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Q&A: Nick Thompson talks 'Sengoku' debut win

Bodog Fight welterweight champion and UFC veteran Nick "The Goat" Thompson was victorious in his return to Japan on March 5, unanimously outpointing Fabricio "Pitbull" Monteiro at the inaugural World Victory Road "Sengoku" event from the Yoyogi National Stadium.

With the win, Thompson has now recorded 19 wins in his last 20 fights since September 2005.
What are your overall thoughts on your performance?

Nick Thompson: I'm not completely happy with my performance. I made a lot of mistakes that I usually don't make. But I think the mark of a champion is, if you're having an off day, to still be able to pull off the win. So I'm happy that I was able to do that.
Your fights rarely go to a decision. What was it about this fight that made it difficult for you to implement your game plan?

Thompson: It had to do with a lot of things. The way we matched up was really, I think was a big part of it. "Pitbull" is a really good jiu-jitsu guy and he was able to use submission attempts and sweepts to keep me off-balance from ever mounting a long-term offense. His guard work was really solid. And he was able to change the pace anytime I got anything going. I think that was probably the biggest part of it. And I think another part of it was that I was so excited to be over there in Japan and be on the stage as big as it was. So it was the first time in a long time I've really been nervous for a fight. And then lastly, sometimes you have an off-day. Somethings you don't react the way you want. I think mentally, I wasn't as sharp as I've been in other fights. Combine all those and you get a kind of a lackluster performance. The judging was a bit different. He was able to score a lot of takedowns and the decision could have gone a different way if the fight took place in the UFC or in America. What are your thoughts on how your fight was judged?

Thompson: I think it was judged fairly. They told us they were going to judge us damage first. And even though he controlled position for a lot of the fight... If you count how many times he hit me, and compare how hard we were hitting each other, that I clearly caused more damage. At the end of a day, this is a fight not a wrestling match. I think this was a close fight, but I think especially after watching the fight, I think there's no doubt that I won it. In America, the judging favors wrestlers, would you agree with that?

Yes. I think so. So do you prefer the way the Japanese look at the fights opposed to the judging criteria here in America?

Thompson: I think their methods makes sense cause, like I said, it's a fight not a wrestling match. Obviously to here to hurt the other guy, simply to take him down and holding him isn't doing anything. So everything being equal matters, but rarely is damage equal.
You mentioned you were actually nervous for this fight and you've said in the past, Japan is the place to be. What is it about Japan that draws you in?

Thompson: There's a couple of things that I really like about fighting over there. One is the production value they put into it. Two: the elevator, the fireworks, walking down the ramp. It's really just a cool feeling. It's cool to be a part of that kind of production. And then also, another thing I really like is how respectful the fans are. And American fans have gotten a lot better, but you still hear people yelling "rip his head off," things like that, you just don't see in Japan. In Japan, everybody is quiet, they're watching the fight, all eyes are on the fight, they really know the techniques. Like I said, US have gotten a lot better and hardcore fans aren't like this, but for your fans that come and don't know the sport really I think detract in a way from the American audience. Every fighter goes through that fighting for the first time in Japan. You can hear a pin drop. Even though you've fought before, was that easy to adjust to? Or do you not notice it once you're in there?

Yeah, you don't really notice that during the fight. Although I was able to hear my wife cheering for me cause she was the one person yelling, so that was kind of a unique -- during the fight, all of a sudden, I was like: "I think that's my wife!" (Laughs.)
What is your status with World Victory Road?

Thompson: I have got a four-fight deal with them. So I have three fights left and it's non-exclusive and I'm expected to sign something with HCF (Hardcore Championship Fighting) up in Canada in the day or two. So I'll be fighting for those two organizations, kinda switching in between the two. For your next fight, are we going to see you at the HCF first or right back to World Victory Road?

Thompson: Sounds like I'll be fighting HCF next and then possibly returning to Japan in June.
Since your contract is non-exclusive, do you see a Bodog Fight title defense in the works?

Thompson: It's possible, although I think with HCF and World Victory Road, it could be hard to schedule something, but I wouldn't rule it out. Would you have to vacate the title after a certain amount of time?

I have no idea. Let's go back to World Victory Road. They definitely tried to replicate that PRIDE presentation. And you don't usually get to do that in America. Can you tell us a little bit more about that experience?

Thompson: Yeah, it was really surreal. Move up the elevator to the top of the stage, the fireworks, a big screen behind us, we walk down the ramp. It was really done like PRIDE was, and so I had never gotten to be a part of that and in fact, when I first started watching fights, the first bit I saw was PRIDE, and I always really wanted to go over there and experience that, so when PRIDE folded, I was kinda like "Well, I guess, that's something I'll never get to do." So to have this opportunity has been just a dream come true.
Being part of WVR, you are open to fighting a completely new talent pool, what are some interesting matchups you'd like to see happen?

Thompson: I would really like to fight "Mach" Sakurai. I heard he just signed with DREAM, though it's only a one-fight deal. So he's someone I would really like to fight. I think he's probably the top 170 pounder in Japan -- well I guess he's 167.5 over there, but the top welterweight in Japan in any case. And then if Shinya Aoki came back up and was available, I'd be really interested in fighting him. Just because his style is so cool. How could you not wanna fight him? That would be just a blast.
You mentioned DREAM. How do you like that organization? They're another promotion competing with World Victory Road to fill the void of PRIDE.

Thompson: They haven't had an event yet so it's hard to tell. They've signed some top talent. And any organization that signs the top talent, I'm interested in seeing. Although at the same time, they're part of K-1. And K-1 is always kinda weird. They'll have a really big show and then kinda go away for a while. So I look at them a bit suspect but I hope that they put together more events that feature the same kind of card as this one is.
With your win last Wednesday, you've gone 19 of your last 20. How incredible is that?

Thompson: It's been a really surreal experience to go from, I think I started out 2-4 in my career or something like that. So now I'll be like 12 in a row and not in two years the next time I fight. And fighting some guys who I think are pretty top level guys. It's been a really surreal experience. At the same time, I really put in the work to get there, so it's been really rewarding.
It's something that just doesn't happen nowadays cause of the level of talent.

Yeah, there's just so many ways you can lose a fight. You can be beatin' up on a guy and then catch you on the chin or catch you in an armbar that to go 12-0 and 19 out of 20 against top level guys is just really tough. Look at St. Pierre, he's a next level fighter and he just gets caught by a guy whose probably has a one in ten chance beating him, but it's that easy to get caught in this game.
Your lone loss was against Karo Parisyan. Since it's been two years how do you think you two would match up now?

Thompson: I'd be interested in seeing it. Karo is a top-level guy and no doubt he was the better fighter at that point of my career. But that was when I first moved to Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, I put in a lot of training and a lot of time since then and I'm very confident that I'd beat him now. Until we fight, there's not a whole lot I can say cause he beat me, but I'd be looking forward to the time we get to match up against each other again. You're also training with Brock Lesnar and he has a high profile match up later this year against Mark Coleman? What's your take on that fight?

You know Brock's such an athletic guy that on a given day he can beat anybody in the world. He works hard and he works smart. He really wants to learn the game, which I think you combine his talent and that kind of attitude and I think you can beat anybody. At the same time, he's going up against someone who is also a helluva wrestler, so it's an intriguing matchup: you got two good wrestlers, one at the end of his career, but nevertheless a world level wrestler and someone whose got a lot more experience than Brock. It'll be cool. And then more than that, It'll be in Minnesota, which will be cool for me to go cause it's in my hometown. And in a completely random question, have you heard of the YAMMA Pit Fighting?

Thompson: I (Laughs.) just read something about it but I don't really know a whole lot about it.
Well, they've been talking about something where fighters will be fighting in a new platform. Do you have a guess on what it's going to be like?

Thompson: I guess you'd think it'll be in a pit I guess (Laughs.). You know, I don't know, the idea that'll it be on a wrestling mat or something that just has a big open space is an intriguing idea if you can manage to keep the guys in bounds. Because the cage really does change a lot of things as does a ring. When you're running out of space, all of a sudden you have a lot more room to work. It'll be interesting to see. I don't know if it'll be boring or not, but I'm interested to see it. Do you have any final words?

I would like to thank my sponsors. They keep me warm, Minnesota's a cold place, so if they can help me pay my heating bill, that's always nice. TapouT and Gamma-O.

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