In this conclusion to the two-part exclusive one-on-one interview with Bellator Welterweight (WW) champion, Lyman Good, Lyman talks about almost singing with EliteXC, the Bellator WW tournament and his favorite MMA fighters and fights today.
Part two: (Continued from Pt. one)
ANTHONY ASCUE: Now most people may not have known this, but you were actually scheduled to sign a contract with the now defunct MMA organization, EliteXC. And this was shortly before they went under.
Of course, to the MMA world, I don’t think it was much of a surprise that Elite ultimately went under, clearly they had financial and credibility problems as well. It was a disaster, seemingly almost from the start.
Now when Elite did go under, how did you find out about this? How was this whole catastrophe presented to you?
LYMAN GOOD: A friend of mine who was aware of their financial status pretty much warned me that they were going to have a falling out. He came to me literally just before I was about to sign the contract.
I was set to ink the deal, I had everything cleared and ready and at the time I was thinking, ‘do I have any other options?’ In my head I was thinking if this was it or not.
So we were about a day from making it official and my friend came to me and presented me with an opportunity. Which was the Bellator WW tournament. He really pitched that this would be a major opportunity for me and if I take it and run with it that I could become a champion. And he literally said that I could become a champion. So now, I was thinking, what direction do I take?
I mean you either take a chance on something that you know inevitably will fall apart, or you take a chance on something that hasn’t really started and flourished yet. It wasn’t an easy choice to make. And I admit, at first I was a little skeptical about the whole tournament thing, cause in my head at the time I was thinking ‘what could be better for me than Elite [XC] right now?’
But in the end I put my trust in the guy and believed him when he said that this would be a much better and sound opportunity. And he was right.
AA: Now you were talking about the Bellator WW tournament that your friend had presented to you, which you ended up winning, defeating another up and coming MMA prospect in Omar De La Cruz in the finals. Also getting victories over Jorge Ortiz and Hector Urbina in the quarter and semifinal rounds, respectively.
Talk about how you felt going into the third and final fight of the tournament? I mean were you nervous? Were you excited? Were you just ready to get it over with? How were you going into the fight with De La Cruz?
LG: It’s hard to explain, really. It’s like the light at the end of the tunnel. You put everything to the fullest and go pedal to the metal, it’s all out and you don’t look back. You take every chance that you can possibly get at wanting to win and you take it now.
You know in your head you're thinking, I gotta try and kill this guy just to win because you’re trying to survive and you have a family that’s depending on you. And you have students that look up to you, and you have friends that root for you, and they’re all depending on you to win.
With all that there it gives you such a sharp mentality, that you’re like a blade and you just want to go there and cut through everything and just win.
AA: And how much of your thoughts going into the fight was focused on your opponent, and how much of your thoughts was focused on the belt? Cause now you were fighting for a legit and inaugural championship title.
You know there might be many other champions after you to hold that belt, but no matter what you’ll always be the first. I mean that’s forever and that’s something no one can ever take away from you. That’s a lot of pressure. Was that ever a factor for you at all?
LG: Yeah it definitely was, I’m not going to lie about that. Cause it’s you see yourself winning. You see your hand getting raised at the end of that fight. And the only thing that’s standing in the way of that is this guy. That’s what creates adversity. That drive to just want to plow your way through this kid and get that belt.
AA: Now I know most casual MMA fans probably aren’t too familiar with Omar De La Cruz, your opponent going into the finals for the tournament. But he’s a very tough guy. Purple belt in BJJ, really solid kicks, and prior to your fight with him he was coming off four straight wins, one of which was a TKO win against seasoned MMA vet, Dave Menne.
I mean there’s a lot of credibility in beating a guy like Dave, even now. You know Dave’s a former UFC fighter, and really at one point in time was considered one of the elite in the world. And Omar had a very impressive TKO win over him.
So Omar to his credit, is a very worthy and I think, credible fighter to be challenging for the title and to compete in the tournament. And of course with you knowing all of that going in, what was your game plan for him? Did you have anything specific in mind?
LG: Well for every fight you have there’s always a course of action. You don’t just go there swinging every time. And as far Omar goes, he has a very solid ground game, he’s very lanky.
He has good kicks because he comes from a taekwondo background. So my game plan with him was just to nullify all of his strengths by just going out there and being aggressive.
If there’s one big strength of mine that I have that I feel is better than what he has, it’s my wrestling. So because he’s got good strikes and kicks and jiu-jitsu, well then I have to utilize my wrestling and look for take downs and an opportunity to apply my ground and pound on him.
AA: Which you were able to do successfully, absolutely. Now I know some fighters don’t like to do this, but on your time off from fighting, do you watch much MMA at all? I know some fighters just try to focus on their own thing and don’t really watch other fighters work.
Is that the same for you too or do you find yourself just watching MMA as a fan, like the rest of us?
LG: Yeah definitely I love to watch. I mean besides the physical aspect of learning the sport, there will always be the visual aspect of learning it as well. So what better way to learn then to do it both visually and physically?
They’re both great ways to further educate yourself about the sport and different techniques involved in it.
I think in your off time you should always be learning, if not physically doing it, then visually watching it at least. You gotta learn what works, what doesn’t work, who’s the top fighter out there. There’s a lot you can take in from just watching fights.
AA: And who do you think are the top fighters out there right now?
LG: I think it’s pretty undebatable, for example in the UFC you got your Anderson Silva’s and your Georges St. Pierre’s. There’s always much respect to them because clearly they’re champions for a reason. So I would have to say them. I think they’re definitely top level. Definitely amongst the top in the world. And they’re always putting that to the test. So right now I think it’s absolutely those two guys.
AA: Speaking of those two guys, both of which as you know are locked onto upcoming blockbuster fights, you know is there a fight out there right now that’s coming up that you’re looking forward to watching?
LG: Yeah actually, that Thiago Alves fight versus St. Pierre, on the next UFC. That one I’m excited for. I’m expecting a war for that one. That should be good.
AA: And is there a fighter out there right now that has become a favorite of yours? I mean do you have a favorite?
LG: My favorite fighter was always Wanderlei Silva. But Wanderlei at his prime, you know? I’m not sure if he’s a little past his time right now, but in his prime he was definitely bad ass. I’ll always love watching him fight.
AA: Absolutely. He has definitely been involved in some of the most entertaining and memorable fights in MMA history.
LG: No doubt.
AA: So with entertaining and memorable fights in mind, has there been any fights that you’ve seen recently that you were really impressed by?
LG: The Clay Guida and Diego Sanchez fight. It was interesting to see Guida just take a bit of a beating, but he just wouldn’t stop. He kept coming after Diego. It was very entertaining to watch. I mean the action was just non stop. It was incredible.
I mean in the first round the Guida got kicked in the face and was dropped and he just refused to stay down. That’s heart, man. And also to see the level of composure on Sanchez’s part not to let that waste his momentum in the fight, was interesting to watch as well. It was a really amazing fight.
AA: And with that said, our interview is starting to wind down. Closing up, what’s next for Lyman Good?
LG: I’m in the process of moving so I guess just starting a new life with my family. And aside from that, also just getting back to my teaching. I’ve been gone for six months because I’ve been fighting and training for the tournament that it’s just good to finally get back in the gym and take my students under my wing again.
AA: And do you have anything to say to say to young kids that are maybe looking into martial arts and looking to get in a school like yours to learn about the sport?
LG: Yeah, same thing I told myself when I first got into the sport. If your heart’s not in it, it might not be for you. I mean the determining factor on whether you’re going to successful at something, is always going to be if your mind, your body, your heart and your spirit are in in sync with it.
You need all of them to be on the same page. It’s a very general statement and I know that, but the reason it’s general is because it applies to everything. And if I were to do something in my life besides fighting, I would use that same mentality to become successful at that.
AA: And lastly, Lyman do you have a website or Myspace or Facebook or Twitter that you want to give out to your fans to get in contact with you? Anything you’d like to plug?
LG: Yeah I got a Facebook account. I’m under my name, Lyman Good. And if you really want to check me out, as well with other fighters out there, there’s always www.tsk.com. That’s a very solid martial arts website. Make sure to check that out. And of course there’s www.mytsmma.com; don’t forget to check that one out too.
AA: And there it is. Lyman thank you again for doing this.
LG: Thank you for having me. I look forward to do this again.
AA: As do I. And that concludes our interview with WW mixed martial artist, Lyman Good. A top 25 WW around the world, one of MMA’s fastest rising stars and first ever Bellator WW champion. If you get a chance, check out his fight with Alex Aquino; a great bout, an absolute war and definitely something worth your time. So hit up the old MMA archives and make sure to look out for that one.
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I’m Anthony Ascue, thanks for reading.