And here is part 3 of my 32 part interview series with Bellator's season 4 tournament fighters on the Toledo MMA Examiner
Brent Weedman worked his way into the Bellator season 4 welterweight tournament from the ground up. The 17-5 fighter has a strong family background in full contact karate and judo. Rising from the local circuit, Weedman won three consecutive fights for Bellator in the first round and could no longer be ignored. He is currently riding a nine fight winning streak, with all of his wins being stoppages. Fighters he has defeated on that spree include Bellator season 2 welterweight tournament fighter Jacob McClintock, Rudy Bears and MFC welterweight champion Douglas Lima.
Brent is quite a character if you get a chance to meet him. If you check out his facebook profile, he loves: Boxing, reading and "making sweet love." He's a self-admitted nerd and he's grown a nice cult following that he calls "Weedman Nation." I highly suggest checking out his twitter. I find it shocking he only has about 100 followers.
Brent was kind enough to speak with me about his fighting style, his history with Dan Hornbuckle and what he thinks about the other welterweights in Bellator.
Brian Hemminger: Something people don't know about you is that every fight you've ever won has been by stoppage. What do you attribute that to?
Brent Weedman: I'm always a little surprised when people ask me "Oh wow, you've got all finishes. That's unusual!" It's kinda sad to me to me that that's unusual. It's a fight! This guy and I decided we were gonna fight each other and we're gonna try to knock each other out and we signed on a dotted line. It's not a surprise to either one of us, you know? He's not going to come in and go, "Man, I didn't expect you to knock me out!"
I don't like the kind of game plan of "pick your points here or there" and win a 29-28 fifteen minute snoozefest. I'm out there trying to fight standing up and if it's on the ground it's on the ground. The problem is my coach Eric and I have to fight against this a little bit because I get off track very easily. I pick up on something like "Oh my gosh, there's a choke!" and I just dive on it. In the back of my mind, I'm trying to finish. I'm not trying to win, I'm trying to finish. Sometimes I get distracted from my game plan but I'm getting better at it.
BH: I talked to Dan earlier and asked about his first fight with you. He said you were one of the toughest guys he’s ever faced. What do you feel will be your biggest strength coming into this rematch?
BM: I guess my biggest strength, or the biggest thing that I’m bringing into this fight is how much I’ve changed since the last time we fought. That’s sort of an old cliché for most guys "oh, I’m a completely different fighter this time" but to put things in perspective, I started formally training Brazilian jiu jitsu like a month and a half after losing to Dan. So when I fought Dan I had like zero training with Brazilian jiu jitsu, zero. And now, well, I’m a three stripe purple belt and that’s a significant change. Yeah, I was grappling back then but that’s a really good example of just how much farther I’ve come along just in my ground game. My standup game has come along just as strongly. I’ve got over 30 fights and I’ve been doing this for a while and I’m a much, much different fighter than I was then.
Now to be fair, Dan’s been in a lot of fights since then too, but that’s the biggest difference for me. I was very, very inexperienced. Dan was too much fighter too soon at that point in my career and even then, I hung in there. In the second round it felt like I was doing some damage and like a moron I shot in for a takedown and ended up taking him down and he wrapped those long ass legs around my neck and caught me in a triangle and tapped me out. If I give the play-by-play to people to people who train with me now who didn’t know me back then they’re like "what?! What happened? You did what? And then…WHAT?!" (laughs)
It was me having something like 4-5 fights. I didn’t hardly have any experience. Dan and I were in different organizations for different points in our career and the opportunity for a rematch never really presented itself but of course it was the only time in my career I’d ever been really finished. He caught me in a submission. I’ve never really been knocked out. I had a doctor stop a fight because of a cut but I’ve always had him tucked away in the back of my mind as some guy I’d like to face again. It’s a super exciting venue to do it on the national scale with Bellator.
BH: What do you find the most difficult things to deal with in facing Hornbuckle?
BW: The hardest part about Dan is that Dan’s not a spectacularly tall person, he’s not 6’5" or anything but he’s got an albatross wingspan. His arms are so effing long and I didn’t know that when training for him. It was one of those first fights where the promoter sort of hand picked us together, two rising kids from the Midwest. All the rest of my fights were whoever signed up. When we got on the ground, I was used to the normal distance and that’s not the distance Dan operates at. He unleashed hell on my head for five minutes.
In fact when the bell rang he landed like a big kinda overhand right like he was passing my guard and I distinctly remembered it landed whole fist, all four knuckles on my face and bounced it against the mat BOOM right at the bell. I hopped right up and jogged over to my corner and they said "he’s strong isn’t he?" and I said "yeah," and we were like "alright, let’s try to figure this out," and I came out with a different game plan in the second round and the rest is history.
BH: How are you preparing for Dan?
BW: That’s the problem that I’ve got now. I’ve got to find those tall, long guys and not only that, but I’ve got to find them with that body type and they have to be pretty good. They can’t just be tall white belts, that wouldn’t do me any good either.
When it comes to preparing for him, that’s the big thing. To be honest with you, it’s hard to say who has more advantage, if anyone has any advantage from our first fight which was a lifetime ago. He’s got that "I did it before. I can do it again" mentality and I’m like "I was in there, had victory in my hands and didn’t do it" so I’ve been ready for this fight for over 4 years now.
BH: Dan told me that you guys actually got to know each other after the fight and have a pretty friendly relationship.
BW: I get off on knowing people before I fight them. I would count Dan as a friend and we’ve talked since and hung out since and he’s a cool guy. I don’t know, I have this weird, freaky thing. I love fighting my friends, man, it’s a good time. We spent a week with the tryouts for The Ultimate Fighter, all the doctor stuff and we were picked up at the airport at the same time in the same van so it was cool getting to see him then and getting to hang out with him. He’s a nice guy, what you see is what you get. It’s always nice because Dan and I are experienced and far enough along in our careers that we understand the fight game and it being a business.
It could be my grandmother across from me in the cage, I’m bringing it 100%. I’m coming at full speed and I’m gonna fight as hard as I can for fifteen minutes just like I always do and just like the first time we fought. So many guys have to inject all this faux "bad blood" into every opponent they face and it’s just stupid. I’m always glad when I meet a fighter and they’re not like that and Dan is definitely not like that.
BH: What are your thoughts on the rest of the field? I know that there’s a lot of buzz about just how stacked this welterweight tournament really is.
BW: Yeah, it is, and it’s more stacked that I think most people know. In every tournament I’ve ever seen and even in some of the bigger name tournaments that you’ll see in Japan or Strikeforce, you sort of get this sense that like "well that guy and that guy were sort of filler people. They had six solid people and they needed two more to round out the tournament" Or maybe they wanted so and so to win so they brought in a guy to face him and let him get to the semifinals, a tomato can or something.
I don’t think there’s anybody like that in this tournament. I think you’ll talk to your average keyboard warrior who will know 2-3 names in the tournament and they’ll think "well those are the guys who are supposed to win," but if you talk to anybody in the tournament, anybody can beat anybody on any given day in this tournament.
All these guys are operating on that level and the other thing that’s really interesting is everybody in this tournament is extremely aggressive. I don’t know if you noticed that but everybody in the tournament is specifically aggressive. Everybody in there is a headhunter. Everybody in there just loves to fight and there’s nobody in this tournament that’s going to sit back and outpoint the other one or lay and pray and hope for some lenient judges. You’ve got some aggressive, aggressive styles and that’s gonna make for some exciting fights and I’m really pumped to be a part of it.
BH: The main goal of this tournament is to make it to the end and face off against Ben Askren and the way you described it, the guys in this tournament are really aggressive and he’s more of a wrestler with really good jiu jitsu. That’s sort of the opposite of that. What are your thoughts on him as a champion and how would you take him out if you made it that far?
BW: Well, I’ve got mixed feelings about not specifically Ben Askren but all the Ben Askrens in MMA. That is to say, the super strong wrestlers that tend to dominate with their wrestling because I don’t like that style, I just don’t. That being said, it’s hard to not respect somebody with that caliber of wrestling. With the combat sports fan inside me and being an athlete myself, it’s hard not to be super-impressed with that. I enjoy watching it. I enjoy watching him wrestle at a high level but you know this is MMA so my game plan is going to have to revolve around the other two aspects. The stand up realm and the more traditional grappling and submissions realm if you want to beat somebody like him.
There’s nobody in MMA right now that’s gonna be able to match his wrestling in terms of just wrestling for wrestling, shot for shot, takedown for takedown. Nobody’s going to be able to do that. You have to figure out; A: how do I make his game harder for him? How do I make it harder for him to take me down? And then B: you’ve got to come up with the submission or do the damage. And so, that would be my game plan.
That’s sort of a cheesy answer because that’s my game plan for everybody. Look for the finish, do damage in the meantime. And hopefully, at the end of the fight, if I don’t get the finish, which I never have, all of my wins are finishes but the idea being that hopefully the other guy should look like I’ve been trying to damage him the whole time and that’s gonna win me the decision. I think that’s how combat sports should be handled. They shouldn’t "point here" and "point there." You should go out there and try and fight, try and go for it.
BH: Any shoutouts?
Let me give a shoutout to SuckerPunch Entertainment, they’re my management group. I’d also like to give a shoutout toFood Fight, a green food supplement that I take every day and then my coaches Eric Haycraft and Helio Soneca.