In the past I’ve started out my fights kind of slow, kind of feeling my opponents out and going with the flow, but the fight I had with Oliveira taught me a good lesson: You better not ever start out slow again.
I do everything fast now. Everything I do in the cage, it’s going to be explosive. I’m going to go in there and try to kill you, right from the get go. If I start feeling a little bit tired, in the back of my mind I know you’re starting to get tired. So the more tired I get, the better off I know I am. As crazy as that may sound to some people.
I used to pace myself when I felt like I was starting to get a little bit tired, but now if I get tired, I find a certain level of peace in being able to push through that burn. That temporarily feeling of pain or doubt. I tell it to shut up. I won’t listen. When it comes down to it, being tired is all mental. If you really dig down, you can keep going. So that’s what I’ve been working on in practice. I feel like I can break anyone in a few minutes if I just go as hard as I can. Even if they take me down I just go,go,go. With this new mindset I’ve developed, I just knew going into this fight that I was going to break Josh Martin. I knew he was a really tough guy, but I knew it wasn’t going to matter.
The weigh-ins were pretty crazy. I got in his face and got really close to him during the staredown. I think maybe my forehead touched hi a little bit and he didn’t like that, so he shoved me. I saw red for just a moment (it’s in my blood), and I came at him but they ended up ripping us apart. It was pretty intense. I used to be really polite and respectful to my opponents before my fights, but if I’m going to fight you, I don’t want to be nice to you. I want to hurt you. Afterwords it’s a different story.
I was more excited for this fight than usual because of the opportunity to fight in my hometown of Spokane, Washington. I sold a countless number of tickets around the area through word of mouth. There was a huge turn-out, and the place was just crazy. There were people in the crowd that I hadn’t seen in forever, and I mean forever. It was mind blowing. I didn’t want to let anyone down, most importantly, I didn’t want to let myself down. I had worked far too hard up until this point in my career to let someone embarrass my in front of my friends and family.
I came out and I tried to take him down right from the get go. I shot a single-leg on him, and he was stronger than I ever expected, so I ended up not getting it. I do this weird thing where it looks like I pull guard, but I’m not really pulling guard. I can go to a single, and then pull someone on top of me, so it looks like I get taken down but I’m just waiting for them to make a mistake. Just like everyone usually does in that position, he tried to pass, and when he tried to pass I ended up reversing him and taking him down.
I had him pinned against the cage really good at that point, and I was just focused on getting my hands loose as soon as I could. I just wanted to start dishing out punishment and end the fight as soon as possible like I always try to. You’re not getting paid by the hour in the cage. I wanted to get in there, do my job, and get out of there as soon as I could. I just started throwing some massive elbows. I ended up giving him three enormous gashes. I mean these were some of the worst cuts I’ve ever seen. I stopped Rafaello Oliveira during EliteXC due to a nasty cut from an elbow, and the smallest one on Josh was that size or larger.
I hit him with the first elbow and I thought to myself, ‘Oh, game over, you just lost’. Blood was everywhere almost immediately, and I was a little surprised because the ref wasn’t stopping it. I kind of laughed to myself and thought, ‘Okay…’, and I started hitting him with some more really hard elbows. I postured up to get more leverage on my strikes and after landing another elbow or two I saw that he was in really bad shape so I just punched him a couple of times hoping the referee would show the guy some mercy. Thankfully, he finally did.
I found out later that he ended up needing 22 staples and 18 stitches. He’s a really tough guy though. It was just my night. You can be sure that he will be back and better than ever. There was no quit in him. Look at what has happened to Rafaello since we fought; he’s gone on to win three straight and recently signed with the UFC.
I was feeling really good afterwords, but my boy Mike Hanks, he was 4-0, he fought Sidnei Silva and lost in a really close decision. That was a pretty big bummer. He’s an extremely talented guy and if anything, this loss will just serve to make him better than ever in the future. Overall it was a good night of fights. There were five fighters from my team on the card, and we ended up going 4 for 5, so I was happy.
There was one man in the crowd specifically that I’ve had my eye on since signing with Strikeforce, and that man is Josh Thomson. I took the microphone afterwords and called him out. I just let it be known that I loved fighting in my hometown, but my ultimate goal is to fight either Josh Thomson or Gilbert Melendez. Whoever is holding that belt, that’s who I want to fight. The way I look at it is this: If I don’t want to fight the best in my division, then I’m in the wrong sport.
I just want to fight the top guys. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I have a constant hunger to push, and test myself. I want the belt. It almost consumes me. I think about it constantly. It’s like I traded one addiction for another. I want to be the Strikeforce Champion. You can call it an obsession if you’d like. The term fits to be quite honest. I don’t duck anybody, and whoever Strikeforce wants to put me against, that’s who I’m fighting. I just want the best guys available to me. I have full confidence that I’ll beat anyone they put in front of me. I want to headline cards in the future, and I don’t care who I have to go through to do it.