This is a guest feature by Duane Finley.
Every fighter sees competition from a different angle. Some chase the glimmer and glory of championship gold while others seek the validation of being the better man on that particular night. Amongst the attributes and talents which separate warriors from one another a select few balance the hunger for the scrape with the desire for victory as well as Brian Foster (14-5). The hard scrabble Oklahoma native has proven to be a guaranteed show for the largest organization in mixed martial arts and has no plans of slowing down any time soon.
Other fighters who bring a similar amount of aggression to the cage are known for throwing caution to the wind where Foster continues to exhibit an ever increasing amount of control for the violence he displays. His powerful striking has earned him two impressive stoppages in his first four fights under the UFC banner.
In his most recent outing at UFC Fight Night 22 Foster needed less than one round to hammer out Forrest Petz in route to a "Knockout of the Night" bonus and while the crowd in Austin may have been pleased, Foster simply wanted more.
When Rory MacDonald was forced to pull out of his bout with Matt Brown at UFC 123, Foster saw his window of opportunity and made the matchup happen in short fashion. Now with the fight less than a week away, Foster spoke with Duane Finley about his bout with Matt Brown and how training with UFC Hall of Fame fighter Matt Hughes has shaped not only his career but his future. In this Bloody Elbow Exclusive interview the straight talking, hard hitting Foster went right to work as he reflected on his victory over Petz.
"When I was walking out of the octagon I was ready to turn around and walk right back in," Foster stated. "I just didn't get the full satisfaction I was looking for. You take the finish whenever it comes and Forrest is someone we took very seriously. I figured the fight would have carried on a little further because the plan was actually to finish him in the second. He has a couple of bad habits that he usually implements in the second round but he fell into my game plan in the first and we took the finish. It really wasn't the war that I was counting on."
The win over Petz put Foster back in the win column after suffering a submission defeat at the hands of MMA veteran Chris Lytle. Foster addressed the victory and when I asked if he felt the win helped him bounce back from the Lytle fight he answered, "A victory is all I ever want man. I'll win no matter how it comes to me. I just want to get that "w" and I want to represent my team the way that myself and all of our (H.I.T. Squad) fighters should."
At UFC 123 this Saturday Foster faces another fighter equally regarded for his toughness in Matt "The Immortal" Brown. While Foster will bring momentum into the octagon Brown is currently sitting at the opposite end of the spectrum.
"I expect to hand him his walking papers or at least put my stamp on them," Foster answered when asked about the fight. "He is dangerous and the UFC puts me in these types of fights because of it. I'm coming man. I'm coming like an Oklahoma tornado and I'm going to rip this dude apart. I've watched every tape he has and every fight he's fought in the last year and a half and I don't see any place that I can't beat him."
More Brian Foster in the full entry.
In the midst of his answer Foster switched focus as he continued, "It really wasn't disadvantages that lead to the losses in my fight," he stated. "Chris Lytle beat me because he was pretty suave on the floor. He knows some tricks man. I'm not making any excuses. When he rolled for the knee bar, I went to pull out that's when I hurt myself. A lot of people thought I got hurt in the submission. No...that's not how it happened. I hurt myself when I went to pull out of that submission...and then I went "oh shit" and right when I said that he locked it up and I had to tap.
One of the most popular debates amongst fighters, fans and critics is the current dispute of how certain fighting styles are affecting the sport of mixed martial arts. Many fighters have taken stances on the matter and the answers have ranged anywhere from cowardice to technical dominance. When the question was posed to Foster, a fighter who has never been to a decision in nearly 20 fights, he took a hard line on the topic at hand.
"All that shit gets implemented through the sport being mixed martial arts," Foster responded. "It's part of the game and it's a mixing of the sports. You have wrestling, jiu-jitsu and striking and wrestlers are going to do the one thing that they know they are capable of doing and that's taking you down and laying on you. It's your prerogative to make them do what they don't want to do and to get good at what they are good at. You have to train that shit. They (wrestlers) are just bringing to the game what they know brother. They are doing the only thing that they know how to do and that is put you on your back. It's your prerogative to get your ass up and keep them out of their game. I personally don't mind fighting wrestlers because I think I've done pretty damn good against them throughout my career. I've put quite a few good ones on my resume and I'm looking at putting better ones on their too. Look at Jake Shields and how he has that pressure. I think he has a chin too because that cat knows he will have to eat some shots to get you on your back and that to me is a very dangerous guy. Or somebody like Georges (St. Pierre) who has really strong legs. I'm working on that and I'm working on getting to that caliber of competition. That's what I want. I know I'm not there yet and I know that I probably don't need to be talking about it but I want that. I don't want the title and I don't want none of that bullshit. I just want to be able to fight these guys, make it competitive and entertain some people."
While Foster may be modest about his place in the grand scheme of the UFC welterweight division, the H.I.T. Squad fighter knows where he wants to be and is willing to suffer for every ounce of work that it will take to get there.
"I just stay hungry man," Foster commanded. "It's one guy after another for me. I'm not looking at them other guys yet...I just know that I want to fight them but at the same time I have to fight guys to get to them. Right now the biggest thing for me is winning two in a row for the first time in the UFC. I want win two in a row...hell four in a row and I want to get this next step started right. I just got resigned and I want to make a statement to them so that they say "this kid could be in contention". I'm still young and I have plenty of time in this sport and I think with my mindset and my attitude that I can be a threat to a lot of these cats that sit atop the division. I'll be up there eventually."
Foster calls the H.I.T. Squad gym home and the owner of the gym is UFC Hall of Famer and one of the longest reigning champions in UFC history Matt Hughes training under Hughes has created a student/teacher aspect that few fighters are ever fortunate enough to have and Foster credits the former champion for helping him develop into the fighter he is today.
"He's a good guy and he's in a different world right now. He's having a blast training MMA with us hungry cats. He loves it. He loves coming in and doing the big brother thing where he puts us in those damn positions that we can't get out of. It pisses me off man," Foster laughed. "He wraps me up and I can't get out but as soon as he does he'll teach me how it happened. He's become a mentor and he'll put me in those positions, piss me off, flip me back over and show me what I'm supposed to do. He knows me and knows that I want what he's had."
As it turns out, Hughes will also be fighting in the co-main event of the card at UFC 123 as he will bring to a close the historic trilogy between himself and former two divisional champion B.J. Hughes. "The Prodigy" took the first bout with a submission and Hughes walked away with the rematch via TKO stoppage. Both fighters have expressed that this third fight will be the only bout that truly matters and since Foster has helped train Hughes for the final fight with Penn I asked for his insight and prediction.
"I'm going to say a second TKO because Hughes is doing everything to get ready and B.J. is coming up from lightweight. I know he has done it a few times before but he is going to be a little lethargic coming in. You can't beat yourself up by changing weight classes like that. It's gonna mess with his head and he looks different when he fights someone he's beat before. It's like he almost figures that he knows what they have and what to expect and you can't expect anything less than for Hughes to do what he did the last time. Hughes is having fun with it again. He's hungry, happy and he likes fighting again. It's a different kind of Hughes man. His competitive edge is sharp again and he likes mixing it up. He knows the dangers of the situation and I don't think B.J. is going to throw anything at Hughes that Matt hasn't seen before. I think that Hughes is going to do the same thing that he did to him last time. Maybe not crucifix him but put him in a position that he can't get out of and the refs will have to stop it because he (Penn) can't get out".
Brian Foster knows what is possible for him if he stays the course and follows the path created by his MMA legend mentor. With the future on the horizon full of uncertainties Foster closed the interview with the one definite that he could provide heading into UFC 123.