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Braden Bice: Inside the Mind of the Designated Fall Guy

Mike Russow is on the brink of something big. The Monte Cox managed prospect is 10-1 with six wins in a row. In a depleted heavyweight division, this makes him something of a prospect. And prospects have to be managed carefully. As Cox looks to secure a big future fight for his fighter in the UFC, in Affliction, or in Japan, it’s more important than ever that Russow take fights he can win and win impressively.

Enter Braden Bice on the December 10 Adrenaline MMA show in Moline, Illinois.

“I know I’ve got myself into a fight. I know I’m not going in there and taking an easy one. But I’ve never fought anyone easy before. I don’t fight cans. I don’t want to. I want to fight the best. If I take a couple of losses along the way-it’s all experience. I like competition. I just want to fight tough guys. If I take somebody on that’s not going to be much of a fight, it doesn’t make me feel like much of a fighter. I want to fight people who are going to challenge me,” Bice said. Despite more than a dozen pro and amateur fights, this is a big step up for Braden. “It’s crazy to think that Pat Miletich and (Ben) Rothwell are on the same card as me. I’ve fought on cards with guys that have been on TV before, but I haven’t been on TV before. That’s what I’m more nervous about. But I’ve been in front of 8000 people at the state wrestling finals so I know how to get it done under fucking pressure.”

Bice is what old school boxing writers would call an “opponent.” On MMA message boards he’d be called a “can.” And Cox has seemingly targeted Bice, first lining him up for former “Ultimate Fighter” star Sam Hoger (a fight that fell through when Bice didn’t get his medical paperwork together in time). Now he’s bringing Bice in to fight another of his heavyweight prospects. There are whispers that Cox knows something, that Bice is more than just an over-matched young wrestler. He’s coming off a suspension in Ohio where there were accusations of wrong-doing. Is Cox looking to buy a win for his hot prospect?

“Ohio accused me of throwing a fight there against Josh Hendricks. I was goaded into taking a fight against a guy I didn’t have any business being in the ring with. He kicked my ass and I got suspended for it. They eventually overturned it. They thought I took a dive for a paycheck. I would never do that. I get pissed off if I lose a game of checkers,” Bice said. “The fight lasted 50 seconds. I threw a couple. I knew if I was going to win, I had to hit a homerun. So I came out throwing bombs and high kicks and all kinds of crazy stuff. He got a hold of me, picked me up, and slammed me. Took my back and pounded me out. I tapped due to strikes. I was hurt and hurt bad and I wasn’t going to win the fight. It was over.”

Bice says he wasn’t dirty. He was just fighting a tough guy on short notice and got caught. It’s savvy matchmaking by Cox, doubling his duty as Russow’s manager and the event’s promoter. Bice is a young fighter with a losing record, seemingly tailor-made for Russow, who wins the majority of his fights on the ground with slick submissions. That’s where Bice has lost all of his fights. But that was the old Bice.

“I am a very different fighter than I was a year ago. I’ve improved 100 percent in all aspects of my game. I know he’s a good guy, but our styles clash pretty well to make a good fight,” Bice said. “I know he’s going to come out there and take me down and try to submit me. I’m a pretty good Greco guy and I wrestled all my life. I think I can stop his takedowns and stay out of his submissions. It will not be a lay and pray match. It will not on my side. My Jiu-Jitsu is pretty game. If anything, it will turn into a jiu-jitsu match. I don’t think he wants to lay around either. He wants to come in there and get his job done quick. He wants to make his money and go home.”

Despite the differences in prominence and pedigree, Bice thought this was a good matchup for him. People might expect a big underdog to look to pick up a check and call it a night. Not Bice, who is confident his wrestling background will help him avoid a very dangerous ground fighter.

“He’s probably imagining he’s going to walk through me for sure. But I’m there to make him earn it. If he looks past me, he’s made a bad mistake,” Bice said. He’s traveling to Fight Firm in Philadelphia to train for a fight he took with just two weeks notice. “As soon as (manager) Mike Camp called me I took it almost instantly. I told him to give me an hour to look up some info on him because I’d only seen him in his M-1 fight. About an hour later I called him and told him I’d take it.”

For Russow it is another step on a ladder that leads to the UFC and the big leagues of the fight game. He’s been close enough to smell it before, with a cup of coffee in PRIDE. There’s pressure to stay perfect, waiting for that call from Joe Silva that could change everything. There’s pressure for Bice, too. He isn’t thinking about being the next Randy Couture, yet. He’d be happy to walk in Mike Russow’s shoes.

“I have no other choice than to perform on this one. If I pull a dud, I’m done,” Bice said. “I’ll be stuck on the lower shows. It drives me, man. I’ve got to do it.”

8 COMMENTS
  • Bucco says:

    “As Cox looks to secure a big future fight for his fighter in the UFC, in Affliction, or in Japan, it’s more important than ever that Russow take fights he can win and win impressively.”

    So, give him easy one sided fights that create no challenge so that he’ll be ready to take on the elite level of fighter seen in the UFC and the great heavyweights of Affliction.

    I’m all for wanting that mystical Mike Tyson aura but it has never worked in MMA and only creates negativity for a coddled fighter (Kimbo) that should rise in popularity based on fighting not promoters and managers.

    “I know I’ve got myself into a fight. I know I’m not going in there and taking an easy one. But I’ve never fought anyone easy before. I don’t fight cans. I don’t want to. I want to fight the best. If I take a couple of losses along the way-it’s all experience. I like competition. I just want to fight tough guys. If I take somebody on that’s not going to be much of a fight, it doesn’t make me feel like much of a fighter. I want to fight people who are going to challenge me,”

    Why don’t his managers listen to him. I’d rather see people matched up based on an even talent level. I like seeing a knockout or a great sub but in a one sided fight where everyone thinks this one guy can never win but that guy does is so much more fun to watch. Everyone loves an underdog but when it is “set-up” as a no chance to lose fight the better fighter is not going to fight to his potential.
    ie St. Pierre vs Serra
    ie Gonzaga vs Cro Cop (although thats more debatable)
    ie Shogun vs Griffen (say what you want but Shogun was only half a man that night)

  • HexRei says:

    So, give him easy one sided fights that create no challenge so that he’ll be ready to take on the elite level of fighter seen in the UFC and the great heavyweights of Affliction.”

    This is how most young fighters build their records. Big promotions often won’t even sign a guy to give them a whack at top-flight competition until they have a bunch of wins against lower-tier opponents.

    Sure there are exceptions, but not everyone is entering the sport with BJ Penn’s pedigree.

  • Jason G says:

    Hate to say it, but who cares? Russow is going to destroy this guy. I don’t like to watch non-competitive matches so unless 5oz is going to start interviewing guys from local and small regional shows with losing records I don’t know what the point of this was. But hey this is commonplace for guys to pad the record a bit with cans before they make it to the big show. At least it isn’t like boxing where they have severely inflated records from all the cans they ko’d.

  • Jonathan Snowden says:

    Jason,

    I personally think it’s important to remember that fighters like Braden make up the majority of fight cards nationwide. I hoped to shed some light on what a fighter is thinking as they step onto the regional or national stage for the first time.

    I was interested in what the thought processes were for fighters who are matched up with opponents that may be above their skill level. Did they feel competitive? Were they awaiting an inevitable destruction? Or would he be confident and upbeat?

    Best,

    Jonathan Snowden

  • Jason G says:

    I see your point there and I hope our comments put some fire in you and you take it to him but it doesn’t look like they gave Russow a tough fight. But hey this is an excellent opportunity for you so prove us wrong and good luck.

  • Braden Bice says:

    First off i dont have a losing record im 8-7 im not 10-1 but how many of you key board junkies jumped in a cage? i dont expect anyone to think im going to win thats why when i do its going to be sweeter. I have won my last two fights in under a min. and over guys with winning records Im far from a ( CAN) I bring it every time i step in there

  • borocker says:

    Braden…..don’t let these kids goad you. Get in the cage and get it done. That will shut them up. It’s going to be a tough fight….good luck and give em’ hell.

  • Anthony Holder says:

    I’ve trained with Braden and seen him fight and although he may not have the greatest record, I guarantee win or lose for Russow it will NOT be an easy fight…Good luck brotha and get this shit done right

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