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The Brainerd Brawler is back! Print E-mail
Written by Ben Pherson   
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 00:49

There’s no denying Brock Larson is one of the most successful mixed martial artists ever to come out of Minnesota.

Larson, 32, has fought for a world title (WEC), something he never dreamed would happen when he started his MMA career, nearly eight years ago.

Still, despite all of his success and his impressive 29-4 career record, Larson is riding a two-fight losing streak, the first of his career.

Larson suffered back-to-back losses to Mike Pierce (UFC Fight Night: Diaz vs. Guillard) and Brain Foster (UFC 106) and was subsequently cut from the UFC.

The Brainerd Brawler didn’t look quite the same in his last two fights. But when Minnesota MMA News caught up with Larson this weekend at Gladiators in Rochester, he promised fans would see the old Brawler back in the cage very soon.

So Brock, you’ve got a lot on your plate right now. You rent out your cage, you’re opening a gym, you have a fight coming up at Target Center (April 24 against Brian Green) and you help run an MMA promotion (CFX). Are you overwhelmed yet?

LARSON: Yeah. I’ve got the cage rental stuff going on, (we’re promoting) fights in St. Cloud on (Feb. 13), I’m fighting and promoting (CFX), I’ve got the fight at the Target Center in April. I’ve got a lot of things going on. I’m opening a gym (this week). So yeah, it’s craziness. But it’s good crazy, healthy crazy.

When you’ve got a fight that far out (April 24), when do you really kick up your training?

LARSON: I’ll start really dieting at about 10 weeks out, and then I’ll start training really, really hard about eight weeks out. Slowly I’ll hit my peak, and I’ll be peaking right at that eight weeks. I’ll really be ready to fight then. The cardio builds and builds, and I’ll be at my best then.

You’re fighting Brian Green out of Iowa. Do you know much about him?

LARSON: I don’t know much. All I know is that he beat Nik Lentz, and I ref'd the fight. He’s a good jiu-jitsu guy; he’s pretty good on his back. But I’m a brown belt in Guerrilla jiu-jitsu under Dave Camarillo, so I don’t think he’s going to show much that I haven’t seen. All I know is that he’s talked a little bit of smack. I guess he approached the matchmaker, and he called me out, saying Brock’s washed up and he wanted to fight me. So, I figured I’d grant him his wish and give him the beating of his life.

You opened a gym in Annandale this week. Is that something you’ve wanted to do for a while?

It’s something a lot of people wanted me to do. I never really had a dream or a goal of teaching. But I’ve been teaching for years, helping other guys in the gym in Brainerd. It just kind of fell into place. A guy called me up and said I have a gym I only use two days a week, and would you be interested in renting it out the rest of the week. I really didn’t know what to expect. I went up there thinking it was going to be a slum. But I walked in there, and I see they’ve got a half a cage, a boxing area, a big grappling area upstairs, got the heavy bags, it’s decked out, one of the best gyms I’ve ever been to. The guy is giving me a good deal on it, so I was like ‘Let’s do it.’

In your last two fights, it didn’t look like the same, aggressive Brock Larson we fell in love with over the years. What do you think when you look at those two fights?

LARSON: As a fighter, sometimes you try to evolve into something you’re not. I was working on counter-punching, working on timing, working on being a boxer. And I’m not a boxer. I’m never going to be a boxer. I’ve been wrestling and grappling since I was old enough to walk. I was just thinking too much. I went out to Seattle and trained with Matt Hume, and it was awesome training and I’m going to continue to go out there. But I was just learning so much, it was all so new. I was thinking too much, instead of reacting and being aggressive. Between that and the learning curve and trying to integrate the stuff I was learning out there, and the fact that I fought four times in eight months in the largest show in the world, mentally and physically I was just drained. I was missing that adrenaline rush. I used to get so jacked, like when you see a deer in the deer stand, that little bit of a rush. And if that rush ain’t there, hunting ain’t that fun. That was my trigger, that’s what got me excited. It got me going. I just wasn’t there, I was burnt out, I had injuries. You know, I’ve got a lot of excuses. But the bottom line is, I just needed a break. I went and got my knee fixed, had surgery, got a couple other things fixed up. And now, I’m hungry again. And I want to fricking kill somebody. It’s good because you want to be able to want to train, and now I want to train so fricking bad, I can’t wait to get the gym going and get training again. I’m ready to put a beatdown on somebody again. And the UFC, it’s awesome, it’s the best organization in the world, of course. But after a while, you’re on the undercard, undercard, undercard, and eventually that wears on you. It didn’t seem to bother me, but people kept asking, ‘Why are you on the undercard?’ Even the UFC guys were asking, ‘Why are you on the undercard?’ After a while, that wears on a guy. In the WEC, I was one of the top fighters there. Then I come back and win my first two fights in the UFC. I was ranked No. 9 in the world by some of the magazines. It was awesome. I was like, 'All right, I’m finally making it somewhere.' I got the submission of the night bonus, and I’m fricking making money. And then, shoot, I’m on the undercard again. Then the undercard again. It was just everything, it was taxing mentally. But now it’s all fixed. My head’s where it’s got to be, because I want to kill people. I want to be aggressive. I figured it out. I went back and looked at my body at my last fight, and I didn’t even look the same. I was too strung out, had too many fights. Fighting at the UFC level, fighting every two months, it’s too much. But you never say no when they call. So now I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t have that pressure. Now I can pick my fights, pick the dates. I’m excited to fight in Minnesota. I haven’t fought here in a long ass time, so I’ve got friends and family and fans coming. I’m just really excited about everything right now.

Looking back on your losses, I’m guessing you don’t look at those last two UFC setbacks and say “I want to avenge those two.” But I look at the loss against Carlos Condit for the WEC title, and I have a feeling that’s one you’d like to have back, correct?

LARSON: I’ve always wanted Condit again. It was scheduled. We were supposed to be the last 170-pound fight in the WEC before they cut (the weight class). I was jacked for it. But he got injured, so we couldn’t do that fight. That’s one I let get away (in the first matchup). I felt like I was better than him, it was perfect timing, everything was in my favor to win that fight, and I just blew it. I don’t look at any of the fights as wanting to get them back, but I want to prove I’m better than that. I just want to get back to fighting and winning, letting my hands and body do the work. I do hope a fight with Condit comes up again. I’ll be the first one to say ‘Hell yeah!’

In an ideal world, you beat Brian Green, and what happens next?

LARSON: I’m not opposed to being a free agent for a while, and having the guys bid for me. In the long run, sometimes the guys who are free agents make more money. It would be nice to be able to pick what I want to do. I’d love to go over to Japan. The fans over there are awesome. I’ve always wanted to fight for King of the Cage. I grew up watching that and the UFC. I wouldn’t mind doing Strikeforce. I think, no matter what, it’s all going to work out. I needed something different. I had been fighting for Zuffa for so long, in the WEC and the UFC. Sometimes change is good. It was a wakeup call. I was getting in that rut. I think this will work out good, and the UFC said, ‘Get a couple of wins, and we’ll have you back.’ So that door is open as well. It’s all on my shoulders to get a couple wins and continue to do what I was doing before my last two hiccups.

How long do you want to keep doing this?

LARSON: I keep saying two years, but I’ve been saying two years for the last four years. Until the body says no, until I feel like I’m a steppingstone fight. When that starts to come, then I know it’s time to step down. I can’t take many more losses either. I’m not a good loser. I say I’ve got two more years in me. But it’s not a big deal if I have to retire tomorrow. I’d be happy with it. I did amazing things in the sport that I never in a million years thought I’d do. I never thought I’d be fighting for a world title, never thought I’d be in the UFC, never thought I’d be on national TV, never thought I’d be on pay-per-view. I was just some farm kid who thought, ‘Hell, that looks like fun,’ and I figured I’d try it out. And I got good somehow. So if I had to retire tomorrow, I wouldn’t worry about it because it’s been a great ride. I’ve made more money than I thought I would, and I have the same job waiting for me that I had before I started, so I didn’t lose anything. It’s a win-win for me. I got to fight, got to live the dream. So if something happened tomorrow and I couldn’t fight, I’d be able to sleep at night. I never had a goal to be this fighter guy, so I’m pretty humble. I just love this sport, and as long as I can compete at the level that I want, I’ll keep doing this for as long as I can.