Gabe Ruediger is the current Lightweight Champion of the WEC. After losing his first fight by TKO he went on a terror going undefeated in his next 9 fights and picked up the 155lb belt along the way. Now Gabe is facing the biggest fight of his career defending his title vs UFC Veteran and Jiu Jitsu specialist Hermes Franca.
Brad Doerges – Last time we talked you were telling me about how you were training at all these different places Apex, R1, Fairtex… Is this how you usually train for a fight or are you stepping it up for the biggest fight in your career?
Gabe Ruediger – I have definitely been pushing it harder than I normally do. Definitely working harder on my stand up and wrestling more so than I normally do. I feel like my Jiu Jitsu is competitive with pretty much anybody. I still have been training with a lot of legitimate Jiu Jitsu guys Henry Aikens, Black belt under Rickson, Rodiego Meideros, Mario Hiest still get a lot of Jiu Jitsu guys. I still feel like to take him out of his game plan I will want to strike with him.
Brad – How is training with the APEX guys?
Gabe – Great group of guys Russ, Val, Jeremy (Williams), Tracy, and Justin Levens… great training partner’s good people.
Brad – How do you think you match up with Hermes.
Gabe – I think I match up well with him. He’s primarily a Jiu Jitsu guy but he has some stand up and some wrestling. I ‘m not afraid of him on the ground… I will fight him on the ground. I defiantly am not afraid of him standing. I think his biggest attribute is his stamina. That’s another thing I have been really pushing in my training. To be able to go as hard as I can for 3 5 minute rounds non stop. I think it’s going to be a really exciting fight. I think Hermes and I are going to bring the best out of each other… We are both aggressive fighters…. I don’t like to sit back and wait for things to happen. I like to make things happen. I think in that way it will make for an exciting fight.
Brad – Doesn’t the fight have to be a 5 round fight now that MMA is legal in California?
Gabe – The event is still on the Indian Reservation and is being aired live on HD.net so it’s still going to be 3 5’s
Brad – What weakness of Franca’s do you plan to exploit?
Gabe – It’s not necessarily about exploiting weaknesses… He is a very game fighter… everyone has weakness and strengths… I’m going to play my game and then hopefully the fight goes that way. It’s not necessarily using his weakness against him. I will play my game. I think because of the way we match up it will turn out in my favor.
Brad – Hermes is coming off a 3 fight losing streak do you feel that in anyway this favors him or you?
Gabe – It really depends on how you look at it. He is probably hungry. He is striving to get back on top. A loss makes you hungry. Winning doesn’t necessarily do that. I’m expecting to get the best Hermes possible. I’m expecting to fight him at the top of his game.
Brad – That Hermes is pretty tough… He threw Caol Uno on his head…
Gabe – Even the fights that he has lost were close. He lost a couple split decisions. If you take tough guys to a split decision then it could have gone ether way.
Brad – Did you study any of his fight film?
Gabe – Yeah I have watched everything that I can get my hands on. It gives me an idea of what he is going to do. It gives me and idea of how he is going to come out. Most fighters have a specific way to fight and you can pick up on that.
Brad – You should have the reach advantage in this fight.
Gabe – Well he kinda has like ET arms… He might try to Elliot Ouch Me… I talked to Rich Crunkilton and was like his arms are deceptively long because you think he is so short that you will have that advantage. That is definitely something I keyed in on… but I defiantly think I still have the advantage in the reach department. I thinking my striking is much crisper than his… he throws…
Brad – He is trying to set up take downs and clinches…
Gabe –Yeah. I’m defiantly aware of his fight style.
Brad – You guys have John Alessio, Romie Aram, Gabe Ruediger, and Manny Tapia. Why so many champions coming out of Millenia?
Gabe – It’s just we have a great team. A lot of up in comers… A lot of game competitors… There are a bunch of guys that come into our gym that aren’t recognizable names. They are in their consistently training. They have like 3 or 4 fights in the smaller shows. It just makes for a real good training environment. Another thing is that we are very open to training with other people. For me going up to Fairtex to train with those guys… I mean I went up to train with Jake Shields who could be considered an opponent for one of our fighters later on… It’s not a matter of that weird blind loyalty towards your team. The loyalty is always there… When it comes fight time of course I’m not going to be training with those people quote unquote trade secrets. Every time I get to train with top level people it assists our team. When I train in Japan all the top guys train together… There is no politics until you fight each other. Then of course you train on different sides of the room and don’t interact with the other team. Overall it’s one of the benefits that we have at Millenia… a lot of open minded people and good training partners that are willing to train with anybody.
Brad –I heard that you used to train with 2 of my favorite fighters BJ Penn and Ralph Gracie what was that like?
Gabe – Yeah that was a long time ago. I initially started with Ralph and was a white and BJ was a purple. I wasn’t really on the level to where I could appreciate training with someone like him. I feel really fortunate to have trained with both of those guys. There is one thing about Ralph is that he brings a certain level of intensity that you can’t mimic. BJ is just a terror… he is meant to be doing what he is doing.
Brad – Why did you leave Ralph’s school?
Gabe – It was a matter of getting away from my security… my surroundings… I had been living in San Francisco for 4 ½ years and you have your little network of friends… you want to go out and have fun instead of train hard. So I had to make a decision that if I’m going to fight then I have to be serous about it. John Jenson used to be one of the instructors at Millennia and he emailed me about a live in program. When I first came to millennia there was a fighter’s apartment right in the back of the school… I lived trained and fought for my first 7 months at Millenia. I lived on the mat.
Brad – So do you get any good living that way?
Gabe – Yeah it defiantly makes you appreciate having money in pocket… and feeling more secure… we had weights down stairs… I’m an insomniac so I would lift weights at 2 in the morning jump rope and watch instructional tapes… then get woken up by people coming to train in the morning. It was defiantly a learning experience but I wouldn’t do it again but it was good for the time.
Brad – So you lose your first career MMA fight by TKO then you come back and win 9 in a row along the way becoming the WEC lightweight champ how do you lose your first fight and regain enough confidence to become the champion of your division?
Gabe – My first fight was my first fight. I didn’t really know anything about real preparation. I was just basically winging it. I kind of put a training camp together I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t know about nutrition or cutting weight… I was green. I think losing is a turning point for fighters. Either you decide that you push thru regardless and it’s going to make you stronger or you’re going to let it cave you in and overwhelm you. This is becoming one of my favorite quotes; ”Everybody’s tough when they’re the hammer, Let’s see how tough they are when they’re the nail”. Anyone can be a bad ass when they are on top but lets see them bounce back from getting their ass kicked. I took that first loss… and I used it to better myself in every possible way… It’s actually good in my last fight was the first one that went the distance… and again I didn’t lose that fight but it made me want to train even harder and learn from that because it was a fight that I got hurt in… All those first rounders I can’t really learn from those fights. I’m gracious to win but I can’t really learn anything from those fights… I wasn’t really expecting to fight for the title but when they gave me the chance I jumped on it…
Brad – After you win your fight with Franca what’s next for Gabe Ruediger?
Gabe – I really don’t want to look past Hermes. You know every fighter has goals they set… I’m hoping that this will lead to bigger opportunities for me and bigger and tougher guys to bang with. For me fighting is just a test. Not every fight has to be for a title but I defiantly want to fight the best in the world. Just to see where I stand. I like that feeling of having to rise to the occasion. I mean for this fight I REALLY had to rise to the occasion. The fight hasn’t even happened yet and it feels like I have to step my game up ten fold.
Brad – Thanks Again for the interview.