Brendan Schaub takes of legendary fighter Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 128 on March 19th in New Jersey.  Schaub is a former football player who has transitioned well into MMA and is a rising star in the division.  He's on a 3 fight win streak and is coming off a decisive victory over Gabriel Gonzaga.   I had the pleasure of interviewing Brendan yesterday and present now for your reading pleasure.

Garv:  Recently you’ve made some comments about previous Cro Cop opponents showing him too much respect.

Schaub: I don’t know what it is, man.  Mirko’s a huge star and guys show him a lot of respect, which I get, the guy’s one of the best strikers in the world.  But at the same time, you gotta go in there and fight.  The difference between me and the rest of these guys is that I show my respect by going in there and making a fight.  It seems lately these guys fighting Mirko, I don’t know, it’s more of a buddy-buddy thing and turns into these sparring matches where they’re not trying to hurt each other.  You know, that’s just not my style.   I think that’s why Dana White and Joe Silva gave me this match up.  They know I get after guys, like I showed in my last couple fights, especially the Gonzaga fight.

Garv:   Pat Barry actually hugged Cro Cop at one point in their fight.

Schaub:  I know Pat.  Pat’s a character, man.  I think he could have definitely finished Cro Cop in that fight.   He did end up breaking his hand and foot, so things didn’t go his way.  He gave Mirko a hell of a run but as far as hugging and stuff like that, not during those 15 minutes.   [When I fight Mirko] there’s won’t be any hugging, I can guarantee you that.  Before and after the fight, I’m definitely respectful of Cro Cop.  I’m a huge fan.  It’s a great opportunity for me.  There’s not too many guys out there who get to fight legends, so for me it’s a big deal.

Garv:  Gonzaga was the first fight you had that went past the first rounds.  How did you feel about going the distance?  Were you happy with your cardio?

Schaub: Oh yeah, cardio is a huge asset of mine.  Especially being a heavyweight.  The longer the fight goes the better for me.   I’m known to finish guys fast, and that’s always what I look for.  I look to finish guys.  But once you get to these upper levels, guys are smart, guys are tough, so it’s not as easy to do.  But man, anyone who gets out of the first round with me, my hats off to them.

Garv:  Do you feel that Cro Cop’s skills have diminished over the years?

Schaub: The guy’s skill level is world class and I expect the best Mirko we’ve seen.   I think he knows I come in to fight .  I’m sure he’s training his butt off.  I think we’re gonna see a different Mirko than we’re used to.

Garv:  Cro Cops has a lot of experience.  Do you think that could be a factor?

Schaub: Man, Cro Cop’s such a vet, I’m sure he has some tricks up his sleeve.  I just go in there and react.  Obviously he’s known for his kicks and his left hand, but anything can happen.  I don’t count on Cro Cop doing anything but making it a fight and that’s what I’m looking forward to.

Garv:  Because Mirko is a stand up fighter, have you been working more on your ground game or have you been working more on the stand up?

Schaub: I work on everything, man.  Boxing’s a strength of mine, so it my wrestling, so is my jiu-jitsu.   I just haven’t had to use it with the opponents they’ve given me lately.   I just go in there to react.  I’m a pretty good athlete, man, so I think that will be the difference in this fight, my speed and adapting to anything he gives me.

Garv:  You’re a purple belt, right?

Schaub:  That’s right.  I haven’t worn a gi in quite some time and that’s kind of the way you get your belts in the traditional system,  and my professor Amal Easton, that’s what he believes in.   I’m definitely a pretty high caliber jiu-jitsu guy.  I roll with black belts all the time, world champions all the time.  I definitely hold my own to say the least.

Garv:  You still training in Denver?

Schaub: I spend my all my time here in Denver at Grudge.   I kicked camp off just for this fight, just to switch it up, for almost two weeks up in New York.  I was at Renzo Gracie’s working on my jiu-jitsu.  I was working with Mark Henry, Frankie Edgar’s boxing coach and Ricardo Almeida up in New Jersey.

Garv:  Do you think the high altitude gives you an advantage?

Schaub: I think so.  It might give be  a slight edge.  It’s all I’m used to.   So when I go down to sea level it might give me a slight edge, but I don’t count on it.  I definitely think I have more red blood cells than the other athletes who don’t train at high elevation.

Garv:  Do you feel that your football experiences help with your MMA game?

Schaub: It doesn’t really correlate.  I was more of a fighter playing football.  And for me [fighting] has always been a passion.  I grew up doing martial arts and competing.   I guess just competing at a high level [in football] and having a strong mentality would be the biggest crossover.

Garv:  Herschel Walker just won his second MMA fight.

Schaub:  Yeah.  Herschel is a hall of famer in the NFL.  He got into [MMA] a little late but he definitely brings different eyeballs to the game, which is good.

Garv:  The difference is that Walker is just doing it for fun pretty much.  This is your career.

Schaub: I definitely have a career in this.  My career is going pretty well.  The point of this is to be a world champion.

Garv:  Your one loss is to Roy Nelson.  What did you take away from that fight?

Schaub: I just learned from my mistakes.  We got four ounce gloves on.   I consider myself a knockout artist, you know, sometimes you get caught.  Fortunately for me 11 out of 12 times I’ve been the guy knocking people out.  Things happen as a heavyweight.  You just learn from your mistakes and it made me a better fighter.

Garv:  Your fight is on the same card as the Shogun vs. Jones title fight.  What’s your take on that match?

Schaub: Man, Shogun’s a stud.  He’s been on a tear lately and I definitely think his experience might come in to play here.  But Jon Jones is a nightmare for anyone, man.  You can’t really train for a guy like that.   He’s just unconventional and you’re not going to find a training partner like him.  I give the edge to Jon Jones and man, it’s gonna be a good fight.

Garv:  Still training with Shane Carwin?

Schaub: Yep, we sparred today and he’s been in the past three weeks.  We’re bringing in a lot of southpaws as well, so it’s good.  Shane is a handful.  I beat him sometimes, he beats me.   Stand up’s my strong point, wrestling and getting guys down is his, so we definitely go at it, man.

Garv:  The top three guys in the division are Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos and Brock Lesnar.  What are your thoughts on these guys?

Schaub: Man, all monsters.  I think if you look at the heavyweight division, it’s definitely geared towards the more athletic, kind of young guys like Cain, Dos Santos and myself, who kind of do it all.   Then you have guys like Brock and Shane who are just absolute monsters, and if they get on top of you, you’re in trouble, man.   But that’s where the speed and quickness helps out guys like Cain and Dos Santos and myself.  There couldn’t be a better time to be a heavyweight in the UFC.   It’s an exciting time for heavyweights.

Garv:  Who do you think will win their fight, Brock or Junior?

Schaub: I think Dos Santos will win that fight, just because we’ve seen striking’s kind of a disadvantage for Brock.  Dos Santos has quick hands and good enough footwork.  I think he can avoid the take down and land some strikes and end up TKOing Brock Lesnar.

Garv:  Brock’s come under some criticism for the way he takes a punch.  Were you surprised at how he reacted when hit by Cain?

Schaub: You know, I kind of expected it.  It’s tough to deal with guys who can box and kind of do it all.  When Brock took him down and Cain got back up, it’s something Brock’s not used to, and that’s what you need to do.   With Brock, in his training camp, I don’t think he’s getting hit too much.  It’s kind of new for him and that’s what you gotta do to break him.  He doesn’t like getting hit in the face.

Garv:  If Dos Santos beats Brock, he’ll fight Cain.  What are your thoughts on that fight?

Schaub: That’s a tough, tough fight to pick.  Man, I don’t know.  Cain’s gonna be tough to beat with his wrestling and his cardio.  I’d give a slight edge to Cain.  The guy’s a stud.

Garv:  How is your weight right now?

Schaub: Currently right now, I’m 250.  Usually the week of the fight with nerves it’s hard for me to eat so I usually come in at 240, but I walk around about 250, 255.  We’ll see where we’re at for this fight.

Garv:  Fedor had a tough time with Big Foot Silva.  Silva had to cut to get to 265 and weighed close to 290 at fight time.  How do you feel about fighting these huge guys?

Schaub: The bigger the guy, the better for me, man.  Speed is something I have over a lot of these heavyweights, almost any heavyweight out there.  The bigger they are, the slower they are and the worse cardio they have.   So I don’t mind that.    Again, I’m used to giant Shane Carwin every day, so that’s all I know.  I’m used to his power, strength and speed.

Garv:  Any last words before we wrap it up?

Schaub: Yeah, check me out on Twitter, @BrendanSchaub .  And I just want to thank my sponsor Five Star.

 

 

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