Thursday, February 22, 2007

An Interview with UFC 68’s Rex Holman

By UFC Junkie

When David Heath was scratched from his UFC 68 bout with Matt Hamill, Rex Holman was presented the opportunity of a lifetime: fighting for the nation’s No. 1 MMA organization at home in front of his friends and family.

Holman (4-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), of course, jumped at the opportunity. The former NCAA Division 1 national wrestling champion is now set to face one of the most popular fighters to ever come out of The Ultimate Fighter reality series. That light-heavyweight bout with Hamill (2-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) will be one of the most-anticipated undercard fights of next weekend’s UFC 68 event, which takes place at Nationwide Arena. You got into the UFC after just five professional MMA fights. Fans are obviously going to wonder why. What would be your argument?
Holman: Well, it’s actually pretty simple. David Heath pulled out of the fight because of an injury. There was an opening at 205 pounds to fight Matt Hamill. The event’s in Columbus, which is where I am. My manager Mike Camp got in touch with Joe Silva, the UFC’s matchmaker, and said, “Hey, here’s Rex Holman. He’s hungry. He was a national champ at Ohio State. Give him a shot.” I was booked the next day.

I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity. I had made a commitment that I was would fight one or two times per month until I got signed. After my first two fights, though, I knew I needed to take some time off and improve and learn the sport better. I picked it up again, and I said I would really hit it hard January through March this year. But then I found out I’d be fighting in the UFC. Let’s talk about your wrestling background. You were quite successful at Ohio State. Honestly, what’s it like to win a national championship?
Holman: It’s just a goal like anything else. It’s something you set out to accomplish. It worked out that year (1993) because of a lot of hard and effort. It was nice to see it come to fruition. How did you first get started in wrestling?
Holman: I started in fourth grade. My dad got me involved in a program in Upper Arlington (near Columbus). I was hooked, and it was something I really enjoyed, so I stuck with it. A lot of MMA fans know your name simply from your wrestling background. Does winning a national championship give you some instant fame?
Holman: It earned my some credibility in wrestling and that transitioned well into MMA. But since I started with MMA, I’ve had to become a fighter rather than just a wrestler. That’s a big transition, but there’s some common ground you can build from.

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