This might some what do justice for tanner fight
(Interview with dave terrell)When you’ve been an underground legend for years and take out a top contender in just 24 seconds in your UFC debut, expectations will be understandably high. Sometimes, those expectations can weigh you down and cripple you. But David Terrell wasn’t the type to get caught up in that type of stuff.
A Cesar Gracie student with the skills, the will, and the attitude to handle whatever stood in his path in the mixed martial arts or grappling worlds, Terrell was the future of the UFC’s middleweight division after his 24 second blowout of Matt Lindland in August of 2004, and it seemed like the UFC, the fans, and Terrell himself knew it.
“I remember the hype,” mused Terrell almost 20 months after the biggest win of his mixed martial arts career. “There was a lot of it.”
And justifiably so. A top-notch jiu-jitsu and wrestling ace with the grappling accolades to prove it and enough pop in his fists to put out a fighter like Lindland, Terrell could back up any boasts with his performances in the Octagon. So there was little furor when after just one fight in the UFC he was matched up with veteran Evan Tanner for the vacant title in February of 2005.
A former light heavyweight title challenger, Tanner had dropped to 185 pounds and handed out two defeats to Phil Baroni and submitted another young gun, Robbie Lawler. But few expected him to slow the roll of ‘The Soul Assassin’, who many felt would only have to show up to collect his belt.
Tanner had other ideas, and from the opening bell, it was obvious that the David Terrell that had beaten Joey Villasenor and knocked out Matt Lindland wasn’t in the Octagon that night in Las Vegas. Tanner tore through Terrell, grounding and pounding him until the bout was halted at 4:35 of the opening round. The cloak of invincibility had been ripped to shreds, and Terrell knew it even before he made that walk from the dressing room.
“My head wasn’t there, my weight was 25 pounds over that week, and I basically knew when I walked into that fight that I wasn’t gonna win,” admitted Terrell. “But it was a good opportunity, so even though I had a lot of injuries and my weight was high, I thought I would be able to pull it off somehow. But like every fighter says, when he does everything he knows he has to do, it’s a lot easier to fight. It definitely was a major learning experience for me.”
For Terrell, the habit of going up in weight after his fights for the Pancrase organization in Japan (where he competed at 195 pounds), caught up to him, especially since he only had seven weeks to prepare for the Tanner fight, as opposed to 16 weeks for Lindland. But he insists that all the praise he received post-Lindland had little to do with his loss to Tanner.
“I don’t think it got to my head,” he said. “I was a little burned out because I had trained for that Lindland fight for four months. I had trained so hard dieting and conditioning that you could tell the difference if you look at my body when I walked into the Lindland fight and then look at my body when I walked into the Tanner fight.”
It was a different fighter in look and performance, and MMA fans suddenly wondered, ‘who was the real David Terrell?’
But that answer hasn’t been given yet, as injuries (the worst being a hyperextended elbow) have kept Terrell on the shelf since the Tanner fight.
“Basically, a lot of things have gone wrong,” said Terrell, explaining his absence. “I had a lot of injuries, and finally, around the first of the year, I started feeling really good mentally and physically. With a lot of my injuries I kept trying to come back before they were healed, and I never got enough recovery time. I’d get a week of training in and be like ‘I feel good’, and then I remembered that they actually said to stay off for 14 weeks, and I would re-tear my arm again. I was going through a lot mentally too, but I’m feeling really good now because I am healthy and I’m able to do everything I want to do.”
On Saturday, the Santa Rosa, California resident gets to do the one thing he’s been waiting to do since the moment his fight with Tanner was stopped – get back into the Octagon and fight. It’s been 14 months, and he’s not only itchy to fight UFC newcomer Scott Smith, but he’s looking forward to answering a lot of questions that have been poking at him since February of 2005.
“Sometimes I do feel a little pressure, and it’s hard during the waiting period because I do feel like I’ve got a lot to prove,” he said. “I do definitely want to jump back in there, and it is tough, but I feel like I’ve got so much drive because of the way things went with the last fight that it’s actually helping me.”
Against Smith, Terrell is facing a fighter who may be making his UFC debut, but also one who is a strong wrestler with rocks in his hands when it comes to power. Terrell knows he’s got a lot to handle this weekend.
“I know he’s a good wrestler, he obviously likes to punch and he’s got some good standup,” he said. “I know he’s gonna be strong because he’s coming down to 185 and he seems like a tough guy to me.”
In other words, the UFC didn’t give Terrell any welcome back present in terms of an opponent.
“It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “One time I had a staph infection for three weeks and actually got out of the hospital two days before I had to get on the plane to go to Brazil for Abu Dhabi one time. I went against three world champions over there and no one scored a point on me. I felt like crap, but I sucked it up and I did it. My first fight in UFC I went up against Matt Lindland, probably one of the best 185-pounders in the world. It’s never easy and it’s never gonna be easy. It’s just a tough road.”
One that becomes a little easier when you’re healthy and able to train at full speed for the first time in a long time. That small fact alone gives Terrell the push he needs to be ready for battle against Smith.
“It feels good to have that kind of confidence going into a fight like this with a tough opponent, when you know that you’ve done everything you had to do,” he said.
And when Terrell is on, it’s tough to beat him. So, given a successful outcome on Saturday, has he given any thought to his place in the middleweight division currently ruled by Rich Franklin?
“I think it’s a tough division and there are a lot of tough guys,” he said, “but to tell you the truth, I just want to get past this fight. I don’t want to look beyond this fight right now. I want to concentrate on this.”
Has he ever looked past a fight before?
“Yeah, I think a lot of fighters have. But everything in fighting is a learning experience.”
And at 28, David Terrell has learned a lot about the fight game, about talent, about success, and how having talent doesn’t always guarantee success. He’s learned those lessons well, and now he’s ready to apply them on his opponents.
“I just want to stay healthy, keep my weight down, continue working out really hard, and I don’t want to take any layoffs,” he said. “I want to stay really active. There were times in my life where I trained and competed for five years straight, didn’t have any injuries and just felt good. I know I’m gonna look good in this fight, but in the second and third, I’m gonna look even better because I’m not gonna take any time off and I’m gonna try my hardest to stay healthy.”