Lyle Beerbohm has one of the more interesting stories in MMA. At this time three years ago, Beerbohm was in a prison cell without a single MMA fight to his credit. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even watch MMA regularly. Fast-forward to three years later, and Beerbohm is out of prison, clean, and has amassed a healthy 9-0 professional MMA record. Beerbohm faces his toughest challenger to date in UFC veteran Duane “Bang” Ludwig (18-8) on tomorrow night’s Strikeforce: Challenger Series card, live on Showtime from the Showare Center in Kent, Washington. Beerbohm talked to FightLine.com about his prison days, his unique nickname, his fight tomorrow night and his future.
FightLine.com: How is training going for your big fight with Duane “Bang” Ludwig tomorrow night?
Lyle Beerbohm: Training couldn’t be better. I train at the Sik Jitsu gym in Spokane, WA, and I have the best pro fight team around. I have a pro team that’s 25-0, stats don’t lie, especially when it comes to MMA. That’s a great record. I train twice a day, six days a week and things couldn’t be better.
FightLine.com: You’ve had an interesting start in MMA. It can be said that your MMA career started in the Washington State Penitentiary. Tell us about how your interest in MMA came about, and how you started in the sport.
Beerbohm: I wrestled in high school, and I did real good wrestling. I got out of high school and started running with the wrong crowd. I ended up selling drugs, and at about 20 years old, I started using drugs. I started doing meth and the first time I did it, I was hooked. I started smoking it and snorting it for a few years, but that wasn’t really doing the trick. So I started shooting it, using a needle. Within 8 years of doing meth, I racked up about 8 felony charges, a bunch of misdemeanors and so that put me in Washington State Penitentiary. I was sitting there, watching TV one night. All of sudden, there’s this UFC reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. I’m watching it and thinking, “Are you kidding me, these guys are sitting on TV and making money?”! I’m thinking, ‘I can take them’. Right then and there, I was like, that’s what I’m going to do. That’s what I want to do when I get out. My parents came and got me, I asked my dad to pull over and we stopped at the MMA gym and I made him stop. I went in and told them I wanted to be a fighter and he threw me a gi and we started grappling. I loved it. Eight days later, I’m fighting in the cage. I met a guy who has an amateur fighting promotion in Spokane and I fought on his card. Within 9 months, I went 12-0 and decided to turn pro. I am now 9-0 as a pro, 12-0 as an amateur and 20 finishes out of 21 fights. Now I’m going to fight Dwayne Ludwig on June 19th at the Showare Center in Washington.
FightLine.com: Wow, that’s quite a story. Had you ever watched MMA before your prison stint?
Beerbohm: Well yeah, I watched the first UFC, one, two and three. I thought, “Wow, that’s kinda cool.” But I never followed up on it.
FightLine.com: Did you ever use any of the moves you saw on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ in any prison fights or anything?
Beerbohm: Well, I have gotten in some street fights and I have gotten into some prison fights. I didn’t know many moves then.& All I knew was the
straight street fighting, and that’s what I’m really good at. I got in prison
fights and won all of them.
FightLine.com: So, you’re undefeated everywhere?
Beerbohm: [Laughs] I am undefeated everywhere. From kindergarten until now, I’ve won all the fights I’ve gotten into.
FightLine.com: Your nickname is “Fancy Pants”, how did you get that?
Beerbohm: Well, my mom loves it, so . . . she was in the process of moving her sewing room into another room. She needed help from me to move the fabric. I was moving the fabric for her and all of sudden I come across this spandex, stretchy material. It was fluorescent green, pink and yellow . . . I mean it was out there. I said, “Mom, you gotta make me a pair of fight shorts.” She thought it was a joke, and I said, “Mom, I’m serious!” So I put the fabric on her sewing machine and it sat there for about 5 days. I said, “Mom, I really want a pair of fight shorts, you gotta make me a pair of shorts!” She says, OK and makes them. So I try them on and I loved them. I was like, “Heck yeah!” My mom was laughing at me, my dad thought it was a really dumb idea, but I loved it. In my third amateur fight, I wore them out there. I took my sweats off and the crowd went crazy! The girls were whistling, the guys were hooting and hollering and laughing. I knew I had a hit right then . . . and that’s how I became “Fancy Pants.”
FightLine.com: Is your mom sewing the shorts you’re going to be wearing this Friday?
Beerbohm: The thing is, fancy pants don’t make the money. I need the sponsors because MMA doesn’t pay quite enough to not use the sponsor money. Unfortunately, I do have to wear the sponsor shorts on Friday, but I’ll be wearing the fancy pants underneath, so you’ll be able to see them a little bit.
FightLine.com: You’ve only been around the sport as a pro for a couple of years and started following it late. A lot of the guys who have been watching the sport for awhile look up to guys like Ken Shamrock, Mark Coleman and Randy Couture. Who are some of the fighters that you look up to?
Beerbohm: Yeah, I got out of prison in February 2007. So, I’ve been [fighting] for about 27 months. I look up to my training partners. Just a simple fact is that I would not be able to do what I’m doing without them. Those guys sit there day in and day out with me and we get it on. I do like Fedor Emelianenko because he is the baddest dude on the planet. I love Fedor. When it comes down to it, my training partners is who I’m going to thank.
FightLine.com: Duane Ludwig is a seasoned fighter, with nearly 10 years of professional experience in the cage. Did you have to change your training style to prepare for this fight?
Beerbohm: I trained a little harder. When I was dead, I pushed myself to go one more round. I trained a little big harder for this fight in my mind and soul. You know, I always train hard though and I’m always in great shape. I’m ready to fight whoever, whoever they put in front of me, that’s who I’m ready to fight.
FightLine.com: What are your thoughts on Duane Ludwig?
Beerbohm: I think it’s a great match up for me. Fortunately, I’m an up and comer, I’m hot and no one out there is going to beat me right now. Unfortunately for him, he has to fight me. I look up to him, I’ve seen him fight in the UFC and he has the fastest knockout in history. He’s 2-0 in the UFC and he’s a great guy too.
FightLine.com: How do you see the fight going?
Beerbohm: I’m not going to make any predictions. All I know, is that I’m going to win. I’m not going to say any which way, all I know is when the 3 rounds are over, they’re going to be raising my hand.
FightLine.com: What do you see for yourself after the fight this Friday night?
Beerbohm: My only goal is to be the champ. I want to be Strikeforce’s champ. I love Scott Coker, he’s a great guy. I love Strikeforce and that’s the organization I want to fight for and be their champ.
FightLine.com: Speaking of that championship [Strikeforce Lightweight Championship], champ Josh Thomson faces interim champion Gilbert Melendez to unify the title next month. How do you see that fight going?
Beerbohm: Josh is tough, but so is Gilbert. You saw what Josh did to him the first fight, so I don’t see Gilbert – I think Josh is going to win, just going off of what I saw before.
FightLine.com: Who do you want to face down the line in the lightweight division?
Beerbohm: I just want the belt. I want to be the champ and whatever it takes to get there is what I want to do. If Thompson has the belt, that’s who I want. If Gilbert Melendez has the belt, that’s who I want. I want the belt, I want to be the champ and that’s the bottom line. I’m going to be the champ.