A standout wrestler at Iowa who was a two-time All-American as well as a three-time NCAA tournament qualifier, Bradley won a TUF 7 qualifying match and appeared to have had a spot with the final cast of 16 inside the TUF mansion all locked up. That was until Bradley experienced an outbreak of a condition common amongst amateur wrestlers known as Herpes Gladiatorum.
Upon inspection of the outbreak, UFC President Dana White hastily dismissed Bradley from the cast and released him from his obligations with the promotion. Soon after, Bradley inked a deal with EliteXC but was never used. However, he has remained active since leaving TUF having won four fights and improving his record to 9-0.
Bradley’s most recent win took place against fellow TUF 7 alum Dante Rivera this past November in Atlantic City under the Ring of Combat banner. Showing improved striking, Bradley needed just 34 seconds into the fight to record a TKO victory.
Originally slated to fight former UFC veteran Roan Carneiro, Bradley will instead make his welterweight debut against fellow prospect Nathan Coy, a veteran of Matt Lindland’s Sportfight promotion in Oregon.
While both Coy and Bradley are standout wrestlers, Bradley expressed his belief during an exclusive interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com that fans in attendance will end up seeing a standup battle between the two up-and-comers.
Sam Caplan: Dana White dismissed you from TUF 7 because of Herpes Gladiatorum. Yet since that time you’ve signed contracts with EliteXC and the WCA and you’ve improved to 9-0. Can you explain why so many other promotions and athletic commissions are willing to work with you when the UFC wasn’t?
Paul Bradley: When I went on the UFC show, my first obstacle was to just make the show. My first fight was kind of boring and I’m not going to lie about that. And then once I made the show I could see where Dana was coming from regarding the possible spreading of it. He didn’t want to have a staph outbreak like they did the one season. But since then I’ve gotten doctor’s clearance and nothing has come of it since.
Other organizations have seen that I’ve become a better fighter and they’re willing to take a chance on me. I’ve been lucky enough to sign with some pretty good organizations and fight for them and do well.
Sam Caplan: Do you feel like that if you had gone in and won a more exciting fight by knockout that White may have made a different decision?
Paul Bradley: It’s hard to say but I kind of can see where maybe my style dictated why I went home. Because I know previous systems they’ve always disliked wrestlers who used a lay ‘n pray style and I was a completely different fighter back then. I was pretty much training myself but since then I’ve gotten the proper training and the two main things I work on is my striking and jiu-jitsu. My wrestling will always be there.
It’s hard to say if I was sent home because of that. I wasn’t in the production room or with Dana White. I’d like to think maybe it was one of the reasons, but I can say with all certainty that it was the reason why I was sent home.
Sam Caplan: Do you have any animosity towards the UFC or Dana White?
Paul Bradley: No. In the beginning I was a little angry but I started to understand the reason why I had to go home due to the potential of a lawsuit in the unlikely event that it spread to someone.
I understand but at the same time I was still a little irked in the beginning but it just gave me a chance to go home and decide that this was what I really wanted to do. And it came out to be a plus in the end because I am training full-time and I am able to fight.
It sucked at the time but I think it was for the best.
Sam Caplan: Is fighting for the UFC still something that interests in you? And if so, do you think a second chance is possible?
Paul Bradley: Yes. I think that I’ve shown in my last two fights that I know how to stand and bang and that my hands have gotten a tons better since the show. I’m trying to be the exciting fighter that they want to bring in. They want to bring in these guys that can knock people out and make exciting fights. I’ve been working towards that. So yes (I am interested) but it’s totally in their hands because in the end it was them that let me go; it wasn’t me leaving on my terms. It’s always an option if they come back to me but right now I am just focusing on this next fight and seeing where it goes from there.
Sam Caplan: What’s the status of your EliteXC contract. They never used you but there are rumors that an acquisition could be completed soon, possibly with Strikeforce. Would it be possible to see you involved if and when the ownership changes there?
Paul Bradley: You know, they never even contacted me. The most contact that I got through them was with (former manager) Mike Camp. We tried to get one of the EliteXC shows for a while but they never had an opening for me. But I mean if it changes ownership to Strikeforce then I’d be more than happy to fight for Strikeforce.
Strikeforce is actually a company that I’d be very interested in fighting for in addition to the UFC. From what I hear the WEC is losing the 170 pound division so the UFC and Strikeforce are now really the only two shows in town. If EliteXC were to switch hands to Strikeforce, I’d be estatic.
Sam Caplan: You’re currently a trainer with Chad Dubin’s Lionheart Fight Team based out of State College, PA. I’m sure there are no shortage of world class wrestlers at the training center. Can you talk about what you’ve been doing to improve your standup?
Paul Bradley: Standup wise I just went out to San Diego for a month and a half to train with Brandon Vera at his Alliance Gym. I had some good standup training there working with Brandon, Scott Smith, Tim McKenzie, and some real good guys… guys in the WEC and the UFC.
I went up there and trained for a little over a month and other than that I train with our standup coach here on a day-to-day basis. Just getting into the sparring has been the key to learning new techniques because I am a better hands-on learned than just trying to learn the movements through drills. Hopefully I can keep working and get better and better.
Sam Caplan: Former NCAA champion Phil Davis is also with Lionheart and he’s a tremendous athlete and a great prospect in his own right. Do you think he has the potential to fight in the UFC one day?
Paul Bradley: Oh, I don’t have a doubt in my mind. He’s a strong wrestler, which is obvious. His jiu-jitsu is also very good as well. And he’s really getting better with his standup. It’s coming along. It’s not where it needs to be but as soon as he gets that standup I can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t end up in the UFC as athletic and talented as a guy like that is.
Sam Caplan: You will be returning to action this Friday, Feb. 6 in Atlantic City at the Boardwalk Hall for the debut of the World Cagefighting Alliance. I believe this will also be your debut as a welterweight. Can you talk about some of the adjustments you have had to make in order to get down to the range where you need to be to cut to 170?
Paul Bradley: Yeah, I started off at about 195/196. I realized after my fight with Dante Rivera (that I needed to cut). I actually ate the day of weigh-ins and I didn’t even really have to cut. I actually weighed in light at 184. So it just made sense to go down to welterweight. And since then I’ve just been dieting hard this past month and a half, two months. Everything is very strict as far as my intake.
It’s been going really well. I don’t feel like I’ve lost any strength and I feel like I’ve lost a lot of fat. The good thing is that I’ve been as low as 173 and I haven’t even really been trying. I’m really excited to be able to get down to welterweight considering everyone I’ve fought at middleweight has been six foot or over.
I think it’s in my best interest to drop down to welterweight and become a more powerful fighter. I feel like I am going to be very strong at this weight.
Sam Caplan: How did you get hooked up with the WCA and what’s it been like working with them thus far behind the scenes?
Paul Bradley: I hooked up with them through my manager, Chad Dubin. From what I know, I think they’re a West Coast organization but they’re making their first East Coast trip out here. They’ve been great. In the beginning I was a little worried about making 170 right out of the gate since I haven’t had to make this weight since high school. And they actually agreed to a catchweight of 175 but set it up so that I have to give up $100 for every pound I am over 171. It’s been good and I figure I am just going to make 171 since my weight has been steady. It’s been great and they’ve been very supportive and I can’t wait to fight for them in this big venue in A.C.
Sam Caplan: You were originally scheduled to fight Roan Carneiro. What happened with that matchup?
Paul Bradley: From what I hear he got banged up during his camp. I don’t know the details of the injury or what he has but I just hear that he got pretty banged up and they didn’t think he was going to be able to fight by the time the date came around. So they started to scrambling for a replacement as soon as they could.
Sam Caplan: And his replacement is Nathan Coy. He’s very similar to you: a strong welterweight prospect with a good wrestling base. Should fans in attendance expect a wrestling match on Friday night?
Paul Bradley: Fans should probably expect just the opposite. I sparred with him a little bit when I was out at Team Quest for a week and I think our wrestling will counteract each other. I actually think it’s going to be a standup war. I am going to be looking to get my angles on him and throw my punch combinations and get in and get out and take as little damage as possible while I go for the win.