|Josh Thomson: “My whole mentality as a fighter is to learn something about myself” - Part One
Interview by Gabriel Montoya (Sept 15, 2008) DoghouseBoxing.com
This Saturday night live from the Playboy Mansion here in Los Angeles, CA, Strike Force Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson takes on Ashe Bowman in the first defense of his title. I had the good fortune to talk with Thomson and discover one of the most intelligent and easygoing fighters I have ever met. In part one of this two part interview, Mr. Thomson introduces himself to us, discussing various subjects from his fighting style and it’s origins as well as thoughts on both boxing and MMA as sports.
Gabriel Montoya: This is my first MMA fighter interview. I write for Doghouseboxing.com. I mainly cover boxers. So hopefully, I won't embarrass myself. How'd you get into the sport, Josh?
Josh Thomson: (Laughing) You know, I went to school. And I was thinking to myself, what I am going to do after this, you know? So I started training in a little bit of Jiu-Jitsu. A little bit of boxing. And then one of the guys I knew said "Hey, Yo. There's some fights comin’ up. You want to try and fight?” And I was like, "Sure." And one thing led to another. And one fight led to another. Times were tough at the time. I made a hundred bucks here, two hundred bucks here. I slowly increased, you know? To three hundred bucks and five hundred and then a thousand. I was like, "Hey, I might as well keep doing it."
GM: Had you been a fighter all your life, growing up?
JT: Yeah. I'd say so, you know? (Laughs) I think some parents are different in how they raise their kids and my dad was that kind of person. Not more or less too much a fighter as someone who took up for themselves. So yeah. I guess you could say I'm a fighter.
GM: How would you describe your style? Talk to me about your disciplines. What's your base and what have you added to your game?
JT: You know, mainly I have a wrestling background. And then I started doing the Jiu-Jitsu. I picked that up pretty well. Then I started learning a lot more standup. I think wrestlers or Jiu-Jitsu [practitioners], they are always trying to be something that they are not. Which is a striker. In a lot of my early fights, I was trying to stand and knock people out. You know, you have to learn the hard way. Not so much by losses but by eatin' shots and takin’ abuse. You always stick to what you know best. I was trying to stand a lot and it just didn't work (Laughs). I started getting better in the stand up area. My game's evolving into being a well-rounded MMA fighter.
GM: Is your stand-up come strictly from a boxing base or do you use another art as well?
JT: No it's a boxing base. I have a boxing coach and he also comes from a kickboxing background as well. It kind of all molds together, honestly. My wrestling coach talks to me separately. My jiu-jitsu coach talks to me separately. And my kickboxing coach kind of puts it all together.
GM: How would you describe your philosophy or your mentality as a fighter?
JT: Really my whole mentality as a fighter is to learn something about myself. The bottom line is to win and find those areas to find out what you have and what you can do within yourself. I'm just really pushing myself to learn and see what my limits are. I haven't had that many limits yet so things are looking up of me in this career.
GM: So when you find your limit is it over or do you just re-build and keep going?
JT: I think if there is an obstacle in your way, you just make a way around it. I won't worry about that until it comes up. I have lost before and I have come back strong both times. I don’t see anything stopping me right now. If you run into a wall like there is somebody out there you know you can’t beat or they have your number, then you start looking at what you are doing with your life. You fought him twice and he beat you twice badly or something, then that’s something where you start to look at other avenues of your life. Start thinking what you do next.
GM: You guys have a lot less fights than most boxers. You'll see that in boxing. Where a guy goes from prospect to contender, then hopefully champion. Then he gets past that point where he becomes a gatekeeper. With a lot less fights in an MMA fighters’ career, would you be able to recognize that?
JT: I don’t think it has to do with a lot less fights. With boxing, you have so many more fighters out there that are wanting to learn how to box. MMA is starting to take over but what I think it is, I could find... like Julio Caesar Chavez, Jr. I could find fifty guys to fight him and older guys with records below .500. And you fight, say, four or five times a year in the early parts of his career like his father did. You won't find that in MMA.
GM: You guys get to the real fights early on, right? Not much testing ground.
JT: Pretty much there's no amateur record. There's not a lot of amateur stuff going on in a lot of areas. Some states its illegal to have amateurs. I think you train your hardest. You get yourself a good team. I think that’s a thing a lot of boxers don’t do. They focus more on themselves or put together a camp. Whereas, you'll find that a lot of these MMA guys have good teams surrounding them.
[An MMA fighters’] first fight is often a pro fight. 100 or 200 or 50 bucks, you know? That’s how I learned and came up through the ropes. I've been fighting since '98. My first fight was for free. In fact, I had to go in a pay 25 bucks just to weigh in and find someone who wanted to fight me. Then the next fight was 150 bucks and it progressed from there. Pretty soon, people see you out and it’s like "Hey. There's that guy." And you just kind of grow, you know? But it's still a small niche sport. Compared to boxing. There are fighters I have never even heard of on HBO. I'm like “Who? What? I've never heard of these guys.” But in MMA, you'll find guys on the circuit a lot easier. You guys may have something similar in your sport. I don’t know.
Gabriel at: Coyotefeather@gmail.com .
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