"I’ve had time to reevaluate the way my fights have been in the UFC and I kinda went away from the old Tuchscherer. I’m gonna bring back the old Tuchscherer.”
The January announcement that former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar was going to coach season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter was met with a blitz of positive press and an equally enthusiastic response from fans.
Another interested party – heavyweight Chris Tuchscherer – was pleased as well, despite the assumption that he was losing a key training partner as well as some of his coaching staff as he prepared for his UFC 127 bout against Mark Hunt. But as “The Crowbar” explains, he has not only worked with his usual team for this fight in Vegas, but his itinerary includes a return to Greg Nelson’s camp in Minnesota and some work in Arizona with Ryan Bader and company.
“It hasn’t sidetracked me at all,” said Tuchscherer of Lesnar’s TUF13 stint. “I’ve been getting good training in, done some different things and switched up some things that I think are gonna be better for me.”
While conducting this interview, Tuchscherer was in Las Vegas, working with Lesnar for the week before heading back to Minnesota. This camp has provided a nice change in scenery and training philosophies for the 35-year old, who is hoping to even up his UFC record at 2-2 with a win over Hunt.
“What it (visiting different camps) does is let you see how other people train and lets you try different things instead of doing it the way you’ve always been used to doing it,” he said. “To keep evolving in this sport, you have to widen your game. You can’t be one-dimensional, and if something’s not working, it’s time to change it up.”
Coming off a first round TKO loss to rising star Brendan Schaub at UFC 116 last July, Tuchscherer has had plenty of time to reevaluate an Octagon stint that has yet to set the world on fire. Entering the organization with a 17-1, 1 NC record in 2009, the former Division II All-American wrestler got no favors in his first bout when he was pitted against former world title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga and then absorbed a cringe-inducing, yet inadvertent kick to the groin before getting stopped later in the first round with a legitimate barrage of strikes.
Next up was Tim Hague in February of 2010, and while Tuchscherer pulled off the majority decision win, he faded down the stretch thanks to a rough weight cut on fight week.
“I don’t know what went wrong,” he said. “I thought I was in good shape, but I think having to cut all that weight hurt me. I was walking around at 278 the week of the fight and I’ve never had to cut before.”
Then came the one-sided loss to Schaub, and in the months since that bout, Tuchscherer came to a realization when it came to the way he’s been fighting and performing.
“I said ‘what am I doing?’ I’m trying to fight a way that I shouldn’t be fighting. I shouldn’t be trying to be someone that I’m not. Us wrestlers try to work standup a lot, and you always want to put on a good fight, so I think I went away from my style as far as being a grinder. I’m a guy who’s in your face and who closes the distance right away, and in my last couple fights I went to ‘let’s go out there and see if I can be Mike Tyson and try to bang with this guy,’ and I was trying to do things that I probably shouldn’t be doing, especially against someone else who has that as their forte.”
So after finding out that striking with a former Golden Gloves champ with dynamite in his fists (Schaub) wasn’t the wisest course of action, Tuchscherer has gotten back to what got him here in the first place – good ol’ fashioned Mark Coleman / Dan Severn ground and pound. He’s also tightened up his cardio routines (he’s already been walking around at 265), and when it’s time to fight on February 27th against the former K-1 Grand Prix champion, his goal is clear.
“I’m gonna push, push, push,” he said. “I feel right now that I’m in the best shape that I’ve ever been in, my weight’s maintained, I’m walking around at about 265, and I feel good about where my cardio’s at. I’ve had time to reevaluate the way my fights have been in the UFC and I kinda went away from the old Tuchscherer. I’m gonna bring back the old Tuchscherer, and I’m bringing back to the table what got me here in the first place.”
One thing that isn’t on his throwback ‘to do’ list though is his former hobby of stock car racing in North Dakota.
“Racing’s been done since I started in the UFC,” he said. “I even had a couple people come up and ask me, ‘do you want to drive?’ It’s really tempting, but I’m so focused on this. I used to race 40-50 nights a year in the summer and I went from that to going to only two races, and that was to watch. You can always race when you’re old. (Laughs) You can’t fight when you’re 50-60.”
Well, unless you’re Randy Couture, who probably can’t be counted out from stepping into the Octagon at 60, but he’s the one in a million who could. For the rest of the fighting population, there’s a small window in which to put together a successful career, and Tuchscherer is willing to do what it takes to reach his goals. That means a lot of sacrifice, from him, and from his family. Luckily, the entire clan, which includes his wife Natalie and their two children, is on board.
“My family’s gotten me to where I am,” he said. “If I didn’t have their support, I wouldn’t be here. My hometown is Fargo, North Dakota, but when I train, I gotta leave every week. My wife works a full-time job, 48 hours a week, plus she takes care of two kids, and if she wasn’t there to help that part of it out, I couldn’t do it.”
So to make sure all the sacrifices are worth it, “The Crowbar” will start swinging again in less than two weeks. If you’ve watched him over the last couple years, you may not recognize him, but if you’ve seen his bouts in Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks, it could be like seeing an old friend with a new haircut.
“I’ve been doing a lot of different things this time and I’ve got a real good feeling about this fight,” he said. “I’m looking at this fight as the new me, like I’m reinventing myself.”