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Gym rat: Jason Brilz UFC on Versus interview exclusive with MMAmania.com

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Sunday night UFC light heavyweight Jason Brilz (17-2-1) looks to put one back in the win column when he faces Eric Schafer (11-4-2) at UFC Live: "Vera vs. Jones" from the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo., which airs on the Versus network.

Brilz is 2-1 since signing with the UFC, with wins over Brad Morris and Tim Boetsch, followed by his first Octagon loss at UFC 103: "Franklin vs. Belfort," where he ended the night on the wrong side of a split decision against Eliot Marshall.

His opponent on Saturday, Eric "Red" Schafer, is 3-3 with the world’s top promotion and 4-1 in his last five fights. Although he’s coming off a unanimous decision loss to Ryan Bader at UFC 104: "Machida vs. Shogun," he holds recent victories over Antonio Mendes and Houston Alexander.

We had the chance to talk to the soft-spoken fighter about his upcoming challenge, training for "Red" and balancing his part-time fighting career with being a full-time father.

Here we go:

Michael McColgan (MMAmania.com): With your match against Schafer, on paper this is expected to go to the ground. Is that where you see the fight ending up?

Jason Brilz: I do expect the fight to go to the ground. I don’t see him trying to win the fight on his feet, by backing up and jabbing. First off, I don’t think he’s fast enough. Both of us are not the quickest guys on our feet, with our punches anyways. And second, that’s not his style. He likes to get in there and finish the fight. He’s a former wrestler, a hard-nosed kid. He’s gonna come at you with everything he has, he’s gonna try and finish it.

Michael McColgan (MMAmania.com): With some fights, the formula is obvious. When Eric fought in Omaha it was a no brainer to go to the ground against Houston (Alexander), but with your wrestling it’s a little different.

Jason Brilz: You know, I guess I can see him trying to set it up, get me frustrated and then try to get a takedown on me or something. But I’ve dealt with the reach, and if he does try to do that I’ve got a plan B. I hope that works.(chuckling)

Michael McColgan (MMAmania.com): Not looking past Eric, but assuming you win, if Dana walks up and asks who do you want, what would be your ideal match-up?

Jason Brilz: You know what, I just enjoy fighting. Tell you the truth, I don’t care who I fight. I just like the challenge. So who I fight is not necessarily a big deal to me.

Michael McColgan (MMAmania.com): So it’s not like, "I have to get to the belt?"

Jason Brilz: No, it was never about getting to the belt when I started this. It was never about the money or fame or anything but fighting and competing, having fun with it.

Michael McColgan (MMAmania.com): Keeps you busy.

Jason Brilz: Keeps me busy.

Michael McColgan (MMAmania.com): Do you ever see your children?

Jason Brilz: They come to the gym quite a lot. Little gym rats.

Michael McColgan (MMAmania.com): You’re an assistant wrestling coach at UNO and a full-time firefighter. Any plans to fight full time and maybe push one of those to the back burner?

Jason Brilz: Nope. I have a great formula now for my training. I’m able to incorporate it into all that. It keeps my mind sharp, keeps me physically fit, and more importantly, it keeps my body in the right state.

Michael McColgan (MMAmania.com): I guess you need to be in shape to do all three jobs well.

Jason Brilz: Yeah, and I’m not getting any younger. When I first started, at 24, I could go out and party, wake up the next day and hit two, three hard workouts. Now you know if I go out and party it’s two days recovery and then ease back into it. So I know my body can’t take it full time. People say, "I’m a full-time fighter," and I think how much can you train every day? Chael Sonnen, he’s a great fighter, real outspoken guy. He once said, "I go in for two hours, and that includes the shower." Do that plus maybe 45-minute cardio — there’s three hours, four if you drive a little bit. What are you doing the other 20 hours? You can say you were at the gym 12 hours yesterday, but you weren’t working for all those hours. Nobody can do that and get something productive out of it.

Michael McColgan (MMAmania.com): Last but not least, any advice for the younger up-and-comers reading this?

Jason Brilz: Cardio. It’s all about cardio. You can pick up the techniques, but if you can only throw the techniques for a minute, so what? You have to be able to throw the combos at the end of 15 like you did at the beginning. You can’t get so physically exhausted looking for that takedown that you finally get him down, plant your arms on the mat and get choked or arm-barred. You need to have the kind of training where you have a fresh guy on you every minute or two.

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