The International Fight League presents New Blood-New Battles this Friday, which will be airing LIVE on HDNet FiGHTS! In one of three title fights, John Gunderson will be taking on newly-crowned IFL Lightweight Champion, Ryan "The Lion" Schultz.
Schultz stated several weeks ago that he's looking to hold on to his belt for an extended period of time while rematching several of his former opponents.
John Gunderson is no stranger to pressure situations, dropping his last fight to future IFL Featherweight Champion, Wagney Fabiano. On the road, and looking to take back that loss, John Gunderson sits with Daniel Regan of MMARising.com.
Daniel: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We're always excited to talk to up and coming stars. Now, if you could, tell us a little about yourself.
John: Well, I was born on May 1st, 1979 in Houston, Texas. I now live in Las Vegas, Nevada, where I train at Xtreme Couture.
Daniel: You're a part of the Lion's Den team with Ken Shamrock. I understand that your tryout with them was less than what you wanted.
John: Well, the problem was that I found out a day before the tryouts. So I had to take the next day off of work and drive to Reno, Nevada, from Oregon. I basically got there with only a few hours sleep and jumped right in to the gym. As soon as I left, I had to head back to work the next day, so I left for Oregon, got in and went to work with about 2 hours of sleep. It was a crazy day, but it was worth it when I got that phone call in the end. I did stay at that job until it was time to join the team, though. It was a good job.
Daniel: So, how long have you been training full-time?
John: A year. Right now, I train at Xtreme Couture in Vegas, but I am officially a part of Ken Shamrock's team. I moved down here to start teaching at a gym and popped in to Xtreme Couture for my own training. Even though I am on Shamrock's team, it's not a big deal. Xtreme Couture is just the place the train. I'd be an idiot not to train there. I'll cross that path if I ever have to face someone from the gym, but that's for another time.
Daniel: Your last loss was a disappointing one to Fabiano. Tell me, what went on in that fight?
John: Well, training went really well until I broke my hand about 3 weeks out of the fight. I called up the IFL and let them know what happened. They wanted to cancel it but I refused. I was probably being stupid but I thought I could beat him with one hand. However, I couldn't hit pads or roll at all. Basically, I didn't get to grapple once until the night before the show, which is absolutely not enough when facing a guy of Fabiano's skill level.
We got in the ring and my timing was off. I used my right hand a bit to keep him at bay but never hit clean. I couldn't strike with any real power and, when I did, the pain was too much. There wasn't much I could do. One of those fights I wish I could have back. I'm just happy to have a second chance. I believe I could win a rematch, as it's a good style match-up for me. He had troubles taking me down. However, the hand is 100% now.
Daniel: Now, the big question is Ryan Schultz. We had him here a few weeks ago and he seemed really prepared for this fight. How did your camp look?
John: I had a good camp. I had 3-4 guys specifically helping me out. I brought down Evan Dunn, who no one really knows, but he's a really tough lightweight, and I also brought down Mike Joy, who's a great grappler. I've been working with them every day and, recently, all the guys at Xtreme Couture. It's going to be a good fight, and I couldn't ask for better training partners.
Daniel: Since we're dedicated to the fledgling fighter here, it always helps to learn what the professionals are doing. Tell us what a typical day looks like for you, and how you've tapered coming in to the fight.
John: On an average day, I train twice. Generally, at Couture's, there's a lot of sparring, although I just started there. We do a lot of guy-in-the-middle conditioning, where a new fighter rotates in every minute or two. It's aided my conditioning a lot. That, and running. We do some weight training, although I have recently cut it out of my routine. I got up to 175lbs for a while there. I've been 175lbs before but not the solid 175 I was, so I needed to start cutting down. Going in to the fight, in these last two weeks, everything winds down and I give the body a chance to heal and recover.
Daniel: Ryan is a very tough opponent. The guy has a lot of heart and pushes hard in the ring. How do you see the fight going?
John: I don't have a game plan. I'm just going to go out there and fight. It'll be a long fight. He throws some hard punches but I don't think he has the best of chins. If I can hit him clean, I think it'll hurt him. I think he'll try to take me down and grind me out, as it's what he's good at. Of course, I need to be worried about his strikes, since he's got some good knees and throws everything with bad intentions. As long as I stay more technical, I think I can win it.
Daniel: What do you feel about the IFL's team system? I had heard that you were not a fan of it.
John: I was never a fan of the team system. It's a novel concept but this is still an individual sport. I don't think the pressure is good for some guys who have to go out and win for the team and not themselves. It's an individual sport. In the end, you're out there fighting for yourself.
Daniel: How do you see your future in the IFL?
John: I want to have the belt around my waist and be defending it. I'd like to face fighters from other organizations, like HDNet. I think it's good for the sport. I'd like to rematch some fighters, like Bart. I think I beat him. I'm not going to whine about it, but the judges might want to watch the fight a bit better.
Daniel: Well, thank you for the interview. Anything that you would like to tell those amateur fighters out there looking to make an impact?
John: Advice for amateur fighters is to bring yourself along the right way. Don't jump right in to it. Bring your career along the right way. So much to learn, so much money to be made. Get behind a good camp, manager and trainer. Start things off slow.
MMARising.com sincerely thanks John Gunderson for taking the time for this interview, and wishes him the best of luck in his fight this Friday against Ryan Schultz.