Photo by Esther Lin via Strikeforce
After initially bursting onto the scene after stepping in as a late injury replacement and smashing K-1 veteran Scott Lighty this past April, Larkin has progressed up the ticket in two subsequent appearances in the Strikeforce Challengers series culminating in a headlining appearance this past September against Rick Rossborough at Strikeforce Challengers 19 in Las Vegas.
"The Monsoon" continued his solid run in Strikeforce with yet another victory, this one a hard-fought decision against the bigger, stronger Rossborough.
With the victory, the Riverside native may have set himself up for a shot at the big boys in either the Strikeforce or potentially the UFC light heavyweight division.
Larkin spoke with MMAmania.com about what he learned about himself, his future and a hypothetical future move to the UFC in this exclusive interview.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): First thing's first, you've really been moving up. You've got from an injury replacement on a Strikeforce Challengers card earlier in the year to headlining and being on a huge billboard in Vegas. What was it like seeing that billboard for the first time? Did it hit you that you've taken it to the next level?
Lorenz Larkin: I don't know. I would say that you hear about these things that kinda hit you but to me, it's just really crazy. It's just like your thing. The last time I remember I was just driving in the car and I was getting an offer to be a last minute replacement and I was just happy that I was in good shape and able to take the fight, being able to be on a big show whether alone all this hype now and headlining events on my third fight. Yeah, the whole thing is just something I never ever thought of or dreampt of.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about that last fight with Nick Rossborough. This was the second time they've pitted you against huge dudes, like the biggest light heavyweights possible. They're guys that have fought at heavyweights and are coming down and barely making it. Has it been difficult, getting pushed around a bit by these bigger guys?
Lorenz Larkin: Yeah, it's funny because after I did my post-fight for the Gian Villante fight, I was like, "I'm not even worrying about it because Gian is probably the biggest light heavyweight I'll ever fight," and lo and behold, I didn't think this new guy would be that big. He was huge. It plays a factor, a big factor in the fight, just them putting their hands on you and pushing you around. The size makes a big difference. The cutoff is 206 and by the time the fight came I was probably about 215 and I asked him after the fight and he was 232.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You always say that you want to wait until after a fight so you can evaluate your performance with your team and see what they think. Once you guys got back and looked at the tape and saw how you did, what were your thoughts on how you performed? You won a unanimous decision, you continued to move forward so what did you and your team think?
Lorenz Larkin: I think that my team felt I took a little bit too much punishment against the cage. Yeah, I did get hit but that's part of the game. I felt comfortable with my back against the cage and a lot of the cage work and ground that we worked on in camp played out beautifully as far as me and my camp goes because the things that we're working on, I applied them in the fight and they worked. I'm happy with the things we worked on to go into the fight with but being it was a last minute change and how things came up, he was a physical fighter. He's really talented and tough and he came to bring it that night. I did take a bit more punishment than I would want to but that's like any fighter. We all wish that we didn't have to get punched. (laughs)
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah, you mentioned the opponent change and it happened with a little over a week notice. Rossborough was a completely different fighter than Virgil Zwicker in my opinion. He's not as much a striker, more of an "up close and personal" type of fighter. Was that difficult having to deal with a completely different fighter on such short notice?
Lorenz Larkin: Yeah, because coming in we knew he was a big submission guy and he does like to strike but in my opinion, submission guys that like to strike, they only like to strike until they get hit and then they go to their ground game. I don't think it was so much that, it was just the physique difference as far as Virgil being 6'2 and this guy being 6'5 with his reach and everything. That was a big factor in the fight as far as being a last minute replacement. I think that was the toughest thing to deal with?
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Did you learn anything about yourself from your performance? I know he really pushed you in this fight and you responded well.
Lorenz Larkin: Yeah, I was happy with that. As far as everybody's outlook on the fight, I was thinking, "Oh gosh, that was a tough scrap. I really had to grind it out and I got the win," but when I look back at the fight and listen to what people were saying, a lot of people were telling me I showed a lot of heart and I think I displayed some of my ground that people say I don't have and being able to control a jiu-jitsu guy. It was things like that, proving I'm a guy that doesn't just stand up and work to not get taken down and if I get taken down I'd be a fish out of the water. I think I displayed a lot as far as showcasing different things in my skills.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Virgil Zwicker backed out of the fight with an injury. Is that a fight that still interests you, or do you feel that you're past that now?
Lorenz Larkin: You know? I think I'm really past that now. If he wants to fight me, he should have to fight somebody else first now. I think that the original fight was good for our points in our careers but with me taking that fight and winning, he should at least fight again before we would even do the fight because at this point I think that's kind of backtracking for me now.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): There's been a ton of rumors going out lately about Strikeforce, what's going to happen with them. Does that get in your head a bit, people talking about Strikeforce potentially closing its doors after their Showtime deal runs out in February?
Lorenz Larkin: You know what? I stay focused on me and I just try to keep winning fights and putting on good shows. I feel like if I just keep on doing what I've been doing, there will be a spot for me somewhere and there's just so much wrapped around the whole Strikeforce thing and there's so many different rumors, it's like, if I try to get caught up in all that stuff, I'd be lost.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Have you heard anything about when you're next fight will be?
Lorenz Larkin: Ummm, no, not yet. Hopefully, I don't know what else they're doing for this year but hopefully for the beginning of next year they can get me in somewhere. I haven't got any calls. If they wanted me on their December show, they'd have called me by now. I'm shooting for the beginning of 2012.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This is a completely hypothetical question, but a lot of guys from Strikeforce have been going over to the UFC. If they came calling and asked you to come over to the big show and fight, is that something you think you'd be ready for?
Lorenz Larkin: Yeah, I think as long as they have the same views for my career as I do, you know? I think it would be a good match for me as long as I'm matched up evenly to the point where I can put on a good show and it would be a good fight, not just a landslide, that's not what I would want. I always want tough fights and if I feel like I could get matched up like that, it would be a great move for me.
Lorenz would like to thank all his trainers, Sam Mason, Arnold DeWitt, Tony Gianopolis, Romi Guram, his home gym Icon MMA, his sponsors Splat Hair Color, Ion Me, Python Mouth Guards, Hostility Clothing, Extreme Auto Works, Cali Life and everybody who supports him.
So what do you think Maniacs?
Has Larkin earned himself a shot at the big leagues? Or does the top prospect still need a bit of seasoning before he's ready?