Vastly improved Kingsbury ready to put on a show for San Jose fans
It hasn’t taken Kyle Kingsbury long to earn a reputation as a fighter who is willing to put it all on the line inside the Octagon.
The former Arizona State football player turned AKA trained fighter has parlayed a run on the 8th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” into a 4-1 record on MMA’s biggest stage.
“I know Stephan wants to take it to the ground,” Kingsbury told HeavyMMA. “He sees my ground game as a weakness. Watching my past fights going back to TUF, he probably sees the ground as an opportunity or a weakness to exploit. Obviously my strength is going to be my stand-up and I’m sure he feels getting me to the ground would make a much easier fight for him. For me, I have to keep it standing and I want this to be one of the ‘Fight of the Night’ performances.
“It is going to be in front of my home town crowd and I want people to be talking about this fight even after it is over. I want people to say, ‘Damn that was exciting. That was awesome.’ That is the kind of performance I want. I know, in order to get that, we have to be able to stand and bang with each other. Whether it is from the outside or in the clinch, I’m prepared to keep this fight on our feet. I need to out-work, out-hustle and use my technique to make the difference in the stand-up.”
Kingsbury will carry a four fight win streak into San Jose for UFC 139. The bout will also mark Bonnar’s return as he will step into the Octagon for the first time in nearly a year. With that being said, Kingsbury doesn’t feel momentum or ring rust will be tangible factors in the upcoming fight.
“I don’t think about momentum at all. It’s very cliché to say I take things one fight at a time but I come from a college football background, and that’s how it is done. I know it sounds hokey but it really is about focusing on what is directly in front of me. The goal right now is to beat Bonnar. It is everything I want and it doesn’t matter if I have four consecutive wins before that. Sure it’s nice; a little feather in my cap for doing it, but right now Stephan Bonnar is what’s on my mind.
“I think ring rust is a mental thing. When you are getting hit in the face, going hard three times a week, it is something that works itself out. Maybe the first sparring session when you get back to training there is rust but that gets knocked off quickly.”
The transition from wrestling to MMA has been a popular route, but the cross-over from football has begun to pick up steam over the past few years. Kingsbury credits his early work off the field for setting a foundation for his career as a mixed martial artist.
“When I got to Arizona State we had two excellent strength and conditioning coaches. It wasn’t like these guys helped me get my bench press up to where I had Superman strength; they pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of. The workouts at 5 a.m. out on the Astroturf running sprints, doing up-downs, really shaped my mentality and showed me that our bodies are capable of doing things beyond what we think we can do. Without that I don’t know if I would be able to push myself as hard as I do now in my career.”
“We knew when I went on The Ultimate Fighter I wasn’t really prepared for UFC level competition. It was one of those “foot in the door” scenarios and we couldn’t pass it up. It was a chance to get in the UFC, get great coaching and really immerse myself into training full-time. A lot of guys coming up still have to work a regular 40 hour a week job, and in that sense I was no different, but TUF presented an opportunity to change all of that. When I got off the show I continued on the path. I lost that fight with Tom Lawlor and Joe Silva asked my manager if he could make me a better fighter. Bob told him absolutely, but he needed more time.
“They gave us 11 months from the time I fought Lawlor until my next fight against Razak Al-Hassan. Afterwards it was another 10 months from that fight at UFC 104 until I stepped in against Jared Hamman, so we really took the time to work on the holes in my game in order to make me a more well rounded fighter. I think that is starting to pay off now because I’m on a regular schedule, fighting three times a year. I’ve been able to put together a small win streak so things are starting to pay off.”
A win over Bonnar at UFC 139 would be a solid step in Kingsbury’s career. And while he isn ’t in the business of predicting outcomes, Kingsbury guaranteed excitement for UFC fans.
“Whether we end up getting the “Fight of the Night” honors or not, we are going to put on that caliber of performance. It’s going to be nothing but fireworks, a bloody mess and everybody is going to love it.”