"I’m a hundred percent confident that I’m gonna win that fight; it’s just gonna be tough, and I’m ready for it." - Caros Fodor
Having served as a United States Marine at the beginning of the war in Iraq, you would think that nothing having to do with fighting as a professional mixed martial artist in a regulated environment could rattle Caros Fodor. But as he gets ready for an opportunity to extend his five fight winning streak against veteran Pat Healy this Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio, the rising Strikeforce lightweight star still gets the butterflies in his stomach.
“I get nervous for any fight,” he admits. “I think it’s the nature of the game. But once the fight starts and as soon as we walk towards each other, everything goes completely calm for me and them it’s just like another day in sparring. It’s the buildup before the fight – the locker room warmup, the walk out, the camera in your face when you get your Vaseline on, that’s the most nervous part for me. But once they say fight, it’s like being in the gym. I see one guy and I just put everything together. And I’m not really nervous about the guy. I’m just nervous about letting people down, and everybody that helped me get ready. Losing is the biggest fear for me, and that’s where the nerves come from.”
So far, he hasn’t had much of an opportunity to address those fears, losing just once in eight pro fights. Yet despite his success in a career that began in 2009, the Washington state native was seen as an underdog in his big Strikeforce ‘step up’ bout against Justin Wilcox last December. And yeah, the jitters were out in force that night in San Diego.
“I was really nervous because Wilcox’ style with the constant wrestling can be a problem for anybody,” he said. “So I was nervous and I was expecting a three round battle and expecting to have to win points every round and just try to stay ahead on the scorecards.”
Well, you know what they say about expectations in this sport. Fodor needed just 13 seconds to snap Wilcox’ seven fight unbeaten streak via knockout. “The Future” was here.
“I think with the Challengers cards, people weren’t sure of the competition I was having, but Wilcox was a legitimate contender, so I think beating him put me up there a little bit,” said Fodor, 28, who isn’t exactly predicting a similar outcome against Healy this weekend. In fact, he knows he’s in for what may be a grueling scrap against the 43-fight veteran.
“I have a really tough fight ahead of me,” said Fodor. “There’s no easy way out of this one. I don’t see me catching a lucky submission and he takes shots pretty well too, so a knockout would be tough. So I’m going into this with great conditioning and I’m just gonna try and keep him off me. I think his best advantage would be to get on me like he likes to do and put his weight on me and grind me out against the cage or on the bottom. And he’ll probably try to choke me out. So I give him all the respect in the world, he’s an extremely tough guy and I’m going into this more nervous and ready to go then I was for the Wilcox fight. Healy’s been around, he’s been in some battles and he’s had a lot of experience. I don’t think I’m gonna show him anything he hasn’t seen. I’m just gonna show up in the best shape of my life and I’ve got the skills to beat him. I’m a hundred percent confident that I’m gonna win that fight; it’s just gonna be tough, and I’m ready for it.”
Training out of Matt Hume’s AMC gym, Fodor has had plenty of top-notch talent to help him prepare for the bout, including UFC vets Tim Boetsch, Demetrious Johnson, and Mario Miranda, all of whom were / or are preparing for fights.
“This training camp has been insane,” said Fodor. “We were all peaking at the same time and everybody in the gym was getting ready for a fight. Everything went really well.”
But there are some things you can’t prep for in a gym. Fodor knows this, and even though he and Healy are the same age, in terms of MMA experience, “Bam Bam” is light years ahead of Fodor.
“I’ve been in a bunch of gym wars with some top level UFC and Strikeforce guys, but I haven’t been in one that actually counts, in a fight,” said Fodor. “This is a big one for me, and I’m trying to get into title contention, and I think that’s where he’s going to have the advantage. He’s been in some three round battles where he’s down on the scorecards and he comes back and gets the win. I haven’t had that. I haven’t been down on the scorecards or in jeopardy of losing the fight yet. So I’m sure he’s gonna put me in some precarious situations and I just hope I handle them well.”
You get the impression he will. You don’t come up the way he did, represent your country in a war in the Middle East and then come back and win all but one of your professional fights. Caros Fodor may get nervous, but when the chips are down, he always delivers. He’s visualized this bout with Healy already, and though it may get ugly at times, the end result is always the same – he gets his hand raised.
“I’m prepared for it right now,” he said. “Mentally, there’s a lot of meditation and stuff like that and it really works. I’m going into it right now thinking that maybe he does beat me the first two rounds and I’m bleeding and beat up, I’m hurting everywhere, but in the third round I’m gonna find a way to beat him. I think mental preparation where I’m expecting the worst is what’s gonna get me through this. I don’t care what happens in a fight, but I’m gonna stick to whatever I got and win by any means necessary. Pat likes to bully people, but that’s not gonna happen with me.”