Interviewed by Matty Evans.
Jeff Monson is one of the worlds top submission grapplers. He has taken the world of mixed martial arts by storm recently losing a close decision to Tim Sylvia for the world heavy weight title. He is the Abu Dhabi champion and fights Fedor Emelinko in Russia this March, hoping to become the Pride champion.
Recently he has been training at the Red Corner gym in Coventry with Matty Evans, Glenn Smith and Paul Hudson.
ME: Hi Jeff nice to have you back in Coventry at the Red
Corner itís a great experience to have you hear.
JM: Itís nice to be back.
ME: How did you feel about fighting Tim Sylvia recently for the UFC heavy weight title?
JM: I felt pretty good in the first round, although I didnít get him down I felt like I was controlling the fight. Then I guess I got frustrated with certain parts of the fight. I wasnít able to cope with the change with the way the direction of the fight was going. He just did a better job in training and preparing for certain scenarios that might happen in a fight. I trained hard for the fight I think I trained hard enough for the fight, he just trained smarter than me and he fought definitely smarter than me. It showed he was able to control the last few rounds and give him credit he deserved to win.
ME: From where I was it looked as though he didnít want to get into a tear up he wanted to fight smart.
JM: He fought the fight he needed to win. People say it wasnít exciting and that but if you win you win. You go out there exciting and lose people arenít going top pay you to lose. He did what he was supposed to do, itís all about winning and he won.
ME: So has that fight made you change your ideas about how you are going to train for your next fight. I know you have another fight coming up soon.
JM: I fight for the world pride championship in st Christopher Russia. Yes Iím going to do some more Ju Jitsu and some more striking here at the Red Corner with Matty, Glen and Paul. I want to have a more balanced camp. The last fight taught me allot, so I donít think it was a waste of time. I learnt from it and if any thing I learnt the things I need to do differently in the ring. The positive thing is I learnt allot and its not as if it was my best performance it definitely wasnít. There are some things to work on things to do differently the positive is I know I can do better. I learnt what worked well and what didnít. Every time you go in the ring you get more experience and learn and that definitely was a learning experience. Being a heavy weight title fight the pressure of the crowd and that. I will definitely be more relaxed the next time.
ME: Allot of the crowd were chanting for you especially after the third round. Did you notice any of that? They wanted you to win or was your mind on that at all? Did you hear any of that or even notice the crowd?
JM: Well you come in and you hear the crowd but during the fight you donít really hear much. I can remember hearing my corner but I donít really remember what my corner said during the fight. Its one of those things where I need to focus more and just be relaxed and I think having that opportunity to fight and having a title fight will make me more relaxed for the next fight. I came out with a pretty good head and I had done some good training but there are obviously some confidence aspects as well as some technical aspects to work on, I know I need to and this fight pointed it out. I know I need to make changes if I want to get better and this was a big opportunity to get better although it was obviously a big disappointment not winning the fight.
ME: Are you going to include some kind of mind training for the next fight?
JM: Yes itís just a matter of repetition and working with the guys at the Red Corner on the boxing. I think its just doing it repetition, repetition, repetition. So I go in there and I have the confidence to do it in a big match and not just work on it for a week or two and expect to be able to do it in a huge fight. Itís just getting it so itís a natural process, reactionary instead of a thought process. I need to get that muscle memory going as well as doing and improving the ju jitsu submissions. No matter what you do thereís always room for improvements but when you have a fight like that its blatantly exposed what you have to work on. Iím fortunate enough to have another fight a big opportunity and also that I had the chance to fight Sylvia and see what I have to work on.
ME: So how do you feel about fighting Fedor Emelinko who in some peopleís eyes is rated as good if not better than sylvier?
JM: He hasnít lost, other than a technicality before; heís kind of like the measuring stick right now of all the mma heavy weights. And maybe pound for pound some people say he is the best. I do think that I have a really good game plan for him. Itís a good match for me, my strengths match his. The bottom line is youíve just got to win and find a way to win, the last time I didnít against Tim Sylvia. Hopefully I can get a little more confidence and utilise my skills a little better this time. And work on some things that need working on. I think itís a great chance to show how good I am, even to myself.
ME: I think I know you well enough now Jeff to say that you really donít like losing. So your belief has got to be good because your going into the lions den with this fight.
JM: Yes Iím actually going to Russia Iíve always wanted to go there. It will be a great opportunity; people say Iíve got nothing to lose going into a fight like that against the best guy in his hometown. Nobody thinks your going to win. But I think Iíve got a lot to lose Iíve got the fight to lose and that means every thing to me. I think I should win the fight, I donít think I should lose that fight to me Iím going in as the favourite. I think my skill level in certain aspects is better than his, my conditioning is good and to me I just donít want to lose. In my head Iím going in as favourite.
ME: So do you think your training will be as intense this time, I saw how you trained against Sylvia. Are you going to me more explosive this time?
JM: Yea itís going to be three five-minute rounds. So I think the point is just to be able to go hard for fifteen minutes as opposed to hard for twenty-five minutes. I think it will be more explosive this time. I want to throw more strikes against him Im not going into this fight thinking Iíve got to get him on the ground. I would like to get him on the ground but I would like to strike with him as well and work on explosive striking and obviously the takedowns and submissions and thatís really it. Iím still conditioned Iím coming in with a good base from last time, I havenít lost my shape Iím doing a little bit every single day. As far as even before weíve hit the training full on, itís not going to take that long to get in good shape. So Im not worried about the conditioning I just want to get the physical and psychological aspects right.
ME: Obviously after fighting Sylvia and going five rounds and now fighting fedor this obviously puts you in the top three to five fighters in the world. Do you still, want more?
JM: I just want to win this fight (laughs) if I can win this fight then great. People say you beat the best youíre the best you beat the champion youíre the champion. I just look at it as a fight and I donít want to lose this fight I think I should win this fight. I want to go there with a mind set physically and psychologically to win.
ME: Are you going to compete in any more competitions before this fight?
JM: January 20th thereís a bud cup in North Carolina and Iím probably going to compete in that to get some grappling in. Maybe a few little competitions to stay prepared thatís about it.
ME: Do you do these competitions to stay in fight mode?
JM: Yea I do them just to help prepare me for the mma fights. When Abu Dhabi comes along in early May I will be training for that. As soon as this fight is over I will be training for Abu Dhabi and defending my title.
ME: Jeff thanks for this interview its great having you around and maybe one day I will last more than five minutes with you.
JM: (laughs) Thanks Matty