Before he left for Brazil, I had the opportunity to catch up with Brendan Schaub. We discussed a variety of topics covering his fight with Nogueira and a possible title shot as well as discussing the changes in his camp. While he doesn't expect to be public enemy number one, he definitely realizes that he's going to be in hostile territory come Saturday.
Matthew Roth: So this is going to be your first time fighting outside of the United States, do you feel like there is more or less pressure on you for this fight?
Brendan Schaub: A lot more pressure. I think any time you fight Nogueira, there’s going to be added pressure to the fight. I’m doing something that these guys here who have fought him before have never done which is fight him in his homeland in Brazil. He’s fought great fighters like Fedor, Cain Velasquez, and Frank Mir but none of these guys beat him in his own backyard. That’s what I’m set to do come August 27th.
Matthew Roth: Now it’s also going to be his first time fighting in Brazil as well, do you think he’s feeling that same sort of thing where he needs to perform in front of not just the home crowd but his countrymen as well?
Brendan Schaub: Yeah, I’ve fought in my hometown before in my first real UFC fight at UFC on Versus 1 and there is definitely a ton of pressure when you are fighting in your own backyard.
Matthew Roth: This is going to be your first time in Rio, Big Nog is a bit of a hero to Brazilian fighters. He’s the first great Brazilian mixed martial artist, do you think that you’ll be the most hated person on the card?
Brendan Schaub: No, I don’t think so. Just the way I’ve gone about things. I’ve never been a big trash talker and I’ve shown nothing but respect towards Nogueira and he’s done the same. I think the Brazilian population sees that. I was down there for the press conference and kinda gave back to the community and I think that goes a long way with those guys. I think what’s best about their culture is that they respect the warrior spirit and as long as we put on a good show I don’t expect too many boos but it’s gonna be hostile none the less.
Matthew Roth: Now you guys match up pretty well. Obviously he has the "mileage" so to speak but you’re both boxers and you’re both really good grapplers. He gets the edge in grappling and you’d get the edge in boxing. Where do you see the fight playing out mostly?
Brendan Schaub: Just mixing it up. It’s gonna be tough for him to deal with my speed and from my wrestling to my boxing, I think it’s a tough task for anyone in the heavyweight division. I think Nogueira’s gonna have the same problem.
Matthew Roth: Now you’ve already beaten Mirko Filipovic, you finished him. Let’s say you beat Big Nog, would there be any interest in fighting Fedor just so you can complete that trifecta of the PRIDE greats?
Brendan Schaub: It would be a real honor if that were to be put on the table. It may be the greatest run of all time as far as living up to the nickname the "Legend Killer" as I’m starting to get I guess. Of course fighting Fedor is a huge deal to anyone but I don’t see that happening. That guy is the furthest thing from being signed by the UFC. I think after beating Nogueira, if things go as planned, I will have a pretty good argument to be the next in line for a title shot.
Matthew Roth: I was actually gonna ask you that. You’re 4-1 in your UFC career but you’ve won four straight. This would be five in a row, has there been any discussion on if this is going to be for number one contender?
Brendan Schaub: Yeah at the press conference Dana mentioned that the winner of Nogueira and myself is right up there. His exact words were "right up there" for a title shot. That’s what he said at the press conference and that’s what I’m going by.
Matthew Roth: I don’t know how long you were down there but you were training a bit with Rashad Evans for his fight against Phil Davis at the time. What was your overall feeling on his camp that he had?
Brendan Schaub: Rashad has a good thing down there in Southern Florida. The camp is definitely based around him. He’s got some great coaches, a great facility, and I’ve never seen Rashad more motivated than I did for this fight. He was in great shape, good spirits and I knew whether it was Phil Davis or Tito or Machida was going to be in for one heck of a fight. A motivated Rashad is trouble for anyone.
Matthew Roth: The last time we spoke was around the time when everything fell apart between him and Jon. He told me he would be welcome back at Grudge, it’s just a matter of not wanting to put people in the situation of thinking someone is spying. What’s your thoughts, do you think Trevor would welcome him back with open arms?
Brendan Schaub: You know what? The things at Grudge have changed a little. I don’t work with Trevor Wittman anymore and he’s kind of stepped back to spend more time with his family. As far as working with the upper echelon fighters in the gym, he’s decided to focus on his family and the lower tiered guys. I don’t know if it would be smart for Rashad to return. He’s got a good thing going on and I’ve spent most of my camp at Jackson’s getting myself prepared for Nogueira. That’s where I stand with Grudge and Rashad going there.
Matthew Roth: Can you get a little more detailed there? What caused the...I don’t want to say the splitting of Grudge but at least the change there?
Brendan Schaub: Man, it was just...me and Trevor talked about this before. He’s just not getting a lot of time to spend with his family. Dealing with as many high level fighters as he has in the gym, he has a little daughter, a son, and a wife and he’s just never home. He’s always tending to us and I think it’s taken its toll on his personal life and he’s just decided to step back from the game and I had mentioned I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and work with a different striking coach. I’ve been with Trevor for almost six years so it just made sense and we both agreed that this was the route to go. We did it before this fight so it’s been a blessing in disguise. Working with Winklejon at Jackson’s has been phenomenal and I have some new tricks up my sleeve for Nogueira.
Matthew Roth: Alright, so when you were at Grudge, it was basically Shane Carwin as the big guy on campus and you were one of the protégées. Is Shane still in that mentor mode with you?
Brendan Schaub: Oh yeah, I talk to Shane everyday and he comes in to help me when I’m in town in Denver. Shane and I are still really close. If he could he would be in my corner in Brazil but he can’t make it. The team’s still together in Denver, I don’t want to get that confused. Nate Marquard, Shane Carwin, Eliot Marshall are all still training together at a daily basis.
Matthew Roth: Alright so you’ve been training striking with Mike Winklejon, who at Jackson’s are you getting your sparring with?
Brendan Schaub: Andrei Arlovski, Brian Stann, Jon Jones...those are the guys I’ve been working with and obviously Shane Carwin for this camp. That’s been my team man. We brought in some elite jiu jitsu grapplers. Former world champ black belts. I was up at Renzo’s in New York so I’ve been covering all my bases for this fight.
Matthew Roth: Now as a heavyweight, you don’t really have to watch what you eat as if you were fighting at 205 or some of the other classes. What’s a normal day as far as a diet goes for you?
Brendan Schaub: I’m a real strict guy when it comes to my diet. I think it’s something a lot of heavyweights neglect and for me I eat really clean. I think it shows. I think it’s why my cardio is one of my best assets. It comes from the nutrition.
Matthew Roth: The Jon Jones vs Quinton Jackson fight will be in Denver. Are you kind of bummed out you’re not fighting on the card or is that not a big deal for you?
Brendan Schaub: No, I had the option and I chose to fight in Brazil. It means more to m to fight in Brazil than Denver. I fought in Denver before and I think UFC 134 is possibly the biggest card of the year and that’s why I wanted to be a part of it.
Matthew Roth: Now in the event that Jon does have to fight Rashad, since Rashad is now the number one contender, are you going to step back from that? Are you choosing to step back or is it a matter of choosing sides?
Brendan Schaub: I don’t think there’s any reason to choose a side. Let’s see what happens with Jon Jones and Rampage. I’m good friends with Rampage and I’ve been training with Jon Jones, so I don’t think I’ll have to pick a side. I think it’s just something I’ll step back from.
Matthew Roth: Is that weird for you where you were on the season with Rashad and Rampage. You’re friends with Rampage. I guess there’s not a lot of fighters that you have a disdain for. Is it difficult where you can’t pick somebody and just have to enjoy the fight?
Brendan Schaub: Yeah a little bit. You’re rooting for both guys and it is a sport. I don’t think there’s any bad or malicious things behind it. It’s just that one guy wants to win more than the other. That’s the way I view it. It’s just another sport.
Matthew Roth: Right on, I guess the final question would be, when you do fight in Brazil, you’re essentially fighting for the United States, is that added pressure for you?
Brendan Schaub: Not really. Maybe a little. It’s not that Nogueira is a bad guy. If he was I think maybe there would be more pressure if he was talking stuff. But really win, lose, or draw I think you’re gonna be proud of me back in the states.