Ahead of the Feb. 23 featherweight matchup, he joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to break down Grice’s game, discuss why he started fighting and much more.
On his interest in MMA: “I never accomplished what I wanted to reach in wrestling. In high school I wanted to be a state champ. I wasn’t that. I didn’t even make it to state. Then going to college, I wanted to go to the national tournament. I wanted to be a national champ. I didn’t even make it to the national tournament. I was ranked very high and I was a freestyle All-American, and those were some of my goals, but that wasn’t the top goal I wanted to reach. I just felt unaccomplished throughout life and then I’d be watching fights and I’d be like, ‘Man, I can beat that guy. I know I can.’”
On whether he watches much MMA: “Believe it or not, I’m actually not a huge fan. I don’t really study too many guys. I actually don’t know too many guys other than the big-name guys or guys that I’ve trained with. I think that helps me a little bit. Because in wrestling, I was such a fan of the sport that I would know people I was about to go up against. It would almost take me down a notch like, ‘Oh man, I know this guy’s good at this.’ Whereas with MMA, I really don’t know too many things about a lot of guys. I just go in there and do my own thing.”
On Grice: “I know Matt is a wrestler who likes to throw hands. It’s kind of like I’m fighting a mirror image of myself, which is exciting. He was a really good wrestler coming out of high school, went into college and got hurt. He didn’t do anything in college and now he came on the scene in the UFC, did well, got cut and now he’s back.”
On losing fights via submission: “I think I just got caught. It’s not that I was getting beat prior to getting submitted or I was tired or anything like that. It was just bad positioning and getting caught.”
On switching gyms after his second loss: “I wasn’t a fan of jiu-jitsu at all. I’d use my wrestling and just beat on guys while they were down and then while I’ve been here at Long Island MMA, we’ve been working on my jiu-jitsu defense. I’m actually pretty hard to submit these days.”
On fighting on the UFC 157 card, which is headlined by Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche: “I’m on a card that’s part of history. It’s going to be the first UFC woman’s fight, and on top of that, they’re headliners. I’m excited about that. I’m going to be part of history. I look at it like that, and the card is stacked.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 2:07:49).