Monday, March 12, 2007

Josh Haynes talks UFC 69, blue hair, Couture and more

By Robert Cheshire

“If I have my way I’ll put such a beating on Luke that the rest of the night will be all downhill for his camp!”
- Josh Haynes

Have you ever met someone that you could just sit back and talk with like an old friend after knowing them for a short amount of time? Sticking true to his blue-collar roots, that is how my conversation with Josh Haynes went as we talked about his training and his fight in Houston on April 7th at UFC 69.

RC: How did your match with Luke Cummo come about? I mean, did either of you ask for the other?

JH: Actually, Joe Silva called up at Team Quest and said he wanted me to fight Cummo and before you know it the fight was on. I think they just like the match up. They like the way both of us fight and the fact neither one of us will back down. If it goes for too long it will be an intense fight and I think that is what they are banking on.

RC: I’ve seen a lot of people say this will be a good fight because he has outstanding stamina and you just never quit.

JH: I honestly don’t think his stamina is all that good. He gassed out fighting Jonathan Goulet early on. He has average stamina. If you look at anybody in the UFC they are going to be in good shape. Three, five minute rounds shouldn’t be beyond anybody that signs the contract for that show. I’m not concerned about his conditioning or what he is bringing because I train it everyday. He isn’t going to bring anything that is going to surprise me or shock me. Unless, he does some Jedi mind trick or something like that (laughter).

RC: That only works on the weak minded. So, I think you’re going to be all right.

JH: Yeah, I guess I’m good to go!

RC: Have you changed anything in the way you train since your fight with Rory Singer?

JH: I’ve made some significant improvements in my game to make sure I am a much more complete fighter. Prior to that fight I only focused on training my MMA game and now I am looking to improve individual aspects of my fight game. Previously, I was getting great overall training but I wasn’t focusing on any one specific aspect of the game. Now, I am training jujitsu specifically for jujitsu. I’m working with the guys at New Breed Academy. I also train with Jeremy Wijers who was a pro Muay Thai boxer who trained under Ajarn "Chai" Sirisute from Thailand. He is helping me with my strikes and stand up skills. I also spend a lot of time training with Nate Quarry and some other guys focusing on my game plan and conditioning. I would say that just about everything has changed in my training. I made some critical mistakes in my fight with Rory. I didn’t cross train enough. I had all the skills to win that fight but stuck to a game plan that wasn’t working for that fight and let it slip away from me.

RC: I’m glad to hear you’re doing more cross training. It seems that everybody says, whether they are for you or Luke, that you have a lot of heart. What would you say to those who say you have a lot of heart but they aren’t impressed with your level of skills?

JH: Those are the same type of folks that turned their back on Matt Hughes when he lost his title. Many MMA fans are fair weathered. It’s not uncommon that they love you when you are winning but when you lose they tear you apart. The same thing happened to Arlovski. The same thing they are doing to Tim Sylvia even though some never liked him; he lost his title to Randy and all of a sudden “he’s a bum.” I can honestly tell you that I worked my ass off to get on The Ultimate Fighter but my previous training wasn’t up to par. When I got on the show I was only with Quest for two and a half months. Before that I was training out of garages and warehouses with no coaches or structured team to back me up. Now, I have a chance to focus on skills and sharpen up and fix some of these things. Of course, I’m under the gun because people are so critical of everything of fighters at this level. If they aren’t impressed with me now, that is alright, because I have nowhere but up to go. I am improving and hope to someday be one of the best. I have an awesome core group of fans that have stood behind me through everything so far. These are the same people that will be behind me when I reach the top.

RC: Not to mention it is real easy to be critical from your easy chair.

JH: Oh for sure. I was one of those guys at one point too. I remember the first fight I watched I said “oh yeah, I could beat that guy. I’m not impressed” then low and behold this guy that I swore I could beat ended up beating me in my first fight. It is very easy to judge someone from the outside looking in. It is the same when you go to the bank or a restaurant and judge the person on how pleased you are with the service. You can’t hold anybody accountable for that. Human nature dictates that everybody can do better than the person before them. It’s an easy mistake to make.

RC: I know you have been cutting weight. How is that going and how far off are you from being where you need to be?

JH: I could make 170 pounds right now. I’m walking around at about 190 and if I had to fight tomorrow I could cut the rest. I plan to lose about another five to eight pounds before I come to Texas and lose the rest the day before the fight.

RC: When do you plan to come into Texas?

JH: I’m not really sure. It will probably be about a week before. Houston is real humid so they want to let the fighters get acclimated.

RC: Does the UFC take care of your travel when you have fights?

JH: They take care of all of your travel expenses. They take care of their fighters. If I had to pay my own way I would never make it. All my extra money goes to taking care of my family and paying my bills. Taking care of a family is expensive and it can get tough to make ends meet.

RC: I can understand that!

JH: Most people do. The people that follow me in the sport and are interested in what I do are mostly blue-collar workers who have families and know what it means to struggle. That’s where I come from and where I’m at. Just because you are on T.V. doesn’t mean you have a lot of extra money.

RC: That’s one of the things I like about the format of The Ultimate Fighter. Except for Season 4 you get to watch a guy from the beginning and live the dream through them as they progress and become better.

JH: For sure. You have guys that come on that show that would have never got that opportunity ahead of time. I remember when I first started fighting telling my wife that if I could fight just one time in the UFC it would be worth it. Of course, your dreams change and now I want a title someday and to be considered one of the greats. If it wasn’t for that show you would have guys that would have had to work a lot longer before they got a shot.

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