twitter google

Eric Schafer: “I belong in the UFC”

“Ravishing” Red Schafer could have gone with a really gnarly nickname like “Bonecrusher” or “The Strangler but the 31 year old Milwaukee fighter told in an exclusive interview that “no one is ever going to be afraid of you because of your nickname so you might as well have some fun with it”. The self chosen nickname lets you know that Schafer has never been one to take the small stuff too seriously but don’t let the easy going demeanor fool you. Schafer is one of the most dangerous submission fighters competing in the UFC’s talent rich light heavyweight division, if not the most dangerous.

Coming off of the heels of his impressive submission victory over hometown favorite Houston Alexander, Schafer will face another man known for his striking prowess, Antonio Mendes. The Brazilian put together an eleven fight win streak before being derailed by the fearsome Chute Boxe and American Top Team trained Thiago Silva in a wild clash that lasted less than one round. Mendes impressed many when he rocked Silva and had him hurt early before himself succumbing to a barrage of strikes.

The match up between Schafer and Mendes is your ” classic striker vs. grappler match up” in it’s purest form and it’s something the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt said he has become accustomed too.

Training with some of the best strikers in the business in at Duke Roufus Gym in Milwaukee, it is Schafer’s ultimate to be viewed as a complete fighter as opposed to a pure grappler and he has been taking all of the necessary steps to accomplish that dream.

Cory Brady: What have you been focusing on in the gym since your big win over Houston Alexander?

Red Schafer: Well I was kind of helping out Pat Barry in his training camp for his fight with Dan Evenson so I’ve been working a lot on my striking lately. I’ve been working a lot on my offense and then of course I’ve been working a lot on my defense. Any time you train with Pat you really have to keep your hands up and make sure that you have your kick defense down. I’d say my grappling is about the same but I’ve been working a lot on my striking to round out my game.

Cory Brady: How has training with guys like Duke Roufus, Pat Barry and Alan Belcher been helping you to improve your stand up game?

Red Schafer: No discredit to my opponent but I train with some of the best guys in the world on a daily basis. Ben Rothwell‘s down here with me too so I have big guys, fast guys, short and tall guys, just amazing strikers trying to knock my head off on a daily basis down here. It forces me to get better. Then Duke Roufus, one of the best coaches in the game, is right here in my home town so it’s a great fit. Some of the young guys we have training down here are going to really going to impress people in the next two or three years. We have a very good camp, we have a bunch of different UFC fighters coming through here every month, so yeah, not bad for a little mid western town.

Cory Brady: How are you feeling physically leading up to your fight with Antonio Mendes?

Red Schafer: I’m feeling great. It was kind of short notice but like I said, I was already in the gym training with Pat for his fight, training twice a day just about every day. We just kind of flowed and overlapped our camps so I feel great. I’m kind of peaking, it’s perfect timing right now so I can’t wait to get in there and get this over with.

Cory Brady: Have you been focusing on anything specific in preparing for Mendes?

Red Schafer: Well the biggest problem with Mendes other than the fact that he’s a good striker is that he’s a lefty. I’ve been having a lot of left handers come in and then it’s great to have Pat, who’s one of the best kickboxers around, because he can switch stances and he’s still awesome as a lefty. I’ve been having left high kicks thrown at me every day and I’ve been learning about how to strike against a left handed fighter. That’s been the greatest adaptation I’ve had to make for Mendes. My striking has been getting better but then you throw the lefty equation into it and it gets a little more tough.

Cory Brady: Having a guy like Pat Barry down there must have helped you tremendously in getting ready for Mendes.  Sparring with him has got to be rough.

Red Schafer: He’s faster and he definitely kicks harder than anyone out there. If I can survive his kicks then hopefully I can survive Mendes’. It’s awesome having him in camp but you definitely get your lickings every week. You’re limping around every other week so that takes some getting used to. He’s a pretty good guy though, he’ll take some of the heat off just to be nice.

Cory Brady: Have you seen anything that you will be able to exploit from watching any of his tapes?

Red Schafer: Yeah, I actually have like three or four of his European fights as well so the biggest thing is that he’s more of a striker than a grappler. On the ground he’s pretty basic but he’s really tough. He keeps moving and he gets to his feet. He’s not very amazing down there but he definitely doesn’t make many mistakes. I can’t look for something right off the bat so it’s going to be one of those thing’s where I have to wear him down and finish him towards the end of the fight.

Cory Brady: Are you going to be looking to get this fight to the ground as soon as possible like you did with Houston Alexander or are you expecting to just go with the flow in this one?

Red Schafer: I always like to go with the flow but the one thing about Houston is that he was such a hard striker. He was just so explosive. Mendes isn’t as hard of a striker, he’s more technical so I’m not really worried about getting knocked out. I definitely don’t want to get knocked out so I’m going to keep my hands up but he doesn’t have that one punch knockout power like Houston did. I’m not really worried about getting knocked out with that one shot so I’m going to play a little more. I’ll always be a ground guy but I’m not worried that much about that single knockout punch.

Cory Brady: Maybe we’ll get to see another one of your patented arm triangles in this match, you never know.

Red Schafer: That’s definitely my favorite move but I’ll take any submission I can get. If he gives me the arm triangle that would be awesome, I’ll keep it up. Three victories in the UFC with the same choke? If they’re going to give it to me I’ll take it.

Cory Brady: Are you going to be looking to make a statement in this fight with Mendes to show the UFC that you are here to stay at 205?

Red Schafer: I’m 2-2 in the UFC and that’s an okay record. Hopefully a win in this fight will put me with that middle echelon of guys and then a couple wins after that should put me right where I need to be. I’m still at the lower end of the UFC totum pole and I know that I’ll have to put together some consecutive wins to start moving up.

Cory Brady: Well hopefully this win will put you in a bigger fight in your next outing.

Red Schafer: Yeah, I’m not going to lie and say that I’m a title contender right now or anything but I definitely wouldn’t mind some main card fights or some Fight Night main card stuff.

Cory Brady: You are currently riding a currently riding a three fight win streak. Did those two prior losses in the UFC kind of motivate you rededicate yourself in the gym?

Red Schafer: The Bisping and the Bonnar fights let me know that I just needed a lot more ring experience. I felt like I had the technique to hang with those guys, especially in the Bonnar fight. There was an eleven month layoff there so I was really nervous because I hadn’t been competing very often, After that fight I’ve been doing a lot of grappling tournaments and then I took those two fights outside the UFC and of course, my fight with Houston. I’ve been competing about every month since then to get the ring rust out and my fight with Houston was to kind of show that I belong in the UFC.

Cory Brady: Not looking past Mendes but is there anyone you would really want to test yourself against at 205 with a convincing win over Mendes?

Red Schafer: You know, it’s funny, I’m always the better grappler and they’re always the better striker so I wouldn’t mind a really fun kind of grappling fight once. Like a Dean Lister type of guy because I think it would be cool to see some nice transitions and some good jiu-jitsu because I’m always fighting strikers. I think it would be cool to fight someone that actually wants to take the fight to the ground and we can see who has the better jiu-jitsu. There are a lot of good strikers and some good wrestlers in the UFC’s light heavyweight division but the jiu-jitsu aspect is kind of weak right now. I’m kind of unique in the 205 pound division being a submission guy but I wouldn’t mind having a good grappling match someday.

Cory Brady: Now I know a lot of people refer to you as Red but they seem to leave out the ravishing part of it? How did you score the nickname “Ravishing Red”?

Red Schafer: I very rarely go by Eric unless you’re my mom or my girlfriend or something so Red was always my name. So we were looking for a good nickname to go with Red and we wanted something kind of cheesy. Everyone has the tough guy nicknames like the assassin or the pitbull and we just wanted to kind of have fun with it so we came up with “Ravishing Red”. It kind of sounds funny when you say Eric “Ravishing Red” Schafer so I almost want to drop my first name and just go by Red and the the nickname would be “Ravishing”. No one is ever going to be afraid of you because of your nickname so you might as well have some fun with it and at least be unique about it.

Cory Brady: What does the future hold for Red Schafer?

Red Schafer: Well after I get this win I’d like to get a couple more grappling bouts in and then hopefully get on the main card for a late spring, early summer fight. Then you never know, if I can put a few wins together maybe I can get in the top five or six in the next year or so. I’m definitely not trying to get ahead of myself, I’m not ready for a title shot right now but maybe in a year or so.

Cory Brady: Is there anyone you would like to thank?

Red Schafer: Sprawl, TapouT, Gamma-O, Knockout Brand Clothing, Brian Butler and then we’re having a post fight party at the DQ Club in Dublin so anyone in the area should definitely come by.

Follow 5OZ