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MMA4Real Exclusive: AFL WW Champ Brent Weedman Interview

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Brent Weedman signed a one fight deal with MMA start up company American Fight League. That fight was for the AFL welterweight championship on the AFL: Bulletproof card. On May 30th, 2008, Brent Weedman submitted Douglas Lima via triangle choke to win the American Fight League Welterweight Championship. MMA4Real caught up with the Kentucky native to find out what has changed since becoming a champion and what's on the horizon.

MMA4Real-Brent I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. Let's start out with telling the readers a little about your background...what organizations you have fought for, and how long you've been involved in MMA?

Brent-I've been involved with MMA for about 3 or 4 years now officially. I had a sort of unusual start in fighting. My entire life, my father has done full contact Japanese "karate" (or some say Japanese kickboxing.) The type he did was in the same realm of Kyokushin, which many fight nerds will recognize as "hard karate" or "knockdown karate." There are many offshoots, and many similar styles that aren't directly offshoots but are heavily influenced. Byakuren kaikan belongs to the latter. He started training me formally when I was 4, just the two of us. A few years later he opened the only Byakuren school in America and I trained there. When I was 8, he enrolled me in Judo so that I could learn to fight on the ground and be a "complete fighter." It is funny to think about this especially because nobody knew what MMA was in 1992, a full year before UFC 1 showed us all this "mixed fighting." When Royce Gracie shocked the world, everybody was talking about how amazing his fighting system was. I was so excited to see him, but was a little disappointed because at first glance I thought he was just doing judo moves! Of course I know differently now! When I was 19 I became the first non-Japanese to win the Byakuren All Japan Open tournament, and was the youngest ever as well. When I got back to the states, there weren't enough tournaments to compete, so I focused more on MMA (which I had been training at an open mat in town) and fell in love. I effectively quit Judo when I was 13, and dabbled a little bit again around 19, but didn't enjoy the sport so I just trained garden variety submission grappling while I focused on Muay Thai with renowned trainer Eric Haycraft. About 2 years ago I started BJJ with Jorge Gurgel in Cincinnati. Jorge is a fantastic instructor and a great guy, but it was a long drive from Louisville to make twice a week, so I was excited when Helio Soneca moved to Louisville and started training at my gym. I've been with Soneca ever since, and was recently promoted to purple belt by a true legend in the sport.

MMA4Real-Oh wow congrats on the belt promotion. Did you play any other sports while growing up and when did you know you wanted to become a fighter?

Brent-The only other sports I really focused on were high school football and judo when I was a kid. I was recruited a little bit to play ball for some smaller colleges in Kentucky, but actually quit to focus on fighting. It has always been the only thing I love. You could talk to any friend I've ever had in any stage of my life and ask them "Remember that kid Brent you knew from the playground when you were 7?" and they say "The fighter guy?" It's all I've ever done consistently. So when MMA blew up it gave me a great chance to compete. Now the money is starting to get to a point where I can work a little less and train even more.

MMA4Real-The last time I checked you were working a full time job while training full time. Has anything changed with that since becoming champ? Can you provide us with sample of a typical training day?

Brent-I cut back on work a little bit recently, giving me a more open schedule. I like to train with Integrated Fighting Systems in Indianapolis about once a week (home of Chris Lytle, Johnny Rees, Jake O'brien and other really tough guys) even though I haven't been able to make it for 3 weeks! Not working as much guarantees I can get up there more often. A very typical day with work and training starts with a session at 7 am until about 8:15 or 8:30. Then I will work from 9-5 or 10-6, and go straight back to the gym for an hour or more of BJJ and 1.5 hours of kickboxing and conditioning. However on days I don't work, I can have up to 4 independent sessions lasting up to a total of 6 hours. Those days are fun but you can't do too many in a week or you'll be shot for a while.

MMA4Real-I'm tired from just reading that. Are you associated with a gym and who are some of the fighters you currently train with? How would you describe your style of fighting?

Brent-I fight under the banner of Team Haycraft which is primarily a Muay thai team but Eric Haycraft is my trainer and manager. I also represent Helio Soneca Jiu Jitsu. Soneca is one of the greatest instructors to ever come to America, just ask around! Like I mentioned before I train with the guys at IFS in Indy, and that's where I get most of my tough sparring. My style of fighting tends to be very balanced. If you ask which is better my stand up or my ground game, the answer will change weekly. I would like to call myself a primarily stand up fighter, but Soneca has taken my ground game to new levels, so I'm very comfortable there. I'm blessed with some great trainers. Eric is a guy like Mark Dellagrotte who is unbelievably knowledgeable and well connected in the fight game, but when one of his guys (ie me hopefully!) really hits the national stage he will be a household name in stand up and conditioning. A number of UFC and WEC fighters have rolled through Louisville to pick up a session or 2 with him. Great stuff.

MMA4Real-Cool...it was rumored that your first title defense will be on a AFL November card and will be on PPV. Is that still a go and any word on who your opponent will be?

Brent-Unfortunately the AFL has had a difficult time getting a card together. The show at Phillips Arena in Atlanta was really well done, so hopefully they will have another sooner than later. But the last I heard the tentative date is sometime in Jan. Opponent is TBA.

MMA4Real-"TBA" is a tough SOB...you better train hard man!(Sarcasm) You are only 24 years old correct? In 3 years from now where do you see yourself in the MMA world?

Brent-Yes, I'm 24. I have big goals in MMA. It's easy for everyone with some gloves to talk about being a champion one day, so instead I just focus on the daily grind of training. I think one of my biggest fighting characteristic is that I'm definitely a student of fighting. I love to learn and improve. So everyday I focus on improving a little more, and things seem to be coming together because of it. In 3 years I will be recognized on the world stage as a top level fighter. In the meantime I've got to put in the work. Too many guys get their shot at a big show because they poured all of their energy into promoting themselves or making themselves a character. I'm doing all my work now, so when the big card calls, I'll be more than ready.

MMA4Real-That's a great attitude to have. If you defend your title successfully...what's next for Brent Weedman? Are there any fighters out there in which you would like to test your skills against?

Brent-There are a few guys I'd definitely like to fight. I'm not going to do any dramatic style call outs, but it should go without saying I'd like a few rematches to fix some blemishes on my record. Blemishes, I might add, which are a good warning against turning pro too early. Guys can come to mma and be a "professional" after their first fight. The problem was, I only had 5 or 6 amateur fights, so mistakes I learned about with money on the line and when my record mattered I should have learned in an amateur bout. Anyways, there is also a particular fight I'd like in Atlanta. I've fought for the Atlanta crowd 8 times or so, and despite some of the negative response from the Atlanta UFC show, I've always found the fight scene there knowledgeable and friendly. There's a fighter there that is a friend of mine and a really tough guy, and our paths have almost crossed a number of times. Now we are in some negotiations for a possible fight soon, and I am more than happy about the possibility. I'll fill you in more as it progresses, because this fight would be a barn burner!

MMA4Real-Yessir, I need to get that exclusive! Do you have any final thoughts or anything you would like to say to your fans/sponsors?

Brent-Thanks for having me I'm a big fan of the site! I'd like to thank Bullet Fight Gear for their support. I really feel like in a market completely over-saturated with tee shirt and shorts companies, these are some stand up guys with some quality stuff. And most importantly they take care of the fighters, which is all most true fans should need to know!

Well Brent again, we here at MMA4Real want to thank you again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to fill us in on what's going on with you. We look forward to hearing about who and when you'll be fighting next. Good luck in the future and I'm sure we'll see you on the national stage shortly.

*Props to MMA4Real Reader "El Felix" for his help!