Thursday, March 29, 2007

Enter The Joker...

By David West

Jess “The Joker” Liaudin will be making his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut on their April 21st show in Manchester, England, facing Germany’s Dennis Siver. Liaudin, who is originally from France but has been based in London for many years, is the head coach at the Pancrase London gym. With his MMA record standing at 8-8-0, Liaudin has fought in King of the Cage and in Japan at Greatest Common Multiple and is coming off three consecutive wins, most recently an impressive victory over Ross Mason at Cage Rage 19 last December. FCF spoke with Liaudin about his upcoming debut in the UFC.

What do you know about Dennis Siver?“I saw five or six of his fights. He pretty much does the same thing all the time but he’s very good at it, so it’s hard to stop him. He is very explosive, he’s very fast and he always throws the left hook, right cross, leading leg round house kick a bit like over-the-waist kickboxers do. It’s very fast and powerful when he does it, so if he catches you, you’re probably going to get knocked out. He’s got a very good clinch due to his judo background and his ground game is half decent, so potentially he’s a dangerous opponent.”

How do you think you match up?
“I think I’m a lot more experienced. I looked at his record and he fought a lot of average fighters. He fought Daniel Wiechel, the guy that Paul Daley just knocked out, who’s a very good fighter and he lost against him. He lost by arm bar to Arni Isaksson. He hasn’t got my experience, I’ve had a lot more fights than him, I’ve fought bigger names, so I think that’s going to show in the fight. I’m not going to give anything away but I’ve got my game plan and I’m very confident I’m going to win that fight.”

Prior to this you were competing in Cage Rage, what tempted you to go to the UFC?“I applied to the UFC back in 1994, right in the beginning. I think everybody aspires to fight in a big, big show. While Cage Rage is the number one in Europe, the UFC and Pride are still the two biggest organizations in the world. In life, you always want to go up and for me fighting in the UFC will be a step up. They offered me a good deal. If Cage Rage had offered me a contract, maybe I would have signed with them, but they didn’t so I’m fighting for the UFC. It’s a standard three fight deal, like everybody else. The money is not exceptional, but potentially it could be because behind the scenes there are a lot of bonuses for best fight, best knockout, so there is good money to be made. It’s up to the fighters to go out there and work for it. I’m still making more money than I was making at Cage Rage.”

With the UFC buying Pride, what effect will that have on the level of fighters in the UFC?“The way I see it, the UFC doesn’t have a clue how to run a show in Japan. They’ll probably employ Japanese people to run the show over there. Since it’s a new owner there’s a good chance they’ll be able to regain TV coverage which would mean Pride will be making money again. I think they’ll run Pride on one side and UFC on the other and occasionally do a superfight between two champions from both organizations. People think now the Fertitta brothers own the two biggest organizations, they own pretty much everything, but I think it’s a good thing personally. Now we’re really going to find out who are the best fighters. If everything is run well it could be very good for the whole MMA scene.”

How do you see the welterweight division in the UFC?“I think the welterweight division in the UFC is, without a shadow of a doubt, the hardest division there is. Every single fighter, even the ones at the bottom of the division, is very, very strong. It’s very hard to make a mark in the UFC welterweight division. The top ten in the division are all in the UFC. Especially in America, all the guys are such good wrestlers, they’re all big. Most of the welterweights in America are around 90kg, they’re massive guys. For me it’s the hardest competition there is. People like Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes are talking about going up in weight to challenge the middleweight champion, which they are more than capable of doing. That shows how good they are and how difficult it is to climb the welterweight ladder.”

Tell me about your martial arts background.“I started with traditional martial arts when I was eight, like a lot of kids with judo, then moved in to karate. In the late 80s I went in to Thai Boxing, by the age of sixteen I was competing in Thai Boxing and Kick Boxing. I travelled from an early age all across the world so I trained in different martial arts in different countries and competed in a lot of different styles. Right now I’ve had about eighty full contact fights. I’ve been fighting MMA since 1998 as an amateur. In 2000 I started fighting as a professional, so I’ve been active in the UK MMA scene for quite a while now.”

What are your strengths?“Nobody has seen my full potential. I know a lot of fighters say that but for some reason I’ve never been able to show everything I can do. I think I’ve got fairly good, strong stand-up. I’ve not used it as much as I’d like to. In MMA because the gloves are so small you can get knocked out by someone who is nowhere near as good as you, so stand-up is always a bit risky. In grappling, if the guy is not as good as you, he’s not going to get a lucky submission. I think I’m quite well-rounded, I’m not scared of going for spectacular or crazy submissions which makes me dangerous for any opponent.”

You had some trouble with your nose for a while...“I had my nose broken when I was very young, I’ve always had problems with my nose from an early age, but what happened was when I fought Matt Ewin he broke my nose in the second round. After that, I took fight after fight without letting my nose heal properly, I was going into fights with a broken nose, so people just had to catch it a couple of times and my nose would move to the side and start bleeding and the fight would be stopped. Even though my record doesn’t look so good, I got screwed over a couple of decisions and lost a few fights due to that bloody broken nose. It’s been broken so many times, it’s a bit of a weakness, it’s fragile. No opponent can go into a fight and say, ‘I’m going to hit his nose’, that’s what Ross Mason was thinking about. That’s not a real game plan. That’s ridiculous.”

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