Jeff “Little Popeye” Bedard will have his chance to obtain championship gold when he faces off with Shawn Klarcyk at PFC 12: High Stakes for the PFC bantamweight championship.
Training with top level fighters like Brian Bowles and Urijah faber have transformed Bedard into a top fighter himself and he hopes to showcase exactly why he deserves mentioning when discussing the best at 135 pounds when he takes on the younger, wilder Klarcyk.
Bedard joins the growing influx of high level wrestlers that have invaded MMA in recent years with tremendous success. Bedard is a Michigan Open Champion, six time U.S. National Team Member, and a three time NAGA Advanced Champion in wrestling.
At 38 years old, Bedard knows that he can’t fight forever and told FiveOuncesOfPain.com in an exclusive interview that he only plans on competing for about two more years. Two more years of fighting the best competition that the world has to offer at 135 pounds.
Cory Brady: How do you feel you match up with Shawn Klarcyk?
Jeff Bedard: I’ve talked to a couple people that have seen him fight and I’ve seen two of his fights on YouTube. I know that he’s a wrestler with submissions but his hands didn’t look that good to me. The main thing that I can see is that he just goes. He has good conditioning and he goes really hard. I just have to be prepared for that and I’ll be good to go.
Cory Brady: Who are some of the key people getting you ready for this one?
Jeff Bedard: My main training partners have been the same for the last three or four years. I’ve got Paul Creighton, Brian Bowles, Chad Schafer, Stephen Ledbetter and Diego Saraiva. I have Roberto Traven helping out with the jiu-jitsu but I mainly train at Paul Creighton’s place.
Cory Brady: What do you feel some of your advantages will be going into this one?
Jeff Bedard: Well I’m 11 and 1 with 1 no contest and he’s 10 and 2 so we have just about the same amount of experience. I think my big advantage is that I’m so much older and I’ve wrestled internationally so I’ve been through these kinds of matches. I’ve fought the best guys and I train with the best guys. I go out to Urijah Faber’s every now and then to train with those guys and then Brian Bowles is about to fight Torres for the title and I’ve fought Torres before. I think that my training partners are better than his and I have more experience competing at a higher level.
Cory Brady: Are you under contract with any organization right now?
Jeff Bedard: I’m actually under contract with the AFL right now. I asked to be released from the WEC and then I signed with the AFL and it looks like they’re going under so it’s looking like I’m a free agent right now.
Cory Brady: Would you consider returning to the WEC if you were approached?
Jeff Bedard: I’m not ruling out going to the WEC. I know that I belong in the WEC just because of the level that I train at. Training with Brian and Urijah and guys like that on a daily basis really lets me know where my skill level is at. I feel like I could beat anyone in the WEC, including Miguel Torres if I get a rematch with him. I made a mistake and I paid for it, but hell, I took that fight on two weeks notice.
Cory Brady: So you would jump at a chance to fight Torres again if the opportunity presented itself?
Jeff Bedard: Oh, I would love to. I think he’s a great fighter and I think he’s an outstanding champion but with the way that the fight was going before, and these stupid mistakes that I made, I feel like I can beat him.
Cory Brady: Two weeks notice against a guy like Miguel Torres has got to suck.
Jeff Bedard: Yeah, I didn’t know enough about the guy. Nobody else would take that fight except for me but that’s why you fight. I’m a grown man and I’m not making any excuses, I took the fight on two weeks notice and I got beat.
Cory Brady: Would you ever fight Brian Bowles if he ended up with the title and you were in line?
Jeff Bedard: I’d prefer not to fight him because he’s been like a brother to me. We’re main training partners, I corner him in every fight and he’s there with me for every fight. If it was for a good amount of money and a world title then I guess we would have to talk about it but it’s definitely something I’d rather not do, he’s one of my best friends and my main training partner. The PFC is the second biggest organization for the lightweight fighters. I’ve got my title fight coming up here and Brian has his against Miguel so it would be nice if we were both world champions.
Cory Brady: I know you had an extensive wrestling background. Did the transition to mixed martial arts come easily to you?
Jeff Bedard: It actually came pretty easily to me. I had a pretty good knowledge of submissions and I’ve always been easy to coach. The striking, I wouldn’t say that I’m good and I wouldn’t say that I’m bad at it. My defense is really good and I throw hard, straight punches but I’m not trying to turn it into a boxing match. I want to use my punches to keep people off of me or to set up my takedowns. I think that it’s a lot easier for wrestler’s to make the transition to MMA and I think that you’re going to star seeing a lot more of that as time goes on. The way MMA is progressing now, if you don’t have a good work ethic, you’re just not going to make it. Most wrestlers are going to have a good foundation for work ethic, being dedicated, disciplined and knowing the right way to train and train hard.
Cory Brady: Are you still teaching or have you been able to start training full time?
Jeff Bedard: I’m training full time now. I’ve been able to train full time for just over a year now. I just figured that I would try to make a run at this and try to make a career out of this and compete while I still can.
Cory Brady: How much longer do you see yourself competing?
Jeff Bedard: Probably two more years. If I can stay injury free and competitive in the gym, because my workout partners are so tough. If I start getting beat up on a weekly or daily basis in the gym then that will be the point where I just start coaching full time.
Cory Brady: Alright Jeff, last question, how do you see this fight ending?
Jeff Bedard: The guy’s really aggressive and reckless so I see the fight ending by submission or knockout. From the tapes I’ve seen, he’s kind of all over the place and I feel like I can either catch him and knock him out or I think I can submit him.