After climbing to the top of his or her respective division and being crowned champion the worst feeling in the world for a fighter is losing that championship belt.
“Razor” Rob McCullough (16-4-0) was crowned the WEC Lightweight Champion on January 20th, 2007 and a little over a year later had that feeling in his stomach when he lost the title to Jamie Varner in February 2008.
Following the loss, McCullough would return in June to win a split decision over Kenneth Alexander. Although he felt that was not his best performance, McCullough knows that with a win in his September 10th fight with undefeated Team Jackson fighter, Donald Cerrone, he could see himself across the cage from Varner, who beat him for the title earlier this year.
In this MMANews.com exclusive interview between “Razor Rob” and Chris Howie, the former champ goes in depth on what changes he needed to make to get himself back to form including rejoining his former trainer Colin Oyama. He also talks about the Varner fight and what it could mean to get back to the top of the ladder.
Chris Howie of MMANews.com: How did training go leading up to this fight?
“Razor” Rob: My training went really well for the fight. I had Josh Thomson come out and train with me and I started about ten weeks out. I’ve been doing a lot of grappling and stand up. I also went back to my old trainer, Colin Oyama. I also incorporated a lot of new sparring partners into the mix to help counter Cerrone’s considerable reach advantage. I got some tall sparring partners that were good on the ground and good on their feet.
MMANews.com: You mentioned going back to train with Colin Oyama, what was the deciding factor in going back to train with him?
“Razor” Rob: It had a lot to do with my performance in my last two fights, I just wasn’t very happy with them at all. Although I did win the fight with Kenneth Alexander, I felt as though my striking was getting a little lackluster and it wasn’t as sharp as it was before. Colin was the guy that got me to the top and helped my standing ability become recognized in the sport, so I went back with him to get my striking back on point. He has a gym in Irvine, CA and I heard he had a few 6’1″ kick boxers in the gym as well as some really good Jiu-Jitsu guys so I went back over there to get the sparring in and get some good work outs in.
MMANews.com: Cerrone is coming in at 8-0 with all of his wins coming by way of submission. What have you been doing in training to counter his slick Jiu-Jitsu game?
“Razor” Rob: I’ve been doing a lot of Tae Bo you know? Been watching the tapes and got the leg warmers. [Laughs]. No I’m just kidding. I have a lot of great grapplers that I spar with and really help me out. I’ve specifically been working on open guard stuff and a lot of ground and pound as well as a lot of getting back up from the bottom and change in positions. I’m ready for his game, anywhere he wants to go. We can take it to the ground or we can keep it standing. I’m ready for wherever he wants it to go. I’m definitely going to be stronger than him and I am in the best shape of my career.
MMANews.com: How do you feel you match up with him and where do you see it going and such?
“Razor” Rob: I definitely see this fight all over the place. I think I am going to be quicker than him and if he wants to stand and bang – it’s going to be a short night for him. I hit like a freight train. If he wants to hit the ground so be it – I’ve got a ground and pound game from hell. I’m ready to get in there and get busy. This is the most important thing in my life right now.
MMANews.com: With a win do you see yourself right back in line for a shot at Jamie Varner?
“Razor” Rob: For sure.
MMANews.com: Obviously that would be a fight you’d like to have back. What surprised you most about Varner and going back, what would you have done differently?
“Razor” Rob: You know, when I started that camp – and I’m not making excuses here, the better man came out on top that night. But with that being said, I started my camp for that fight a little late and training for a five minute, five round fight, takes a lot of fucking training. When I got in there I was kind of feeling a little blah. I had a lot of grapplers with me before the fight to work on shutting down his take downs and in the fight when I realized I did shut down his take downs, I realized I busted my eardrum and that through my whole game out the window. My striking wasn’t up to par and I wasn’t throwing kicks and punches as well as I could have. The second time around will be one hell of a different fight.
MMANews.com: Did he surprise you with his hands?
“Razor” Rob: Yeah he was tagging me with shots, he has a monkey reach and he was surprising me but I was laughing at him the whole time. When I realized that I busted my eardrum I was like “Ahhhh man” and at that point I realized I had to get him with a big shot. When I did get him with the big shot (Steve) Mazagatti stopped the fight because he lost his mouth piece and the time out was called. At that point I realized that all my momentum was gone and then he clipped me. It will make for a great rematch.
MMANews.com: What effect did the eardrum have on you?
“Razor” Rob: Well, when you bust your eardrum it throws off your equilibrium which controls your balance and such. It was super annoying because I could hear myself breathing inside my head. I busted it once before boxing when I was 17 so I knew what it was when it happened this time.
MMANews.com: Going back to the start, when did you get involved in Mixed Martial Arts?
“Razor” Rob: Well my dad was a Vietnam veteran and he was involved in Martial Arts so I picked it up from him. I remember going to a school when I was like 5 and they asked me if I knew my right from my left and I didn’t know the answer so they told me to come back when I knew the answer. I went back when I was 11 and I remember getting in trouble for yelling at a kid for not being aggressive enough with me. I started going at it full on when I was like 16. I was hitting the weights and running and hitting the bag and it’s been full force ever since.
MMANews.com: With talks of Zuffa merging some fighters from the WEC into the UFC ranks, who on the UFC roster would you like to get into the cage with?
“Razor” Rob: Everyone man. Everyone in the UFC is a great fighter so it would be an honor to fight anyone. Preferably someone with a belt would be cool though.
MMANews.com: What would it mean to you to get the WEC championship back?
“Razor” Rob: It would just be total satisfaction to know I’m back on that track. It would mean the world to me.
MMANews.com: Ok Cool Rob, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today and good luck in your fight next week with Donald Cerrone.
“Razor” Rob: Alright brother thanks.