Photo of Jacob Volkman via UFC.tv.
Jacob Volkmann is as no-nonsense as they come.
If asked a question, even a tough one, he won't be skirting around the issue. His answers will be straight forward and come directly from the gut, even if they're unpopular or controversial.
Just ask President Barack Obama, who Volkmann said he wanted to fight next following his split decision UFC 125 victory over Antonio McKee, a decision that earned him a secret service visit to his house, which "brought his wife to tears" and put him on two week suspension from his high school wresting coach side gig.
Since dropping down to lightweight, "Christmas" Volkmann has quietly gone undefeated (4-0) in the UFC, notably defeating Danny Castillo his last time out this past August.
The Minnesota Martial Arts Academy fighter was all geared up for a showdown with T.J. Grant before an injury to the Canadian provided an avenue for former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 eight winner Efrain Escudero to return to the UFC.
Volkmann is now slated to take on Escudero at UFC 141 next Friday night (Dec. 30, 2011), a man he doesn't particularly admire. The part-time chiropractor spoke with MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission this week about the reason Escudero rubs him the wrong way, the evolution of his fighting style and who he thinks will be the next UFC lightweight champion.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're taking on Efrain Escudero at UFC 141. You were originally slated to face T.J. Grant. How much different is Efrain from Grant because I see a lot of similarities in their style.
Jacob Volkmann: Well Efrain isn't nearly as good on the ground as T.J. Grant is. T.J.'s submissions are a lot more crisp than Efrain's are. What does Efrain have? He's got a front headlock to a guillotine, that's the only thing I've ever seen him try and his takedowns are better, well I don't know, his takedowns are probably the same. He was only a junior college wrestler but T.J.'s been taking down Division I national champions like Shane Roller. I think T.J. Grant was a tougher fight but sometimes people get injured and that's what happened.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): While T.J. might have been a tougher fight, I believe Efrain Escudero comes in with a bigger name due to winning season eight of The Ultimate Fighter so this could actually be a win-win for you where it's not quite as difficult of a fight in your eyes but you'd actually gain more for a victory. Do you kind of see it that way as well?
Jacob Volkmann: I guess. He does have a bigger fanbase than T.J. does. He's got a lot bigger ego too so it's hard to deal with that too.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What is it about his ego that makes you think it would be worse than T.J. Grant?
Jacob Volkmann: Well, I saw him fight down at CFA, I don't know if you've ever heard of them down in Miami, Florida. That's where Efrain fought this guy named Mike Rio and it's just the way he carried himself. It was annoying to be honest and now I get to fight him.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Are you hoping to shut him up a little bit I guess?
Jacob Volkmann: Well, I don't think that's possible. If you get a person like that, I think he's gonna be arrogant no matter who he fights or whatever happens.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Jacob Volkmann, dropping the sound bytes (laughs). So what was it about the way he carried himself that rubbed you the wrong way?
Jacob Volkmann: Yeah, just the arrogance. He seemed like his nose was up in the air and he was expecting people to come over and talk to him and stuff. I don't know. He just really annoyed me when I was watching him.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Efrain trains alongside guys like Ben Henderson and Jamie Varner and you train with Nik Lentz and former UFC champion Sean Sherk. Who do you feel is putting in the time with better lightweights right now?
Jacob Volkmann: Well, obviously I'm gonna have to say me. I don't know, though, that's a horse apiece. Ben Henderson is a great fighter. I'd love to fight him. That would be a very exciting fight. Other than that, I don't know. You can't judge them because they've never fought each other. Ben Henderson's never fought Sean Sherk and Nik Lentz never fought those guys. Jamie Varner, who does he fight for? Does Jamie Varner fight for the UFC?
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Not right now. I think .he just signed a contract with the XFC. I have a couple questions about your style. In your last fight with Danny Castillo, it was a very entertaining ground battle and you were going for that D'Arce choke repeatedly. Was that just kind of something you saw and kept going for it or is that you're "go-to" move on the ground?
Jacob Volkmann: No, that's something he was just giving me. He kept trying for the underhook and I had half guard so I'd just slip it right in. It was one move that I've been working on in practice and it's been coming to me pretty much every time I roll. I've been trying to work other moves now since that one didn't work so well. I don't know. I kept going to it because it kept on getting tighter and tighter and I figured, "One of these times this guy's gonna tap or at least pass out," but he showed true grit, man. He was tough down there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You said you were working on something new. Are we privy to this information or is it top secret?
Jacob Volkmann: Ah, it's just top movies. Instead of going for the D'Arce, slipping the guillotine from top and I've been working a lot of Kimura stuff, armbar stuff and it really doesn't matter. Who cares? It's the same stuff that everybody else is trying. I've been trying to work, practice more guillotines, armbars and Kimuras from the same position.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've quietly gone 4-0 since dropping down to lightweight. That's about as good of a streak as anybody's got right now at 155 pounds. Do you feel like a victory over Efrain Escudero, a pretty high profile name, do you think that should take you up to that upper echelon of that lightweight division and that should get you these bigger fights with more exposure?
Jacob Volkmann: I hope so. I hope I get at least a top 10 guy. Last time I was asking for a top 10 guy but I guess they got other plans for those guys. Maybe Donald Cerrone vs. Nick Diaz, the winner of those two, that would be a nice fight too if you think ahead.
Gerry Rodriguez: We had Nik Lentz on the show a couple weeks ago and he shares a story about tapping out Brock Lesnar during a training session. He said they were kind of goofing around and he got him in a guillotine and the next time around, Brock picked him up and literally threw him across the room. Were you there for that or do you have anything you can share about that?
Jacob Volkmann: No, no, but he does, Brock does have some crazy strength. One time I was rolling with him and I was on top and he bench pressed me and threw me five feet so I believe that. I didn't roll with him again. I'm not stupid. He's just too strong.
Gerry Rodriguez: How do you like Brock's chances against Overeem on the 30th?
Jacob Volkmann: Oh, I think he's gonna kill him. He's gonna take his down, that's obvious. He's gonna shoot his power double. His power double is very hard to stop even against Division I national championship wrestlers so I'm pretty sure the guy who's never practiced takedown defense in his life is gonna stop the takedown.
Gerry Rodriguez: You're a chiropractor and you're running your own business. Does it actually help with your training in MMA or is it something that's just kind of an added on thing that you have to deal with?
Jacob Volkmann: It's just something I have to deal with. I was trying to get some free marketing for fighting for the UFC and it doesn't help. I don't get new patients for being a fighter for the UFC or anything like that. It'd be nice though.
Ben Thapa: As a chiropractor, you work a lot with spinal alignment and backs. Does it feel odd for you to help people outside the cage, but inside, particularly against Danny Castillo with the D'arce, which is a neck based submission, is that an odd feeling for you?
Jacob Volkmann: No, no. I'm able to take work aside when I'm out there fighting. I don't think about work when I'm out there. When I practice, I'm not thinking about my chiropractor business. I don't think about my kids when I'm out there. It's just something you've got to be able to focus on one thing at a time. I was weird because when I had Castillo in that D'Arce, the first one, his neck was cracking pretty loud. I was like, "This is gonna hurt afterwards."
Ben Thapa: I'm also wondering about your transitions, coming over as a pure wrestler and adding in the striking and submissions. What was that like for you?
Jacob Volkmann: Well the easiest thing for me to adjust to was the submissions for jiu-jitsu because they're almost pretty much the same except you've got the submission part where you can choke them and get the armbar and twist their arms and stuff. Pretty much, everything else, where your hips are, where your weight should be, that's all the same. The only thing I'm having trouble with so far is the Muay Thai part, the kickboxing. I'm trying to get my hands faster and get better timing on the punch. I want to punch and then shoot, that's what I'm always constantly working on.
Ben Thapa: The footwork is very different too. Usually the Muay Thai guys have their weak foot forward and wrestlers like to have their strong foot forward.
Jacob Volkmann: Yeah, I also like to have more weight on my lead foot.
Ben Thapa: Has your wrestling gotten a little more ambidextrous since switching over and training more Muay Thai?
Jacob Volkmann: No, not really. I'm a southpaw so I've been sticking with my southpaw stance. Back when I was in high school and I was an orthodox boxer. I kind of switched that up to make it a little easier for me to shoot.
Ben Thapa: How do you view making fights exciting versus sticking to the gameplan and playing to your strengths? What's the right balance?
Jacob Volkmann: There is no balance. If you wanna win, you've got to stick to your own gameplan. Sometimes, the gameplan is to be exciting, the gameplan is exciting. Sometimes if you take the guy to the ground and you try to submit him and ground and pound him, some of the fans don't like that because they are looking for the knockout. You've just got to deal with what your gameplan is and stick with it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): If you put someone in a terrible submission, would you offer then a free consultation?
I was actually thinking about offering Castillo a hundred bucks if he'd tap out (laughs). I thought about whispering in his ear, "Tap out, I'll give you 100 bucks!" but I didn't do it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I don't know if you're a pro wrestling fan, but after the fight's over instead of like the Million Dollar Man putting a dollar in their hand, you can give them a business card or something.
Jacob Volkmann: Yup, he needed my business card. I guarantee his neck was pretty sore the next day. I was cranking on his neck for eight minutes straight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you work with MMA fighters for your business at all?
Jacob Volkmann: Yeah, yeah but I don't really get paid to at all. MMA fighters, the smaller show guys, they don't make enough to put food on the table. I'm not gonna charge them guys because they're my partners too. I need them to be healthy because if they're not healthy, then who am I gonna practice with? I treat those guys mostly for free.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Ok, Jacob, you're taking on Efrain Escudero and you've been thinking about it ever since they made the fight switch. When you're closing your eyes and visualizing success in there, how do you see yourself getting a victory?
Jacob Volkmann: A lot of movement. A lot of movement. I'm gonna start throwing my hands more, more stand-up with this guy. I've got to learn how to get better stand-up in the cage. My stand-up in the room is good. I've just got to transition to get better stand-up in the cage and transition to takedowns. My ground game's good but I've just got to get better stand-up in the ring because sometime in the cage, there's gonna be a guy that can stop your takedowns, then you've got to stand with him.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned how your stand-up is fine in practice, so what do you think is the difference when the cage doors close?
Jacob Volkmann: It's just confidence. You've just got to do it, just gotta start throwing.
Ben Thapa: Who do you see winning the UFC lightweight title between Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar?
Jacob Volkmann: I'm gonna give it to Henderson. I think Henderson's gonna get on him, gonna stay on him unlike Maynard. He just fought Maynard and Maynard beat him when eh took him down and stayed on him but then he decided he wanted to bang with him and try to knock him out even after the second time after the first time didn't work so I think Henderson's gonna be a little smart, learn from Maynard's mistakes.
Jacob would like to thank SEG, Sterling Entertainment Group, Headrush and the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, He'd also like to give a shoutout to Volkmann Chiropractic, Infinity Insurance and Heat Wave. You can follow him on twitter @JacobVolkmann.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Do you appreciate Volkmann's brutal honesty? Will he accomplish his dream of cracking into the top tier of UFC lightweights will a victory on Friday night?
To listen to the complete audio of Volkmann's interview click here.