TRAINING: My training hasn't changed for this fight, just the emphasis on what I am training (I'm not telling). I am still training upwards of six days a week, two to three times a day. I am training my boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling and JJ. I will say that I have put some extra emphasis on my conditioning. I feel that I have always been in good shape for my fights but I am going to be in phenomenal shape for this one. My gym, The HardCore Gym, recently became an American Top Team affiliate. I am fortunate to be able to spend some time down in Coconut Creek training and consider Ricardo Liborio to be a good friend. Nevertheless, my primary training has been and always will be at The HardCore Gym in Athens, GA. I have a great facility, great training partners, and a great coach/trainer in Adam Singer, my brother and best friend.
When and why did you start training for fighting? I have been involved in martial arts since I was eleven. My brother started teaching me kickboxing as he was taking it. As we got older and grew closer as brothers we started taking karate, tae kwon do, and other more traditional martial arts. We both have high school wrestling backgrounds as well. After a long evolution we got involved in BJJ, boxing and Muay Thai.
I have always enjoyed competition. I competed in boxing and Muay Thai before getting into MMA. It felt like a natural progression. I was training in all these things and instead of keeping them all separate we started putting it all together. Since I was no longer specializing in any one particular art I started to compete in NHB fighting. I believe that MMA is the purest of all combat sports. Competing in MMA gives my training purpose and pushes me to be the best.
What ranks and titles have you held? I was a Novice Golden Gloves champion in 1999 (Georgia). That same year I also won the Novice Georgia State title. In 2001 I won the IKF Georgia State Super Heavyweight Muay Thai Title. I was recently promoted to brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by Chris Haueter (2nd degree BB under Rigan Machado).
Do you have any heroes? My mom is definitely my hero. She raised me and my brother single handedly. She has always been there for me and supports me in everything that I do (even if she really does not care for my fighting). I love my mom a lot and think she is a remarkable woman. My brother has been one of the most important people in my life besides my mother. I don't know where I would be today if it were not for his guidance, support, counseling, training, coaching and love.
What is your favorite technique? My favorite technique is a triangle choke. I have long legs and a fairly decent guard. I have won some fights by triangle as well as a few submission wrestling matches.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? I will be honest in saying that it was not always my goal in fighting to fight for the UFC. For many years I fought because I could. I went to school, worked, helped run our gym (I co-own The HardCore Gym with my brother/coach, Adam) and trained. I had been to a few UFCs as a bystander. It wasn't until I got behind the scenes, when working Forrest Griffin's corner at the finale of the first TUF, that I truly got the UFC bug.
I told Joe Silva that night I wanted in the UFC. When the opportunity for TUF 3 came along it was a chance to prove I belonged at that level. I spent all my years before the show training and fighting part-time. I now had in front of me an opportunity to be a full-time fighter. To be able to train full-time and fight is a chance of a lifetime. I decided school could wait. I wanted to make the most of this opportunity and see how far I could go. Fighting it the UFC proves I have made it to the highest level. It is a personal victory regardless what my future holds.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? I went to the University of Georgia, where I earned a Biological Engineering degree in 1999. I recently went back to school. I am presently on a leave of absence from the School of Nursing at Athens. The program is offered through the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia. I plan on finishing in the future and eventually pursuing a degree in Nurse Anesthesia.
What was your job before you started fighting? I have had numerous jobs while fighting. I have worked for the University of Georgia in a few different capacities; both while in school and upon graduating. I have been a lab tech, research tech and lastly a research engineer. After a lay off from the university I started working in the auto insurance field. I quit that in order to go back to school full time. I took a leave of absence from school to be on TUF 3.