"I've worked so hard. I contribute this all to my work ethic and I think that is why you see these knockouts.”
An ordinary person reads at a pace between 200 and 250 words per minute. The extraordinary Ultimate Fighter finalist Brendan Schaub has won 7 out of his 8 professional fights by TKO at roughly the same speed. Actually, in the time it takes for the average human being to read this article about this exciting young heavyweight, they could have re-watched every second of Schaub's winning ventures. If one did re-watch Brendan Schaub’s fight career they would be dazzled by both his speed and power. In a word, Schaub is “explosive”.
It is not at all surprising knowing the 27 year old’s background. Schaub has proven himself as a great athlete on the football fields of his home state of Colorado in both high school as an All-American and playing fullback for the Division I University of Colorado. Schaub even went as far as being on an NFL practice squad for the Buffalo Bills. But being a professional fighter soon became Schaub’s top priority.
“I came from a football background and martial arts background, but I've always had a fighter's heart. I've always wanted to pursue the UFC,” he said.
Schaub retired from football and began training to fight full-time in Colorado. Not soon after, he met future UFC stars Nate Marquardt and Shane Carwin. To this day they are his main training partners at the Grudge Training Center under the guidance of Trevor Wittman. Schaub excelled quickly with his striking, winning a Golden Gloves boxing championship, and with his grappling, in which he is currently a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. But that’s all old news about the heavyweight they call “The Hybrid”.
In 2010, Brendan Schaub has spent less than two minutes in the Octagon and knocked out two opponents with a collective record of 25 - 6: Chase Gormley and Chris Tuchscherer. “I never go in there looking to finish them right away,” Schaub admits, “it has just happened that way in my entire career except one fight.” Schaub believes his power is simply a by-product of his extreme effort over the years.
”Doing the strength and conditioning protocols that my coaches had me do in high school, at the University of Colorado, and the professional level are definitely paying off now. It makes me more explosive and quicker than a lot of these heavyweights that are out there today. And I have had a love for boxing ever since I can remember. I grew up around it. But I've worked so hard. I contribute this all to my work ethic and I think that is why you see these knockouts.”
Schaub has had an added incentive to train even harder this year since he suffered his first loss last December to Roy Nelson in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter. “I think I gained a lot of maturity coming off the show and coming off my loss to Roy Nelson. I learned a ton from that,” Schaub continues, “This sport is easy when you are knocking guys out in 30 - 45 seconds. Trevor Wittman says after a loss you can find out if a guy really wants it. What kind of fighter you have.” Schaub’s responded very well with a two fight win streak and now a step-up in competition: Gabriel Gonzaga.
“When I got the call from (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva, he said to me Gabriel Gonzaga. My first reaction was ‘sweet’. That's why I came to the UFC to fight these big names. Then Silva hangs up, and it sets in. I'm like holy s**t, Gabriel Gonzaga!”
On October 23rd, Schaub will be taking on his most acclaimed opponent to date in “Napao”, who has been a fixture in the UFC heavyweight division for the past five years, winning fights by both slick submissions and devastating knockouts. Gonzaga was primarily known as a world champion Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but has shown flashes of striking brilliance like the nightmarish head kick knockout of Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 70. And Schaub knows it too.
“I grew up watching this guy. I've seen all of his fights. He was one of those first guys who put it all together. He has a Jiu-Jitsu background, but he has world class kickboxing and he is ready to kick your head off or drop you with a right hand. For me, it is a huge opportunity and I've never trained so hard in my life. I expect he has trained just as hard as me and it's just an honor to fight a guy of his caliber.”
As dangerous as he is as an opponent, Gonzaga has lost two out of his last three fights by knockout. One of those knockout loses was to Schaub’s main training partner: Shane Carwin. “We're kind of like brothers,” Schaub beams when talking of his fellow UFC heavyweight. “We train everyday; he hasn't missed a day with me. We both know each other's tendencies. We expect a lot out of each other. He has gotten really far in the UFC and I plan on doing the same.”
One can only imagine the scene of these two behemoths fighting each other on a regular basis. “If you were at practice yesterday,” Schaub pauses for dramatic effect, “Shane and I go at it! If they would have filmed it I think people would have paid $14.95 for our sparring session. That's definitely the reason I am where I'm at and he'll say the same.”
For Schaub, this fight is just another stage to show off his fast and heavy hands against a top tier fighter, “I visualize the fight probably 1500 times before I even step in there. When it happens, I'm not surprised. I expect to knock out all of my opponents.” But he knows with this opponent in particular the fight could go anywhere and he is ready for it. “He's Gabriel Gonzaga: he's good at both. If he wants to keep it standing - great. But I'm not worried about what he is going to do. I’m going in there to react and force my game plan.”
For Gonzaga’s sake, let’s hope he keeps his chin tucked because Schaub is another young stud headhunting him in the Octagon. If and when Schaub does connect with a shot, “The first thing that comes to my mind is ‘oh, he is screwed.’ I know when he goes down there is going to be a barrage of punches to finish him off.”
Brendan Schaub has seen and done exactly that just about his whole career and he’s eagerly anticipating more of it. Once the fight starts, don’t blink because statistically speaking this fight should not last long. “I can smell blood in the water. And once I think you're hurt - I'm bringing the pressure.”