Undefeated in his four professional MMA fights, Robert Drysdale is looking to keep his record pristine this Friday at Legacy FC 15, in Houston, Texas.
So far, the fighter on the cover of the November issue of GRACIEMAG and winner of the ADCC 2007 absolute division has gotten a tapout in every outing: one arm-and-neck choke, two armbars and a guillotine.
His opponent this time around will be Chris Reed, a light heavyweight who is largely an unknown entity. Drysdale, one of the coaches on Frank Mir’s team during the eighth season of TUF, is the more experienced. But what does he expect from this test?
GRACIEMAG.com wanted to find out.
GRACIEMAG: First, the people want to know: what was rolling with the gi and all with Vitor Belfort in Las Vegas like?
ROBERT DRYSDALE: It was great. It’s always a pleasure to train with Belfort. Vitor likes training in the gi, and he’s a really technical Jiu-Jitsu fighter. But this week he moved to Florida, and it will be hard for us to always train together. I consider Vitor a great friend and training partner.
You’ll be fighting in Houston this Friday. Are you ready for everything—the standup fighting, the takedowns?
I’ve never been more confident in my standup game. I trained a lot for this fight. My training partners are really good. I’ve got some of the best athletes in the world on my side. My hands are up to speed, you can believe it. I’m prepared to bang, if that’s the direction the fight takes. I feel prepared to knock this guy out. But we’ll see what happens, as training is training; you only see the truth when you’re actually fighting. But I’m really confident.
What did you do differently in training for your fifth fight?
Usually I get really worn out in training, feel like I’ve overtrained. But this time I trained enough, put a good while into training, and everything was well organized. I felt fine the whole time.
Who did you train with?
I did standup with James McSweeney, wrestling with Coach Rick Hernandez, and physical conditioning with Cory Goodwin.
You’re in the main event, right? Does that change anything for you?
I feel fine. To me it changes nothing. I’m immune to the crowd, the lights, the cameras. I’m there because I like it, to test myself. I don’t care where I’m fighting, who I’m fighting or how many people will be watching. Being in the main event changes nothing. To me it’s all the same thing.
So far you’ve been getting the takedown and finishing really quick. Obviously, he’ll be expecting that…
But I’m prepared for anything. If he wants to stand and bang, I’ll stand and bang. What I’m not going to do is squander an opportunity, that’s not something I usually let pass. If I see a takedown, I’ll go for the takedown. If I see an opening for a knee or kick, I’ll go for it. I feel ready to win the fight in all its aspects. I’m ready to capitalize on the openings he leaves me.
Your transition to MMA has been quite gradual and safe. How has it been going?
I’ve been working on this for some time now, and for a while I only thought of being a trainer. But what I like best is fighting. I’m learning a lot. It’s a slow process but now I feel at ease. My wrestling has improved a lot, I already feel calm standing, and even my Jiu-Jitsu has improved a lot. Today I feel like a complete fighter, an MMA fighter.
Do MMA and Jiu-Jitsu complement each other? Are they growing together?
Both still have room to grow. I don’t see one being above the other. There’s room for the two to grow. When I started training, Jiu-Jitsu and MMA were the same thing—there was no difference in the training or in the media covering the two sports. Now the two sports have gone in different directions, despite having a common audience. Those who watch Jiu-Jitsu watch MMA and vice-versa. Not all the spectators, but a lot of them. So I feel the two are still in their infancy. And I’m in the right place at the right time.