Brendan Schaub likes to say he’s on the “Shane Carwin path” in the UFC, and it’s a pretty apt description.
The former professional football player entered the UFC through the Ultimate Fighter house, and outside of a knockout loss to Roy Nelson in the finals of the reality series, Schaub has been on an absolute tear through the lower rungs of the UFC’s heavyweight division.
UFC 121 represents the next phase in Schaub’s career, as he makes the leap to pay per view and takes on upgraded competition in Gabriel Gonzaga. It’s yet another step down the Carwin path; his Grudge Training Center teammate and friend blasted Gonzaga in just 1:09 on his own personal road to the heavyweight title picture. Schaub hopes to do the same.
We sat down with Schaub to discuss the Gonzaga fight, the very real grudge between Carwin and Nelson, the unjust heat Greg Jackson‘s camp gets and more.
Heavy: This is your pay per view debut for the UFC. How does it feel to be the guy that made the leap from fighting on the Spike prelims to the pay per view based almost solely on your performances?
Schaub: It feels just like where I should be, man. You know how hard I work. And the hard work I’ve put in the Octagon these last few fights, it’s just an honor. It feels like I’m finally here, and I plan on staying here. This is why I work as hard as I do.
Heavy: Gabriel Gonzaga was once in the position you’re in: on his way to the top, but not quite broken through yet. And then he knocked out Mirko Cro Cop and got a title fight. Do you view this as your moment to break through into the upper class of the division?
Schaub: Yeah. I think so. You beat a guy like Gabriel Gonzaga and they can’t help but put you in the top five. As far as a title shot right away? No. I definitely need some more ring time. But I feel like I can compete with any of those guys up there, and I think with a convincing win over Gonzaga, I’ll shoot up there with those guys.
Heavy.com: You talk about needing ring time. Are you going in looking to stretch it out? You’ve had some pretty quick fights so far.
Schaub: I always plan to, man. But then I go in there and these guys decide to rush me, and then it turns into a quick night for them and it’s no fun for me. I hope it’s not a quick one, and I don’t plan on it being that way. Gabe is a vet and he’s fought a who’s who of the sport, so I plan on this one going longer. Not going the distance, because a decision is not ever going to be in my vocabulary, but I think it’ll at least go past the first round.
Heavy: I’ve heard you say that you’re on “the Shane Carwin path.” What does that mean to you?
Schaub: The Shane Carwin path? Well, Shane beat Gabe, and he was on the fast track to the title and running up there with the big dogs. You fight a guy like Gabriel Gonzaga and you can expect someone like Frank Mir next and then maybe someone like Big Nog. Who knows? This puts you up there with the stars of the UFC. That’s the Shane Carwin track.
Heavy: But Shane is also known for knocking guys out and going for the kill immediately. You seem like you’re rocketing up the division because of your quick finishes, so I’m wondering why you would want to stretch your fights out in the cage.
Schaub: Don’t get me wrong, man. I’ll take a win however I can get it. If it’s a three-second knockout, I’ll be doing the same dance as I would if it’s a third round knockout. Yeah, Shane was just running through guys, and that’s kinda what I’ve done with these last two guys. Shane’s fight with Gonzaga was a quick win, and then he fought Mir for the interim title. I definitely think that our careers in the UFC are a little similar, at least in terms of finishing guys quick.
Heavy: How much work have you done on the ground, knowing what kind of jiu-jitsu beast Gabe is?
Schaub: He’s world-class on the ground, man. He’s a jiu-jitsu artist. It’s definitely something you have to be concerned about. But before I even knew I was going to fight Gabriel Gonzaga, I worked on my ground game like crazy. Jiu-jitsu is a real passion of mine, and I take a lot of pride in my game. That being said, this is not jiu-jitsu. I will punch you directly in the face. So it’s a little different than putting on a gi and rolling around with each other.
Heavy: Speaking of Shane — he’s taking on Roy Nelson in January. He’s been pretty fired up on Twitter and taking shots at Roy.
Heavy: Where do you think that dislike stems from? Is he just building up a fight, or does he really just not like Roy?
Schaub: I gotta be honest with you – he really just does not like Roy Nelson. And that’s tough to do, because if you know Shane, he’s a real caring guy and he’s tough to piss off. I think a little of it came from Roy beating me. That’s part of the sport, but Shane is like an older brother to me, so he took it hard. And I think the nail in the coffin was when Roy called him out on Twitter when some of that bad press was going around over the summer.
I don’t care who it is. Roy is a friend of mine. We don’t have the same relationship as I do with Carwin, but Roy and I do talk every now and then. But I would hate to be the guy who has to fight Shane Carwin after his loss to Brock Lesnar. The guy is an absolute monster and he’s on a tear right now. It’s a bad matchup for anyone in the heavyweight division.
Heavy: How much advice are you about to give him, since you spent weeks in the house with Roy and faced him in the finale?
Schaub: I can help him out to a certain extent, but at the end of the day, Shane is a different kind of beast. I don’t really think it matters what Roy does or what his tendencies are. It’s all about what Shane does. It’s just a bad matchup for Roy.
Heavy: You’ve mentioned your dislike for the guys at Brock Lesnar’s training camp. Where does that come from?
Schaub: You know what? When I made those comments, I had been told in a previous interview that those guys were taking shots at me. No one has confirmed that. At the end of the day, those guys work their tails off. Brock Lesnar is a great champ and an ambassador for the UFC, especially the heavyweight division. At the same time, I just don’t agree with their fighting style. Jon Madsen? When was the last time you saw Madsen on TV?
Heavy: The Ultimate Fighter, I guess.
Schaub: Right. Exactly. Same thing with Chris Tuscherer. But Lesnar is a monster, and I’m not taking anything away from him. When I made those comments, I felt like my back was against the wall. Those guys train their butts off. It’s more that I’m just not a fan of their style of fighting.
Heavy: There are a lot of fans who feel like the guys at Grudge and Jackson’s have developed an elitist attitude and take too many shots at other camps. Do you think that’s accurate?
Schaub: No, not at all. I’d never taken a shot at another camp until that happened. I thought they were taking shots at us. If we were putting our little sticky notes in order of which camps take the most heat, who would you say is number one?
Heavy: Probably Jackson’s.
Schaub: Right. It comes from being successful. The more succesful you are, the more haters you are going to have. These other camps say “what are they doing that we’re not? They’re cheating and we’re not.” So we take more heat than anyone out there.
Heavy: Speaking of heat – I was at Grudge a few weeks ago, and let’s talk about the air conditioner. When are you going to get it fixed? It was horribly hot back there.
Schaub: (Laughs) Hopefully I’ll get a knockout of the night, submission of the night or fight of the night bonus so I can help fund the air conditioner in there. You’d think between Carwin, Rashad, Nate and myself, we could figure something out, but we like to keep it toasty in there.
Heavy: Shane has an engineering degree. You’d think he could just fix it.
Schaub: I know, right? We’ll have to get on him about that.
Heavy: And I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you your thoughts on the main event at UFC 121 between Brock and Cain Velasquez.
Schaub: Tough fight, man. I can’t wait to get my fight over with and sit back with an ice cold drink to watch that one go down. It’s such an intriguing fight. If I’m Cain’s coach, I tell him to go in there and win rounds. I don’t think he’s capable of finishing Brock. He might outscore him and win a decision, but if he doesn’t, I can see Brock winning with a TKO in the second or third round.
Heavy: Give me your prediction. Your back’s against the wall now.
Schaub: I’ll take Cain by decision.