The heat is off Lyle Beerbohm.
As the Strikeforce lightweight prepares for the biggest fight of his career against Shinya Aoki on Saturday at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley, Beerbohm no longer has to worry about fighting like an undefeated fighter after suffering his first career loss (both amateur and professional) to Pat Healy at Strikeforce Challengers 14. Now he can go out and entertain.
"The undefeated record, yeah, that gets to you," Beerbohm said last month on Bloody Elbow Radio. "That's just a lot of pressure. I've had 26 MMA fights, I was 26-0 total and I never lost a fight over four years, so yeah, that's what everybody always talks about. I knew it was only a matter of time. It's so easy to lose. It takes one punch, or one submission or one bad decision, any which way, and you lose a fight. The pressure was on."
No fighter wants to lose, but since it did happen, Beerbohm feels this is going to be a big weight lifted off his shoulders as he readies himself to fight Aoki, the DREAM lightweight champion.
"I think it's a good thing, sort of," Beerbohm said. "I'd definitely rather still be (undefeated) right now, but it's a lot of pressure off. Yeah, I'm just looking forward to saying, 'OK, watch me entertain the fans now.' When you have an undefeated record, you kind of have to fight that way. You have to fight a certain way. Now I can just go out there and entertain more. Of course I want to win, I'm going to go out there to win, but I don't have to worry about that undefeated record."
In this fight, Beerbohm draws a fighter in Aoki who has won his last three MMA fights, including an impressive first-round submission of Tatsuya Kawajiri in July. Aoki, though, was knocked out in a mixed rules bout at K-1 Dynamite!! 2010 by Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima. Still, there's no doubt Aoki is one of the sports preeminent submission experts. Beerbohm is cognizant of this, and while he's looking to entertain, he isn't going to put himself in bad spots like he has before.
"I know he's a world-class grappler and all that, but I just do what I do," Beerbohm said. "I don't really think about what they do too much. Of course you have to be aware and you have to be careful, but I know I'm not going to put myself in bad positions. With Healy, I wanted to create the scramble, so I put myself in kind of bad positions where I knew I'd end up on top. I'm definitely not going to put myself in bad positions with Aoki. He's a completely different caliber. I'm going to fight a little bit different, but I'm just going to go in and do what I do and go out there and fight. I have a time in my head. I have to push, I have to go forward."
Ever since this fight was announced, fans have been waiting with great anticipation for the battle of the fancy pants. Of course, Beerbohm's nickname is "Fancy Pants" for the colorful trunks he often wears. Aoki also is well known for his colorful pants.
"I don't think his are anywhere near as fancy as mine, that's for sure," Beerbohm said. "I think his are pretty cool, don't get me wrong, they're not bad, but ... They're not the original fancy pants I don't think. I think mine beat his a little bit. And my mom makes mine. Who makes his?
"One of my training partners told me everybody's going crazy about the fancy pants and all that. I figured that would be it. My mom and I went and looked at fabric and I've found the perfect fabric for this fight. It's going to be the best fabric ever, so it should be pretty entertaining."
One of Beerbohm's goals for this fight is to push the pace on the Aoki. No matter what the case is, Beerbohm is in for the biggest challenge of his career come Saturday.
"I'm going to be in his face and I don't care," Beerbohm said. "I'm going to go in there and do what I do, just like I do with everyone else. I'm not going to be scared of his jiu-jitsu. If it goes to the ground, it goes to the ground. I don't care. And watch our for the fancy pants, they're going to be pretty cool!"
You can hear the entire interview with Beerbohm on the March 10 edition of Bloody Elbow Radio.