Chase Beebe knows what it takes to be a champion.
The 26 year old used to sit atop the WEC's bantamweight throne just three an a half years ago before losing his belt to Miguel Torres.
After a brutal two-year stretch from 2008-2009 that saw him drop bouts to Torres, Joe Warren, Yoshiro Maeda and an incredibly controversial split decision loss to Mike Easton in Sherdog's 2009 "Robbery of the Year", Beebe is finally back on track after spending some time training at Greg Jackson's alongside his good friend Clay Guida.
Since 2010, he's won seven of eight fights, five in a row including an impressive first round stoppage of Bellator season three bantamweight semifinalist Jose Vega earlier this year to punch his ticket to the season five bantamweight tournament.
He spoke with MMAmania.com in part two of this Bellator bantamweight series about how his losses molded him as a fighter, staying active and how badly he wants to smash Joe Warren in a rematch.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What did it mean for you to sign for a top promotion like Bellator and to get a chance to fight in this tournament against some of the most talented bantamweights in the world?
Chase Beebe: It's amazing man. This is a kind of a dream come true for me and kind of a second opportunity to prove myself. It's kind of in between where I wanted to pursue a job like the rest of my family does, working at Chicago Port Trade with my uncles but with fighting, it's a real test of ups and downs. I'm still young and I don't even really compare to those other guys who are older and still think they can be champ, still trying to do what I'm doing but it's been hard.
I'm here now though and I feel amazing. I feel better than ever and that I've overcome a lot of obstacles to get where I'm at. This opportunity is huge. Bellator is amazing and I love fighting for this organization and I can't wait to show them what I got.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've talked about the obstacles and I hope you don't mind going back and reliving some of that. You had a really tough stretch of five fights, one of them was a horrible robbery, you had trouble fighting overseas in Japan. Can you talk about how that stretch of fights kind of molded you and how you came back and have been terrific ever since?
Chase Beebe: Just like you said man, it molded me. That experience, I know everyone says it in this sport, but you really can't really measure what it does for you. I fought in Japan a bunch of times and I lost there. I could find every excuse in the book as to why I lost but I really think I was just getting complacent there in my career. I was making some big money just to show up and I didn't care as much about winning. That's not what being a fighter is all about and that's not the type of fighter I am.
After that robbery against Mike Easton, I fought in Japan a couple weeks after and my head wasn't even there. I was just so pissed off and distraught about what happened at the UWC fight and after that, I just kinda snapped in my own head. I had to sit around for a couple months and look at a YouTube clip of me losing and it's pretty miserable especially when you know you're capable of so much more.
The thing I took away from that experience more than anything is that I will always leave it in the cage and it's just like wrestling. I used to do the same thing when I was a kid and I shouldn't have had to relearn that lesson but that's life and I can't wait because all those trials and tribulations have made me 10 times the fighter I was and everybody will see it come this weekend.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This will be your second fight with Bellator. You had a tournament qualifier match against season three semifinalist Jose Vega and you smashed him in the first round. Can you talk about the confidence level that you have coming in now that you've got all this momentum behind you?
Chase Beebe: I've got huge confidence. Confidence is such an important part of the game and it's not only just the wins but what I've been doing for my training. I've been going out to Greg Jackson's to prepare for this fight and to help my buddy Clay Guida get ready for his fight. I was at Jackson's for a couple weeks to train for this fight with the best in the world out there. I come home at Gilbert Grappling, one of the best wrestling training facilities and then the Midwestern Training Center, one of the best stand-up/jiu-jitsu places in the country. I live with Clay Guida in his RV down there when I visit in New Mexico and it's amazing. All you do is wake up, eat, sleep and train. Keeping up with that machine is something else.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How long ago was it that you started splitting some of your training camps at Greg Jackson's?
Chase Beebe: Just recently. I started pretty soon after Clay did it. I saw the results of what he did, he's on a four fight winning streak and I'm on a five fight win streak and that pretty much started when we started going to that camp. He told me to come down and it's been a huge success ever since and it's not something I plan on changing any time soon.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It seems like almost every single fighter in this tournament is a world class wrestler or an extremely competent Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. The whole tournament is loaded with terrific ground fighter. That almost seems like exactly what you want isn't it?
Chase Beebe: Oh yeah, for sure man. I think there's a lot of really tough competition, a lot of depth in this tournament but almost all the guys are older. I'm thinking I'm one of the youngest in the tournament but I still have more experience than nearly all of these fighters combined. My record is 20-6 and not only that, I've been fighting the best in the world since I was 21. I've been through the grind.
I've been through a lot of stuff and a lot of things have happened to me in this sport and I think it really has made me into a different fighter and I kinda showed a hint of that in my Jose Vega fight, my first fight with Bellator. Even in that fight I was a little disappointed because I had some slight cage jitters before that one. In this fight, my pace will be better and it will be even more impressive and I just wait to show the world what all this hard work and dedication, this time and sacrifice can do.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): One of those "older guys" is Joe Warren. You fought him before in Japan and he beat you during your rough stretch. How much would it mean to you to get a chance to redeem yourself and fight him again?
Chase Beebe: Obviously, you can't understand as a fighter, but my competitive spirit is so intense and it just grows more intense the older I get. Man, I've been counting down the days until I can redeem myself against him. I hate excuses, but for that fight with Warren I didn't know there was a 10 minute first round until the day before the fight and if you watch that fight I was doing real well against him, kinda beating him up pretty good for the first seven minutes and he didn't even come close to taking me down. I actually took him down twice and took his back briefly. He got really lucky in that one to be honest with you because he caught me with a knee in the last 20 seconds and in Japan they don't allow you to use Vaseline because they want more submissions and he just barely grazed me.
That was extremely embarrassing. It really opened my eyes when I came home and my mom looked at it, she more made me show her and the plane ride made the swelling all the worse and it was just a great lesson to take away. I've taken away a lot of lessons in my career and no lessons are greater than losses. You can beat 100 guys in a row and one loss will give you more experience and more to learn from than any of that. Every time I lose I'm right back in the gym the next day training my butt off 10 times as hard to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Since that happened three years ago, I've been busting my butt and I want to show him that not only have I worked harder, but I've worked more intelligently due to my experience. I believe I'm more well-rounded than anybody in my weight class in the world. I can take anybody down and I can't wait to outwrestle Joe Warren. I want to beat him in every aspect. It's all words until I do it. I'm stoked man. I can't wait for that fight. It'll be the accumulation of a lot of hard work.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): And before you get a chance to potentially fight Joe Warren, you've got to get through Marcos Galvao, a guy that a lot of people, including myself, thought he beat Joe in that superfight earlier this year. What are your thoughts on Galvao?
Chase Beebe: A lot of people have seen his fights in the WEC but he's been looking far more impressive as of late. I've actually been training with some guys at Jackson's and I've got some inside word that Galvao's out there training with Jose Aldo. He's looking tough and he looked good against Warren but, like I told the Bellator production guys, I wasn't as impressed with Galvao as I was unimpressed with Joe Warren. I'm not saying that to be disrespectful in any way but I think Warren just tried to force things on him and didn't have any respect for his game. He put himself in compromising positions. I remember thinking that Galvao definitely won that fight. It's a great first match for me to make a statement. I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't care if I fight the best in the tournament first or the worst. I'm gonna have to fight the to guys anyways if I plan on winning this thing. I'm not gonna underestimate him by any means.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After your victory against Jose Vega this past May, you took another fight in England just two months later while waiting for this tournament to start. How much did it mean to you to stay active and get another fight?
Chase Beebe: It's huge. It's so huge for me. I think that's another factor going back to my stretch of losses. I was competing on the big stage and every fight I fought was high profile either in Dream or WEC for a long time and those breaks in between my fights, those six months really take a toll on me. I'm training my butt off every day, and it's like you're putting in the work and time but you're not fighting, you're not getting paid. I'm a fighter. I want to fight. I love to compete and that's what I think is perfect for me in this tournament. I fight every month and it goes back to my wrestling days.
I'm used to competing. At one point I wrestled in a tournament and competed 12 times in one day in Ohio. I'd make it to the finals every year, wrestling every 45 minutes. That's the mentality I like to bring to MMA. I feel sharper every time I step in the cage so the next day after that Vega fight I was trying to find another fight and even more than one fight but Bellator had to tell me to ease off. I had to go through a laundry list of opponents before I even got the opponent I got because they didn't want to risk anything for this tournament.
In my opinion, I'm fighting some of the best in the world in this tournament so if I can't beat some of these guys outside the tournament then I don't belong in the tournament. Obviously that argument doesn't work with a big organization though. (laughs) This is going to be a great format for me to show the world how great of a fighter I can be.
Chase Beebe: I haven't seen much tape on him. I know he's a good wrestler but I think he's kind of, not to be disrespectful, but I think this tournament is too deep for him. As long as I can make my way through these opponents, he shouldn't be my main concern at the end. I've got to make it through such tough guys and I've got a long road ahead of me before then and a lot of tough, tough competition.
I'm excited because he's a wrestler and I love to fight wrestlers. I think I can put on a show against him and I don't think he could outwrestle me. I train with the best wrestlers and I think that's the perfect fight for me, the perfect match-up. MMA wrestling is different than regular wrestling and I think my MMA wrestling is the best.
Chase would like to thank all his sponsors MIO Fight Gear, Fist First and his gym Jackson's Martial Arts, Midwest Training Center, Gilbert Grappling and his parents for everything they did to help him along the way. Also his Facebook fans and you can follow him on Twitter @ChaseBeebeMMA
So Maniacs, is Beebe's confidence going to be a driving force that allows the former WEC champ to power through this tournament? Or is he looking past Marcos Galvao at Joe Warren?
Be sure to check out these other interviews from our Bellator bantamweight introductory series: