Jacob "Christmas" Volkmann (13-2-0) is going for his fifth straight win inside the Octagon at UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem. Despite the nickname, fighting during the holidays is a bit of a balancing act for the lightweight prospect, but still managed to take some time out to talk to Bleacher Report about his upcoming fight.
Volkmann is pitted against former Ultimate Fighter reality show competitor Efrain Escudero. He also talked about the main event between his former wrestling teammate Brock Lesnar and Dutchman Alistair Overeem.
"It gets to be a little overwhelming," Volkmann, a father of three, chiropractor and wrestling coach, told Bleacher Report on preparing for a fight scheduled during the holiday season.
Everybody in a sense has to deal with these pressures, but not at the same level: having three kids, coaching high school wrestling, running a chiropractor practice in addition to preparing for a fight around the holiday season certainly isn't a workload the average person is used to dealing with.
Despite the pressure of everyday life, Volkmann isn't ready to welcome Escudero back to the UFC with open arms. The young Escudero was cut by the UFC with a record of 1-2 last year.
Despite having fought six times and winning five times in less than a year since leaving the UFC, Volkman doesn't believe Escudero will have any new tricks this coming Friday.
"...I think he [Escudero] is still going to be an arrogant little punk," said Volkmann. "He's gonna try and shoot, if he doesn't get a shot he will get a front head lock and try and guillotine. He doesn't really have too much on the feet or too much on the ground."
Two of Escudero's three losses, at the hands of Evan Dunham and Charles Oliveira, came by way of submission and Volkmann has taken note.
"I'm expecting a long drawn out war just because that's the way I'm trained," Volkmann said, "but, I'm hoping to get a submission, my goal is to get a submission."
The lightweight division is probably the most stacked division in the UFC, particularly since it was merged with the WEC's lightweight division in 2010.
Volkmann is 4-0 in his last four fights, but they have all gone to decision and he has been fighting on the undercard. Five straight wins would be nothing to balk at should Volkmann beat Escudero this weekend, but moving up the lightweight ranks takes more than just a winning streak, just ask Jim Miller.
Volkmann doesn't know exactly when he'll get on the main card, but has an idea of what is holding him back.
"The main thing that is keeping me from the main card is my stand-up," Volkmann said. "I might have to take a short notice fight against a good top 10 guy, I am not really sure what their plans for me are."
Main card or not, Volkmann is fighting on a card that features arguably the most anticipated fight of the year, Lesnar vs. Overeem. Two heavyweight behemoths combining for over 500 pounds once the octagon door closes, Lesnar a former NCAA division I champion and Alistair Overeem the most recent K1 Heavyweight Grand Prix winner.
This fight is a classic striker vs. grappler matchup in its purest form. For Volkmann it's a pleasure to be on the end of the year card with a main event of such epic proportions.
"It's pretty exciting I get to fight with someone [Lesnar] I used to wrestle with," Volkmann said. "I was a freshman and he was a senior at U of M."
When asked how he sees the fight going down between Lesnar and Overeem, Volkmann isn't shy to side with the wrestler and his former team-mate in Lesnar.
"I expect Lesnar to steer that one down to the mat, it is going to be a ground battle," Volkmann said. "If Overeem can figure out a way to stop his [Lesnar's] takedowns, he has a chance, but if he doesn't stop his takedowns he doesn't have a prayer."
Overeem's stand-up is far superior in terms of credentials than anyone else Lesnar has fought thus far in his career. Against Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez, Lesnar's stand-up didn't look up to snuff so the thought of him exchanging with Overeem seems like a tall task for the wrestler.
Volkmann on the other hand, seems to think that Lesnar's wrestling base will be enough for him to take the fight to the mat where he shouldn't have a problem winning.
After Lesnar's fights with Carwin, Velasquez and Randy Couture, many people have wondered if Lesnar's wrestling is overrated. Against these three, Lesnar won against Carwin and Couture, but lost to Velasquez. The common theme in all three fights was that Lesnar had trouble keeping the fight on the mat.
Against Couture, it wasn't a problem because his reach and power were enough to keep Couture at bay. Against Carwin, Lesnar survived a first round beating, but was able to capitalize on an exhausted Carwin in round two.
Against Velasquez, Lesnar wasn't able to implement his wrestling and Velasquez' cardio and stand-up were enough to put Lesnar away.
What people don't realize is that Couture is a former Olympic alternate for the US wrestling team, Velasquez is an NCAA division I standout wrestler himself and Carwin is a former NCAA division II champion. These guys all have great wrestling credentials.
When Lesnar fought guys without a solid wrestling pedigree he dominated them on the ground; watch his second fight with Frank Mir and his fight with Heath Herring for evidence. Even though he did have difficulty keeping the fight on the mat against Carwin, Couture and Velasquez, he still secured takedowns in all three of those fights.
When asked about Lesnar's caliber of wrestling, Volkmann snickers at the people who doubt the big man's abilities.
"[laughs] He's a national champion, he was a national runner up the year before, if you haven't wrestled you might want to keep your mouth shut," Volkmann said. "He's got a lot of power, he's technical and he is a great wrestler."
Overeem doesn't have the wrestling pedigree of Lesnar's most recent opponents, but despite being good off his back with 19 submission victories, Volkmann doesn't think Overeem will be ready for the top game that Lesnar brings to the table.
"He doesn't have a clue, he better practice his takedown defense against semis because that is what it is going to feel like," Volkmann said.
Whoever the winner is between Lesnar and Overeem, they will be the next one to get a shot at the heavyweight strap against Junior Dos Santos.
Volkmann, like any fighter, would eventually like to get his chance at a title and, seeing as how fellow lightweights Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone are fighting on the same card with him, he wouldn't mind taking one of them on to move himself up the ladder.
"I would love to fight those two, that'd be a great fight," Volkmann said. "I think Cerrone is going to win it, I think he is more aggressive, he's better on the feet, Diaz I don't think he has got very good takedowns and Cerrone he works with a lot of wrestlers so he has decent takedown defense."
Prior to a fight with Diaz and Cerrone, Volkmann first has to take care of business against Escudero and do so in convincing fashion. If he does that, either of these two fights would make sense for the UFC.
Celebrating Christmas didn't wait until after the fight for Volkmann and with three young kids at home it would have been hard to tell them to wait I'm sure.
"I'm actually celebrating [Christmas] the day before I leave. I leave on Monday and I'm celebrating on Sunday with my family, my wife's family is down here. My family will be the following couple weeks after the fight." Volkmann said.
Fans can catch Volkmann vs. Escudero on Facebook prior to the main card for UFC 141 this Friday. We'll see if having the nickname "Christmas" pays off for Volkmann inside the octagon during this holiday season.