Hey guys - so DD is gone from Mania for the rest of the year but prior to him leaving I was encouraged to partake in the Fans Interview Fighters series. Apologies for this taking 4 months since the initial post canvassing for questions from you, the fans, but I had some issues along the way. George was an absolute pleasure to speak with over the phone around his busy schedule of training. I hope to be uploading the audio of the interview as soon as possible for those of you who dont like reading large chunks of text ;)
Big thank you to all the questions from you - the MMAmania.com community - without your help and suggestions this may never have gone ahead! NOTE: The questions were not all in the format you initially posted(here) as I just wanted to have a flowing conversation - Interview from start to finish after the jump:
Brad: Hi George you have just come from training, what have you been training at the moment?
George: I’m working on everything. In this game you have to work on everything. Every day my training consists of different parts of the game. I box, I do Muay Thai, I wrestle just, you know, all the different components that i work on obviously all five that are in MMA and then there's strengthening and conditioning - So there's various parts and every day it's something different.
Brad: So what does the current training regime look like?
George: Currently training 6 days a week
Brad: Ok great now you have a fight coming up in July, who is it that you're training with at the moment and whereabouts?
George: The people I train with are my boxing coach, Leonard Gabriel of Fisticuffs, located in Vancouver, Washington. Then I also work with the guys down at Impact Jiu Jitsu - basically a few of my training partners in jiu jitsu - but I also go to LA to work with Eddie Bravo at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu. Then I have a wrestling coach called Eric Jetton and we work at wrestling out of Impact Jiu Jitsu as well as Fisticuffs, and then I have a few muay thai training partners who come over to Fisticuffs and work over there. So most of my training is based out of Fisticuffs, Impact and 10th Planet. Then I go to Team Quest to work on my MMA sparring and you know work with various fighters that are in the area.
Brad: Now when you mention Eddie Bravo, how long have you been training with Eddie?
George: I’ve been training with Eddie Bravo since (has to think a bit) I think it was November 2009
Brad(vhw_): Right so a couple of years now. How do you like what he does in terms of the practicality with MMA - some people say that the rubber guard isn’t very helpful in MMA. I am a fan of Eddie Bravo's stuff so how do you feel about what people say there?
George: I think a lot of people have different opinions but evidently it works. I've used it and it’s worked and it’s beneficial. You know it's got practical applications for the sport which is to create friction in the clinch from the bottom and basically it works.
Brad: Yeah definitely - What's your favourite Eddie Bravo move?
George: You know what there are so many great moves I really couldn’t choose. I love the rubber guard, I love everything out of the half guard, the twister theory. There's three major components in his system and that's rubber guard, twister and half guard - They're the three major components but his system now has evolved so far that it’s just continuously evolving.
Brad(Fulch): This is the first question from someone on the site - they've been recently beginning jiu jitsu and it's something I consider myself to still be new at - What would you advise is the best way to improve?
George: Basically you just gotta learn a lot of technique and you know do a lot of drills and just roll. There's three parts to training, a) Learning the technique, learn the positions so that's positions, technique, drilling etc, then b) moving onto learning the position with resistance and then obviously c) rolling and grappling (or sparring). With those components you put them together and you have a game.
Brad: I keep finding I have been getting smashed a lot once we get to rolling. It's been a lot of fun.
George: (Laughs) Keep on rolling
Brad(Onemansyn): If anyone, who's BJJ in MMA leaves you in awe and makes you want to raise your game? Is there anyone you sort of look up to in MMA?
George: Ummm... Not so much in MMA. Outside of it I think there are a lot of great grapplers who I've enjoyed watching I'd have to say Jacare, I'd have to say Marcelo Garcia is a great grappler. I think the older guys the Gracies; Rickson, Royce, Royler; Jean Jacques Machado, Rigan Machado. All those guys I think like I just mentioned there - the Gracie's and the Machado's, they're like legends of the sport they really are. The newer guys I like Jacare and Garcia I think they're like a new breed to the sport.
Brad(DetroitDrew1980): Speaking of a new breed to the sport the 155 division is pretty stacked now since WEC merged and then potentially Strikeforce coming across, who do you think are really the rising stars in the division in the UFC at the moment.
George: Oh you know this division really is stacked. I think if you look at the stats, the 155 division had the most fight of the night bonuses. It’s tough. There's just too many fighters to mention you know anyone in the top five of Strikeforce, UFC, WEC, there's more than a handful great fights you could make there
Brad(THORAZINE): Within the UFC if you could have one dream fight who would that be with?
George: Obviously right now fighting for the belt would be a dream fight so that would be against Frankie Edgar but really, like I said there's a lot more top guys in the division; Grey Maynard, Frankie Edgar. Any of the champions of these divisions; Gilbert Melendez from Strikeforce, Pettis and Henderson from WEC, there's like 5 guys right there that are all big fights so it really is a talent rich division. The guys in this division are very talented.
Brad(Onemansyn): In terms of fight of the night bonuses - Which sub would you like to pull off in a fight and make a sub of the night?
George:(Laughs) You know what I just I don’t want to look at anything I may attempt in the future but uhhhh... There's a lot of exciting stuff out there. Lots of stuff people haven't seen yet. I think the things that people haven't seen, and even some of the things people have seen, some of the obscure submissions and techniques are very cool, but I do think anything that wins the fight is more important than being exciting you know what I mean? As long as you win that's ah...
Brad: That's the main goal in the end.
George: Yeah. We were talking about this in an interview just yesterday. At this level finishing a fight is very difficult because of the talent. If you have a mismatch in a fight, you're going to see more submissions, but because the fights are closely matched, and the talent pool's so rich, it's going to be hard to finish anyone at this level. I mean it still happens but you know.
Brad (Captain Ernesto): Well yeah the 3 round fights have been becoming close and closer there’s been a lot more draws going on - Do you think there's something that needs to change within the judging system to make those wins more definitive or do you think that's more so the round structure - What's your take on that George?
George: I think if they added more rounds it would put an end to it. Obviously you'd see more finishes but, you know, there's an argument between which ways to judge a fight - Obviously you can base it on more activity or more damage. And you know the fight between Frankie Edgar and Grey Maynard is a good example. Grey Maynard hurt Edgar in the first round and Edgar was just so active for the remainder of the fight he basically turned the fight around, he came back, and he equalized it ya know. So you can make an argument for both guys; Both systems make valid points and I think they both go hand in hand because both systems of scoring are valid when it comes to scoring a fight. You can’t eliminate the damage perspective and you can’t eliminate the activity perspective you know?
Brad: One of the guys on the site(Bigger Zino) labelled you as Australia's top ranked MMA artist which I agree with. With that kind of statement do you feel any pressure behind that and does the extra media attention a benefit or a hindrance to you?
George: It's a part of it. It doesn’t really bother me. As you grow in the sport it just goes hand in hand. It’s a part of business and it’s a part of being a professional athlete so it just comes with the turf
Brad: What do you most miss about being in Australia?
George: I definitely miss home. The beach - I don’t live near the beach anymore I haven’t since I’ve been over here - I don’t even think I’ve been to a beach since I’ve been here - except when I go to California. I’d have to say definitely the beach and yeah family, friends stuff like that that’s obviously the first thing that you miss. They're the people that you rely on, you know I’ve got great support living over here and close friends but with no family here so you feel like you’re on your own
Brad(3 part Q from Bigger Zino): Just going back to travelling I wanted to ask another question from one of the guys on the site he referred to you as a true MMA journeyman I think that’s a pretty good statement and it pretty much sums you up to a T looking at your past; what’s the coolest thing you've learnt from Serra Jiu Jitsu:
George: The most part when I was there - I didn’t focus on too much technique when I was there, like you know it was all technique but it was mostly stuff I was already using. The focus of training it was more intense sparring so I didn’t really think it added anything to my game but, I tell you what, by sparring I think my overall game improved - you know sparring with a lot of grapplers, wrestlers, a lot of MMA style sparring and striking, but I can’t really pinpoint what part of my game improved individually because overall it just got better by consistently sparring and working on it.
Brad: Cool - And what do you think is the most beneficial thing you've taken from training with Randy and that lot?
George: I would say the same thing there it was such a big camp and it was basically fight training. There wasn’t a focus on technique it was more a focus on intense sparring and that’s basically what I got from Randy Couture. Different styles and id say the focus of Randy Couture's is MMA but like it comes with, I would say with some flavour and everybody there I think is very well rounded; they’ve got pretty good striking and very good wrestling and they can get back to their feet pretty well from the ground, I mean, they’re very confident. I’d say it’s one of the best MMA schools in the country.
Brad: And the third part of that question - regarding 10th planet and training there. Would that be different with 10th planet considering you would have taken a lot of technique from Eddie, rather than MMA and "fight training"?
George: It's been specifically 10th planet jiu jitsu that I’ve gone to Eddie for. Obviously there would be a huge focus on his system of jiu jitsu which is why I went there and I’m taking away so much in terms of technique from his school. I think it’s elevated my grappling to a new level. My bottom game has gotten a lot better I’ve got more arsenal from my guard - it showed in the fights with Stevenson and Pellegrino I meant to use my bottom game to stop those guys and weather the storm as well as you know getting on top and executing our game plan from the top or the bottom. So I would have to say Eddie's system was a big advantage in those fights.
Brad(Fulch): For sure - and in terms of Dennis Siver - I was there in the crowd and ecstatic at seeing it live - how did the crowd feel for you there?
George: The Australian crowd gave me so much support honestly I’ve never experienced anything like it. When I fought in UFC 110 vs. Stevenson, you know they were equally supportive and vocal and wild it was like watching one of those soccer matches in the UK where the crowd goes nuts. It was the same thing in Australia - When the Australians really got you know behind me and supported me like compatriots - and it was the same thing against Siver even though I didn’t get the W they still backed me and despite the outcome they were still there, they showed their true colours they were behind me 100% and it was great to have that support from my home crowd
Brad(David W-S): Yeah definitely we thought you fought with a lot of heart and it was a great display - it was interesting not being able to get Dennis down. I've noticed you've been standing up recently with a lot of guys with decent stand-up is that something you wanted to do or did you want that fight to go to the mat?
George: It's just that's the way the fight progressed. Not all fights are going to be fought on the ground and not all fights are going to be fought standing it’s wherever the fight goes is where its gotta be fought.
Brad: I noticed towards the end I think you ate one of those spinning back kicks from Dennis in that last round and you fought on quite valiantly after that where a lot of guys have dropped to that from him - how did that kick feel from Siver?
George: You know what - He didn’t really hurt me with it because he caught me at the very end of the kick so I didn’t really get the brunt of the blow
Brad(Onemansyn): Moving onto last couple of questions - Is it something you're sick of hearing about with the ankle and knee brace thing or is that one that was only a bit of an issue leading up to the Joe Lauzon fight? Since then we haven't heard many complaints about that
George: You know what, it was an issue for Lauzon, you know, in some ways you know he’s complaining it gave me an advantage and like I said its basically level playing field for both fighters. You know it provides friction for both fighters. It provides friction for me on the bottom and it also provides friction for the guy on top. So no advantage for anyone when both have an equal amount of friction.
Brad: Is it something you have still been asked about or are people getting over it by now?
George: Nothing so far. Not until now anyway
Brad: One fight that sticks out for me was your DQ loss to Shinya Aoki a few years back now, which was a great ground battle while the fight was on in that first round, is that a fight that you want again against Shinya?
George: Oh I’d love to rematch Shinya Aoki.
Brad(malito3og3): And do you take it this time round?
George: Of course I do I think I can beat anyone
I like it! Thanks for your time George and all the best in your bout coming up
What do you think Maniacs?! Do we keep this series going?! I've got one in the works!!! If you like what you read, rec, leave a comment, and stay tuned for the next post asking for questions for the NEXT Fans Interview Fighters post!