FO: All sorts of names were in the mix for this fight; how did you end up being CroCopís opponent?
Somebody tweeted me asking if I would fight CroCop and I was like Ďyeah it would be a great opportunity but I believe CroCop is retiredí. Then the following week I had all these other people tweeting about it and I started to think there must be something to it. So I called a mutual friend of mine and CroCopís in Croatia and it turned out he was promoting a show and CroCop was to be the main event.
He asked if I would be interested in fighting on the card and I said yeah great love to, then a while later he called me back and said how would you feel about fighting CroCop and I said yeah, its on. I was super-excited about it because although Iíve got nothing but respect for CroCop and his achievements in kickboxing and MMA, its a fight that was meant to happen nine years ago, ten years ago, then he pulled out a few weeks before and I ended up fighting Mark Hunt.
So when the opportunity presented itself [recently] to make the fight I jumped at it and here we are now, a few days from getting in there and banging it out.
FO: Obviously ten years ago you were both younger and therefore faster and more explosive and so on; can we expect a classic fight?
Iíve watched pretty much all of his fights. I agree to a certain point that he has lost some speed, I donít feel I have lost speed or power, I move just as fast now if not faster than my last four years of K-1 because I work with a strength and conditioning coach now.
It depends how you train, I live in the gym. People might think I am old for the game but I donít drink, I donít smoke I donít do drugs I donít party. I donít do drugs. I live in the gym, six times a week, twice a day. Iím always in the gym. So I can last a lot longer, I think, than a lot of people.
We will not see the final bell. I guarantee you one hundred per cent. One hundred per cent. No decision. Not at all.
FO: Youíre predicting a stoppage win for yourself then?
Oh I have no doubt in my mind. I am confident, I know that I am going to be very aggressive, my training has been tremendous. I am a fast starter, a fighter that is in your face, and CroCop is a very slow starter and is a Ďmoverí. I think I am a really bad match-up for him.
Well yeah when you have been fighting as long as I have you are always going to be carrying some battle wounds and so on, but its mind over matter. You get in there and you do your thing.
FO: Sorry to deviate here but its just occurred to me that you just said you donít drink, which is funny because I used to watch this New Zealand film called ĎOnce Were Warriorsí all the time and I always pictured you being from that sort of background, donít ask my why!
Ha! Iíve never drank. I mean, Iíve tasted alcohol but Iíve never had the desire to drink. I never liked the taste, I hate it. I have seven brothers and two of them drink occasionally but the rest donít drink any more. They used to drink here and there but its never been a thing in our family. I remember as a young kid my dad would bring a couple of bottles home with him after work, have a few beers with his dinner and that was that.
FO: I think youíre probably the only Kiwi I have ever met that doesnít like a beer or three.
Haha! Well, Kiwis work hard but they like to play hard too, you know what I mean? Iím sure thereís a lot of people in New Zealand who donít drink but a lot of my friends do. Its something thatís fun I guess but its something that just never appealed to me, drinking and alcohol and all that. But each to their own, I can still go out and have a great time without having to touch alcohol.
FO: So living in Sin City Las Vegas but not being a party animal, what do you do in your spare time?
Well the little free time that I do have I spend with my family and my son.
FO: Las Vegas is an MMA mecca but not really somewhere you would call a kickboxing hotbed. Have you found it hard to stay ĎK-1 levelí ?
Fortunately we have guys that come into our camp from time to time, like the guy I am working with now is a kickboxing and boxing trainer who has switched to MMA. He worked with Mike Pyle for his last fight and I liked the way he worked so I got him to hold pads for me and its not bad at all. And we have a couple of boxing coaches in the gym so the striking part is top level really, and of course I have my own input as well. So overall its pretty good.
FO: Whatís your general take on the standard of striking in MMA?
I think it is improving a lot, if you look at ten years ago compared to today its improved a lot - a lot, a lot! Nowadays guys arenít afraid to stand and bang, even the ground guys are learning how to strike and MMA today is really a complete game now. Ten years from now it will have kept evolving and jiu jitsu guys and wrestlers wont hesitate to stand with strikers.