On January 11th live from the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia and free Spike TV, former TUF winner Amir Sadollah will fight MMA veteran and relative unknown Brad Blackburn on the main card of UFC Ultimate Fight Night 20 . Brad has been fighting for years, making his professional debut way back in 1999. Since then Brad has fought a total of 28 fights collecting a record of 28 wins, nine losses, and one draw.
Brad was nice enough to give me some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of my questions regarding his January 11th fight and much more. Here is my B/R exclusive interview with "Bad" Brad Blackburn.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-This is going to be your fourth UFC fight on January 11th but its going to be your first main card fight. What does it mean to you to be on the main card of a UFC event?
Its huge for me. Its a big opportunity for me because I'm 3-0 in the UFC right now and alot of people don't even know that I fight in the UFC. This is a huge opportunity and I'm fighting Amir Sadollah, who has a really big name and alot of fans that follow him, so that means there are going to be alot of people watching my fight.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report) -You've been around for years, but like you said, not alot of people know that you fight in the UFC. Explain to those people why they should pick you over Amir Sadollah who has the bigger name.
I think people should pick me over Amir Sadollah because of experience. I've fought highly ranked fighters, I've fought really good strikers, I've fought really good wrestlers and I've beaten them. To me Amir Sadollah hasn't even been in the ring with a top level fighter yet and this is going to be his first opportunity to do that. I'm not saying that he's not game for it, he's a game fighter, but he just has not been in the ring with a top level fighter yet. It's going to be his first time.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-Amir has only three professional fights, how do you go about training for a guy that has such little video to study? Did you watch episodes of him on The Ultimate Fighter and try to study him that way?
I actually didn't see any of his Ultimate Fighter fights. There isn't a lot for me to go off of because, like I said, he hasn't fought a top level striker yet. How do I know how he's going to react? Phil Baroni just has heavy hands and that's it. He hasn't fought anyone that's throwing knees, throwing kicks back at him and consistently throwing with him.
I really don't have to much information on this guy but it doesn't make a big difference with me because I just like to know what my opponents strengths are. He has good offense so I'm going to make sure my defense is tight. I want to make sure I'm blocking kicks and stuff like that and make sure I'm on point because I don't think Ive ever been outclassed. All of my losses except one have been because of conditioning and I don't think this is going to be the first time I'm going to be outclassed in a fight.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-You said that all except one of your losses were from conditioning. Was that a key focal point in training for this fight?
Definitely. I feel like I lost the last round to Ryo Chonan because of that and I feel like if I was going to fight me, my goal would be to wear me out early and come on strong at the end (laughs). My main focus, number one for me, was conditioning. I picked strength and conditioning coaches and they put me through some really really hard circuits, killing me for a month and a half before this fight. Doing my runs, making sure my heart rate gets up every day, so that's been my main focus for this fight, everything else is second.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-Your main strength is definitely your hands, you've won 9 of your fights by way of knockout. Would you now consider conditioning as a strength too?
Yea, for sure. I feel like i work hard to be in good shape and if I'm not fighting I'm not going to get to use it. I have confidence in my conditioning now in fights. I figured I was doing maybe half of what I'm doing now for conditioning in previous fights and I could fight two good rounds. Now, I KNOW I got three solid rounds and I plan on using it. I didn't do all this work to go in there and score points. I want to fight three rounds.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-So if this goes three rounds, and I'm not saying that it will, we can expect you to go balls-to-the-wall for all three, right?
Yes. I'm going to go balls-to-the-wall. My fans like, everybody that does know men and is a fan of mine is worried about my conditioning. They're like, "don't wear down in this one, don't wear down in the one". They don't have to worry about that anymore. That's been my main focus throughout this training camp, making sure that if this goes to the third that I can have a solid round.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-Now, I was doing some research on you for this interview, and accoring to UFC.com, one of your martial arts ranks is "Master of Badness". What is a master of badness and how can I become one?
Uhhh, its going to take a lot of training. I've been wrestling for like 10 years now, grappling for 10 years, I've got my striking to where it is and its a fighting style that I've developed and it's called badness (laughs). I've just put it all together.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-Even though your 32 years old, you're still considered more of an up-and-comer in the UFC. You've won your first three fights and you were fighting for a long time before the UFC signed you. What was it like getting that phone call from the UFC to sign you?
It was huge with me. I think I'm hungry and I appreciate it more than what somebody that just started fighting would appreciate it. I've been fighting for about nine and a half 10 years before I got there. So its like, man, this is it. I always told myself, because I never gave fighting 100 percent, part of the reason why all of my losses are because of conditioning, because I was working and I would train when I can and I'd do a fight. I was fighting tough guys and if you see all my wins at the start of my career were in the first round and when I went past the first I lost. I always told myself if I make it to the UFC, I'm giving it 100 percent. That's what I'm doing.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-You started way back before MMA was as big as it is now, what got you into MMA back when the UFC was only about six years old.
Well I started out boxing and Jeff Monson and Dennis Hallman and a few other guys were training at the same gym I was training at so I was thinking; "Well let me see what these guys are doing". When I went over there I trained with them, and I didn't even know it was possible to be that dominant over another human being.
I was like; "Wow, I was spending all this time boxing when, if one of these guys gets a hold of me, they could do whatever they wanted." I was like, I need to start doing this. This is the real stuff. That's how I got into it. Then I had one match and then one more, and here I am 30 fights and 11 years later.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-Did you ever think that MMA would become such a big sport and that this would become your profession?
I didnt't. Just a couple weeks ago I was walking through the mall and I was like, that still trips me out to see Tapout clothes in the stores. When I started fighting, when I'd go out around town, everybody was telling me how dumb it was and what's wrong with me? Like, "Why would you do that? Do you have anger problems?" I would say no, it's a sport. Now that its on tv and stuff, everbodies like "Hey that's awesome man. Its awesome to see that your in the UFC." So it's kinda cool because when I started, it was dumb. Now its cool, so it nice. I like it.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-With all these MMA stars now, guys like Georges St. Pierre. Is there anyone that you'd really like to fight.
Amir Sadollah (laughs). That's my next fight. I don't look past anybody because if I win this fight I'm going to be 4-0 and there's only so many guys that Um going to be able to fight. I just want to fight all of the best guys in the world and fight in the UFC. The only thing that could be better would be making more money. I'm happy with whats going on right now. As long as I'm fighting in the UFC, fighting top guys and making money, I'm happy. I love the sport. I love the grappling aspect of it, the wrestling, the striking, so whoever I fight, theirs going to be a big challenge to it. That's what drives me. If I'm fighting a striker I've got to beat him striking, if I'm fighting a wrestler I've got to nullify his wrestling. Everybody I fight is a challenge and that's why I do it. As long as its a tough guy and its on the UFC I'm happy.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-So if you want more money you've got to make these fights exciting. Get a Fight of the Night or a Knockout of the Night.
It's going to be exciting, that's the way I fight, I just had a handicap the last time. Chonan...he can take a hit. I don't have any excuses for that one. Before Chonan I had four knockouts in a row. Chonan, no excuses. Edgar, I had no right hand. I had surgery after the fight, I tore my labrum and my AC joint separated in the first round. My arms back, that's the way I fight. I'm coming to fight, I'm swinging hard, I'm hoping to knock him out.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report) That works. Now, you have two kids I believe, correct? How old are they?
My son is nine and my daughter is four.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report) Is there going to be a Blackburn legacy? Are you going to get your son into MMA?
He's starting to ask to train more and more, but I didn't want to push it on him. I signed him up for wrestling, he did a season of that. I bring him to practice and do the pads with him. I'm not trying to push it on him, I want him to want to do it. He has to train periodically, I'm not forcing it. Now he's starting to ask; "Dad I wanna do pads today, I wanna train a little bit." It might be. I want it to be something he wants to do. He's doing really good in school, he didn't get that from me and I'm happy about that (laughs)
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report) That's great man. So its a new year, 2010. 2009 was a great year and so was 2008. Anything special you want to accomplish in 2010 aside from beating Amir Sadollah?
I want to fight 3-4 times this year, and have no surgeries. So far, I've had a surgery after every UFC fight (laughs), so I want to continue to win my fights and not have any surgeries.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-No surgeries is definitely a good goal for you.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-Alright man, I don't have anything else for you. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I'd like to thank my friends, family, and training partners for supporting me and I'd like to thank Tapout and BSN for there support.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-Alright Brad, I'd like to thank you and wish you good luck in your fight on January 11th, hope you don't have to endure any surgeries.
Mike Leanza (Bleacher Report)-Good luck in 2010 man.