Tamdan McCrory (8-0, 1-0 UFC) defends his unbeaten record at UFC 78 in New Jersey against former PRIDE star Akihiro Gono. The 20 year old is coming off a win in his UFC debut against the experienced Pete Spratt by triangle choke and is eager to continue his momentum on November 17th. MMAFrenzy.com caught up with ‘The Barncat’ to find out his thoughts on the upcoming fight and how his preparations are going for what could well be the toughest fight of his young career thus far.
John Balfe – Hi Tamdan, thanks for taking the time to speak to MMAFrenzy.com. You’re scheduled to take on PRIDE veteran Akihiro Gono at UFC 78 on November 17th. How have your preparations been going for this fight, and how has training camp been for you so far?
Tamdan McCrory – Training has been good. Everything’s coming together and I feel I’m going to peak at the right time for this fight like I have in my other ones.
JB – Can you describe a typical day’s training?
TM – Well I usually wake up and do a light practice; some drilling, footwork, bagwork and other technical drills. At night is when I do my high intensity work; focus mitts, sparring, grappling. I train twice a day 4 days a week, and then once a day twice a week.
JB – Gono has very good kickboxing and a good chin. Do you plan on standing with him, or would you prefer to test him on the ground?
TM – They always have a good chin until you crack their jaw with a solid punch. He’s been KO’d before, so I don’t see why it won’t happen again this time. I want to stand and KO him, but if it ends up on the ground, I won’t be in bad territory. I can win this fight standing or on the ground.
JB – What is your assessment of Akihiro Gono as a fighter?
TM – He has good kickboxing skills. He has a bit of a wierd style, but I feel it will turn out in my favor. He has good defense on the ground, but I’ve never really seen him do anything serious there. He’s known for good kicks and his rope-a-dope style, but that’s not going to work well for him in the cage. He’s a good fighter, and there’s a reason why he’s one of the top welterweights/middleweights in the world. I plan on winning and asserting myself as one of the top welterweights around myself.
JB – You have a significant height advantage over Gono and, while I haven’t seen the figures yet, I imagine your reach is vastly superior to his. Do you plan on establishing this natural advantage of yours early in the fight therefore forcing Gono to come inside when he wants to engage?
TM – He’s had to fight to get inside in a lot of his fights, so it shouldn’t be different for him in this one. Unfortunately, he’s got a lot further to engage if he plans to get inside me. I’m good on the inside myself, and I’ll duke it out if necessary. I plan on keeping him at bay with my reach until I set up the kill shot. I have sticks of dynamite in my arms and legs, so this fight should be fireworks.
JB – Gono has competed in 39 pro MMA fights and has been in there with the likes of Matt Hughes, Shogun, Dan Henderson and Denis Kang. Is it fair to say that an opponent with such vast experience represents the biggest test of your mixed martial arts career thus far?
TM – Definitely. He’ll be the most established/experienced fighter I’ve fought, but he won’t be the last. Judging by my year and a half career, and being 20, everyone has experience on me so I don’t worry about what I can’t change. I just go out there to do business.
JB – You’re one of the younger guys currently signed to UFC contract. Houston Alexander, for example, was 35 years old before he got his first fight in the Octagon. Can you tell us a little about how your road to the UFC?
TM – I met Erik Charles (Striking coach, CNY MMA) through Myspace, and I saw him face-to-face one day and started talking. Ryan Ciotoli (Grappling coach / Head trainer, CNY MMA) was there, and the two of them were working on starting a new MMA training facility. Erik was training for fights, and I wanted to get in on it. I ended up being one of his main training partners and I got beat on a lot. Eventually I got the hang of things and started getting a lot better. I kept fighting and winning and decided that I wanted to be the best I can be at this sport. I decided that I want to be the best, and this whole time I’ve been training to be that. I won 9 fights in about a year from the point I started training (not my pro debut, from the time I actually started training in MMA). I sent in an audition tape for TUF but they wouldn’t put me on the show because I’m not 21. I guess I made some sort of an impression and the UFC offered me a contract. Some people say I have natural talent and reach, and that that’s what got me where I am. I disagree entirely. I worked hard for all my success in this sport. I didn’t take any easy road. I got beat up, bruised, and battered on numerous occasions. I’ve never experienced recognizable success in any other athletics I’ve tried or competed in. I’ve been putting aside my schoolwork, friendships, and relationships to continue to grow as a fighter and compete at such an elite level. I put my time, sweat, and blood into this. That’s how I got into the UFC.
JB – I know you’re not looking past Akihiro Gono, but if Joe Silva and Dana White gave you free reign to pick your next opponent, whom would you go for? Who do you think you match up well with stylistically in the Welterweight division?
TM – Well as long as I make it on PPV or TV next time, I’ll be happy. I really don’t know who I want to fight yet. I take them one at a time. I want to move up the ranks as best I can and I want to do it fast. I want to be the next super young UFC champ. I’m not getting ahead of myself though. I’ll throwdown with Gono, then take a look at where I want my career and next matchup to go.
JB – Back to UFC 78, what is your prediction for the Rashad Evans v Michael Bisping main event?
TM – I don’t think either one of them looking very impressive in their last fights. I’m not trying to stir anything up, but that’s my honest opinion. I mean, there was huge controversy over Bispings win, and Evans only got the draw because Tito grabbed the fense. I think Rashad takes this one though. He’s got the better hands and better wrestling ability.
JB – Have you any words for your fans, or sponsors that you like to mention?
TM – I have to say thanks to my coaches for pushing me to get to where I am in this sport. I have to thank my fans that have always been there, even when everyone else has me counted out. I hope my fans that are down in Newark will come party with me after, to celebrate not only a win, but my 21st birthday. Check out http://www.myspace.com/thebarncat and http://www.thebarncat.net for updates.
Also, show some love and check out these sponsors:
- Revgear (www.revgear.com)
- Streetwise Fightwear (www.streetwisefightwear.com)
- Cryogel (www.cryogel.tv)
- Underground Products (www.undergroundproducts.com)
- RUUD Heating & A/C
As always, thanks to you guys for this opportunity.