Recently I got the opportunity to interview former Strikeforce Lightweight Champ Josh “The Punk” Thomson for a featured story I was working on. Thomson was very friendly on the phone and we ended up talking for over a half hour. The material I got was way more then enough for the article and in looking it over there is way too much good info in here to let go to waste.
If you don’t know Thomson will be fighting on the 26th in San Jose, CA as part of the Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum card. He last fought in December against Gilbert Melendez where he lost the lightweight belt. We talked about that lose, his upcoming fight and what it’s like training at American Kickboxing Academy plus much more.
- Let’s go back to December 2009 and your fight with Gilbert Melendez, another 5 round war but this time you lost the decision. What was different this time?
Somewhere in those 15 months off I lost my game. Got a little sloppy and careless and didn’t fight smart. Lets me know I can grow as a fighter still, cardio was there but the time off just caught up to me. I didn’t lose because of ring rust, I was sloppy and careless and Gil answered a lot of problems from their first fight.
- In talking to Melendez, he thinks at some point you two will fight again, but that you both need to move on with your careers. What is your thought?
Agree. Time needs to be right and I want a couple fights under my belt before talk of a title shot start. With all the injuries, I have to get back to where I was when I won the title plus get better and grow. Need to still healthy, stop over training and quit getting hurt.
- You’re fighting on June 26th. When did you begin training for this upcoming fight?
Started about 5 weeks ago and will be about a 7 week camp overall, training is going well.
- You opponent is veteran Pat Healy. What do you know of Pat Healy?
He’s a tough SOB, been around awhile and his beaten several guys in the UFC right now. Fought a lot of top guys and came out on top. He is going to be a better, stronger fighter then he was in Oregon. I have to make sure that I come out prepared for him and be ready for everything he’s got or I’ll be going home with an L on my record.
- Healy holds wins over Dan Hardy, Paul Daley and Carlos Condit so he is no push over. What are you working on especially for him?
Not really, Doing stand up and wrestling but with the guys at our gym getting ready for fights so often, we are always working different areas of our game. Grappling, Spare, takedown drills, wrestling and that really pays off.
- You currently train at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose. What’s it like training with all those top fighters?
It’s a daily grind, if you come in unprepared you are going to get beat. It’s a grind but its great, you learn to work together and everyone checks their ego at the door. Not really any inner problems, might be a cat fight but what gym doesn’t and they get taken care of right on the spot.
- With all that top tier talent at AKA there has got to be some fun competition between the fighters. Who is the most Competitive?
There is a little competition within the welterweight division right now, but in the lightweight I think everyone knows I’m the top guy right now. Fighters like Justin Wilcox and Bryan Travers are the next two and they will take over soon. Its not said but I think there is a rivalry between the welterweights, they get mad with one gets a takedown on the other. Generally about submissions and takedowns they get upset about. I think anybody would love to be a fly on the wall when someone throws a fit.
- With several UFC and Strikeforce fighters at AKA. Us there any trash talking?
No it’s kind of separated with the lightweights in strikeforce and welterweights in UFC. There is an understanding between the strikeforce guys that when the UFC is doing there filming we stay out of it and try not to steal anyone’s thunder and the same goes for when Strikeforce does its filming. It more of a family and promotions don’t matter, a fight is a fight and you have to be there for your teammates. If we can make it we will do our best to go to their fights and support them.
- You had a 3 fight stint in the UFC before Strikeforce. Would you like to get back into the UFC before you are down fighter?
It doesn’t really matter I’m happy where I’m at right now. I lovethe UFC, it was great and I give them a lot of credit for where MMA is now. It just so happens things led me to where I am now and if strikeforce didn’t need me and the UFC wanted me then I’d love to fight there. I enjoy fighting, I think you can tell by the way I’m laughing and having a good time that I just loveto fight. I see guys like Diego Sanchez and how worked up he gets, that is such a waste of energy. I don’t see a reason to get upset or angry with people. I don’t see the purpose to talking shit to people when you are going to fight them. It’s a business man when you get to the top level. You don’t see a CEO walking in a saying “fuck you” and yelling at them. They walk in and try to handle business appropriating, sure people get upset but they walk out. I’m just not the type of person to talk shit.
- Fighter rankings are a internet hot topic right now. Where do you see yourself ranked in MMA at 155 pounds?
I think I’m a top 10 fighter at 155 lbs.
- Not to look ahead but if you were to defeat Healy, who do you want to fight next?
I got to get back and grow, I haveso much room to improve. There are so much things going through my mind I need to work on. I just finally started to get my timing down with striking and takedown / takedown defense. I’m focusing on that right now and trying to get back where I was and to become a better fighter. I’m not looking for a title shot right away; strikeforce just signed JZ Calvancante who is top 15 for sure. He’ll get one fight under his belt then maybe him and I will fight or him and KJ Noons. I’vegot my hands full with the guys in strikeforce right now like KJ and JZ before people even start talking about me and Gil.
- Why did you get into fighting in the first place?
I got done with school and I was like… I don’t want to get a real job. So I started training with Bob Cook and also trying to get Javier Mendez to teach me striking. I was dating this girl who was a gold glove runner up boxer and she used to beat me up. So I asked Javier to help me but he was like no, he just wasn’t interested. A year later Javier finally started working with me and things are great I have been with bob and Javier ever since.
- If you could pick a dream fight; you vs. anyone, who would you fight?
I think it would be Gil who is the number one or two lightweights in the world. I will give it some time, he’s on top of his game but if I had a dream fight this would be it. It’s like the Gattivs. Ward fights or Barrera vs. Morales fights, those are the fights people remember. They don’t give a shit who won or lose, those are the fight people remember. I think highly of Gil, he is a great fighter, a great champ and will be one for a while. And hopefully I get my belt the next time we fight. I think for everybody that’s a great fight.
There is a lot of pride in it for me to know that Gil is the one that has the title and when he didn’t have it I did. When we talked about this at his baby shower, we feel like with Cung Le and Frank (Shamrock) that we have build this promotion and carried it on our backs. Us four guys really are the main guys that they built their fights around and to know its so successful now and to know we helped build it. I’m like a proud parent of this promotion!
- You are a kickboxer / Wrestler yet you have half (eight) of your wins by submission. Are you hiding you BJJ skills?
(Laughing) No I think the way I fight I like to stand. If the submission is there I will take it but I don’t really brag about my grappling. I wasn’t that great until Dave Camarillocame into the gym and I started working with him before the Gerald Strebendt fight in the UFC. Then my next fight was against Hermes Franca so then I dedicated all my time to training with him. Its been great I lovehaving Dave around, he is my size but it amazing how good he is on the ground. I think submissions just happen, I don’t have knockout power so rarely do I get knockdowns.
- What level of BBJ are you?
Brown belt. I started training with a gi with Davecame; I didn’t even own one before that. I think he came in 2004 and that’s when I started so I’m a brown belt but getting close to black belt but with the 15 months off with the injuries and then with I left the UFC I started doing some kick boxing so I didn’t train any BJJ. The UFC got rid of the lightweight division so I had nothing else to do but kick boxing and then strikeforcecame and I went with them.
- What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not training?
I use to like to party but when I hit 30 / 31 I just lost interest in it. I still go out every once in a while but who doesn’t. I like spending time at home with my girl, do some road trips things like that. Doing some road trips in July to Idaho to visit family, early August maybe Hawaii or Mexico. Have to get this fight out of the way before I start making too many commitments.
I’d liketo thank Josh Thompson for taking the time this close to his fight to talk with me. We need to remember that these fighters are incredible busy with everything we see and tons we don’t that go into being a fighter. You can follow Josh on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/therealpunk
About the Author (Author Profile)My brain child is MMAValor, something I had wanted to do for a long time and finally it’s here. Been an MMA fan since TUF season one (play catch up all the time) and the obsession started to grow like a weed and as the sport grows so does the love for the sport. I’m a jack of all trades, a very organized person that rides an emotional roller coaster daily.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Sit RB Fightgym MMA | June 17, 2010