May 15, 2012; Fairfax, VA, USA; Cody McKenzie celebrates following a submission win over Marcus LeVesseur during the Korean zombie vs Poirier event at Patriot Center. Mandatory Credit: Rafael Suanes-US PRESSWIRE
Tomorrow is fast approaching, and with it, the card everyone has been waiting for, UFC 148. The dramatic overtones of the escalating rivalry between Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva has almost overshadowed every other fight on the card. Plenty of the other bouts are compelling, but get lost amid the sound and the fury. One of these match-ups is Cody McKenzie vs. Chad Mendes. McKenzie will be making his featherweight debut against a very tough Mendes. In a recent TapouT Radio interview, Cody discussed his upcoming fight and detailed some gripes he has with Donald Cerrone.
*Note: Interviewer is either my co-host, Evan Shoman of TapouT Radio, or myself. When I don't conduct these interviews by myself, I just put "Interviewer" to eliminate having to bounce back and forth between three different names.
Interviewer: This is your first fight at 145, how tough has this cut been for you?
Cody McKenzie: It's a pain in the ass, for sure, but I make weight pretty easy. I'm a hard worker, and whatever weight they tell me to be at, I'll make it. I doubt I'll ever fight at heavyweight [laughs], but 145 is where I gotta be for this one, so here I am.
Interviewer: You're fighting Chad Mendes, who is the exact opposite of you in every aspect. Has there been any type of rivalry or any words exchanged between you?
Cody McKenzie: Yeah, he is the exact opposite of me. Short, wants to pin and doesn't want to bang it out. Don't get me wrong, Chad's a nice guy. I met him a few times, and I've got nothing personal against him except that he signed that piece of paper to fight me, which makes me think that he thinks he can beat me up. That makes me think he ain't too smart.
They know how I am at Faber's. I floated through that gym a couple times. I'd come in to spar, and they would think I was nuts, but I was out of season then. I only have a few drinks a day when I'm in season [laughs]. I have my philosophies on life and on this sport, and they've got theirs. They're athletes and I'm a fighter.As Brad Pitt said in Fight Club, Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.
Interviewer: You kind of know that Chad's gameplan will revolve around wrestling. What do you plan on doing to counter that?
Cody McKenzie: A lot of defensive wrestling. Anderson and I have the same fight on our hands. We both have wrestlers trying to take us down and stall us out, and basically win a point match. I would love if Mendes came in and wanted to go toe to toe.
Overall, people think I'm a guillotine guy or a submission guy. I'm a white belt in jiu jitsu. I ain't no jiu jitsu guy. I ain't no wrestler. I didn't grow up doing that stuff. I grew up fighting. I didn't learn to fight at college. I learned to fight at parties and bars. When I go in there, I don't go in touching gloves and all that. I go in like it's a fight.
I ain't taking Mendes lightly. I know I've got a fight on my hands. He's a great submission wrestler and a tremendous athlete, so I know he's going to be tough, because guys like that are tough.
Interviewer: A lot of people seem to think you're a one trick pony. What are your thoughts on that?
Cody McKenzie: A lot of people say that and I think it's hilarious. I don't even follow the sport much anymore. I rarely go on the internet now, and since I've started doing that, I've got my passion back for the fight game. I got caught up for a while in what people said, and it almost ruined my career. I let people tell me to get out of Spokane and train elsewhere, and I tried it and was on my own. That didn't work and I lost a couple fights.
Now, I've gone back to Spokane. I still go and cross-train with people, but Lyle Beerbohm is my coach. Every time I ever fought, when Lyle has trained me for a fight, I won. People only say I'm a one trick pony only on the internet. Nobody has ever said it to my face, because if they did, they'd catch a slap [laughs]. When it comes down to it, I like to bang. I would love to fight stand-up guys all the time, but I don't always get a choice in who I fight, and a lot of times, I get wrestlers. I'm going in there to win, and if I can catch that guillotine, of course I'm going to, but I always look for the knockout first.
Interviewer: There's a comment on Ariel Helwani's website from Chad that says, 'The guy is nuts.' Does he have some personal experience with you, or was that just a general comment?
Cody McKenzie: I don't take that as an insult at all. People call me crazy or say I'm insane, and that's fine. It's whatever. I beat to my own drum, and it doesn't bother me one bit. I think everybody else is nuts [laughs]. That's the funny thing. People call me crazy, but I think everybody else is crazy.
Interviewer: You're closely affiliated with the Cesar Gracie camp. Does it bother you to see a lot of the things written or spoken about that portrays them in a less than favorable light?
Cody McKenzie: I try not to let it get under my skin. I know these guys on a personal level. I was signing some autographs yesterday, and some fan from Chicago told me a story that Nick Diaz got him a front row ticket to a fight. This was just some guy who was a big fan, and Nick got him into the show, and made sure it was front row. Nick is a great individual, him and Nathan.
When Cowboy and Nathan fought, Cowboy had this image of being this nice guy, but Cowboy is a bit of an idiot. The guy is a jerk. I've met him before, and we almost got into it on the bus ride to my last fight. The guy is just arrogant and cocky and was just running his mouth towards me for no reason. First thing he said to me was, 'You don't have a backbone, you have a wishbone', and I was like, 'Dude, who are you to talk to me like that? You can't just start opening your mouth like that to people you don't even know.' He wanted to start a little trash talking, so we did. I put it right back in his face and he didn't like it at all. Where I'm from, talking sh*t is a sport, so I put him in his place pretty quick. He was all tongue tied and confused because he's just a dumb jock. He thinks he's a cowboy, but he's just a dumb jock.
But yeah, Nathan is a good guy. When I was over there training with them, there was an older gentleman and some kids in a stalled car on the highway. Nathan stops, and stopped all the traffic to push that car out of the way. 99% of the guys in the sport would have driven right by that car.
Interviewer: Do you feel that your fight with Mendes is getting a little overshadowed or overlooked amid the hype machine for the Sonnen/Silva fight?
Cody McKenzie: No, I don't feel it's being overshadowed at all. I'm still very young, and I have a long time left in this sport. I'm just really excited for this opportunity. I just found out that I was on the main card a little while ago [laughs]. I don't worry about anything else but my own career and getting better at it. I don't feel like I'm entitled to anything. I have a long ways to go in this sport. As long as I can keep beating people up, and finishing them, then I'll make my money and get my opportunities.
Follow Cody via his Twitter, @TheCodyMcKenzie