At UFC 69, Josh "Bring The Pain" Haynes will be looking for his first win inside the Octagon.
As a light heavyweight he was stopped in the second round by Michael Bisping at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Finale 3. He came up short as a middleweight in a decision loss to Rory "Version 2.5" Singer at UFC: The Final Chapter.
Now a welterweight, he'll face Luke "The Silent Assassin" Cummo in a match that may determine not just who the better fighter is, but who will stay active on an increasingly populated UFC roster.
With only a finite amount of airtime, even seasoned fighters are vying for a spot on the main card. Add to that the upcoming debut of TUF 5 (and a new crop of fighters) and this match could be make-or-break for both combatants.
I caught up with Josh on a Friday afternoon. He was jovial and down-to-earth, and spoke like a man proud of his craft. I could hear his kids playing in the background, and I felt assured that win or lose, this was a fighter that deserved to be here.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Josh, thank you for taking the time to check in with us at UFCmania. Before we get started can you tell us how your son Thor is doing?
Josh Haynes: He's doing great, yeah, he's turning into a typical five year-old. He's in school, having fun with his friends, all that kind of stuff.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): So he's cancer free?
Josh Haynes: Well so far, so good. He's been cancer free going on three years now. We still do annual scans and follow-ups. Every year we get closer and closer to beating this thing. I guess it never really goes away but the longer we go the better our chances are.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Let's start with your training. You're coming down from light heavyweight all the way to welterweight. That's a pretty significant drop. How do you feel physically?
Josh Haynes: I feel great. I tried to set realistic goals for myself. I knew that my weight was a problem. It was so hard fighting at 205 because of my height. I gave up such a disadvantage in size and reach. You can see the size difference in my fight against Bisping and also in my fight against Rory at 185. I knew that I wanted to get to 170 but I also knew it had to be a gradual process. I used to walk around at 212 and right now I'm at 189. My goal is to walk around at 180. I've had plenty of time to prepare so it won't be an issue.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Do you think trying to stay at that weight consistently will catch up to you?
Josh Haynes: I decided that win or lose against Cummo I'm staying at 170. I really don't see it being a problem at all. Nothing is going to stop me from making weight. I know it's been the talk lately because of Travis Lutter but I think he was the exception, not the rule. The guy's got a history of weight cutting problems and to make matters worse he doesn't have a solid crew behind him. He makes all his own decisions and it comes back to hurt him. Somebody's always gotta have your back in this game.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Who's got your back?
Josh Haynes: Team Quest.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): How did you get involved with that camp?
Josh Haynes: Coming from Oregon it was the natural choice. I'm in Portland now and these are the guys I want to be associated with. And why not? There's a lot of top guys here.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Who are your go-to guys when you're training for a fight?
Josh Haynes: Matt Lindland and Ed Herman. Those guys are always helping me improve. You want to work on your wrestling than who better to train with than a guy like Matt Lindland? Plus they're just great guys to be around.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): What was it like seeing yourself on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF)? Were you portrayed fairly?
Josh Haynes: Oh absolutely, that's who I am 100 percent. Those were real tears, real emotions. My family is everything to me.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Do you keep in contact with any of the TUF guys?
Josh Haynes: Well, Ed Herman who is also my training partner and Rory Singer is a good friend of mine. Not really anyone else.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): You mention Rory Singer. I can assume you don't have a problem fighting a friend since you and Rory faced off at UFC: The Final Chapter?
Josh Haynes: Fighting a friend is all business. Plus it's an angle Joe Silva can give to the fans. Fighting a friend doesn't make you less of a friend, it would be much harder to fight a training partner. It's going to be inevitable sooner or later because you run with the same guys all the time. If you really don't want to fight a friend you should hang out with guys in different weight classes.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): There's been some scuttlebutt on MySpace recently about your sponsors. Are you taken care of or have you started actively pursuing new sponsors?
Josh Haynes: Nate Quarry started that whole thing on his own. He was just taking an interest in helping me further my sponsorship. He's a good friend of mine. He'll be cornering me against Cummo. I don't know, people picked up on it and just started running with it. It wasn't like a desperation tactic or anything because I'm not hurting. I have a sponsorship manager and plenty of sponsors. Nate was just testing the waters and it blew up. I'm not looking for help but as a fighter you always welcome new sponsors.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): What's your status with the UFC? How many fights are left on your contract?
Josh Haynes: I'm not sure, it all depends on the UFC. My deal is for three years -- it isn't broken down into how many fights I have. That's not to say I'll definitely be around for three years because they can cut me anytime.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Having said that do you feel the fight against Luke Cummo is a must-win coming off two consecutive losses?
Josh Haynes: Every fight is a must win. It's a mentality that's in everything I do, for better or for worse. Heck, I play my kids in Monopoly it's a must win.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): With all the new talent coming into the UFC are you afraid that if you don't win you might lose your spot?
Josh Haynes: (Laughs) I don't have a spot so I'm not worried about it. It would suck to get cut but job security is not an issue for me. I'm a fighter and I'll fight anywhere. I would much rather be in the UFC because it's a phenomenal organization but its not like it's the UFC or nothing. If I have to move on I will continue fighting and hope to one day work my way back in.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Aside from the decision against Tait Fletcher, all of your wins have come by way of submission. Do you consider yourself a submission fighter or has it just been a matter of opportunity?
Josh Haynes: No way am I a submission fighter. I'm not looking for the submission because I would much rather pound someone out. If the opportunity presents itself I'll take it. How can you pass it up?
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Fighters are starting to take some heat from the fans when they fight not to lose rather than fight to win. What's your opinion on that?
Josh Haynes: (Groans) Man let me tell you I would much rather put in an exciting loss than a boring win. To me it's all about my performance. If I went 0-30 and gave the fans 30 exciting fights then I would be happy. Look what happened to Heath Herring. What a mess that turned into. Here's a guy that brings so much to the table and what happens? He gets smothered for three rounds. Hey Jake, congratulations on the win, but who gives a damn about getting outwrestled? I was just as pissed as the fans. I would rather get knocked out than lay ‘n pray for three rounds.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Do you prefer the ring or the cage or does it matter?
Josh Haynes: I prefer the cage. Anything with walls. I hate big wide-open spaces or having to chase people. In the ring you have to worry about guys falling through the ropes. I like having walls because I can use them in my fights, I can work off the walls. Plus there is no feeling in the world like closing the cage door and it sinking in that you've got nowhere to run.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Let's get to Luke Cummo. Do you have any kind of relationship as TUF alumni?
Josh Haynes: None at all. Never talked to the dude.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): How do you think you match up against him?
Josh Haynes: I have no concerns about this fight at all. Even though he's a tough guy who won't quit, he has nothing on the ground or on the feet that I haven't already seen. I'm faster than I've ever been and I'm just as strong as when I fought at light heavyweight. In fact, my striking is even crisper. I'll be throwing hard and fast and my aggression will be a factor. I feel really good about this fight.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): What fighter do you admire or try to model yourself after?
Josh Haynes: You know I've been thinking about that for a long time. I guess I take a little bit from different fighters. I respect so many of them for different reasons. A guy like Cro Cop is just a machine. Guys like Rampage and Tito march to the beat of their own drums. Randy Couture is probably the closest thing to a mentor. He's a blue-collar guy that made it. He never shied away from anything and never regretted any of his decisions.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): What do you do when you're not training for a fight?
Josh Haynes: Sleep! I'm a family man so I'm always busy. Plus I still work part-time at the same nightclub I was working at in TUF 3.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): I notice you have a lot of tattoos. Any favorites?
Josh Haynes: Probably the flags on my forearms. They represent who I am and what I'm about. You know the guys in the UFC really embody what this country is all about. Plus it gives my opponent the opportunity to see the flag and feel good about our country before I put them to sleep.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Ever consider "The Caveman" as a nickname to honor your roots in Grant's Pass? (City where Josh grew up)
Josh Haynes: (Laughs) Man I never thought of it. That may be the way to go. Maybe I can be Captain Caveman and just come out with a club. I could club the shit out of my opponent and make things a lot easier.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Well you have the perfect excuse if your conditioning fails. You can just tell everyone "It's the climate". (Famous Grant's Pass catchphrase)
Josh Haynes: Yeah, man what an interesting place to grow up. Very hillbilly-ish. There was a lot of scrappin' to be done there.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Any childhood heroes?
Josh Haynes: Jim Rockford.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Uh, as in Rockford Files?
Josh Haynes: (Laughs) Yeah, that guy was badass. He had a gold Camaro-or was it a Firebird? I would run home after school to watch it. Maybe a little A-Team sometimes but c'mon Jim Rockford was the man. I was big into the Hulk too.
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Hulk rules! That about does it for us. Any sponsors you want to mention?
Jesse Holland (UFCmania): Josh thanks again for taking the time to talk with us. A final prediction for the Cummo fight?
Josh Haynes: Me winning. Any way I can.