But this is Benji Radach, people. When you've already come back from a broken jaw, neck surgery, an ACL replacement, and two straight losses, mental strength has been measured and found to be more than adequate. In fact, it's been found to be stellar.
So as the man that has won five of his last six fights gets ready for former EliteXC Middleweight Champion and PRIDE star, Murilo "Ninja" Rua, at EliteXC's next Saturday Night of Fights on October 4, 2008, MMAFighting.com's Robert Rousseau thought it prudent to hear about his recent training camp, newly acquired job at LA Boxing, and more.
MMAFighting.com: How's training been going?
Benji Radach: Pretty good, man. With LA boxing they allow me to train in the mornings, which is nice. I can come here to work, train in the mornings. We've got a heavy bag out in the shop. . . (and) a shop attached to our corporate offices. . . So we've got a heavy bag out there and I do my Bas Rutten workouts, step out there in the mornings, and then hit hard at night.
MMAFighting.com: Along with what you said, I know that you were recently named corporate director of instructors for training at LA Boxing. How did that come about and what are your plans there?
Benji Radach: It came about last year, basically. I had such a successful year in the IFL and made some good connections and relationships there. LA Boxing was a sponsor of the IFL and then this job came open for them. They needed somebody and contacted Kurt Otto? who is President of the IFL? and asked him, 'do you have any good professional fighters that would be interested in and be good at this position' and they recommended my name out of everybody's. So that was pretty good props.
MMAFighting.com: Definitely. Who have you specifically been training with? Any people that MMA fans would know?
Benji Radach: I trained with Michael Bisping for a couple of weeks at the very beginning. You know, I got a jumpstart in training. I've been training out of Team Quest with Dan Henderson and Mo Lawal. Nobody knows Mo Lawal yet, but he's about to break out and start smashing people. He's a top- level wrestler, beat the gold medallist in the Olympics. He's just pretty bad. . . So I'm getting lots of time in with him. He's like 220 right now and fast and explosive and we push each other pretty hard.
On the weekends, (I'm) hitting training with Bas Rutten up in West Lake at Elite MMA. . . But mainly my training partner has been Mo Lawal.
MMAFighting.com: You named a couple of guys, and I have a feeling they're going to be a part of your answer. But did any MMA fighters that you saw fight in the past kind of get you interested in the sport back in your MMA beginnings?
Benji Radach: Bas Rutten was definitely somebody I always idolized. His fighting style was pretty vicious, and I enjoyed the fighting style so I looked up to him. Dan Henderson I watched for years and once I started training with him?Dan Henderson, Matt Lindland, and Randy Couture way back in the day before there was even a Team Quest back in 2000 (we were) training out of Straight Blast gym in Oregon. Those guys were coming through there all the time and then I kind of took it all from there. It was pretty cool at that time of my life, starting when I did, training with those guys that are such high level wrestlers and competitors in general. It got me a pretty good jumpstart in training myself in jumping onto the UFC just two years after I started.
MMAFighting.com: Yeah, you can't do much better than them, right?
Benji Radach: Definitely not.
MMAFighting.com: What do you think of your opponent, Murilo Rua?
Benji Radach: I think he's tough, man. A lot of the public eye doesn't really know who he is because he was mainly in Japan, fighting in PRIDE Fighting Championships and kicking butt over there and doing really well. He's a humongous name over there.
But I do know who he is. The last name Rua is huge and (they're) great, tough competitors, him and his brother. I definitely have trained accordingly and know what I have to do to beat him.
Hopefully, I can get the 'W' here.
MMAFighting.com: It's hard to miss the fact that both of you guys have won five of your last six after losing two straight. There are some fighters, particularly early in their careers, that haven't experienced a lot of setbacks. What does it say about a fighter when they're able to deal with a couple of tough times and come back as you have?
Benji Radach: MMA is full of down time. You have so many more negatives than positives in this sport. Infections?it's a dirty sport?you're sweating on each other, bleeding on each other. It's just a tough, tough sport, (both) emotionally and physically draining. So you have to be able to take the downs with the goods. You know, the ups with the downs. The guys who can take the downs and keep on going are the guys who are going to end up on top in the end because people get stronger after they go through those hard times. I definitely have myself. I've had tons of physical downs and injuries; it's just been a crazy roller coaster for me, but I think I've gained a lot from all of it.
MMAFighting.com: Right, you also came back from the broken jaw I know, which was big.
Benji Radach: Yeah, broken jaw, I had neck surgery, ACL replacement, and a staph infection that was really bad. You know, just one thing after another. I'm feeling great though now. I'm healthy and strong and hungry, so I think I have a good year coming up.
MMAFighting.com: Given both of your fighting styles, what kind of a fight do you think fans are going to see here?
Benji Radach: He's a stand up brawler. So am I. I think that's where it's going to end up, on our feet just throwing down. As far as the ground stuff goes, I plan on dominating that as well. The clinch, the takedowns, everything like that. I've trained pretty hard so I think I'm going to be able to dominate both of those positions. The only thing that's a little weary is he's really good on his feet. He's got good kickboxing and he throws down too. We'll see how it goes, but I think it's going to be a slugfest, which is exciting for the fans.
MMAFighting.com: How psyched are you about fighting on CBS?
Benji Radach: Totally stoked. That's why I signed the contract with EliteXC. I could not pass up the exposure. Kimbo Slice, Ken Shamrock, the main event is going to be huge. Both of those guys put people in the seats and get people to watch. I think everybody that that has anything to do with MMA and likes the sport at all and then some is going to be watching the show.
I think it's going to be huge for me, win or lose. But I plan on winning. I couldn't pass it up.
MMAFighting.com: Of your four losses, which would you like to try to avenge most and why?
Benji Radach: Probably the last one just because I know that I should've won that fight. I was burnt out; I was just drained at the very end there. Matt Horwich is a hard guy to fight. He's awkward and kind of crazy and keeps coming. I can't take anything from him but I should've won that fight. I definitely didn't give myself a fair fight there. I was definitely not a hundred percent, and I wish I would have been because I would've had the belt, you know?
MMAFighting.com: Yup. It's hard to miss the fact that 20 of your 22 fights have ended in a stoppage. How important is it for you to be known as a guy that puts it on the line and tries to finish fights?
Benji Radach: That's what is going to make me some money, I think. . . Promoters see the guys who are putting it on the line and who are risking it, risking everything to just win. I'm definitely risking getting knocked out; I'm definitely risking getting caught in certain things because I'm throwing down, you know? I'm risking injuries. It might not be the smartest way to fight but it's exciting and I think that's what people want to see.
MMAFighting.com: Do you have a prediction for the fight?
Benji Radach: Just that it's going to be exciting. I really plan to win this fight. It's going to be a great one for me and for the fans.
MMAFighting.com: Anything you'd like to say to those fans?
Benji Radach: Check out LA Boxing. It's the new job that I got and it's helping me out. Also, for the fighters out there that want a job man, I've got gyms all over the nation. I'm not quite sure of my sponsors yet, but hopefully shortly I'll be able to give some recognition.
MMAFighting.com: Thanks a lot, Benji, for taking the time to talk with me. I know you're very busy and I look forward to the fight. Good luck in it.
Benji Radach: Cool man, I appreciate it.