Me and a buddy recently had the chance to talk to Darrell "The Mongoose" Montague, who was signed by the UFC last week and is set to face John Dodson at UFC 166. Most media outlets have him ranked in the lower half of the Flyweight top 10.
[This is the first interview we've ever done, so don't be too hard on us. Hope you enjoy it!]
Q: Thank you for joining us. It's a pleasure to have you here for the interview. I'd just like you to introduce yourself to us, just to get a little inside scoop. What would you consider your style of fighting?
Darrell: It's a total MMA Style. I like to do the ground, I like to do standup and also wrestling.
Q: So your nickname is "The Mongoose". Does this describe your style of fighting in a way?
Darrell: A little bit. In my Standup I like to be more over a counter-striker, so kind of.
Q: As a follow-up question. How did you get into MMA in the first place?
Darrell: 135(lbs) WEC Title contender Manny Tapia was a wrestling coach at my high school and I just joined up with Millennia MMA, just went on from there. Kept training, got better and better. I used to compete in Jiu Jitsu Tournaments, was doing pretty good in there and then one day I decided I just wanted to fight.
Q: So you were already wrestling in high school, right?
Q: When did you make the decision to become a professional fighter? I think you had your first fight in '08, right?
Darrell: Yeah 2008. I was about 20 years old. I had already won a fight then, I wanted to turn pro a little earlier than then, I started fighting, like amateur fights, when I was 16 years old.
Q: Did you have any idols or favorite fighters growing up?
Q: Would you like BJ Penn to have another fight in the UFC, maybe at lightweight?
Darrell: I'd actually rather see him taking some more time off, I don't know. He broke my heart the last couple of times.
The last fight against Rory was very... I was sad. I don't like that fight at all. I remember him from long time ago, jiu jitsu tournaments, just killing everybody, but the beginning at 155, when he first fought Jens Pulver and also when he went out to Japan and started to fight in the K1 organization, I followed his career a lot. His favorite fight was when he fought Matt Hughes, that's when I really started to like him a lot when he moved up to 170.
Q: Were you already aware of MMA before or were you introduced to it by Manny Tapia?
Darrell: No, I was always a fan of MMA, that's how I got into Wrestling and Muay Thai Kickboxing around the same time.
Q: Did you always fight at flyweight or did you have to fight in other weight classes since basically all major promotions didn't really have flyweights divisions?
Darrell: My first couple of fights I fought at 145, 140, 135 I fought at plenty of different weights before I fought at 125.
Q: Did you first fight at 125 when you fought at Tachi Palace or before that too?
Darrell: Yeah, Tachi Palace was the first time I was at 125.
Q: What is your running around weight, maybe right now?
Darrell: Right now about 135. My normal weight never gets over 140.
Q: So you don't have to cut much.
Darrell: No, not much.
Q: A couple of years ago (1,5 years ago) the UFC finally introduced the division. Were you anxiously waiting for them to call you, because former opponents of you like Ulysses Gomez and Ian McCall were signed right off the start. So did you expect them to call you right away?
Darrell: Not right away, I was a little [sound issues, presumably an adjective with negative connotation] when he [Ulysses] was signed but he's a good guy. Right away I was coming of a loss against Ian, so I wasn't gonna get signed immediately, but when Ian pulled out against Moraga, I wanted to get that fight, but they gave it to Ulysses instead. So I was a little sad about that, but not too much.
Q: How was it for you to see them headlining a FOX Show and not being part of it?
Darrell: Well I had my opportunity. If I would have beat Ian I would have been in that tournament. So it's my own fault, but you know you live, you get better and you learn.
Q: If I remember correctly Ian was already ranked #1 at flyweight by then, right?
Q: A while ago MMAJunkie had a story about you and basically said that you were the best flyweight outside the UFC, I think you were the only Top 10 flyweight not signed. Do you think it helped to get you this gig finally? It really took a while to get signed for you.
Darrell: Yeah probably [sound issues]
Q: Your only two losses, you're 13-2 right now, were against Robbie Peralta and Ian McCall, who are UFC fighters right now. How much better will the competition be in the UFC than in the independent circle?
Darrell: Much better. The top fighters in the world will all be here and everyone wants to be the best, so there's no easy fights. They're all gonna be the best.
Q: Speaking of difficult fights, you were just signed earlier this week and you immediately got a fight and you're scheduled to fight John Dodson at UFCc166. For most people John Dodson is probably a Top 3, Top 4 kind of fighter, so that's already a really tough opponent for your first fight, so what are your thoughts on Dodson as a fighter and the fight?
Darrell: It's a big opportunity if I can win this fight that puts me right into the Top and in the mix for a title.
Q: Do you have any ideas how you gonna approach the fight, of course you're not gonna be able to give away your gameplan or anything. Is there anything in particular you've set your eyes on?
Darrell: No, I just wanna stay away from his athleticism. I don't think technically he's too great, but I think he's very explosive.
Q: I think it's pretty interesting, he already fought Jussier Formiga whom you haven't fought, but he was also one of the Tachi Palace guys, right?
Q: He was signed by the UFC and his first fight was also against Dodson which is pretty tough. Do you think the UFC or Sean Shelby or whoever is responsible thinks really highly of these Tachi Palace guys because they keep matching you up with really tough fights and Ian McCall's first fight was against Demetrious Johnson who is the champion right now?
Darrell: Yeah I mean he fought some of the top guys, like I said before Ian is Top 3 or 4 as well and I fought him so I guess they just figured they throw me in there.
Q: Are there any particular fighters in the UFC you'd like to fight against, maybe avenge the loss to Ian?
Darrell: Yeah of course down the road that would be good, but as of right now the only one I'm focusing on is Dodson.
Q: Did you happen to watch the Johnson vs. Moraga fight by chance?
Darrell: Yes I did.
Q: What was your opinion of the fight and on DJ in particular?
Darrell: Demetrious Johnson did his same thing. He's the best, he's the champion. I think Moraga needed a couple of more fights to compete better against him, but I believe Moraga has all the tools to beat Demetrious, he just mentally maybe isn't there yet. In his career he hasn't had too many tough fights, so.
Q: So you actually think Moraga will be a Top 5 fighter moving onwards?
Darrell: Oh yeah, as you could tell he hit Demetrious a couple of times and he hurt him.
Q: I think that's it from our side. If you have anything you'd like to say or to plug or whatever then go ahead.
Darrell: Oh no no. Just thank you guys for having me on.
Q: It was our pleasure.
Q: Thanks again. We appreciate the time and best of luck for your future.
Darrell: Thank you guys.
[You can also listen to the interview here: http://schlagkraft.podbean.com/2013/08/18/schlagkraft-der-zweite-geburtstag-matt-brown-ronald-pofalla/ It starts around the 2 hour 56 minute mark. Be advised though, the rest of it is in German]