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Brendan Schaub Ready for Cro Cop, Thanks to a Team Intervention

Brendan Schaub's coaches were worried about him. He'd started his training camp roughly three months out from his fight with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic at UFC 128, and the wear and tear was starting to show.

His body wasn't reacting the way it should have, he said. He'd do one round of sparring or mitt work and feel exhausted. It was like he was getting in worse shape as the weeks wore on. To put it simply, he'd burned himself out. That's when his coaches got together and insisted that he leave the gym and not come back for at least three days.

"I felt like I was on that Intervention show on A&E," said Schaub (7-1). "They were like, 'You can either take this help, or we're not going to help you anymore.' I was like, really? Where's that bald guy who looks like Dr. Phil?"

But deep down, Schaub knew they were right. He'd overdone it in the gym and his body was showing the effects.

"I was so beat up. I've never been more overtrained for a fight, just because of the magnitude of the fight and how bad I want it," he said. "You get up and your body aches. You're tired. You're just not the same mentally or physically. You're sparring and your coaches can see it."

Fortunately for Schaub, his coaches said something about it. He agreed to take that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off without doing anything training-related, and when he came back on Monday he felt refreshed, he said.

"They were right. I couldn't even go a round without falling apart. My body was not having it. But ever since [the break], it's been a great camp. It's been a tough camp, but it's also been the best camp."

More than anything, Schaub said, the overtraining was a sign that he had realized the full importance of his fight with Filipovic. Every time he watched "Cro Cop's" old fights he got filled with that same old fear that motivated him to get in the gym and make sure he was as prepared as humanly possible. Whatever it took to keep from finding out what one of those legendary head kicks felt like, he was determined to do it.

In a way, he said, being overtrained several weeks out from a fight felt like a good thing, since at least it meant that he hadn't pulled up short in the gym.

"For me, I know once I get to that point that I've done everything right, done everything I can," he said. "Then, when the fight rolls around, I'm not worried about gassing out or whether I'm able to push the pace. That stuff goes out of my mind and I've just got to perform. Then I know I'm going to do damn well in the fight, because there is no way my opponent has trained as hard as I have. I've covered everything."

One factor that at least helps to ensure Schaub is sufficiently sore after each practice is that his best friend and training partner Shane Carwin is finally back in the gym after undergoing back surgery last year.

"He couldn't be more opposite from Cro Cop, but for his ground work and wrestling, he's great. It's just hard to get the guy to stay southpaw. He does not like to stay southpaw against me."

With good reason, as it turns out. Once Schaub manages to put Carwin in an unfamiliar stance, he begins paying him back for all the training room beatings the heavyweight behemoth has given him over the years.

"I've been doing that to him all the time," said Schaub. "Or if we start on the ground I'm like, 'Hey man, let me start with this guillotine [choke] in and you work from there.' If he goes southpaw though, he's in trouble. It's fun for me."

After a strenuous training camp like the one Schaub has put himself through, a little fun is necessary, even if it's at the expense of a friend. Because when he gets in the cage with Filipovic in New Jersey on Saturday night, we're all going to find out what all that suffering was for, and it will be up to Schaub to prove that it was worth it.