Dave Jansen weighs in at Bellator 62 earlier this year. - Photo via Bellator
MMAmania's Brian Hemminger speaks with Bellator 77 lightweight about turning it all around, getting out of his own way, and his unique methods of relaxation in this exclusive interview.
Dave Jansen has been given a second wind.
"The Fugitive" got his big shot in 2010 after starting his career off with 14 straight victories, but a 1-2 run in the WEC left him on the outside looking in when the UFC merged the two companies.
Undeterred, Jansen signed on with Bellator Fighting Championships and the results have been fantastic.
Three fights under the promotion's banner have produced three wins and now he's earned an opportunity to compete in the Bellator season seven lightweight tournament, beginning with his fight tonight (Oct. 12, 2012) against Magomed Saadulaev on the Bellator 77 main card in Reading, Pennsylvania.
At 33 years old, this might be his last big shot.
The Sports Lab fighter spoke with MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission where he talked about turning it all around, getting out of his own way, and his unique methods of relaxation in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've had a real career rejuvenation ever since signing up with Bellator. You've won all three of your fights and you looked real sharp particularly in your last fight against Jacob Kirwan. Do you feel like you've got a lot of momentum heading into this tournament?
Dave Jansen: I do. Yeah, I feel like I'm in a good spot right now, better than I have ever been both mentally and physically. I normally feel like that before all my fights but I especially feel it this time just with everything we've got going on at Sports Lab. It's been a whole retooling of how I train and how I look at things.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you go into specifics on that? How did you retool the way you train heading into this tournament?
Dave Jansen: Ever since before my second fight at Bellator, I hooked up with Phil Claud and he'd been working with Mike Pierce. Phil Claud is the creator of Sports Lab and over the past 7-8 months, the gym's been steadily growing and we've been bringing in top talent from the area. We've got top trainers and sparring partners and you could say I've had a rededication to getting better little by little. It's been a percent or two a week but it adds up. Really, the focus is staying healthy and making our bodies optimal for the fight, so peaking at the right time which means tapering off at the right time.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Your gym has definitely been experiencing some success lately. Mike Pierce had the awesome knockout a little over a week ago and then Tyson Nam had the huge upset over Eduardo Dantas in Brazil. Do you feel like that carries over to your fight as well, at least in terms of attitude?
Dave Jansen: I totally feel that momentum for sure. You can add Ian Loveland to the mix. He won the Tachi Palace bantamweight title with a beautiful switch knee knockout and he just defended with a head kick followed up by punches so lots of knockouts happening. Also Damon Wood, another one of our featherweights, he got a TKO recently at Cage Sport. I'm ready to let my hands go. I'll wrestle when I need to but I'm looking to hurt this guy standing.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about this upcoming fight. Saadulaev is a tough fighter but he's a ground specialist. He wants to get the fight to the ground and either control you or submit you. He hasn't even won a fight via ground and pound. Is that your focus heading in, to neutralize his game and work your improving striking?
Dave Jansen: For sure. We're both grinders in that aspect, but I'm looking to showcase my sharpened stand-up skills. He's definitely dangerous with positions. He gets those positional advantages and he's pretty dangerous from top. He's got some pretty good chokes as well but I think our skillset on the ground matches up fairly nicely but I definitely think I have the edge with both wrestling and striking so I'll be looking to capitalize on both those margins. For this fight I'm going to get out of my own way. it's going to sound weird, but I'm not going to try so hard and just let it flow.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you think that was an issue you've had in the past? Getting in your own way and trying too hard, perhaps during your stint in the WEC?
Dave Jansen: Definitely. When you try to hit somebody hard, it comes out slow and more often than not, you're not gonna land that punch. I feel like I was fighting for a long time without really knowing how to throw a proper punch with proper form. By not trying so hard this fight, just snapping it out there like a whip, it's gonna land a lot more and it's gonna do damage when it does land. I think definitely sometimes the pressure got to me and it kind of bogged up my fights.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Sports Lab has a big focus on the mental aspect of training. Has that been a big part of your improvement as well?
Dave Jansen: For sure. I've been working with Robert Follis for years at Team Quest and he's over at Sports Lab now and is a big proponent of the mental game. Also, Brian Cane with Paradigm MMA Management, he's a service for their fighters. He's a huge asset with visualization and breathing exercises and it's definitely helping to focus on the process instead of the outcome and the wins take care of themselves.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've heard you do beekeeping as a relaxation technique. I've got to hear more about this.
Dave Jansen: Yeah, big shoutout to the Portland Urban Beekeepers. Damian is a good guy. It just started on a whim about eight months ago. There was a fighter who had an injury and he took some time off to move back to North Dakota and he had just started off some hives before the spring and I just sort of adopted his bee hive. I took them out to my mom's property in Demascus out in the country a little bit and it's been really good, put me at peace. I kind of imagine it's doing for me what Mike Tyson's pigeons did for him in a way. Maybe I'll get some knockouts because of it.
Yeah, I'm learning a lot. It's an amazing alien world to watch these bees and it's funny, the beekeepers in the area are really smart guys and I'm learning a lot from them at the Portland Urban Beekeeper meetings. It's a lot of doctors, scientists and it's really amazing.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you ever get stung?
Dave Jansen: Oh yeah. (laughs) For a while there in the summer, I was trying to go all natural like the fighter who showed me how to beekeep. His name was Nick Wagner so shoutout to him. He would go shirtless and without the veil and he's say "As long as you remain cool and calm and you don't breathe on 'em, and just no sudden movements, you should be okay." So I did that and I got stung a lot and now I wear a veil and a windbreaker.
Sometimes I go without gloves because gloves kind of inhibit your finger dexterity and working with the frames and the hive tool and all the stuff you've got to do. Gloves kind of hold you back but actually, getting stung, I get stung in the hand and I broke my thumb fighting Kamal Shalorus back in the WEC with an overhand right to the top of the head and I ended up getting surgery on that. I got some arthritis as a result and the bee stings actually help that. There's a thing in bee sting therapy where it kind of dulls the pain for a couple days. Look it up.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you're thinking about this upcoming fight against Saadulaev, how do you play it out in your head?
Dave Jansen: I go out there, he's gonna throw a leg kick at me and that's all right. I'm gonna hit him with some straight punches and he's not gonna like that. He's gonna shoot. He's gonna eat an uppercut when he shoots and will probably fall down. I'd like him to be out right then so I can do the walk-off, the "no-look" like Mark Hunt did that one time but I might have to hit him a couple times after that.
Dave would like to thank his sponsors Float On, Onnit, Future Legends, Down2Scrap, Heads High Barber Shop, Jersey Pump, Lexani, All Pro Science, Paradigm MMA management, everyone at the Sports Labs and the Portland Urban Beekeepers. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveJansen155.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Does Jansen's beekeeping relaxation technique sound interesting? How do you like his chances tonight against a scrappy Russian in the 14-1 Saadulaev?
To listen to our entire conversation with Dave Jansen, click here (interview begins at the 8:00 minute mark).