Strikeforce will be holding it’s debut Showtime event this Saturday April 11 marking the promotions venture into the big time. The card will feature a blockbuster match up between former UFC champion Frank Shamrock and MMA bad boy Nick Diaz. Both men spoke recently at a conference call to promote the event. Below are some of the more interesting comments:
How do you handle the verbal attacks that go on before a fight?
“To me it’s like a breath of fresh air. It’s good to have an antagonist to promote a match. It can’t just be you. I think it’s hilarious. We need people to stir up the pot and prove that the fight is worthy. The fight is going to happen regardless. There has to be some passion behind it. I think Nick’s a wonderful guy. It doesn’t bother me personally. I’ve been around way too long for it to.”
Nick is an emotional fighter in the cage. What are the positive and negative aspects of fighting such an emotional fighter?
“The positives are that his focus can be broken because your emotions tend to cloud your judgment a little bit. But on the flip side, someone who is passionate about something will go above and beyond their own physical ability. I always worry about the quiet guy and the emotional guy. I think for Nick it works. He’s at the right age where he can go in there and get his emotions out.”
What will your approach be once you get into the cage?
“I’ve made some statements in the past about wanting to be less entertaining. When the game is on I work it as an art form which means I try to do the most amount of damage with the least amount of effort and the least amount of damage to myself. I’ve had the skill set where I could play around and mess around but I normally don’t cross that line unless I really feel like I’m completely dominating somebody. I have changed my entire style over the past decade being one that is exciting and somewhat dangerous. But I still hold true to the principle of not damaging myself. I’ve just gotten distracted in past years with the entertainment aspect. I want to get back to the basics of just finishing people as quickly as I can and not messing around.”
How does a fighter build mental toughness?
“It’s really three-fold in my opinion. The first is to make a conscious decision to do something which a lot of people have a fear of. The second thing is that every time you do something you feel more confident in it. And the third thing for me is having a community or a foundation of general support like getting someone to pat your back and say you did a good job. If there is one factor that factors into all this is that you have to take your lumps because that is what teaches you to understand what it is and to not be afraid of it. I don’t think a lot of people take those lumps even if they have that nice support system in there. You got to get your butt kicked every once in awhile to know that you can survive it.”
How has Mixed Martial Arts changed over the years?
“The sport has evolved into a very dynamic athletic sport but it’s really moved into the striking arena. When I got into the sport in 19… Oh, God I’m old…a very long time ago it was really a grappling art and now it’s really turned into a striking sport. The submission percentage is going down considerably. I mean, the easiest way now to win is to punch in the head, kick in the head and damage the brain. The level of the athlete has skyrocketed since I got into the sport. The understanding of how to use your body and the dynamics and the mechanics have just gone through the roof. I mean, our athletes now are neck in neck with every other pro sport.”
What types of problems does Nick Diaz pose for you?
“I think his length and that he’s got a well-rounded game. He’s comfortable throwing punches and standing up punching and he very comfortable and skilled on the ground. I’ve always had trouble with long guys because as a shorter guy I have smaller explosive movements and a lot of long guys I can get trapped inside of them. He poses a problem for me which is what I like.”
How big is this fight for you?
“For me it’s not going to make a difference what I do in this fight. To me, I’m the most important fighter in this weight class. Pound for pound I think people are going to want to see me fight more than anyone else. I don’t see why not.”
Who do you like to watch fighting?
“There’s a Japanese guy I like to watch. His name is Shina Aoki. He has a complete game. I do a lot of the same things he does. He doesn’t like getting punched–I don’t know who does–but he especially doesn’t. I’m sure I’ll be fighting him sooner or later hopefully if I make my way back to Japan. There are a lot of fighters that come to mind but he’s the main guy.”
You’ve sparred with boxer Andre Ward in the past. Would you ever consider going back into the boxing ring?
“Yeah, I have sparred with him, but that’s kind of a seasonal thing. They call me and I make my way in. I’m more on call with them as opposed to having him on call for me. I absolutely would but I would like more money. It’s just ridiculous. I don’t want to make $8,000 or $10,000 for a small fight in Sacramento to get my face all cut up. I’d really have to look into pursuing it but I’m not sure it’s something I want to do.”
What are the biggest obstacles you see in fighting Frank Shamrock?
“I don’t see any. I feel like I have all the answers for Frank Shamrock. I have an answer for everything. What does Frank Shamrock do compared to what other people I have fought? Nothing. I think it’s going to be fine to come in and just do as I always do.”