When Doug Marshall steps into the cage, you know exactly what to expect.
Extreme violence, most likely in a very short amount of time.
The former WEC light heavyweight champion has had only one fight go to decision in his nearly 10 year professional career and he encapsulates the mantra of "Live by the sword. Die by the sword."
"The Rhino" entered the Bellator season eight tournament on a four fight streak that didn't see any of his bouts last longer than 34 seconds, whether he won or lost. While his tournament debut lasted longer than that, he still managed to knock out season six middleweight finalist Andreas Spang in just three minutes.
Now, the California native is coming home to take on unbeaten Russian prospect Sultan Aliev in the tournament semifinals and he'll be front and center on the Bellator 92 main card later tonight (March 7, 2013) in Temecula, CA.
Marshall spoke to MMAmania.com about his incredibly aggressive fight style, holding an experience edge over the competition and how he'll avoid a potential safe gameplan from his opponent in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've been on a crazy tear of fights lately. You're last six fights have all been finished in the first round and you had a stretch there of four straight bouts that ended in the first 34 seconds. If you had your way, would you be going out there and putting these guys away as quickly as possible?
Doug Marshall: Well I don't go in there with my head down and flailing my arms, but I do go in there and throw every strike with bad intentions. I don't like to play any of that "pitty-pat" bullshit. I like to go out and get my job done and impress the crowd. I'm a fighter, but I'm also an entertainer. If my fight doesn't entertain, if they're booing my fight, I'm not doing my job. I don't want to go out there and lay on a dude for 15 minutes and eke out a decision and move on to the next round. I want to go out and be exciting. When the people see "The Rhino" fighting, they know they're getting their money's worth because something is going to happen one way or another whether I win or lose.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you think that's also to your advantage in this tournament that you can go out there and finish these fights so quick because these other guys who are grinding out tough decisions, they're taking a lot more damage, absorbing more wear and tear? That would especially be the case with your upcoming opponent Sultan Aliev, who had a tough decision victory in his quarterfinal fight.
Doug Marshall: Yeah, you would think I'd be a little fresher. No injuries, no scrapes, no bumps and bruises. My hands feel good. As soon as I got back home from North Carolina I was able to jump right back into training, keep my cardio up, my techniques nice and fresh and yeah, I'm feeling great. I feel like this is my tournament.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Usually Bellator gives its tournament fighters a month off in between bouts to recover a little bit, but you're stepping in there just three weeks between bouts. That's gotta be a bit crazy
Doug Marshall: You want crazy? After my last fight, they came up to me backstage and asked how I was feeling. I said I felt fine and they said, "Good, because you're fighting in two weeks." I'm like, "No dude, really? Seriously? Can't I just have a day to have a couple cheeseburgers and some french fries?" They ended up pushing the fight from Albuquerque to Temecula, California which is cool because it's my home state. It's still a hell of a drive down here, like four and a half hours, but I feel good about it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Since moving to the new offices by Spike TV in California, Bellator seems to have put a big focus on picking up some of the top free agent California fighters who can draw fans in. You look to be an important piece of that because you had that great history with WEC and everything. Do you get that vibe?
Doug Marshall: Yeah, I was actually surprised they didn't have me on the show in Irvine a month and a half ago. I was looking forward to that one but when they said North Carolina, I was like, "Whatever, it shouldn't just be California that gets to see 'The Rhino' in action." I'm down to battle wherever they want to do it but it is definitely nice to fight here in California. The fans here are amazing and when I step into the cage, I feel their energy, I get fired up and I'm ready to do work.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of fighting in North Carolina, is it nice to have a regular weigh-in instead of that kooky 12:01 am same-day business you had to deal with in the quarterfinal round?
Doug Marshall: Yeah, that was rough. I'd never been in a situation like that. that's usually for like amateur fighters having to weigh in on the same day. It worked out for me, but I definitely did not like it. I was bitching and griping the whole way but the rules are the rules. You've got to conform to the rules and stay hydrated. It was a bummer that I didn't get to eat what I wanted to eat because all the stores and restaurants were closed by midnight. It'll be cool this time around. We'll hit up Olive Garden or something after weigh-ins. (laughs)
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now looking at this upcoming fight against Sultan Aliev, many people view it like you're going to have a serious advantage on the feet while Aliev is a sambo practitioner with most of his victories coming on the ground due to his sambo background. With all your years of experience, do you have any tricks to entice fighters to stand and brawl with you?
Doug Marshall: No, I think they all just don't have a choice. They have this idea that striking is their strong point until they get in there with me and then I touch them on the chin and they realize that they made a big mistake. Their coach is forced to call an audible because that shit isn't working. I just go out there and do my thing. It's like a dance. He moves left, I move right. He moves right, I move left.
If he wants to survive a round, he's going to have to get it to the ground and don't be surprised if he gets subbed out as soon as we hit the mat. I'm not just dangerous on my feet. I'm very comfortable on my back. I train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu with Tom Knox and I'm a purple belt. My submissions are all MMA-based so we'll see what happens. If he gets a birthday present and actually gets it to the ground, maybe he'll be forced to wipe his ass with just one arm for quite some time.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of experience, you've faced a laundry list of top fighters throughout your career. Sultan Aliev hasn't really been tested in that department yet. Hell, he hasn't fought anyone that has a wikipedia page. Do you think the extra depth to your career resume will be a big advantage for you?
Doug Marshall: I'll tell you what. If you put me in a tournament with 300 fifth graders, yeah I'm gonna beat them all. That's the level of competition. When you step up to the big dogs, you'll face guys who have been facing legitimate fighters from the United States, not from backwoods gyms. These are guys from legitimate gyms. If you fight a bunch of fifth graders that don't know anything with cut-off jean shorts and their belt and wallet in their back pocket in a gym somewhere in Russia, yeah you're gonna get some wins.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Aliev recently moved out to Greg Jackson's gym and he got his first decision in a couple years in the quarterfinals. Is there any concern that he might try to fight a safe gameplan against you that could affect the fight?
Doug Marshall: Has he ever not fought a safe gameplan? He wants to go out there and lay on me for 15 minutes. That's what this guy wants to do and I'm not gonna let that happen. I don't think that guy has ever put it all on the line. The bottom line is, if you gamble big, you win big. You want to be exciting. Do you think anybody is going to be watching this fight because they're Sultan Aliev fans? They want to see him grind out The Rhino for 15 minutes? No, no, no, no, no. They want to see a car crash. They want to see an explosion. They want to see the fireworks. They want to see someone go to sleep and that's what I'm gonna give 'em.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): One of my last questions is about the end goal of this tournament. I know you're focusing on Aliev right now, but a tiny part of your brain has to also be thinking about Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko because that's who you'll be fighting if you pull this tournament off. What do you think of him?
Doug Marshall: Here's how it's gonna be. I'm gonna take that money and then I'm gonna take that belt. It doesn't matter who's holding it. When The Rhino comes knocking at the door, he might as well just hand it over. If you want to stand in my way, I'm gonna get that money and then get that belt.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you think about this upcoming fight, how do you see it playing out?
Doug Marshall: I think I'm gonna win a long 15 minute boring decision because I'm gonna take him down and lay on him..... oh wait, I'm The Rhino, I'm not Sultan. I'm gonna knock him out. I'm gonna keep it on the feet. I'm gonna stuff his shot. I'm gonna impose my will and break his. Hands down.
Doug would like to thank Elite Team, Tom Knox, Rafael Cordeiro at King's MMA, Head Blade, Lexani Wheels, Huntington Beach, MMA Warehouse and Denaro Sports Marketing