clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pre-'TUF 7 Finale' Interview with Evan Tanner

Former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner is in a bind. So is his opponent, the season three winner of "The Ultimate Fighter," Kendall Grove. With the amount of athletes on the UFC roster, neither man can afford another loss.

Both men are aware of the situation they are in and the UFC is counting on these two to prove their worth, as the headliners Saturday for "The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale" event at the Pearl in Las Vegas. What does this fight with Kendall Grove mean to you?

Evan Tanner: I think Kendall and I are both going into this in the same position. It's a do-or-die situation. Whoever ends up losing this fight will most likely be out of the UFC. So that's a lot of motivation for both of us. I've definitely been training my ass off and when I step into the ring, I'm going to be bringing it. I'm sure he'll be doing the same thing. He doesn't want to get dropped out of the UFC, and neither do I, and it's going to make for an intense fight. I definitely don't think it's going to a decision. Adding to to the do-or-die situation, Kendall was knocked out in his last two fights. And it's often not surprising to see fighters fight cautiously under these circumstances. How do you think all this affects Kendall coming into the fight?

Tanner: I'm not sure. I'm assuming he's going to come out more aggressively in a sense -- not like he's going to come out and manhandle me. Probably going to try to use his reach advantage. Yeah, I don't know. [Laughs.] What have you done in training to prepare for someone six-foot-six?

Tanner: We're working on special techniques to get prepared for a guy [Chuckles.] with that much reach. I've never fought a guy that tall. So that's going to be a change up. Are you training now at the Warrior Training Center in Las Vegas?

Tanner: Yes. Is this your primary home now when you're getting ready for your fights?

Tanner: Yeah, I've settled in there. Training full-time there. Working with some of the --the Brazilian Top Team is based out of there. I get to work with Bebeo [Duarte], who is one of the head trainers of the Brazilian Top Team. Yeah! So I'm training out of the Warrior Training Center and I'm loving it out there. How did you come across the Warrior Training Center?

Tanner: Well I heard about it, and I stopped in to visit. Talked with the guys and got along with them and liked the atmosphere so I decided to set up camp there. When you were making your return to the UFC, you tried out a few gyms, including the Chute Boxe Academy...

Tanner: I was working at the Hard Knocks Muay Thai, when I first got back into training. It's a really good Muay Thai coach, got some great work done with him... but there was no MMA program. I was thinking about going up to Salt Lake City to work out with Josh Burkman and some of those guys up there. And that's just not very practical. Now with everything, I'm settled in Vegas, I'm working with the Muay Thai coach Renzo [Asparria] at the Hard Knocks Muay Thai to do the stand-up work, and getting all the groundwork at the Warrior Training Center. So I got everything I need in Vegas. Close. Let's talk about your UFC return against Okami. What did you take away from that fight?

Tanner: The main thing I took away from that fight -- The main challenge was getting myself together and stepping back into the Octagon. The opponent didn't matter, it was just getting in there. You add Okami, who is one of the top ten at the time, you add him to the mix... it makes it really intense. Yeah, I was just happy to get myself together and step back into the ring. I was happy with that. Of course, I would have liked to have won the fight, but it didn't go my way that night, but I walked away positively. Either way, I walked away with something positive from it. In retrospect, was Okami a good choice for a comeback fight? His size, his style, Okami is a tough opponent for anybody.

Tanner: Yeah, I don't get this. That everyone seems to think that I handpicked Okami or something. I don't handpick any of my fights. They offer me fights and "Okay, I'll take it," you know. I mean, I don't handpick opponents. Okami was the fight that was offered so I fought him. Obviously, if I had a business manager or something... From a business standpoint, it would make more sense to fight someone else, but like I said, I'm not going to pick my fights. I'll fight whoever the put out there, so that's who I fought. You're known for doing away with sponsorships. Do you have a business manager now?

Tanner: [Chuckles.] You know, I never really had a business manager. I have an agent now. The sponsorship is going to change up a little bit now. That's always been an evolving thing, it never was set in stone when I started it. I experimented with different approaches, I was trying to do something for the fans, but we'll see how that goes. I'm thinking about the whole Team Tanner thing and directing all of that towards charity, and then taking on a few, trusted sponsors. As a true veteran of the sport, and someone with a wild ride outside ofthe sport, how would you describe your level of interest in MMA at thispoint of your career?

Tanner: I like the training. I like being a part of it. I like working out. I don't know if it's like giddy, like it's my first day or anything, but I appreciate the sport. I like to keep getting in there and going.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting