Tomorrow night, at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, UFC On FOX 7 will bring us a few more highly anticipated bouts featuring some of Strikeforce's top guns. Since the folding of the promotion, and subsequent absorbing of it's talent roster into the the larger organization, the athletes have been putting on great performances and upstaging the UFC's carefully cultivated stable.
Lightweight contender, Josh Thomson will be put to the test bout with Nate Diaz in what is sure to turn out to be a barn burner. I recently sat down with Thomson to get his take on the fight, health status and what his motivations are now when he steps in the octagon. Here's what he had to say:
Stephie Daniels: How do you feel about fighting another Nor Cal guy? I would imagine it's not surprising.
Josh Thomson: I kind of thought the fight with Nate and me would be something that the UFC would want to capitalize on, given the history between Gil and I. I fought his training partner, so there's lots of history there. I kind of figured it would happen, I just didn't think it would be my first fight in the UFC [laughs]. With both of us coming off losses in our title shots, I guess it makes sense.
SD: You've sort of molded yourself into a fighter that's built to take on bigger guys. Do you feel that's going to be your best advantage in this fight?
JT: Yeah, I think so. It's the nature of who I train with. I train with nothing but bigger guys. Fitch and Swick, Gray Maynard is now with us... they're just big guys. Gray isn't as tall as me, but he's a lot stockier than me. I think I've always been prepared for bigger opponents.
Another thing that a lot of people have been asking me, is if I'm going to cut down to 145. There's no way I can do it, man. I couldn't. There's just no way. The potential of me going up in weight would be a lot greater than the potential of me going down.
SD: You seem to have fine tuned yourself now, and have gotten your body in shape to withstand punishment and not succumb to training injuries as much as before. Despite your age, do you think maybe this time frame might be your prime years?
JT: No, not really. I feel like my prime was about 28 - 31. I felt the best in my body, and just felt the best I could be during that time. Right now, I'm real achy and stuff. I have a lot of aches and pains in the mornings, but like you were saying, a lot of being able to compete at this level is from fine tuning my training and nutrition. I'm much better at keeping up with my body and ensuring that I stay fit in the off periods. I now try to stay closer to fighting weight. I stay more active now.
SD: How has it been, working with Leandro Viera in preparation for this fight?
JT: When I was preparing for Gilbert, we were still getting to know each other, and we were still working out some stuff. Then you saw a little more of his game in the KJ fight, looking at control and pushing to get the back. This last fight with Gilbert, you could see how fast I was able to take his back. I was having a real hard time with getting the finish, but I think that just goes to credit Gil. With Nate, we're really concentrating on making sure that we try to nullify everything that he does, whether it be on the ground or on the feet.
SD: Is it a little surreal for you to be returning to the UFC again, considering you were there so long ago, in the beginning of your career?
JT: It's a little strange, for sure. I was telling somebody the other day that I was in the UFC before it was cool [laughs]. I've really enjoyed my experience as a fighter, and I wouldn't change a thing about it. I've been everywhere, and fought in the two biggest organizations. To me, it didn't really matter where I fought, whether it be the UFC, DREAM, Strikeforce or anywhere else. As long as I could have the means to take care of myself and my family, that was what I cared about. I just wanted to be in the best place to achieve my goals. Now, that place is in the UFC, so yes, I'm very glad to be back.
SD: For you, is the rest of your career more about financial stability or securing a legacy and getting to that title?
JT: For me, it's always going to be about the future and financial stability, but obviously I want that title, too. I feel like it's right where I need it to be to get it again. It's right in my grasp, and I'm just hoping that I get the opportunity to fight for it. That's the biggest thing. I feel like I got brought back to the UFC at the right time. For me, it;s all about getting the win over Nate and hopefully getting a title shot. Financial stability and getting paid is everyone's motivation, but really, I'm focused most on Nate, because he's right in front of me, and if I get past him, getting back in the running for that title.
You can follow Josh via his Twitter account, @THEREALPUNK