This is a guest post by Stephie "Crooklyn" Daniels. Follow Stephie on Twitter @CrooklynMMA
Bellator 63 is just a day away, and as the clock winds down to fight time, Chris Lozano is preparing to meet another ferocious striker in the cage. Chris' last fight, against Brazilian phenom, Douglas Lima, ended in disappointing fashion, via KO. Since then, Chris has relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is training out of Jackson's MMA. With the turmoil and pressure of past team differences all but gone, he has focused attention on weaknesses and reinforced his strong suits. The evolution of the Cleveland Assassin is about to unfold.
SD: You've recently gone to Jackson's MMA. Does Greg have you focused in on your wrestling?
CL: Yeah, he's definitely drilled into my mind that I need to start using my wrestling. I've learned a lot of ways to bring my wrestling in with my striking. I love striking, and there's no better feeling then knocking some dude out cold, but I have this other skill, and he's basically taught me how to incorporate it in with my striking, as well.
SD: How do you like Jackson's gym overall?
CL: I love it. Strongstyle Martial Arts was my original camp, and I was training with Stipe Miocic, Brian Rogers, Jessica Eye, and a ton of other great fighters. I'd like to one day be able to cross train between the two, but because of personal reasons and other things, I went out there to Jackson's, basically to clear my head, get away from personal issues, and just kind of like grow. Not only grow physically, but mentally, as well. Being around those guys is amazing. Just hearing their theories and philosophies, and just hearing how the best in the world think...you just pick up and learn so much. It's been a blessing.
SD: What were the issues with your previous camp?
CL: We had some issues within the camp. My two losses came because my opponents were better than I was, but, both times, I was unprepared. It wasn't necessarily the coaches fault. There was some confusion and miscommunication between the coaches. If you don't have complete confidence in your training or the way that things are going, mentally, it's going to bother you the night of your fight. I had some issues with the way that I was handled for those two fights. I mean, I was sent to prepare for a striker with a jiu jitsu coach. Looking back, in hindsight, it was all petty, but at the time, it was a bunch of little things that added in to one big thing, so the best thing to do was to step away, clear my mind, make sure that we didn't burn any bridges, and tried to keep the relationship solid. I'd already been out here to Albuquerque before, so I said, 'I'm going to take a step back from the situation for a little bit, and let time heal the wound, and then we'll get back to business.'
SD: Have you completely relocated to NM?
CL: Yeah. I had to get a vehicle and a place. I don't want to say I've completely relocated, because I have a home in Cleveland, but I've basically started a life here in Albuquerque, too. I have a home here now, as well.
SD: In the future, will you be dividing your time between Albuquerque and Cleveland?
CL: I would like to, but the coach at Strongstyle has got his own feelings as far as guys cross-training . He really didn't like when I was trying to cross-train, so I'm not really sure if he's changed his views. I've been hearing about Brian Rogers traveling and training and Jessica Eye and Stipe Miocic. I'm thinking maybe he's more open to it. I know before, one of the things he was worried about was us going to another place and not being looked after, or maybe being talked into switching camps, but it sounds like he's a little bit more secure in that situation now. Maybe we'll be able to revisit there. I'd like to split the time for sure.
SD: Where do you see weaknesses with Amoussou?
CL: He's a really good striker, but I do see weaknesses. I feel like he's not as technical as me. I made some mistakes in my last fight, but I changed those, and the changes that I made are going to be Kark's downfall. With his cardio, I think if you get him into the second or third round, he's only 50% the fighter he was in the first. The key to beating Karl, is making it through the first round. He can definitely be finished in the first round. He's a man, just like I am.
SD: Break down what went wrong in your fight with Lima.
CL: That was partly because of that mental block that I had going into that fight because of my camp, and some things that went wrong there. I had some discussions with my coach about going to cross-train. He never really wanted me to cross-train. I guess his thing was, 'I want to keep an eye on you.' I can appreciate that, but at the same time, I convinced him. The best thing I could do, was to come out here, use the altitude to get me in crazy shape, and take that into the fight and push the pace. He was like, 'Ok, go out there', but I guess while I was out there, somebody got in his ear and told him, 'Hey, what were you thinking, letting him go out there?' So, he started calling me and saying, 'Yeah, I want you to come back. I think that was a bad idea.' There was some miscommunication, and I think he thought I was only going to be out for a few days, but I ended up being out here for about two weeks.
When I came back, I had the vibe, and it was almost like, I wanna say they thought, 'Well you said F us, so F you.' It was hard for me to get work. I felt like nobody was really concerned about my fight. I had different coaches being like, 'Yeah, you shouldn't have left.' That's cool if you feel like that, but you shouldn't say it until after my fight.
I just felt like going into that fight, I didn't have my team's confidence, and I felt like my confidence was a little shaken. There was also no game plan. My coaches, we didn't really work together. We didn't talk much. That's when I learned that it's not only important for a fighter to be physically fit, but you have to be mentally fit, as well. You have to be confident in your training and confident in who's coaching you. There was just too much going on, and I just went in there unfocused, and Doug got the best of me that night.
SD: Let's talk about exciting fights and Ben Askren.
CL: [laughs] Wow! That's like talking about water and dirt. Seriously though, I feel like he's one of the best wrestlers in the world. Definitely the top one or two in MMA. If I face him, the game plan would obviously be to avoid wrestling.I don't care what level wrestling you're at, unless you're Olympic level, he's going to be better than you. If I fought him, it would be the same game plan everybody has. Try not to get caught in a wrestling match with him. If it does happen, I believe in my wrestling skills, especially now, enough that I believe that I could force a scramble and get away to keep it standing. Just like it took him a long time to become a world class wrestler, it's going to take a lot longer to become a world class striker. There's some world class strikers that are coming at him, and I believe myself to be one of them. If I'm not world class now, I don't know when I'm going to be, because I've been up at Greg Jackson's with all those world class guys, holding my own. It's going to be hard for him to strike with me. I see the fight going two ways. Either he gets KO'd or he drowns me for five rounds.
SD: How has your experience been at Jackson's, and have you had the chance to train with Jon Jones?
CL: I've done a lot of sparring with Jon Jones. Obviously, he's walking around a lot bigger than me right now, but he's not the type of guy that's going to try and kill you in there. We've sparred, and he's put it on me a couple times, and I've got my shots in too, but Bones is one of the greatest for a reason. It's definitely a confidence builder when you go in there, and he puts the pressure on, and you're still able to land strikes and still do your thing or get a takedown.
Cub Swanson is, by far, one of the coolest dudes I've ever met. He's a funny dude and easy going, but when he's training, and getting ready for a fight, he's got skills nobody has even seen before. Being there, and seeing his skillset...he's about to really blow up. I think he's really put it all together now, and he's heading for the peak of his career.
Cowboy Cerrone, I'm just going to say...Cowboy Cerrone is a great fighter.
Clay Guida is an awesome dude, and an awesome wrestler.
Some dudes are better than others, as far as personality goes. Obviously, you're not going to click with everybody, but one thing I can say, is that a lot of people bash Jon Jones, and say that he's stuck up and whatnot, but that dude is one of the coolest people. I got a chance to train with his brother, Art, who's the defensive tackle for the Ravens. Art Jones is the coolest professional ball player I've ever met. He's in there banging with UFC fighters. Obviously fighting isn't his thing, but he still hangs and has some awesome wrestling. He's got a great personality. The Jones' are a good family. I've really grown to like those dudes.
SD: What's on the menu for "the last supper" after weigh-ins?
CL: It's always different. I always have between 10 and 20 family members at my fights, so I let them decide. I always find something healthy on the menu, but I just take it easy. I'm not the type that's like Mariah Carey when she shows up to do a show. She's got to have 100 green M&Ms or 200 red ones, I'm not like that. I just go with the flow. I'll find something that will refuel me. I understand nutrition enough that I can walk in any restaurant, and get some good food. You've just got to know what to eat. Usually, I'll get some pasta, some chicken and some vegetables to get all those nutrients back in.
To me, the last supper is more about relaxing and laughing and having a good time. Having those good, positive vibes that you get from family and friends. Going into that next day, that's a huge part of every fight for me.
Follow Chris via his Twitter @cle_assassin