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Eliot Marshall: “At least in jail you get TV”

After impressing coach Frank Mir and his fellow “The Ultimate Fighter” housemates with a dominant win over Shane Primm to advance into the semi-finals, Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Eliot Marshall was eliminated from the competition by the prohibitive favorite Ryan Bader.

Marshall sat down to talk to about Bader, respect, urine, and anything we wanted. Except Junie Browning.

Jonathan Snowden: Last night they aired your fight with Ryan Bader, a fight that looked more like a wrestling match than a MMA bout. What were your thoughts going in and know that you’ve had time to think about it?

Eliot Marshall: Bader did a great job of winning the fight.  He did what he had to do to win.  What can I say?  You watched it. So?  He took me down and held me on the cage, waited, and he won.  That’s my responsibility.  It’s my responsibility to deal with those sorts of tactics.  That’s what people are going to try to do to me.

Jonathan Snowden:  What can you do when you are matched up with a superlative wrestler like that?  If he doesn’t want to do anything but take you down and watch the clock, what can you do?

Eliot Marshall: I’ve been doing a lot of work to be able to deal with this.  I’ve been just working on getting back to my feet, my footwork when I’m striking.   Moving in circles.  That’s it you know?  What else can you do?  I’m getting better, adapting my jiu-jitsu game towards that kind of wrestler’s style.

Jonathan Snowden: The good news is, you’re not going to have to deal with many wrestlers better than him in your career.

Eliot Marshall: Right. And I deal with Rashad (Evans) in practice all the time. There’s not a better one than Rashad. So, that’s my practice.

Jonathan Snowden: After your fight with Shane, you challenged Bader in the cage. Why did you guys agree to fight? What was the thinking…

Eliot Marshall: There was no thinking behind it. It was a joke. He was drunk in my room one night before everyone went to bed, everyone was all joking around talking shit. That’s all it was man. It doesn’t matter to me who I fight. I’m not scared to fight anybody. If Bader and I are going to fight, then Bader and I are going to fight. Plus we knew if Krzysztof and Vinny made it to the semi-finals that there was no way they were going to let them fight in the finals. Because at the time they trained at the same gym (Team Quest in California). How would that work? How would you train?  So it was going to be me and Bader. I was pretty sure Jules wasn’t beating Vinny. I was pretty sure Kyle wasn’t going to beat Krzysztof. So there it was.

Jonathan Snowden: How have you bounced back from the loss?

Eliot Marshall: It’s not hard at all. You’ve just got to go. If you’re the type of person that losing is going to crush you like that, then this isn’t the sport for you. You’re going to have to deal with that a lot in this sport. It’s just inevitable. You lose. The best guys in the world lose.

Jonathan Snowden: Overall, looking back, what did you think of the Ultimate Fighter experience.  This season seemed especially crazy?

Eliot Marshall: It was a great experience you know? It’s not a fun one,but its a good one that’s worthwhile. Hopefully I’ll be able to take my career to the next level because of it. “The Ultimate Fighter” is not as easy as you think it is. Talk to any of the guys that have done it before. It’s terrible. It’s not fun. You go kind of crazy in that house. Not being able to get your own stuff, your own food. They’ll eventually bring you whatever you want, but if you want a cheeseburger-not being able to drive down the road to get that cheeseburger… it’s kind of weird when those freedoms get taken away.

Jonathan Snowden: It reminds me of basic training. Or prison.

Eliot Marshall: At least in jail you get TV.

Jonathan Snowden: Let’s talk about some of the crazy stuff that went down. The first question, because of the focus on him in what seemed like every episode, what did you think of Junie?

Eliot Marshall: I’m not going to talk about Junie.

Jonathan Snowden: Not at all?

Eliot Marshall: Nope. You can put that in there: ‘I’m not going to talk about Junie.’  Junie’s a jackass. He can do his own thing.

Jonathan Snowden: The pranks this season were kind of taken to a new level. You guys were doing some crazy stuff…

Eliot Marshall: Don’t say ‘you guys.’ I wasn’t doing anything.

Jonathan Snowden: The guys around you were. There was a minor furor online when they showed guys drinking urine and generally being gross. How does that affect how fans and critics see fighters and the fight game?

Eliot Marshall: I thought it was a very bad and poor representation of what a professional athlete is supposed to be. If you look at basketball, football, and baseball, when their athletes travel they have to dress appropriately. In a very professional manner.  They try to portray this image of professionalism. I thought it was terrible. We’re trying to be professional athletes. I want to make money like the basketball players and the football players. But then, people are going to act like that.  Not good.

Jonathan Snowden: One of the other incidents you had a role in was an issue of “respect.” There was criticism online that some of you guys weren’t appropriately deferential to Nogueira. What kind of respect do you owe a fighter like Nog when he comes to talk to you about something?

Eliot Marshall: Give Nogueira a call and ask him if he felt disrespected by me. He an I had a conversation like two adults. I’m not going to put any person on a pedestal. He’s not my father. If I disagree with you, I’m going to speak to you about it. We had a conversation at the end of it, we shook hands, and he left. That was how it was. He didn’t feel disrespected. He went out and bought me a cheeseburger after the fight with Ryan Bader.

Jonathan Snowden: Did you see the backlash against you online?

Eliot Marshall: I read it. People were going nuts. Online? Whatever. These are 15 year-old kids that sit in their mom’s basement. He’s a great fighter, but he’s been wrong before in his life.  People have disagreed with him before. You’re allowed to disagree with people aren’t you?

Jonathan Snowden: Certainly. About the training: Obviously, you’ve got this world-class facility with with the world class coaching, but people complain about the lack of intensity. Does the competitive nature of the show keep guys from giving their all in training with someone who could be an opponent?

Eliot Marshall: That and you know you’re going to have to fight when you show up at the show.  Right?

Jonathan Snowden: Right.

Eliot Marshall: So, you have to be prepared for a war right then. So, you have to prepare for four or five weeks before. When you get to the show you have six more weeks. That’s a lot of intense training and you have to find some rest time. You can only peak and be fighting well for so long.  Ten weeks is way too long to do that. So you have to find a way to modify your training.  You can’t always go as hard as you can and kill yourself everyday. It doesn’t work. You’re going to get injured, you’re going to get hurt, you’re going to over-train.

Jonathan Snowden: How did the coaches handle that?

Eliot Marshall: I thought Mir did a great job. He didn’t try to make us do anything. He gave us opportunities and showed us things. But he didn’t necessarily kill us.

Jonathan Snowden: In your blog you said: “I know that when I trained with Krzysztof during our time on TUF Vinny would get upset.” How did you navigate the politics of the house?

Eliot Marshall: What can you do? There’s nothing you can do about things like that. You have to worry about yourself. Krzysztof and I were friends. I liked Vinny. Vinny and I got along fine.  Krzysztof and I were about training our overall games. We sparred together, we rolled together, we wrestled together. Vinny just liked training a lot of jiu-jitsu. In the early parts of the show, before we knew Krzysztof and Vinny were going to fight, Krzysztof and I ended up training together a lot because nobody else really wanted to spar. And Krzysztof and I would spar.

Jonathan Snowden: You fought Bader and trained with Vinny for weeks. How do you see that fight going down?

Eliot Marshall: I don’t think it’s going to go to the ground. I think Bader is going to keep it standing.  I feel like with me, Bader had to take the risk of going to the ground because I could beat him on the feet. I don’t believe Vinny is going to be able to beat him on the feet. So I don’t believe Bader is going to take the risk of going to the ground with Vinny. Bader did a really good job of avoiding my submissions, but that can only last for so long. Eventually you get caught. You make a mistake.

Jonathan Snowden: Plenty of fighters have gone from where you are right now to solid careers in the UFC, guys like Koscheck and Leben and Hamill. What’s next for you? You must feel good about being matched with Jules at the Palms.

Eliot Marshall: Anybody can win a fight. That’s why you fight the fights. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I’m mentally prepared. I’m very ready to go. I didn’t take this fight with Jules lightly.  I’ve been in Albuquerque for five weeks. I’m ready to go you know? I’ve been training with Rashad and Keith and Nate and Duane. All the big boys. There’s no easy fights. You work, you train to win the fight. Then afterward, you know? Train hard, fight hard, party hard.

Jonathan Snowden: How helpful is it to have multiple guys at Greg Jackson’s preparing at the same time. Rashad is obviously getting ready for a big fight too.

Eliot Marshall: Man, Rashad! Whew. Rashad is looking great. Rashad beat me up for the last couple of weeks. It’s great. And in Colorado, sparring with Duane (Ludwig). Duane can put it on you. When he puts it on you it’s probably the worst experience in the world.

Jonathan Snowden: You called him “terrible” in your blog. Is there pressure now, because if you lose, you lose to a dude you said was terrible?

Eliot Marshall: That’s what gives you those nerves. That’s what makes you feel you’re alive.  I’ve got to put my money where my mouth was.

Jonathan Snowden: Good luck to you. Anything you wanted to say to the fans who have been watching you on TV?

Eliot Marshall: I want to say thank you to “The Ultimate Fighter” crew. The camera crew guys and the guys who got all of our food and stuff like that.  Without “The Ultimate Fighter” we’d all have a different job. All of us, me and you. It made MMA kind of, so I wanted  to say thank you to all of them. I appreciate it. Tune in on the 13th, watch the fights, and you’re going to see a dominant and impressive performance.

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