Photo of Lloyd Woodard via Bellator
You wouldn't know it by his nickname "Cupcake," but Lloyd Woodard is tough as nails.
The Montana native doesn't train out of the biggest fight team out there, but what he does have is an environment in the Rockies which is second to none in terms of creating character.
That's part of the reason Woodard was able to pull off a tremendous upset and defeat Patricky Freire last Friday night (March 23, 2012) at Bellator 62 in what many are dubbing as an early candidate for "Fight of the Year."
During that bout, the mountain man displayed tremendous heart, durability and even finished it off with some solid technique, locking "Pitbull" up in a beautiful Kimura which forced the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to tap after breaking his arm.
Woodard spoke with me during a guest appearance on Bloody Elbow Radio this past Tuesday and he had plenty to talk about including his huge and impressive upset victory, living in the mountains of Montana and how his recent win helps prepare him for Rick Hawn next month.
Check it out:
Matt Bishop: Lloyd, would you categorize this win as the biggest of your career?
Lloyd Woodard: The biggest? I can't downgrade anybody else that I've fought so I guess I couldn't consider it the biggest win but it's definitely up there with the big ones. Yeah, it was a big fight. It's definitely the way I like to fight and it definitely turned out the way I wanted it to.
Matt Bishop: This was your first fight in almost a year, ever since you lost to Michael Chandler in the semifinals of the last tournament. What was it like in that year? Can you take us through what went on and let us know why you were out of action over the course of the year?
Lloyd Woodard: Yeah, I had a torn medial meniscus so I had to get surgery. At first they told me that in 2-3 months I'd be able to get back to normal but actually it ended up being seven months and I wasn't even back to normal when I returned to training, my knee wasn't acting the same. It's been a long time and I was itching to get back in and I was so fortunate to get back into the tournament again without having to fight another tough guy to qualify and get back in. I was pumped for the tournament and I was ready to go right when I got there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): The fans loved your style in that fight, it was like you two were repeatedly crashing into each other and I think people were surprised that you were so willing to engage Pitbull in the stand-up because he's been so dangerous with everyone else he's ever fought. Did you have extreme confidence in yourself heading into that fight?
Lloyd Woodard: Confidence? Yeah, also if you watch my fights, that's how I fight. I do better when I come forward. he said that he wants to swing and that if I stood up with him, I wouldn't be standing for long and it was him that was the one that went for the takedown. I was actually surprised when he went for the takedown. It was kinda shocking me because I was expecting lots of fun swinging and staying off the ground the whole time.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Once the fight got to the ground and you went for that Kimura, you actually slipped off at first. Were you concerned, any panic for a second like, "Oh crap, I just lost position" or something?
Lloyd Woodard: The trick to that was me having control of his head. I was pushing his head down with my legs and I had control of his body so when I lost it, I knew I still had his arm extended and I was still able to control his body y using my leg so when I got it again, I had it even tighter than the first time. I knew at that point we were either gonna roll like that again or I was going to get the submission.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): People at MMAmania gravitated to this when we posted the replay to your fight from the Bellator YouTube page, when you were ground and pounding Pitbull the first time, you threw a punch down so hard it made a sickening thud when Pitbull avoided it. They nicknamed it "The Anvil Punch." What I want to know is, does it hurt your hand when you miss a punch like that and it hits the canvas? I don't even remember what the floor feels like in the cage.
Lloyd Woodard: (laughs) It's pretty soft and I've got mountain man hands so they don't break very easily. They get pretty tough up here in the Rockies and it didn't hurt that much but I was definitely trying to hit him as hard as I can on the ground, on the feet and basically just hit him so hard to get him to the point where he didn't want to fight anymore.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You showed a terrific chin in that fight as well. Pitbull hits as hard as any guy in the division, you can tell just by his knockouts last year. Now with Rick Hawn getting the big knockout against Ricardo Tirloni, does the fact that you were able to absorb some of Patricky Freire's big shots and keep going give you any added confidence for stepping in there against Hawn?
Lloyd Woodard: I don't pride myself on being able to take punches. Those guys eventually go down once they take enough. I have good movement. I usually can move around pretty good getting out of the way of punches. Patricky caught me pretty good. I was going backwards and he caught me with a couple punches. Right after he hit me with that flurry, I wanted to get him back and I went with the knee to the head.
Matt Bishop: Now Lloyd, are you the type of fighter who goes back and watches their own fights again?
Lloyd Woodard: Oh you know it. I'm pretty much a fanatic, period. I watch every UFC. I don't know if you guys caught my tweet but I tweeted that all the money I get from Bellator I spend on my cable bill and all the fights that I have to order and it's kinda been a hassle lately. It's really expensive to watch all the fights and I enjoy my own fights as well. I've watched my last fight probably a total of 10-15 times already.
Matt Bishop: So with that said, how would you rate your performance on Friday? What were some things you thought you did really well and what were some things where you thought, "Oh boy, we're gonna have to work on this back in camp?"
Lloyd Woodard: (laughs) I guess when I was watching myself. It's a fight. I come in there to get mad and get my fight on and not worry about the gameplan or anything. I was pretty satisfied with the way the fight went but if I could do anything better, I'd like to get a lot more short punches going because I kind of took offense that he was trying to really club my head off and I tried to throw big ones with him at the same time and I think I would have opened up him if I'would have got a lot more shorter punches in there.
Also watching out for the wrestling because that surprised me. Other than that, I was pretty satisfied with the win. With the pace I started with, I felt that even if I didn't finish the submission, I would have fought at that same pace and it would have been tough for him. I want to make my opponent work harder than he's ever worked in his life and to be entertaining the whole time.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're proud of the fact that you're from Montana and you're not at a big fight camp like a lot of these other guys. What do you attribute your success to against these fighters who train at those bigger camps?
Lloyd Woodard: To Montana. There's some tough guys here in Montana. What else can you do? I can't really say what it would be because I haven't really gone and train at a big school. I did go to Oregon and train there for a bit but other than that place, it's all heart. That's why people gravitate to my fighting style. I'm not one of these guys who comes out of a big quality gym like Greg Jackson who they pay a lot of money to critique them and tell them what to do. I'm just a normal person who works hard and puts it all on the line and will do anything to get the win.
Matt Bishop: What's a positive and a negative of living out in the mountains of Montana?
Lloyd Woodard: Well I can tell you right now that there are no negatives of living in the Rockies, nothing at all. Everything is the best ever out here. It's Dodge Country and the best thing out here is the amazing wildlife. I like to hike trails and I ge tmy tags for hunting. I don't shoot animals. Usually I try to go find some mountain lions and I try to catch them and choke them out. I call it mountain lion wrestling. That's why I prefer to train up here "Mountain Man style." It's the best training of anywhere in the world.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've got one last question about Rick Hawn. You've got this wild and crazy forward momentum style and normally Hawn would want to keep it standing but if someone comes at him aggressively like that, he has that ability with his judo to use your momentum against you and throw you all over the place. Are you going to be able to keep going forward like normal or are you going to have to take it a step back and think about it a bit when you fight him?
Lloyd Woodard: Rick Hawn is great a judo, he's an amazing athlete, but I'm going to fight him just like I fight anyone. I'm a fighter. I'm coming to fight him and when I get in there, I'm gonna try everything I can to win and if one thing isn't working one way, I'll try to make it work the other way. I guarantee you one thing, I'll make him work just as hard as I'm working. It'll be go time and I don't think he's ever fought somebody with the mentality I have, who's ready to have that "knock out or be knocked out" mentality. That's just who I am and it's gonna be interesting to see how he handles that.
Lloyd would like to thank Punch Town, Dirty Boxer, 221, Lexani and all his other sponsors. You can follow him on twitter @MMACupcake..
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Did you expect Woodard to pull off the victory despite being a heavy underdog? How do you like his chances against the new tournament favorite Rick Hawn in the semifinals?