Pre-2 Hot 2 Handle Interview
with Ian Freeman
By Josh Gross
FCF: Ian how is your injury, and could you elaborate on exactly how it happened?
IF: The injury was sustained seven days before my UFC 27 fight against Tedd Williams. I had three fights after that and basically carried the injury the entire time. What I should have done was rested until I was fully healed, but I’m one of these guys when offered a fight I can’t turn it down. Because of my background being a street fighter before a professional fighter, I’ll never duck a fight or turn it down. When I was fighting Osami Shibuya I heel hooked him and popped my cartilage. I realized it was time to rest it because it was going to get to the point where if I didn’t rest it I’d probably never fight again because I was quitting fights half way through because my ribs were hurting. People are not going to want me, so I rested it, saw specialists and got treatment. I’d say it’s 99-percent healed now. I’ve trained hard, but I haven’t had a fight since popping my ribs. Hopefully it will hold up against (Valentijn) Overeem.
FCF: You spoke about your street fighting experience. Do you think there is a point, as a professional fighter, where you look towards the future and stop taking fights when they’re offered just because it’s a fight?
IF: When I first changed from a street fighter to a professional fighter it was a big jump. I had to learn to be more controlled and not take everything so personal. Before, every fight was personal. Any time a guy wanted to fight me it became a fight to the death so-to-speak. It was far to personal, but now I’m sort of looking at it where I need to look forward instead of back. I have had offers of fights, not being rude, against lesser opponents and I had to turn them down because it’s not going to get my career anywhere. However, anytime someone’s offered me a name opponent I’ve jumped at the chance.
FCF: You’ve had the opportunity to fight in bigger shows. The 2 Hot 2 Handle show appears to be a big step forward for European mixed martial arts, especially here in Holland. What do you think the status of mixed martial arts in Europe is and where does it go in the future?
IF: In Europe, obviously this show is unbelievable with 9,000 tickets already sold. It’s one big show, but in the UK I’d say we’re about 10-years behind. It’s ridiculous. I’ll give you an example: There have been 30 UFC’s, yet you can only buy up to UFC 4 in the shops. Holland isn’t that far from the UK, so hopefully it will catch on and things will progress some more.
FCF: Is the lack of exposure in the UK due to a lack of interest from the fans, or is it because of political reasons?
IF: It’s more political powers. I tried to run a show there. I had everything organized. We had over 2,000 tickets sold already and it was the government who stopped it because they said it was barbaric. Obviously, it’s just ignorance to the sport and I think every country has that. They will allow stand up fighting; they will allow ground fighting, but they won’t allow a combination of the two with punches on the ground. That takes a lot of the excitement away, but hopefully it will catch on eventually.
FCF: Your opponent, Valentijn Overeem, just made it to the finals of the King of Kings tournament. He has very good stand up skills and is very dangerous on the ground. What do you expect from him in your match?
IF: I think he’ll take me to the ground straight away. I’d be surprised if he decides to stand up with me. Hopefully he does because that’s my forte, and I’ll stand toe-to-toe with any man. I love a good battle. He watched my fight with Bob Shrijber and in the end he said he was really impressed with my stand up, so I think it will go to the ground. Like I said I think I’ve gotten over this injury and I feel like I can move my hips a lot more, so I’m not as sluggish on the floor as I have been. If people watch my fights, and they don’t look at the injuries I have, they think ‘he’s ok, but can’t move to well for a heavyweight’. The reason is I haven’t been able to move. The way I’ve been moving lately I’ve been really fast on the floor. You’ll see a different Ian Freeman. I want to go into this fight with a lot more pace.
FCF: Do you have any prediction on how the fight will play out?
IF: I never go into fights with a prediction. I went into one fight with Bob Steins in a pancrase fight, and had everything mapped out before hand. It just didn’t work out. He throws a right kick, I throw a right hand and knock him out – that was my only game plan. When I went in there it didn’t work. We were in the clinch for about 30-seconds and didn’t know what to do. I just thought ‘do what you do best’ and I knocked the guy out. Since that fight I said never, ever go in with a game plan. I’m just going to go in there and stay on my feet. If he tries to take me down I’ll try and stay on my feet. If it does go to the ground then I’ll fight. I’m just gonna take it as it comes.