Ari LeVaux of Prickly Pair Studios caught up with UFC 150's Buddy Roberts for a video interview.
For more interviews like this one subscribe to the MMA Nation YouTube channel.
Buddy Roberts has taken a less-traveled path to his spot in the co-main event against Yushin Okami. After defeating Tony Lopez (UD) in July of 2011 at the Jackson's MMA regional promotion in Albuquerque, Roberts was called up to the UFC.
But moments before Roberts was to make his first walk to the Octagon at UFC on Fox 1, a freak ankle injury during warm-up suffered by his scheduled opponent, Sean Loeffler, led to the fight being cancelled. His debut was postponed until UFC on Fox 3, when he beat Caio Magalhaes. That accomplishment earned Roberts a fight against Chris Camozzi at UFC 150 on August 11. An injury suffered by Camozzi recently scrapped that bout, and now Roberts finds himself matched against former middleweight title challenger Yushin Okami.
I caught up with Roberts at Jackson's MMA, the day after he'd accepted the co-main event fight with Okami.
Some highlights from our talk after the jump...
On the bizarre Loeffler non-fight
"It felt like I lost that night. I trained so hard for this fight, and I was let down. I waited so long to fight in the UFC, I finally got my opportunity. And right before we were walking out-we thought we were being called [to walk] out-we were told that he had hurt himself. It was a big disappointment."
On why he's being moved along so quickly
"I have no idea. Right time right place I guess. I thought I put on a good show against Magaleas, so maybe they liked that. I know Yushin's had a few opponents back out from getting injured. And they wanted to give me a fight too, so maybe that's the reason."
Does he think the UFC is bringing him into lose, with Okami being so marketable, but on a two fight skid.
"I don't think the UFC brings guys in to lose. They're in the business of entertaining people so that's what they're doing. You're in the UFC now, there aren't any easy fights. If they're thinking that then I'd hate to spoil their plans, but I'm going to go out there and fight to my fullest. I don't think it will be a boring fight [knocks on wood], as long as I can get off the cage and let my hands go."
Thoughts on his new opponent.
"I was training for Chris Camozzi, who got injured, and I believe that's why I fell into the Yushin Okami fight. We're on the same card, and both of our opponents got injured. I was training for a southpaw. Chris is a southpaw. Yushin's a southpaw. Different styles, but same concept though."
On what he has to do to win
"Stay active. Don't let him dictate the pace. Go on my terms. He's a big strong 85er so I'm going to stay out of his strengths, on the ground and on the feet."
On where he was when he was offered the fight
"I'd just got through teaching at the new school (the new Jackson's MMA academy for non-pros) I teach the kids program. I had a funny feeling, I felt weird about my fight with Chris, like it wasn't going to happen... I got a call from my manager saying he had good news and bad news. The bad news was that Chirs was hurt, the good news was they offered me Yushin."
Was there any hesitation?
"You definitely don't just want to react to something. There was some thinking about it. We thought it was a great fight to take, so we jumped on it."
Does he consider himself a grappler that's falling in love with his striking?
"I wouldn't say falling in love, but believing in my striking. Coach Winkeljohn's always telling me ‘believe in your striking, let it go, let your hands go.' And finally that was a fight that I didn't want to play with Ciao on the ground, because that's his biggest strength. He wasn't that great on his feet. Everyone's got power, big right hands and stuff, but, it was a test. You're at the biggest show so just let it all hang out. I felt really good about it."
On the importance of wrestling in his game
"You can go anywhere with it. You can stay standing and people start getting worried about your standup you just take ‘em down. If people start worrying about your takedowns you fake a takedown and throw your hands. It's good all around. It's mixed martial arts. You gotta have a little bit of everything."
On the UFC's middleweight division
I feel like it's the talk of the news and blogs right now. I think it's wide open. Anderson Silva seems like he's untouchable right now. We got a few guys moving up that could probably give him some trouble....we got Brian Stann, Michael Bisping, Weidman-he's a big threat now, he looked sharp against Munoz. Hopefully I can put my name in there soon as a threat in the middleweight division."
Beating Yushin worked for Boetsch...
That's why you gotta love this sport. One day you're on the undercard, the next thing you know you're a co-main event.
Put in your hard work and your time will come. Be smart. Be a businessman. Be a fighter when you have to. And the rest will take care of itself.
Anything to say to Yushin?
"I don't think he'd understand it, but you know, I'm ready to fight and I hope he is too. I'm exited for the opportunity and look forward to seeing him on August 11."