"There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction"
Former number one lightweight contender Joe Stevenson is taking a page out of Winston Churchill’s book of wisdom, deciding to travel about 700 miles from his home in Victorville, Calif., to Albuquerque, N.M., to prepare with Team Jackson for his upcoming lightweight fight against Nate Diaz at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 9 Finale on June 20.
"Daddy" is mired in a rare slump, losing back-to-back bouts and three of his last four. However, those three losses have come to UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn, the division’s current number one contender Kenny "KenFlo" Florian and, most recently, the new-look Diego "Nightmare" Sanchez.
That’s some stiff competition.
Nonetheless, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 2 welterweight winner understands that consistently taking on the best the division has to offer is not going to cut it unless he can start adding "W’s" to his win column, which is the reason behind the temporary change of scenery.
Indeed, Stevenson is still very involved with his Cobra Kai gym in Victorville and there is no strain on his relationship with his head trainer there, Irvin Bounds. This move is all about mixing it up, getting new looks with new training partners to ensure that he leaves no stone unturned heading into his showdown with Diaz.
Losing, at this point, is simply no longer an option for the 25-year-old father of four (not that it ever really was). In short, he is prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure that no longer happens … even if it means being away from his family and normal day-to-day routine.
And the "direction" that he chose couldn’t be more right.
The newly-minted Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt will put his skills to the test against Greg Jackson’s dynamic roster of successful mixed martial artists, which includes some of the very best athletes in the business, including UFC champions Rashad Evans and Georges St. Pierre, as well as top contenders such as Nate Marquardt, Keith Jardine and Donald Cerrone (WEC).
Athletes is the operative word here: Stevenson needs to work on improving all areas of his game -- not just his effective ground attack that has gotten him this far -- if he intends to remain a legitimate contender and possible champion in the future.
And if there is anyone who can squeeze every ounce of skill out of Stevenson, as well as help him reach his true potential, it is Jackson -- widely considered the best trainer/gameplanner in the sport -- and his All Star crew.
Change, in this case, doesn’t get much better.