Lloyd Woodard put on the performance of a lifetime at the beginning of Bellator season six lightweight tournament.
Entering the main event as an underdog against Patricky Freire, he weathered the early storm, eating some heavy shots in the process, and not only turned the tides, but finished the scary Brazilian with a vicious Kimura in the second round of one of Bellator's best fights of 2012.
Thinking he'd just knocked off the number one seed and he was now "the man to beat," he got a bit ahead of himself, and walked face first into a Rick Hawn right hand in the semifinals just a month later.
"Cupcake" has had a long time to think about that loss and how it would motivate him heading into the season eight tournament, which features the likes of Pitbull, David Rickels, Tiger Sarnavskiy and more. He'll be battling Rickels on the main card of Bellator 87 this Thursday night (Jan. 31, 2013) in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
The Montana mountain man spoke with MMAmania.com about avenging his two career losses, never fighting a style he wouldn't want to watch and his upcoming bout against David Rickels in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This will be your third time trying to get through a Bellator lightweight tournament. You've had some good performances thus far, but haven't quite got to where you've wanted. Can you talk about your experience thus far and what you've learned?
Lloyd Woodard: It's my third tournament. I just want to go in there and win. I want to get a win back against the two guys who beat me, and one of them is holding the belt. That's what's really driving me to go on. It's awesome that it's gonna be on Spike and will bring different eyes, but this time I'm not going to be so much focused on the end result. I still am gonna fight the way I fight and try to keep the guys fighting instead of clinching and staring into their eyes for a while like me and Hawn did. I'm not gonna be hesitant or anything. I'm just not that kind of fighter. I also don't think I'm gonna run face first into anything like I did in my last fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of that, you had the amazing fight against Patricky Pitbull in the quarterfinals of the last tournament and you just seemed so focused on getting a rematch against Michael Chandler that it surpassed your opponents in the rest of the field. I don't know if that's what you were feeling like, but do you think you were overlooking everyone else after you beat Pitbull?
Lloyd Woodard: Yeah, after the Patricky fight, I thought Patricky was the toughest fight in the tournament. I felt I had a pretty big head, probably too big for my body. I had a moment and when I went in there against Rick Hawn, I was just trying to get him to fight my kind of fight but you have to make someone do it, you can't just hope they do. I got frustrated and went after him with my hands down and paid the price. I will definitely be focused on getting a shot at Chandler, even another fight against Hawn, but to earn those shots, I have to get through the rest of this field.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're known for having a crazy aggressive style moving forward, throwing bombs, not being afraid to take a shot to give one. Does getting stopped against Hawn, does that change anything or does it motivate you?
Lloyd Woodard: Yeah, it motivates me. I would never, ever, ever want to fight a fight that I wouldn't want to watch. I would never ever be scared to attack, not be willing to throw bombs or move forward and put on an entertaining show. I don't think I'll ever change. Not only am I a fighter, I'm a fan. I'm a huge MMA fan first and foremost and I want my fights to be entertaining. I don't think my style is going to change one bit. I'm going to fight the exact same way. It's just the next time I won't overlook my opponents, or I'll at least keep my hands up or I won't run face first into something. I'm going to go in there swinging.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This upcoming fight against David Rickels, I think a lot of fans see you two as similar fighters. You both have big personalities, you can talk some smack and you're both very aggressive in the cage. Do you see that too?
Lloyd Woodard: Yeah, David Rickels is a very good opponent. He comes forward, is always on the attack and has a pretty underrated ground game. I just feel I'm going to be a bit too much for him, I'll get off a bit more than he does. I think it's going to be a very good fight. I've seen his fights and I don't think he's going to be one of those lay-and-prayers. I like busy fights and there's almost a guarantee this will be entertaining for the Spike audience and there's a good chance for a finish. He's a good opponent. We're gonna fight and I respect him as a person, but when we step into the cage, no offense, but at that point he's just trying to take my money away from me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): That's a good mentality to have. Is that how you view your opponents every time? No matter how much you like a guy, do you just focus on what they're trying to take away from you and that's how you motivate yourself?
Lloyd Woodard: Of course. My mother always told me that you have to get mad if you're ever going to get in there. You're not really going to hurt somebody unless you're mad at them. I just think about them taking away money from me, damaging my career and it really motivates me. My livelihood is really important to me so I just have to go out there and do as much damage as I can, go straight for the jugular. I can't let someone take away something that belongs to me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Rickels had a good showing in the season six welterweight tournament and he's dropping down to lightweight. In his last fight against Jason Fischer, he competed at a catchweight of 160 pounds and he looked a bit off. What did you think of his performance in his first fight dropping down below 170?
Lloyd Woodard: Yeah, his last performance, the other kid he fought was a pretty tough kid. Sometimes you have tough fights or maybe you don't take a fight that seriously. I think that when it comes to caliber of fighters, he might have overlooked the kid because he didn't have much of a name. When it comes to looking at me, I'm sure he'll bring his A-Game. He'll come ready to fight. I expect the best David Rickels and that's the person I want to fight. I want to make sure they have no excuses. He overlooked that Fischer kid a bit and he'll probably come into this one as good as he looked at 170 and I think I'll give him a proper welcome to 155 pounds.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've been to the semifinals twice now before running into the eventual tournament winner. Is there anything you think you need to do to break that streak and get yourself to the finals or get yourself to the tournament title?
Lloyd Woodard: The first tournament I got off to a good start but then ran into Michael Chandler and that kid is just a beast. We went all three rounds and he got the better of me. That was a tough fight for me. That last fight against Rick Hawn, I just had too big of a head and I let my guard down and ran into the right hand. I think in order for me to get past the semifinals of this tournament, especially since I'm fresh off that Hawn fight, I think I just need to keep my head level and my eyes on the prize. I can't downgrade any fighter, take anything away from them and just go in there and do my job, fight my fight and don't get ahead of myself. I was already counting my money before. Now I think I'll stay focused, put on a tremendous show on Spike and then get my rematch with Chandler.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've mentioned that you really need to make your opponents "fight your fight" if you want to have success. So can you explain to me just exactly how Lloyd Woodard would fight his fight if everything was ideal?
Lloyd Woodard: Fighting my fight means egging someone on and getting them to swing with me. That's what I'm really good at doing. I'm really good at countering punches and getting into scrap battles. I don't mind eating a punch because I dish out a lot of them. I think my speed and my quickness really helps me out with moving up the way and I hit people with big shots. That's my kind of fight, grungy, up close and tight and if it goes to the ground, I just smash them. I don't go to the ground to just sit on someone for a second. I'm just swinging the whole time until I can't swing no more. I know I'm gonna get tired in the fight, there's no question in my mind that I won't be tired. I won't gas, but I'll fight as hard as I can fight for 15 minutes and that's my kind of fight.
The only type of fight I don't like is when my opponent is running away. I don't want to have to run a marathon in the cage. My fight is about swinging, actually doing something. I don't want to be in between a man's legs without punching them in the face as hard as I can.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How do you see the fight playing out against Rickels on Thursday night?
Lloyd Woodard: In my eyes, I see the fight playing out the same way every time. I think the finish is going to come and it's gotta come in the first round. I'm gonna fight the same way I always fight. He's going to take a punch, and he's the type of fighter that wants to throw down, wants to give it back when he gets hit. I think that if he doesn't get TKO'd or knocked out by my hands, he'll clinch up with me and if it goes down to the ground, I think I will snap something or try to snap something so I can get into that next round quick without too much damage received on my end.
Lloyd would like to thank True Rivalry, Mother of Ink, his team, his trainers, Hector Castro and his fans. You can follow him on twitter @MMACupcake.