Following consecutive defeats in the octagon Joe “Daddy” Stevenson knew deep in his heart that it was time for a change.
According to Stevenson, know matter how far you have come in your career “Once you get really stagnant, you have to do something about it and not talk about it.”
That’s why the long top rated lightweight packed up his gear and made the trek to Albuquerque, New Mexico to hook up with one of the most respected trainers in the game, Greg Jackson.
With a clear head and a fresh outlook on his career, Stevenson hopes to get back in the win column this evening as he faces off with the extremely durable and dangerous Nate Diaz at The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale that is set to air live on Spike TV.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com had the opportunity to catch up with Joe “Daddy” just prior to one of the most pivotal bouts in his career to discuss his feelings on Diaz, training with Jackson, a desired match-up with Shinya Aoki and much more.
Cory Brady for FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How old were you when you saw your first fighting event and what were some of the things you remember going through your head?
Joe Stevenson: It was the second UFC. I was at my friend Jason Brady’s house and they had it on Pay-Per-View. I believe I was about eleven years old. I never would have thought that this is what I was going to end up doing at that point. I thought it was cool that there was karate vs. wrestling, and kung-fu vs. boxing type match-ups. I actually started wrestling at the age of eleven because I thought I was in the WWF. As a teen, as I started getting better at wrestling, I started doing Judo and Jiu-Jitsu. That was really the catalyst for my future in MMA. It ended up turning into just Jiu-Jitsu, Jiu-Jitsu. So at the age of sixteen I wanted to see if everything I had been learning actually works so I got my first pro fight.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: You said sixteen was your first professional fight?
Joe Stevenson: Yeah, sixteen.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How does that even happen? Was it a sanctioned match?
Joe Stevenson: Back in the day there was no real sanctioning of the bouts and it wasn’t really legal. Mainly because people didn’t know that much about it so it was kind of frowned upon. But you could fight on Indian reservations and get around it that way as long as mom and dad signed a waiver.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Looking back at your decision loss to Diego and having had a chance to go back and watch that fight, do you feel like Diego did enough to be granted that decision?
Joe Stevenson: I can’t tell you the truth on that one. I honestly haven’t even bothered re-watching that fight. I was really upset at myself and wanted to make a change. I knew something was wrong and had to be fixed so that’s why I came out here to Albuquerque to train with Greg Jackson.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Is that a fight that you want back at some point down the road?
Joe Stevenson: Possibly, yeah. But to be able to do that, I don’t know that now that I’m with Greg that I would want to put him in a situation like that.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Is this the first fight that you have ever trained at Greg Jackson’s for?
Joe Stevenson: Yeah.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So how did you end up hooking up with Greg and making that switch?
Joe Stevenson: Well Rashad and Keith were both on The Ultimate Fighter with me, and I was talking to Rashad after he won the title, congratulating him, and he said that I should come out here. I was kind of batting it around but I wasn’t really sure and then he called me up again and he was like,”Come on, you said you wanted to do something about yourself and about your training. I thought you said you were going to call Greg.” And I was like,”Actually I haven’t called him yet.” If it wasn’t for Rashad I don’t know how motivated I would have been to come out here and train. It was really my friendship with Rashad that brought me out here, and of course my belief in Greg Jackson and his coaching ability.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: You’ve been training for most of your life it seems, do you feel like sometimes you just have to go somewhere else to kind of get that new and fresh look on things?
Joe Stevenson: When you’re ripe you rot, when you’re green you grow. it was certainly time for a type of change for me, and I think it was the best thing for me. I think that anyone in that division, once you get really stagnant, you have to do something about it and not talk about it.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How do you feel you match up with Nate Diaz?
Joe Stevenson: I think that Nate’s an awesome competitor. He’s a good fighter, very tough and well rounded. I think that we match-up very well stylistically. I don’t see this fight going to a decision by any means. I feel like this is a fight that I can win on my feet or on the ground, and it’s going to be me pushing the pace.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Do you feel like you are still just a couple wins away from another title shot?
Joe Stevenson: I’m not even thinking abut that right now.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So it’s just all about that next fight for you at this point?
Joe Stevenson: Yeah.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: B.J. Penn vs. Kenny Florian. How do you see that fight unfolding?
Joe Stevenson: I think Kenny has a lot of tools and he’s very skilled but I honestly have a lot of faith in B.J. I think he’s going to be just a little more overwhelming than what Kenny is expecting.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: I see Shinya Aoki ranked near the top of may lightweight polls these days. What are your thoughts on Aoki and how do you feel he would do in the UFC’s lightweight division?
Joe Stevenson: I think that Aoki is a very tough fighter and he’s really well rounded. It’s actually been a thing of mine to want to fight him. It’s all about testing yourself. I would love to fight him. Whether he got into the UFC or not. I think that he’s an awesome fighter.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Have you had a chance to check out UFC Undisputed 2009 yet, and if so, have you played with your character yet?
Joe Stevenson: I bought the game. I didn’t get one for free. I was hoping to get one for free. So I bought the game for myself and I bought one for the kids. Honestly, I played it for one game. I’m such a competitive person that I felt that if I would have given everything I had playing that game it would have engulfed me and taken away from everything I need to be focusing on for the fight. So I only played one fight against my buddy and I won. Then I told him I would never play it again. I did not play with my character. My friend tried to pick me and I was like,”No! I’m not going to beat myself”.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Joe Stevenson: Actually yeah. I want to thank MMAWarehouse.com, Sprawl and Warrior Wear.