Tuesday, 22 March 2011

MMATORCH INTERVIEW: Jameel Massouh feels this is his time, out to win 5th straight against Roli Delgado at Bellator 37

By: Rich Hansen, MMATorch Columnist

Veteran fighter Jameel Massouh took a few minutes to speak with our own Rich Hansen on Thursday March 17. Massouh, who carries a 25-7 professional record, is scheduled to face former UFC veteran Roli Delgado at Bellator 37 this Saturday, March 19. Massouh went 0-3 in his only WEC stint, dropping consecutive decisions to Erik Koch, Leonard Garcia, and Raphael Assuncao. Since leaving the WEC, Massouh has rolled up a four fight winning streak, and is looking to extend that streak to five on Saturday night.

During the course of our 20 minute conversation, Massouh discussed Delgado, fight preparation, the Zuffa acquisition of Strikeforce, and much more.

RICH HANSEN: Tell me about Roli Delgado and how you match up with him, and also how and when this fight came together for you.

JAMEEL MASSOUH: The fight came together a few weeks ago, just sort of out of the blue. I thought it was an interesting matchup, just because I've never fought anyone as tall as Roli Delgado is. I think he's 6'3" and fighting at 145 makes him like a humongous giant. I don't usually fight people who are taller than me period.

RICH HANSEN: Who's the biggest guy you ever fought?

JAMEEL MASSOUH: Clay French was shorter than me, but he was solid and huge, kind of like a football player. So he was one of the bigger guys that I had to try and move around. He was strong, but he had a lower center of gravity. Other than that, I would say that Erik Koch was pretty big. I was surprised at how big Erik Koch was for his height. I consider myself a really big 145 [pounder], and I didn't feel big next to him.

RICH HANSEN: I know it's not always so simple, but would you rather be the bigger but slower fighter, or the smaller but faster fighter in a fight?

JAMEEL MASSOUH: I'd say smaller and faster.

RICH HANSEN: So you say that speed plays more into what you'd like to do in a fight than size?

JAMEEL MASSOUH: Yeah, I think so. I mean, it is speed and cardio combined. It does me no good to be fast if I can't continue to be fast the whole fight. But I think speed and cardio combined suits me better.

RICH HANSEN: What do you have to look out for most when you're fighting Delgado? Is there anything he might be able to take advantage of against you?

JAMEEL MASSOUH: You know, it's a really interesting fight because I haven't fought a lot of guys like him. Not even because of his size, but he's a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. I don't think I've ever fought a Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter before. And I know he's got a dangerous guard because he's so long. It's kind of like fighting Cole Miller. He's one of those long guys who can catch people in submissions from his back. I know I have to be careful. Not that I don't think I'm better than him; I think I'm better than him on the ground. I've got more than enough experience on the ground and more than enough knowledge to do well against him. But he's built well for his guard, so I have to keep that in mind. And likewise on the feet, I think I'm technically way more proficient a striker than he is. But at the same time he's got this long reach that suits him well to do Muay Thai with that reach. I saw his fight against Andre Winner. Even though Delgado got knocked out, he did some things that were good there too. I just have to keep his length in general in mind. For me, my strategy going in there is, obviously I want to knock him out. And a big part of that factor is being able to control the clinch and being able to control where the fight goes. That way, if I am having trouble for some reason I can really close the gap and keep him from getting the takedown on me too.

RICH HANSEN: Does his UFC notoriety give you a little bit of extra motivation, knowing that beating someone with a bigger name could do more for your career than beating someone with no name recognition?

JAMEEL MASSOUH: Well, his notoriety doesn't intimidate me in the sense that he was in the UFC and I was in the WEC. I've fought top-10 guys. I don't think he fought any top-10 guys. Like I said, Andre Winner?s one of the best guys he's fought. But I mean, Junie Browning beat him in a controversial decision on The Ultimate Fighter, and that's sort of the level that he's at. Not to take anything away from Junie because I like Junie as a person and as a fighter. But I don't think Roli is necessarily an A-level fighter. I think he's a dog in a fight. I think he's capable. I respect his capabilities but I don't think he?s A-level.

RICH HANSEN: With this fight being an unaired prelim give you extra motivation to go for a finish if it presents itself, one that you might not otherwise go for in an attempt to shorten the fight in hopes that it makes TV?

JAMEEL MASSOUH: No, because I'm always going out there as a martial artist to perform my best. So I mean if I can ever take control of a fight and finish it I'm going to. But in my experience, when you try and force things that's when you get yourself hurt. So I'm never out there to try and force a finish or force anything. That's how I wound up getting my shoulder separated before by Erik Koch. I tried to force an overhand right and ended up get getting my back taken and he dropped me on my shoulder. So, I do much better being more of a cerebral fighter, and just knowing when to go for my moves. And it's served me well. I mean I got my finish in my last televised fight for Bellator. That finish was the same thing. I was just waiting for my time and it came.

RICH HANSEN: Tell me a little bit about life during "Fight Week," specifically from when you get off the plane until you get to the locker room. There are a lot of things that people who don't fight don't know about. Where do you train once you've arrived? How and where do you cut weight on the road? How are you able to watch your diet? Do you go out and explore the town?

JAMEEL MASSOUH: You know, it's one of those things that changes depending on where I am at. Whenever I fight overseas, I'll land, get settled into my hotel room, and then I'll take a walk and try to know the city. I try to get rid of some of my energy from the jetlag so I'm tired when I need to sleep. And it's also nice to be familiar with what's going on mentally. Like this week, I checked out the Super WalMart, the shopping mall, and the movie theater. I happen to be by myself down here this week until [Dave] Strasser is going to join me. So right now I'm sitting in my room watching Netflix. But really I just try to relax and do whatever feels good until I start cutting weight and focusing on that. I really start focusing on cutting my weight about two weeks before the fight. I try to eat healthy before that, but not restricting calories or anything like that. The week of [the fight] I definitely start restricting calories to about 1300 calories. I have to find fresh produce and things like that which digest well. As far as my workouts go, I got out here [Thursday] and it's not a heavy workout day for me, or [Friday]. The only thing I really need to do is to rest everything so that I can peak on Saturday. When I cut weight out here right now it's more or less sweating it off, getting rid of water. To me it's so much more a routine now than it used to be. Like now I know exactly what to do. If my body is not reacting I know I have to put a little extra in. Before, cutting weight used to be really difficult.

RICH HANSEN: With Strikeforce being purchased by Zuffa, it seems like options might be shrinking for fighters. Do you think that the Zuffa acquisition of Strikeforce is a net positive or a net negative for fighters and how about for yourself specifically?

JAMEEL MASSOUH: I sort of have my own thing going on right now. I'm riding a four-fight win streak for me, so personally I think that if I do well [this weekend] and if I do well in the future, if I wanted to get back into Zuffa I could. I think it's a good move for Zuffa. [Strikeforce was] doing decent numbers. They had done stuff with Emelianenko and some of the best heavyweights. It sounded like from Dana White that he isn't really going to put his hand in it that much. It sounds like [Strikeforce is] pretty much autonomous, just owned by Zuffa. So we'll see what happens I guess. I think it could be good and bad. I remember he said something about Paul Daley not ever fighting in the UFC still, but he would allow him to fight in Strikeforce. Now, I have a good relationship with Bellator, and I feel like for Bellator right now the fewer competitors the better. They're building their brand name really well right now. Bellator doesn't make a lot of mistakes like Pro Elite and BodogFight did, which was to spend a ton of money that they didn't have. Bellator keeps it tight and they've made a lot of really good signings.

RICH HANSEN: Earlier you said, "If I wanted to get back into Zuffa I could." Is [getting back to Zuffa] not a top priority for you right now because you're happier with Bellator, or something else.

JAMEEL MASSOUH: You know, it has nothing to do with who I'm happy with and who I'm not happy with. The thing is I'm just a fighter. Just point me in what direction I need to fight. Obviously I fought for Zuffa before, and I didn't do as well as I necessarily wanted to. I lost three fights. And even if some of them were entertaining fights or whatever, I mean I lost three in a row. But I've had a good year this year, going on a four fight win streak against some decent opponents and some international travelling. It's not easier for anyone in my position, especially because I'm just from Kenosha, WI and people don't really know who I am. I fly under the radar even when I do win on national tv.

RICH HANSEN: Yeah. You're from a town of only 80,000 people and you're not even the most known fighter in that town, what with Ben Rothwell and all.

JAMEEL MASSOUH: I know; it's ridiculous! And no offense to Ben Rothwell but I feel like I'm more talented than he is even, at least as being an all-around fighter. But whatever, that's neither here nor there. The important thing is that I'm working hard. If I win this fight, it's a five fight win streak and that looks well for any fighter in any company in any situation. I feel like this is my time. I've been out to prove that I'm not done as a fighter. I mean, I got thrown in with the sharks [in 2009]. Koch is doing awesome in the WEC. He's had a really good run and he's impressive. And come on, Leonard Garcia was a close fight which went to split decision which was a little controversial.

RICH HANSEN: Losing to Garcia by split is pretty much the same as a win now.

JAMEEL MASSOUH: Yeah! And Raphael Assuncao, I mean he is a great fighter. If you look at who he's fought, and what his record is like, he's one of the top fighters in the world.

RICH HANSEN: Any thoughts on the Koch-Assuncao fight this weekend?

JAMEEL MASSOUH: That's funny; I don't even know who to root for. Based on my experience with them (pauses), I don't know. I would say Koch is going to win that fight. Even though I like Raphael, I think Koch's got too much size for him.

Source: http://www.mmatorch.com/artman2/publish/Interviews_34/article_8789.shtml

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