FO: Nate Marquardt revealed recently that you and he were to be matched on UFC 114, but he could not take the fight because his child is due to be born around that weekend.
Well mine is due 17th of May, third child. Twelve days before the fight. But its what I do - I am a fighter, I have to take fights. It doesn’t feel fantastic but I will be there for the birth of my child and then I will be getting on a plane and flying out to Vegas.
FO: Do you think its different for Marquardt though, being that its his first child?
I don’t know, maybe. To be fair I think his due date is a little bit closer than mine is but I would still have taken the fight. But fair play to him, you never know what is going to happen with a birth, if its going to be late or anything, so they’re worried about things like that. And its their first child. Its my third child - not that its any less special than the first.
But I am a fighter, that’s what I do for a living. I am going to pay for that child to have a good lie with the money I earn by fighting. But no disrespect to Marquardt, that’s his decision. he is not the kind of fighter who ducks fights. I’m sure we’ll meet down the line.
FO: So was the Marquardt fight mentioned to you as well or did it not get that far?
Yeah it was offered to me as well and I immediately said yes. I have never questioned an opponent in my life. On paper, because I am coming off a loss, it could have been better to take an easier fight but they offered Marquardt and I said right, if that’s who you want me to fight, great. I think they would have done a Primetime show featuring me and Rampage, Rashad and Marquardt so it would have been team vs. team.
FO: How do you think you match up with Marquardt?
I think I match up well with Marquardt. He’s had some good momentum behind him but if you look at the guys that he has beaten none of them are amazing. Kampmann went down to welterweight, he got beat by Thales Leites. Wilson Gouveia blows hot and cold, a decent fighter but he’s been axed by the UFC now so there you go. I think I match up well. He is good fighter, great skills, good camp and very experienced but I think I match up well with pretty much anyone in the middleweight division.
FO: Sonnen pretty much dominated the whole of his fight with Marquardt via wrestling. I know you’ve been working hard on yours for years, is Sonnen’s performance something you could replicate?
I can take down most of the guys I train with. We bring in wrestlers for every camp, real high-standard, quality wrestlers, and I am out-wrestling them. It is something I have worked very, very on since I got in the UFC and realised that British fighters were at a disadvantage because we don’t have the collegiate wrestling system in the UK. I knew I was at a disadvantage so I addressed the problem now I have worked on it to a point where I am not only satisfied with it, I am very, very happy with it. Denis Kang, I took him down pretty much at will, Wanderlei [Silva] the same. I think that now it gives people more to worry about - am I going to strike or go for the takedown? I am more of a complete fighter now.
FO: You hit several takedowns on Wanderlei Silva when you fought him at UFC 110, do you think they should have counted for more in the judge’s eyes?
Absolutely they should have counted for more. I think that the Australian judges… there’s not a lot of shows out there, the sport is very much in its infancy and there isn’t exactly a huge thriving scene. Thai Boxing is very big out there and I think that the judges came from that culture. I don’t think they were scoring the takedowns in the same way that judges would have in North America or even England.
FO: How would you break the Wanderlei fight down?
He got a knockdown at the end of the third, fair play to him. To me that gives him the round. But before that he had nothing except a guillotine at the end of the second. They were the only real moments in the fight I felt anything from him, I feel that I controlled the rest of the fight. I landed some good shots. He had that guillotine on pretty tight, fair enough, but its not like he had set it up or worked for it. He only got it because I took him down and left my head out. Yeah he got it on but he didn’t submit me, I didn’t tap.
It was an attempted submission, it wasn’t a submission. If we are going to start scoring attempted submissions, are we going to start scoring attempted punches? ‘Oooh he swung a big haymaker there. He didn’t connect but lets give him a point.’ I took him down, he went for a submission and didn’t get it - how the fuck does that win him the round?
But Wanderlei was tough, it was a hard fight. He has said he wants the rematch that’s fair enough. Fingers cross he gets past Akiyama and I get past Dan Miller. I saw again on the internet the other day he was talking about having a rematch so that’s fine, I’ll happily rematch him.
FO: I have heard you say in previous interviews that you were a Wanderlei fan when you were coming up; you took a legend the distance and many people were saying you would be beaten early. Even though you lost the decision, did you take anything from the fight psychologically?
Yeah I am a big Wanderlei fan. But I hae to say, I did a couple of interviews where people were saying ‘You went the distance with Wanderlei Silva, what an accomplishment’ and I was like ‘No, that’s not an accomplishment. The accomplishment would have been to beat him.’ Me and the Wolfslair and everyone involved don’t work as hard as we do to lose fights by decision, we’ve got to win them. People don’t realise how much time and effort and stress goes into a fight.
So it wasn’t an accomplishment but I do take a lot away from the fight and I am going into the next one very, very confident. I had a setback with Dan Henderson, I had a good performance against Denis Kang and I had a good performance against Wanderlei. I didn’t get the decision on the night but I am happy with the performance; maybe I could have pushed the pace a little bit more, I don’t know.
So I am going into my next fight very, very confident. Its going to be Dan Miller but it could have been anybody, that’s why I said ‘Yes’ straight away when I was offered Marquardt. I am looking to fight with the best and I don’t care who it is. I am just looking forward to smashing some heads in. That’s the technical term there.
FO: Miller is coming off two back-to-back losses, does that make him look easier or make him more dangerous?
I am looking at Miller as a very dangerous opponent. He lost to Demian Maia and Chael Sonnen, no shame in losing to those two. He is a highly decorated grappler and has some great submissions on his record. Apart from Marquardt he is the only guy in the UFC who has gone three rounds with Maia and not get submitted. That speaks volumes to me. He was on the ground quite a while with Maia but I think it was a bad matchup for Miller because Maia’s strong point is Miller’s strong point. He tried to kickbox Maia and that is not his strong point and he lost.
I think when he fights me his gameplan is going to be very obvious. He won’t feel threatened by me on the ground so he is going to come in and try to wrestle me down to the floor and try to submit me. For him, he might think this is a good match up. But I have fought these type of fighters before and I have a good ground game and good wrestling. We’ll see. But he has lost two in a row now so if he loses this he will probably be dropped. He’ll be fighting for his contract and that makes him double dangerous.
FO: Sonnen was supposed to get the title shot after beating Marquardt but couldn’t take it because of injury, so the UFC passed it to Maia, who has a win over Sonnen but recently lost to Marquardt. Sonnen wil lfight the winner of Maia-Silva. How do you see that whole triangle playing out?
You can never say in MMA what is going to happen. At the moment [Sonnen] is looking fantastic, against Marquardt and Miller. But look at what Maia did to him. He hip-tossed him - on his head - and then choked him out. So Maia is certainly not to be overlooked. But I think Anderson will be too much for him. Anderson is great on the ground, good defence and lethal [Muay] Thai. So I think he will win it but hopefully not in the style of the Thales Leites fight. I don’t think I could handle staying up until four in the morning to watch a load of shit like that again. There’s nothing more frustrating than staying up all night to watch a fight because you are excited about it and then going to bed at six in the morning thinking ‘What a load of shit.’”
as told to John Joe O’Regan