Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Nick Thompson Talks Showdown w/ Alvarez & Training w/ Brock Lesnar

By Pelagia Garcia

Nick “the Goat” Thompson’s road to a title shot hasn’t been ideal or easy. After losing to Karo Parisyan at UFC 59: Reality Check, the Goat sought greener pastures and landed with a new mixed-martial-arts company -- BodogFIGHT. Thompson went on to defeat Davion Peterson in BodogFIGHT’s “docureality” series set in Coast Rica where fighters fought on a beautiful island using the elements to train. The submission victory over Peterson was Thompson’s fourth straight and caught the eye of BodogFIGHT’s matchmaker, Miguel Itturate, who then matched him up with UFC veteran Ansar Chalangov in the company’s first ever pay-per-view event. Thompson impressed again and submitted Chalangov in December of 2006 just before the bell rang for the second round. With BodogFIGHT’s next pay-per-view scheduled for April 14, 2007 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Itturate finally gave Thompson a shot at Welterweight Title holder, undefeated Eddie Alvarez. Here is what Thompson told ADCC News in preparation for his title showdown with Alvarez.

ADCC: Nick talk about your recent experience going back to Costa Rica to film another season of the BodogFIGHT reality show.
NICK: I got a chance to rematch Dustin Denes. Dustin is a black belt instructor for American Top Team. He holds wins over Pat Healy and Eric Schaefer and he also beat me early in my career. Fast forward a few years, I beat several of his teammates and wanted a rematch. Denes wasn’t very big on the idea of rematching someone he had already beaten so I bitched and moaned for a couple of more years until BodogFIGHT was eventually able to set up the fight. The fight will air sometime this spring on the ION channel. As to the BodogFIGHT experience in general, it was great. I really enjoy working for them. They make the fighters feel like high level athletes. And since that’s how I train, it’s nice to be treated as such.

ADCC: Your next fight will be April 14th in St. Petersburg, Russia against Eddie Alvarez for the welterweight title in a BodogFIGHT pay-per-view. How excited are you that you will be fighting for the title?
NICK: I can’t tell you how much this means to me. I am not the most athletic fighter. Becoming a skilled fighter has not come easily for me. I had a losing record until my 10th fight. I have spent a lot of hours in the gym drilling technique and getting the piss pounded out of me to improve upon that. Because of this, I am now 15-1 in my last 16 fights and 15-1 overall at 170-pounds. I feel like I have sacrificed to reach the upper echelon of fighting and this title shot is recognition of that sacrifice.

ADCC: Speaking of Alvarez, you both were in Costa Rica recently filming the reality show. Did you guys interact at all?
NICK: Eddie could not be a nicer guy. He has that goofy Philadelphia accent, but you can’t really fault him for that (laughs). In Costa Rica we knew that we would probably be fighting one another down the road but it didn’t make things uncomfortable at all between us. We watched each other train and even asked advice from one another. I think we are comfortable with each other because there is mutual respect. And in the end, we are both competitors. We don’t need to dislike each other to put on a great fight. The BodogFIGHT Welterweight Title is enough motivation.

ADCC: Eddie fought on the same BodogFIGHT pay-per-view in December when he knocked out Aaron Riley. What did you think of the fight and Eddie’s skills in general?
NICK: Eddie is one of the best fighters in the world. His hands are scary and he is good at setting the pace of his fights. He is someone I really respect and someone I would like to train with when this fight is over.

ADCC: Eddie is undefeated in his early career, so what will you be able to do that his other opponents couldn’t?
NICK: I am a lot bigger than Eddie. I am going to use my reach and weight difference to frustrate him. Also, Eddie has only been out of the first round once. It is going to be new territory for him when we are in the third, fourth and fifth round and I am still pushing back. Ultimately I think my size and experience give me an advantage that I am going to be able to capitalize on. I think late in the fight he is going to start making mistakes and that I will be able to get him to the ground and use my size and ground skills to submit him. That being said, I am not resting on my laurels. Eddie is a very dangerous opponent and he can end fights quickly and violently.

ADCC: Talk about your preparation for this fight. You have some interesting training partners in Minnesota with the likes of UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk and former WWE Champion turned mma fighter, Brock Lesnar.
NICK: I love my team. Greg Nelson is a great coach and runs a great camp. Our school is fortunate because we have guys who excel in each aspect of mma as well as guys who are well rounded. The days of being able to be just a wrestler, or just a jiu-jitsu guy or just a striker are long gone. To that end, we have national champion wrestlers, black belts in jiu-jitsu and muay-thai champions who can help me perfect my game in each of these areas. At the same time I have guys like Sherk, Dave Menne, Brock Larson and Logan Clark who are well rounded and can push me in every area simultaneously and by push me, I mean beat the hell out of me. I think very few camps have this dichotomy and I think it is very important if you want to be an elite level mma fighter.

ADCC: Speaking of Lesnar, how do you think he is coming along with the transition from pro-wrestling to mma?
NICK: Lesnar is a beast. He is an elite level wrestler. He went undefeated as a senior at Minnesota en route to winning a national championship. Not only is he an elite level wrestler, he is a super athlete. He is fast, explosive and strong. This is a dangerous combination if the guy is willing to learn. And Brock is very eager to learn mma. He did not come into the gym with the attitude that he was already the best but instead came in and said I want to learn and you guys can help me. You combine his wrestling and his athleticism with this kind of attitude and you have the makings of a world champ.

ADCC: What are your thoughts on the main event of the pay-per-view between Fedor Emelianenko and Matt Lindland?
NICK: I am really excited for this fight. I know Lindland is only a 185 lb fighter but he is the best at that weight and Fedor is not a huge heavyweight. Not to mention Lindland has the type of style that could slow Fedor. Lastly, I am excited for this fight because Fedor has fought everyone else. Who else, save (Josh) Barnett, is there for him to fight? I would much rather see this fight than another rematch.

ADCC: Thank you for your time Nick and do you have anything to say to your fans or sponsors?
NICK: To my fans, please go recruit others. And of course I would like thank my sponsors. TapouT, American Fighter and Gamma-O have been great to work with and I hope fans support the companies that truly do support fighters.

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