Gerald Strebendt who is rising and exciting star in MMA is slated to fight Josh Thompson of American Kickboxing Academy at UFC 44. He is most famous for his rubber guard usage in MMA. He was kind enough to take some time out of his training and do an interview with me.
How did you get into MMA?
Thanks for the interview Sam! I got in to mma after watching Royce Gracie win in the UFC.
Do you remember the first mma fight you watched?
The first fight I remember watching was Royce against Kimo.
What is your background in martial arts?
I wrestled in junior high and High school and I have been training jiu jitsu for three and a half years and I lived in a Muay Thai camp for 6 months. I currently train Muay Thai with two champion fighters that have won fights in Thailand. Paulo Tocha and Chris Reilly.
How long did you train for your first fight?
I only trained for a year and four months for my first fight. I won but I really didn’t know what I was doing! Now that I am sponsored I can just train all day and teach privates for extra money.
Run us through a typical training day?
I train doubles every day except sun. Lots of Muay Thai and lots of sparring.
How has the Bombsquad Gym and their trainers helped in your stand up game?
Paulo and Chris have taught me how the Thais prepare for fights and all the conditioning the Thais do for a fight. I don’t ever see myself fighting a mma fight that is as hard as my training sessions with them!
What do you know about your opponent Josh Thompson and the AKA and what do you plan to do against him?
Right now it has been discussed with the UFC that I might be fighting Josh Thompson from the AKA. He is a tough fighter and I am planning on fighting a pure Muay Thai fight against him because he has such good wrestling that I probably won’t be able to take him down. He likes to bang so hopefully we can knock the hell out of each other on the feet and make the crowd happy.
Do you watch fight tapes of your opponents?
I always try to watch fight tapes from my opponents and hopefully Josh will send me a video of all his fights and a list of any weaknesses he might have, but I am not counting on it!!!
How did the UFC deal come along?
After I choked out Jean Silva in London, the opportunity came to fight in the UFC.
Is it hard to make a living in MMA?
It is hard to make a living in mma but all I care about is paying my dues right now. If I keep on performing then the big money will come.
Why have you decided to train at Hayastan?
I decided to train with the Hayastan because of Karo Parisyan and Manvel Gamburyan. They have a special way of training and preparing for fights and I am trying to find out how they have been winning all there fights.
For those of us who don’t know, how does Hayastan Grappling differ from BJJ?
Hayastan is a lot different from the rest of the schools in the country because they have Olympic level judo and upper body wrestling. They also have the best leg locks in the business.
With most mma grapplers being wrestlers and BJJ players, how would you rank Karo and Manvel against top MMA grapplers?
I can’t really compare Karo and Manvel to jiu jitsu guys because they are fighters above anything else. They like to throw people and break legs with there Sambo back grounds. They also like to punch people from all over the ground. If you slip up and let Karo punch you he will put a hole right through you! Just ask Fernando Vasconcelos!
Gokor and Gene Lebell, there is a lot of talk about them on the internet. What is your opinion on these men, are they hype of the real deal?
Gokor and Gene are great men and great teachers. They deserve a lot of respect for the work they do and the fighters they produce.
Now that you’re training with both, how would you compare Gokor with JJ Machado?
I hate to compare Jean Jacques and Gokor because they are completely different in there approach to grappling. Jean Jacques will take control of his opponents by constantly improving his position until he has obtained the most dominant position and then he will take you out very cleanly with a rear choke. Very few people on the planet can stop him. Gokor will throw his opponents so hard you will need a chiropractor and then he will turn you legs into a big orthoscopic mess. He is a very capable grappler and he has some great students to prove it.
What are your thoughts on Eddie Bravo as a BJJ player? Is he a revolutionary?
I think Eddie Bravo is the Bruce Lee of today’s jiu jitsu fighters. He has a great eye for new techniques and has invented moves that work on the best fighters in the world. He is the only person in the world to tap out Royler Gracie. He is as real as they come. He has trained me for all my fights and when he is in my corner I always win.
Did you think Eddie Bravo had a chance against Royler?
I told everyone in a previous interview that he would not only beat Royler but he would tap him. He would tap him 9 out of ten matches.
Who are your some of your favorite fighters?
My favorite fighters are Frank Shamrock, Rickson Gracie, and Vanderlei Silva. I also like the old school Chris Brennan who used to put people to sleep and knock people out with head kicks. I hope he makes a come back because he is exciting to watch.
Who would you like to fight in MMA in the future?
I don’t like to call people out but I would like the opportunity to fight Hermes Franca. I watched him in the UFC and I think a fight with him would be pure adrenaline.
What are your plans for the future?
I am just going to keep training and try to go down in history as one of the best. Failure is really not an option. The last thing I want to say is thank you to Joe Rogan for keeping my trainers paid and keeping food in my stomach. It would be impossible with out him. Thanks for everything bro!
Thanks to Gerald for the great interview, he’s a true class act who I’m sure will be making a splash in the UFC very soon. I’m already gonna put $500 smackers on your fight with Josh, SHOW ME THE MONEY!
Sam “Soldia” Yang