Mentally ready: Strikeforce middleweight Bristol Marunde interview exclusive with MMAmania.com

When undefeated middleweight prospect Derek Brunson failed his pre-fight medicals last week and was removed from a scheduled fight with Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, his spot was filled by Bristol Marunde.

Word quickly spread about the late notice replacement, but the primary talk was, "Who's Bristol Marunde?"

Today, just hours before he takes on the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, we'll try to help answer that question for you.

Marunde has gone 9-1 in his last 10 fights including a recent hard-fought decision victory over Jay Silva last November which helped catch the attention of the Strikeforce matchmakers. He's a well-rounded fighter with nearly an equal amount of submissions, knockouts and decisions on his resume.

Tonight (March 3, 2012), he'll be competing in by far the biggest fight of his life on the main card of Strikeforce: "Tate vs. Rousey" against one of the most intimidating middleweights on the planet.

The Peter Pinto-trained fighter spoke to MMAmania.com about stepping up against elite competition, splitting time as both fighter and promoter and lastly, how he received a commendation for single-handedly chasing down and capturing a rapist in this exclusive interview.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Ok, as is customary with a late replacement fighter, the most obvious question is, how did this all get set up where you became the guy to fight Jacare?

Bristol Marunde: It started with me sending Sean Shelby e-mails of my highlight tapes, my fights so basically I was knocking on the door of the UFC and Strikeforce and when that fight fell through, I was a natural choice because I'm coming off a good win over Jay SIlva and I'm right there in the States. I guess in this case, the squeaky wheel got the grease and I got the fight so I'm excited. The hard work paid off.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah, I saw on twitter that you had met Sean Shelby on February 4th, so did that have any influence as well when you were at UFC 143?

Bristol Marunde: Yeah, I was at the UFC and I met him personally and a face-to-face meet is the biggest affect you can have on somebody. I think the stars all aligned just right and it's gonna be a night of great fights. I'm on the radar and I talked to Joe [Silva] and Lorenzo [Fertitta] a few times and it's about time that they get me on there. They've been saying, "We know who you are. We've got you on the radar," so if this is how I have to prove to them that I should be there, then that's fine. I'll do it.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you tell me a little bit about what it's like to step up and take a fight on short notice. I don't think you had a fight scheduled, but I know you'd been training and you've been going around to different gyms working on adding skills. Can you tell me about the process of taking a fight on short notice?

Bristol Marunde: Yeah, taking a fight on short notice, it depends on the person but to me, I think it's a good thing. The stress is a lot less. You don't have time to overtrain and I don't have time to sit and strategize to the point where it would be detrimental. I'll be able to go into this fight and beat him with the skills that I have. I think the match-up between myself and Jacare is good. A short notice fight, I was already in okay shape. Is it 100 percent idea? Nope, but MMA is a sport where hardly any fighter goes into a fight feeling 100 percent. There's always injuries, there's always problems and life issue that come up but we're fighters. We have to fight at the best of our ability. I was in a good enough weight range, just 15-17 pounds over to where I could take this fight on two weeks notice.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I was reading a Tatame article about Jacare and he doesn't seem concerned about you as a late notice opponent. Do you think you can really surprise people here?

Bristol Marunde: Yeah, I think this is a huge opportunity for me. Let's be honest here and look at the numbers. A lot of people don't think I can do this. Is it more motivating to prove everybody wrong? Definitely 100 percent. I want to come into this fight and I expect to win. I'm not coming into this fight looking to pay my dues and take a fight just to get into Strikeforce. There's no guarantees of the future. Strikeforce is only doing 6 events this year so I really need to come out and be explosive this fight. I really have to turn heads and it could add more pressure to it or it could cause me to perform at my best and I think that's really what I'm going to be able to do.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You call yourself the "Master of the Kimura" in some circles, right?

Bristol Marunde: That's true. I love that move. Once I get it in, I love to crank on it. It's a power based move and it fits into everything that I like to do.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Would you even attempt that against a guy with the grappling credentials of Jacare?

Bristol Marunde: People have asked me that, "if I have an opportunity, would I got for a submission?" I think that's very unwise. A person like myself would rather keep the fight standing or stay on top. I think it's unwise to go for a submission and suddenly, even if he's on the defense, that's still where he wants to be. I don't want to play his game. I don't want to go into his strengths and try to match him for it. That doesn't make any sense to me. I want to try to exploit him any way I can. If the Kimura's there and I'm on top, sure I'll go for that but am I gonna pull guard and go for a guillotine? Probably not.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I had an opportunity to watch some of your fights, your highlight videos and I noticed your stand-up, you've got some great dirty boxing in the clinch and some really powerful leg kicks. Do you think you can beat Jacare if this fight stays standing?

Bristol Marunde: Yeah, I think I do have an advantage on the feet. I think that he is strong and that's not a secret with his techniques and his wrestling, but I haven't been taken down in I don't know how many fights, 10 fights. I haven't been stuck on my back ever. It's not a bad match-up for me. My prediction for the fight is that wrestling will make a difference in who wins the fight.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've got more questions about your background. The big thing when it was announced you were stepping in to face Jacare was, "Who's Bristol Marunde?" so I did a lot of research and I want you to get some of the more interesting things I discovered out there if you don't mind. First thing's first. You're a promoter of a Reign Promotions in Washington..

Bristol Marunde: I've been in the sport for a long time and I love the sport. I want to promote it, I want to fight it. I have a big advantage over a lot of fighters in that I really understand the sport and the business side of the sport too. My promotion, Reign Fighting Championships, our next event is actually March 3rd, the same night. So I'm actually promoting and fighting on the same night. March 3rd is gonna be a huge night for me.

I really enjoy promoting and building a show over the past few years. I really want to give young up-and-coming fighters a platform to build fights and be in a safe environment for a show that's professionally run so fighters can build their careers and experience without all the pressure, without worrying about anything else. I want fighters to come to my event and just put on a good show and have fun. I want them to gain experience so they can move on to bigger and better events and as my business continues to grow and get bigger, so does my fight career. It's good for me because everything I do has to do with mixed martial arts.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I'd like to hear about the career turnaround you had. I know you started out 3-5 and then you moved out to Las Vegas and everything's turned around. You won nine of your last 10 fights and now you're in Strikeforce. What was your turning point that you feel?

Bristol Marunde: That's a very good question. Where has my career gone? It's had it's ups and downs. You look at losses and you look at wins and what I had to do was say, "Okay, this is an experience. I don't believe that I'm a loser. I believe that I'm a winner and I'm gonna take these losses and I'm gonna look at it as life experience." I hated losing so much that it motivated me to go to the gym and train harder. Mentally, I became stronger and more relaxed as a fighter and what it's done is, it's really strengthened me and caused me to learn a lot about the sport. I've gone other avenues too like reading books on mental preparedness and I did a lot of experimenting in the sport and it's all got me to where I am today. As I go into the cage on March 3rd, there is nothing I can experience that night that I haven't already gone through.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You got into the IFL pretty quickly in the beginning of your career. I think you had a 2-2 record at the time. Do you think that was maybe just too much, too fast for you?

Bristol Marunde: Yeah, looking back, fighting Benji Radach, who had a lot of good wins. He had 15 fights or so and I was like 2-3 at the time. it was too soon. The skill level was there I think but for me, I mentally wasn't ready for the big stage and things weren't all together in my life and it caused me to stumble. A lot of fighters when they get a loss, they try to come back too soon without fixing the problem and then they pick up another loss. It's a snowball effect and then you have to dig yourself out of a deeper hole. What I'd done is I dug a huge hole for myself but I found a way out and it's not easy to step back and suffer some bad losses and you have a losing record, to come back but I did it. It's more motivating for me. Here's the way I look at it. I'm fighting because I want to go in the cage. I don't need to do it. I'm going in there with nothing to lose and I enjoy the sport.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): That's a terrific mindset. Now I'm sure you've told this story a bunch of times, but I feel it's important for people to hear it. I read that you caught a rapist a while back. I'm interested in the details on that if you wouldn't mind sharing.

Bristol Marunde: Oh yeah man, that was a crazy story. This happened quite a few years ago in Bellevue, Washington outside of Seattle. It was 11:30 at night and I heard screams for help right next door to the apartment I was in. They were screams for life. It was very scary. I can still remember hearing that bloodcurdling scream and I opened the front door and a big guy came running out of the front door of my neighbor's. I knew she was a single lady so I looked in her house and she was back-down on her kitchen, laying on the floor.

I don't know what possessed me but I chased this guy down the street. There was probably a half mile of street where I ran after him and all I had on was a pair of shots. I didn't even have shoes or a shirt on, it was straight Cops. I'm embarrassed looking back at it but I chased him down and cornered him in a parking lot and I just landed the best head kick I've ever had in my entire life, something that I still haven't been able to replicate since in a fight.

He came at me and he put his hands up like he was gonna fight me and he was a big guy, like 220. He said, "Listen, man. I didn't do anything!" I don't know what possessed me, man, but I launched a big head kick and knocked him down and I picked him up and held him there and I told him, "If you move, I'm gonna kill you!" and I held my fist up right at his face and he just went limp and the Bellevue police showed up shortly after and arrested him.

I guess he had been wanted in a bunch of other states for burglary and attempted rape so I helped put him in jail, well the police did, but I caught him. The mayor and the chief of police gave me a citizen's award and all this stuff.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): That's just crazy, hearing you tell it in your own words like that. I hate transitioning back to the fight but one of my last questions is, this guy, Jacare, he's a former champion. Are you concerned about what' he's accomplished or are you just focused on staying confident mentally?

Bristol Marunde: I don't focus on my opponent. I think it does nothing mentally, to look at him as this big great thing. I've watched tape, I've seen him fight so I know how tough he is. I know what he's capable of but that's why I want to fight him for that exact reason. I think it's time for me to step up. I'm at bat right now and I think I'm gonna hit a home run. I'm a firm believer in the old saying, "The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward" so I think this is a big risk for me, but the reward is huge and that's what fighting is. Fighting is a risk and I'm willing to take it.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you're picturing victory, what do you see?

Bristol Marunde: I see that I'm looking down the barrel of my gun and I'm firing. I'm blazing forward and I'm hitting him in the face with punches and I think that's how this is going to end. I'm gonna come at him and he's gonna have to put me out to beat me. I'm going straight forward, circling, always attacking. I have nothing to lose in this fight.

Bristol would like to thank Bulky Boy Clothing Company, his head trainer Peter Pinto, who's helped him drastically and Corey Coopersmith for helping him with nutrition and his weight cut. You can follow him on Twitter @BristolMarunde.

So what do you think, Maniacs?

Marunde has a good story, but can he shock the world against Ronaldo Souza? Will his extreme confidence in himself be enough to overcome the odds?

Speak up!

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