Shawn Tompkins is one of the foremost authorities in MMA on the art of striking and thanks to Jake Hattan, one of his managers at Denaro Sports Marketing, FiveOuncesOfPain.com was recently granted an opportunity to interview the Xtreme Couture striking specialist.
In Part III, Tompkins shares his thoughts on new interim UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir’s improved striking at UFC 92; who he feels is the top striker in MMA; and he offers his analysis as to why three of K-1’s top strikers were upset by MMA fighters during FEG’s recent “Dynamite!!” event on New Year’s Eve.
Sam Caplan (FiveOuncesOfPain.com): What did you think of Frank Mir’s performance at UFC 92?
Shawn Tompkins: Like anybody else I was stunned by his performance (laughs). But at the same time I’m proud of them and I am happy to see that the Frank Mir that we all wanted to see back in the day is truly here and I think he’s here to say. I have a really good friend in his trainer, Ken Hahn at Striking Unlimited and I’m glad that they’re getting the respect that they deserve now.
I think that they got Nogueira at the right time but that’s any fight. Walking in you could get your opponent at the right time or the wrong time and I think he hit Nogueira when he was supposed to. I think he was 100 percent underestimated amd I’m really happy to see the result because I think we needed it in the heavyweight division. We need more guys that are solid talents all around and Frank Mir proved himself and I don’t think anyone is going to second guess him every again.
Sam Caplan (FiveOuncesOfPain.com): A lot of people proclaim Anderson Silva as the best striker in all of MMA. However, you’re a true expert and I wanted to know who you feel is the best striker competing right now?
Shawn Tompkins: Well I think when it comes to Anderson Silva, it comes down to his speed, his distance and his timing are impeccable. They are second to none and that’s what makes him dangerous. I look at Anderson Silva and he can fight moving forward, he can fight moving backward, and he can fight moving left or right. It’s something that I don’t think anyone else in the sport other than Chuck Liddell has really been able to do. And I think Anderson Silva is ahead of Chuck Liddell as far as that goes. So I have to agree. If I had train someone to fight Anderson Silva that would probably be my biggest challenge yet as far as being prepared for a striker.
Sam Caplan (FiveOuncesOfPain.com): Who do you consider to be some of the other top strikers in MMA right now?
Shawn Tompkins: It doesn’t even have to be pure strikers. I look at B.J. Penn as one of the best boxers in the business. He’s got one of the best jabs around. Arlovski proved himself against Ben Rothwell. As far as a power puncher in the mold of a Mike Tyson-style power puncher, you’re not going to find anyone tougher than Fedor. There’s a lot of great strikers in the business but no one should ever forget about Chuck Liddell. The strange part of MMA is that you lose one or two fights and people start to question you but he was on top for so long and it was purely his striking that made him so good. Nobody can step backwards and knock someone out as well as Chuck Liddell can.
Sam Caplan (FiveOuncesOfPain.com): I wanted to know if you were able to see some of the fights from “Dynamite!!” a few weeks back and if so, I wanted to know what you thought of Overeem, Mousasi, and Kawajiri taking out the K-1 fighters. Were you shocked by that?
Shawn Tompkins: No and maybe it’s because I follow K-1 closely and also train Ray Sefo. My heart is with K-1 and I love the sport of standup kickboxing. What I think a lot of that was K-1 having had their Grand Prix finals not even a month before the “Dynamite!!” show so a lot of those guys were coming into that fight pressured to fight.
They were coming in with injuries and had no time to recuperate and start a camp again. I think that was a huge part of it and I think the other component of it was that there were good matchups. I think when K-1 put them together and you put Badr Hari with an opponent like Overeem and that’s nothing but a great matchup and Overeem is one of the best strikers in MMA as well.
But I think really, if I were to defend the K-1 strikers, that it was a pressure of not enough time to re-prepare for a fight and not enough time to repair for a fight as a result of the last show.
Sam Caplan (FiveOuncesOfPain.com): You and some choice words for Joe Rogan a year and a half ago after he was critical of some advice you gave to Sam Stout at UFN 10. Are relations between you and him still strained?
Shawn Tompkins: Absolutely not. We squashed that a long time ago. I have the utmost respect for Joe Rogan. I think he does his job better than anybody else could. I just think that we were both coming through a maturing stage in our careers and he said what he said and I said what I said. And we’ve both grown since then. I ever said back when we had our choice words I still told everybody that I respected him. I wouldn’t want to have to do his job and I don’t know anybody else that could do his job. He does a great job of it and keeps the sport entertaining and even my mom loves to listen to Joe Rogan when the fights are on so that tells you right there that he does something for the new fans of the sport that nobody else could.
Sam Caplan (FiveOuncesOfPain.com): There was some talk last year that you were looking to get back into fighting. I wanted to know if there was any validity to those reports and if you had any plans to fight in 2009?
Shawn Tompkins: I was scheduled to fight in November of 2008 in a kickboxing show called XMA. There were some controversies that happened between my management team as well as some of the promoters as far as setting up the fights. There was some talk of Ken Shamrock but nobody else had talked to Ken about it as far as the promoting.
That left a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth and since that time I’ve decided to move on purely and solely as a coach and building my name in the sport. I’ve got a full 2009 schedule of projects so I think we’re going to stay with that. As far as training, I’ve been around fighters enough to know that you have to be able to give 100 percent of your effort and time into training for a sport. I have too many guys that count on me as a coach so in 2009 you’re going to see me in a lot of cages and rings but I’ll only be in them to corner my fighters.
Sam Caplan (FiveOuncesOfPain.com): I also wanted to ask you about some rumors I’ve heard about an instructional video possibly coming out this year. I wanted to see if I could get some more information from you in regard to that.
Shawn Tompkins: Absolutely. I am actually just getting ready to starting shooting in February. I’m working with a team that actually did all the filming for the Diehard movies. We’re going to shoot a new style of instructional video that is far beyond what anyone has ever done before. It will be very interactive for the people who purchase it and watch it. I can’t give out too many other details but filming will be done in February and people are going to be able to have it their hands as soon as May. I’m really excited about it and it’s going to be a great project.
Sam Caplan (FiveOuncesOfPain.com): There’s also a few rumors about you possibly doing a show on Sirius Satellite Radio?
Shawn Tompkins: It’s the “Between Rounds Radio Show,” which you can check out at BetweenRoundsRadioShow.com. It’s a radio show that I’ve been doing for the past two months and I’m a part owner of it as well. It’s produced for the Internet right now but we’ve been picked up by Sirius Satellite Radio and we will be live in LA starting in the end of February. And there’s talk of us sharing the same station as the LA Dodgers so I’m really excited about that. Again, you can check us out a BetweenRoundsRadioShow.com.