Strikeforce: Troubled past behind him, humbled Virgil Zwicker is ready for the big stage tonight (April 9) in San Diego


Virgil Zwicker (9-2) will return to action tonight (April 9, 2011) when he clashes with undefeated Muay Thai striker Brett Albee (3-0) at Strikeforce: "Diaz vs. Daley," which takes place from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California.

Zwicker made his Strikeforce debut in Oct. 2010 when he battled hard-hitting Lavar Johnson.

"Rezdog" tells that while he's disappointed he suffered the first knockout loss of his career at the hands of "Big," he knows he never gave up.

"The outcome of my last fight was so disappointing," he said. "Losing to Lavar was a setback, but I never quit, so I just had to pick myself up, dust myself off and start over. If you don't have that ability, you'll never make it here."

Zwicker admits that once he heard the roar of the crowd in Fresno, his game plan went out the window.

"I didn't feel pressure at all until we started fighting and after the crowd got involved. Then he got pumped up and came at me a lot harder than he had been, which led me to go forward instead of side-to-side. Bad idea [laughs]. I kind of abandoned the gameplan and suffered for it."

Fully aware of the consequences of taking bouts on short notice, Zwicker says turning down fights isn't his thing.

"I was excited to face Lavar, but it was very short notice. But I'm not one to turn down a fight and it was Strikeforce, which is a huge opportunity. I now realize how big heavyweights are and that I need to drop down to 205. His reach was out of this world. As far as competition, I think I'm more well rounded than him, but he performed that night and I didn't. No excuses."

When Zuffa purchased Strikeforce, it took the mixed martial arts (MMA) world by storm. "Rezdog" is excited to be a part of history.

"It does make the stage that much bigger, so I'm excited to fight under the Zuffa brand. I'm looking forward to seeing what they bring to the table."

Despite having more professional MMA bouts under his belt, Zwicker isn't looking past Albee.

"I think I have more experience in the cage, but I'm not taking him lightly. I have heard he has been training and teaching for over a decade, so I've got to give him respect. [I've been working on] a lot of strength, conditioning and wrestling."

Today, Zwicker looks happy and does a lot to help the Native American youth. "Rezdog," however, remembers a time where there was no happiness or positive energy.

"It was a rough and tough world for me. I got into a lot of trouble when I was young and hung out with some mean people who had their own agenda and set of rules. I wasn't able to see the big picture and recognize that I wasn't going anywhere until my freedoms were taken away from me. Prison changes you. I appreciate everything I have a lot more now and really want to help other Native American youths avoid going down the path I did. It means the world to me and it is my goal to help the youth in any way I can."

A big part of Zwicker's new perspective on life is his love for MMA. The California native recalls the time MMA actually discovered him.

"I'm like BJ Penn ... MMA found me! My older brother got hurt and couldn't fight so he called me to see if I wanted to do it for him. I stepped up. The most intriguing thing was being able to punch somebody in the face and get paid for it. I thought that was so cool."

Zwicker supports both Amelia's Heart Foundation and The Longest Walk. The heavyweight veteran explains the causes and what you can do to support them.

"Amelia's Heart Foundation was started with Yolanda McArther from the Pechanga Indian reservation. She started it to help out native youth and families with education, sports, music. The longest walk is a program started to raise awareness in reversing diabetes in Indian country. I am a big supporter of both causes. You can support it by contacting me on Facebook or following me on twitter @virgilzwicker."

Zwicker took the time to thank his sponsors and those who have helped him throughout his MMA career and his life.

"I would like to thank my coach's Billy Scheibe , Heath Sims and my teammates at Team Quest. Also my sponsors: Pala Band of Indians, Rod Brothers, Jalapeno bar & grill, Baad Medicine Men's Softball, Kevin Duenas at Dynamic Fitness and my management at Alchemist MMA. Of course all my friends and family who have been supporting through the years. Most of all my wife Carla, my son Duke and my daughter Maniya. Thank you for your time."

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