spratt. “I knew exactly what he wanted to do from the start. He was looking to back me up against the cage with punches and then take me down, it’s kind of his signature move I think. I know that I’m the better striker so I was glad to exchange with him.”

After the two hit the ground, Spratt was able to reverse position and ended up on top of Yunker. He then moved to side control where he landed a series of punches and elbows that cut Yunker and ultimately ended up stopping the fight.

“The cut was in a real bad spot,” said Spratt. “It was right above his eye and it started leaking down right away. We kept on going and then I stood up but he told the referee that he couldn’t see and the fight was called.”

The win was the second in as many fights for Spratt. So what’s next for the UFC veteran? It’s looking like a continuation of his revamped training.

“I want to do things that will lengthen my career,” stated Spratt. “For the longest time I was always getting submitted buy I’ve started working my jiu-jitsu and wrestling and it’s really paid off. I still want to keep my striking sharp but the ground game is my main priority now.”

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