Photo of Charlie Brenneman via UFC.com
After his incredible upset over Rick Story last summer in front of his hometown fans, Charlie Brenneman was on top of the world. "The Spaniard" had vaulted into the top 10 rankings at welterweight but with the rise in attention meant a significant leap in competition as well.
Enter Anthony Johnson.
"Rumble" represented the crest of Brenneman's wave of momentum and he brought it all crashing down with a vicious first round head kick knockout this past October in Washington D.C.
The AMA Fight Club member has taken a different approach to his training in wake of his tough defeat, going back to his roots and adding a more well-rounded attack to his arsenal. He'll have a huge opportunity to showcase his new skills this Friday night (January 20, 2012) when he takes on Cesar Gracie product Daniel Roberts on the UFC on FX preliminary card, which will be the showcased on Fuel TV.
In this exclusive interview with MMAmania.com, Brenneman discusses Anthony Johnson's recent drama, changes he's made in his training and how he plans on making a statement against Daniel Roberts on Friday night.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): The first thing,, it was a big deal in the news and especially because he was your last opponent, what are your thoughts on the whole Anthony Johnson situation?
Charlie Brenneman: He's a nice guy. I get along well with him and I don't have anything negative to say about him, but it's one of those things where it's unprofessional. It's nothing personal but you're contracted to make weight, you need to make weight. If you're sick or if you don't feel well, that doesn't mean that you had a problem that day, that doesn't mean you didn't do what you needed to do in the weeks and months prior to that fight. It's too bad.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know it probably doesn't make you feel better or anything, but does the fact that he couldn't even get close to making middleweight in his next fight almost make you feel like, "Wow! I just can't believe I fought this guy in my last fight at 170?"
Charlie Brenneman: Yeah, it's pretty crazy. It doesn't make me feel better, but I guess if there's any solace in it, it's a reassuring fact that, "Well, I can't fight a bigger stronger dude than I've already fought," so it can only get better from there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know you're a student of the mental game, so what kind of steps did you take to recover mentally from the last loss and be able to remain confident heading into this fight?
Charlie Brenneman: Nothing really changed. I've been competing for the last 20 years so I feel pretty good with the mental game but it's just kinda keeping everything in context, realizing where I'm at. I'm living the dream. I'm literally living my dream and that is a gift that's still pretty awesome, having that realization.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Going more towards your preparation for the upcoming fight on the FX show, I heard you decided to be more efficient with your time and travel and everything so cutting out of extra driving. What was cut out in your training to be more efficient?
Charlie Brenneman: Without getting into the business specifics, as i kind of want to keep that to myself, it's just, I was just driving all over. I would drive two and a half hours to get an hour workout and I just found ways to get the same thing done without having to travel nearly as much. It was travelling a little bit whether it was training with new people, training in different locations and that was pretty much it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So what have you been able to really work on now that you've got this extra time that you're not spending driving around?
Charlie Brenneman: It means I've been able to work more on relaxing and resting and recovery.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah, that's something that's really important because you can't truly relax and rest while sitting in a car for hours.
Charlie Brenneman: Yeah, it's funny because leading into my last fight, I don't know how many times I was talking to my brothers saying, "Man, I'm so tired. I'm so exhausted," and it was the physical culmination of the hard training but at the same time, it was driving so much on the side whereas this fight, I feel great. I feel as great as I can possibly feel. It's almost like the opposite to be honest. It helps to not have to buy as much gas too.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know you're traditionally more boxing-oriented in your striking style but you've put a lot of work in with Muay Thai. I'm wondering how you've been able to adapt your fighting style to be able to add more kicks, elbows, knees and everything.
Charlie Brenneman: What I've seen in my last fight is to make things more efficient and kind of go back to my roots and those roots are in your face pressure. I started my career with Muay Thai and I kind of got away from it and I decided to go back to it. The Muay Thai coach I'm training with now, he's from Thailand, multiple time world champion and fighter of the year over in Thailand so he's as pure Muay Thai as you can get. It's aggressive. It's in your face and it's a non-stop attack.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah, and that's actually more your style anyways because your boxing was more of an aggressive in-your-face style of boxing, which is actually fighting against the defensive nature of the sport. Do you feel like this is more suited to your personality and your natural style in the first place?
Charlie Brenneman: Yeah, I think it is and I hope it is. We'll find out against Daniel Roberts, but I feel like it is.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Daniel Roberts, he's not exactly known as a guy that's gonna really test you in the stand-up so do you feel like this is an opportunity for you to showcase some of these new skills you've been working on?
Charlie Brenneman: Yeah, absolutely. If I could have picked the type of opponent I would have wanted, it would have been someone like him. Neither of our stand-up is really proven. I haven't shown too much and he hasn't shown too much so it's one of those fights where we both have the opportunity to show that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Definitely, and do you feel like with a tough last loss, you have an opportunity here to get an impressive win and bounce back in the welterweight division?
Charlie Brenneman: Yeah, right now, Daniel and I are in somewhat of the same situation. I was really hot and I lost my last fight and you're only as good as your last fight so we're both trying to get footing, we're both trying to move forward and more important than worrying about where I'm gonna fall in the status of other welterweights, I just want to have an emphatic victory for myself and for the UFC brass and prove that I am that guy.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So you're trying to make a statement for this fight?
Charlie Brenneman: That's my goal going into it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): For this upcoming event, you've got teammates fighting on the card like Jim Miller so was it beneficial for you to be peaking at the same time as some of your training partners?
Charlie Brenneman: It always helps when you have guys on the same card. We train together as a team and we also do our own thing but it's awesome at AMA Fight Club where we train at, to know that whether Jim or Dan are there or there's no or there's no other big name guys in the gym, I'm still gonna get a good workout.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you're picturing victory against Daniel Roberts, what do you see?
Charlie Brenneman: If it goes how I think it will go and how I want it to go, I just picture a really active first round, a lot of up and down, a lot of left right, active striking et cetera, and then I just, I really think that I'm gonna push the pace and I don't think he's gonna have an answer for it.
Charlie would like to thank his sponsors Head Rush, TrauMMA Combat, Booruji Chiropractic, Higher Strength Nutrition, IAVA, Athletebay, In Motion Meals and his strength coach Don Messing. You can follow him on Twitter @SpaniardMMA.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will we see a new and improved version of Charlie Brenneman on Friday night? Will "The Spaniard" be able to score the 'emphatic victory' he so desperately desires?