MMA Interviews

Team Cruz’s Justin Lawrence Looks Ahead to TUF Live Fight vs. Cristiano Marcello

Overall No. 1 pick meets Brazilian vet tonight on FX

On tonight’s third episode of “The Ultimate Fighter LIVE,” which airs at 10 p.m. Eastern on FX, Justin Lawrence, the top pick of coach Dominick Cruz‘s team, faces Brazilian Cristiano Marcello.

Lawrence (4-0) is the youngest member of this season’s cast, and he faces one of this season’s most veteran fighters in Marcello (13-3), who was coach Urijah Faber‘s second pick. Marcello has been fighting since 1998, is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who came up through the legendary Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil and his experience includes a fight in Pride.

Lawrence, from Villa Ridge, Mo., knocked out WEC vet James Krause in the first round to get into the TUF house and talks about gearing up for this week’s fight and life on the show so far.

On training for Marcello
“I’m definitely training hard for my upcoming fight against Marcello. It’s exciting (and) nerve-racking. He’s a very good grappler, so I really want to try and stay on my feet and make him feel uncomfortable as much as possible. I don’t want this to turn this into a jiu-jitsu match because I know that’s his strength. Dom’s crew has been doing a phenomenal job in training and preparing me and I’m pumped. I just have to fight my fight.”

On being the No. 1 overall pick
“Being chosen first, in a way, kind of made me feel confident. But then again, I kind of felt a target being placed on my back. It’s definitely more pressure. A lot of people expect a lot more from me now. All I can do is go in there and fight. I’ve been fighting since I was 6 years old.”

On life in the TUF house
“Life hasn’t been too bad. I miss the girls and I miss the radio! Other than that, it hasn’t been that bad – better than I expected. I’m sure this week may get a little rough toward the end of the week, when I’m trying to sleep and the rest of the guys are staying up late and hanging out. We’ll see how it goes. It’s all part of it.”

On missing St. Louis and his family
“I’m definitely missing my mom, my dad, my sister and my brother, and all my family and friends back home. I didn’t really realize how much my support team meant to me until they weren’t here. I know they’re supporting me and cheering me on, but it’s weird not having them here. My dad is the only guy that has ever wrapped my hands and been in my corner, so it’s definitely weird having someone else do it. I know this is the best for my career and I know he thinks so too, so that helps. I know they’re going to be watching on TV and I wish I could get on the phone and ask (my dad) what he thinks ’cause I’m sure he’s thrilled and I know my mom’s a really proud mom. I miss them a lot.”

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