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How Joe Schilling's 'schoolyard fight' with Nick Diaz led to a training partnership

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James Law, GLORY Sports International

Joe Schilling earned Nick Diaz's respect and friendship in true 209 style.

The Glory kickboxing standout traveled to Stockton from his home in Los Angeles as a paid sparring partner, and to hear Schilling tell it, the battle the two waged in the gym was something fans would have paid good money to witness.

"I went there to spar with Nick, and we pretty much had a gym war, and we've been pretty much good friends ever since," Schilling said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour.

Shilling's said their encounter went, well, pretty much like one might expect when a Diaz threw down with an outsider with a big reputation.

"When he first walked into the gym, it was a lot like when he walks into the cage, mad dogging and a lot of ‘wassup,'" Schilling said. "That's how he is.

"I describe it like a schoolyard fight with two kids who hate each other and then they become best friends," he continued. "It was kind of like that. I was a paid sparring partner, he was training for a big fight. I was paid to go in there and spar. When you pay somebody for sparring, you go in there and they expect you to go to work. We had a good scrap and we became friends afterwards. There was no knockouts or anything, we went at it pretty good and we found respect for each other and we became good friends."

Schilling has figured out that the Diaz brothers, along with the the rest of the Skrap Pack. can be pretty solid allies to have. Shilling, who dabbled in MMA years ago, returns to the cage for the first time in six years on Nov. 15, when he meets fellow kickboxer Melvin Manhoef in San Diego in a Bellator fight which has hardcore fans of the standup game salivating.

Schilling is heading back up to NorCal, where he'll jump right in with a group of busy fighters.

"I'm actually going to be going up to Stockton this week, both of them have camps going on right now as well as Jake and Gil," Schilling said. "All of those guys are going to be really helpful going into this fight and most of my fights as they have been."

The 30-year-old Schilling, an Ohio native who gained his biggest fame on these shores by winning a one-night Glory tournament in Sept. 2013 in Southern California, has 1-3 MMA record, with the most noteworthy name on the record being a submission loss to Tony Ferguson.

But Schilling doesn't want MMA fans to hold his past record against him. It's been a full six years since his last MMA fight, and he wasn't training with fighters the caliber of the Skrap Pack back then.

"I was a struggling fighter trying to stay busy," Schilling said. "The fights I was getting for MMA were 2-3 weeks notice, and most of those fights the opponents were getting switched at the last minute. A couple were switched day of. My 1-3 record isn't impressive, but it's not a good representation of me as an MMA fighter. Over the last few years I've trained jiu-jitsu quite a bit, and most of my training partners have been some of the top guys in the UFC, so, I've soaked the knowledge and I've worked with a lot of top-level guys."

At the moment, Schilling is a kickboxing free agent, as he hopes to make a new deal with Glory. The terms of his four-fight Bellator contract permits him to work in both sports.

"I don't think so, my manager is working with Glory right now on a new contract," Schilling said. "Right now I have a contract with Bellator and the wording on the Bellator contract allows me to fight kickboxing as well, so I'm doing both. Right now I'm focused on Melvin Manheof and Bellator."

And while he's well aware that MMA has more facets than his his main sport, he also knows what the fans are going to expect when he enters the cage, and he plans on delivering.

"I don't plan on taking fights with Division 1 all-american wrestlers just yet, exciting fights for me with Bellator, I look forward to getting knockouts and putting on good shows."