As 135 pound fighters such as Brian Bowles and Miguel Torres continue to demand an increasing amount of attention in the world of mixed martial arts due to their electrifying fighting styles, smaller men such as Patrick Runez are quickly being propelled into the limelight. At 7-0, 125 pound bluechip prospect Runez has established a reputation for himself as one of the flyweight division’s most promising talents.
A lifelong wrestler, Runez wound up a three-time NAIA All-American wrestler at the University of Mary in North Dakota before his collegiate career was all said and done. Upon graduation, the transition to competetive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu seemed a natural one for Runez. He made a name for himself after moving to Arizona and hooking up with Arizona Combat Sports, who he would represent with great succes during submission tournaments across the nation. It wasn’t long before Patrick began mixing Trevor Lally coached kickboxing in with his impressive grappling skills, which made a transition to mixed martial arts a logical one for talented up and comer.
Throwing himself headfirst into the amateur flyweight division, it wasn’t until the weight class recently started to really blossom that Runez decided to make a stake as a professional. The results have been nothing short of impressive as training alongside respected fighters such as Ryan Bader, CB Dollaway and Jamie Varner have helped to form Patrick into the undefeated wrecking machine he is today.
Already one of the most respected flyweight champions in the sport, currently holding the UWC championship, a move to the WEC could be on the immediate horizon for Runez should the organization decide to expand their talent pool to include the dazzling 125 pounders.
FiveOuncesofPain: Tell me about your UWC title fight with John Dodson, did he end up being a bit tougher than you may have anticipated?
Pat Runez: To be honest with you, I thought the fight was going to go to the ground more. Also, believe it or not that was my first fight with five minute rounds, and it just had to be a five rounder. The difference between going three minutes to five minutes means the world out there as far as being in shape.
FiveOuncesofPain: Well yeah, obviously you can train for five minute rounds, but actually fighting for five, five minute rounds is an entirely different animal.
Pat Runez: Yeah, fighting it is a different thing. So that was a first for me and I really expected for myself to gas out more than I did. When I finished that fight my cardio felt just fine. I could have gone another couple of rounds, no problem.
FiveOuncesofPain: So was it a thing where you were having to pace yourself during the fight because you just didn’t know where you were at?
Pat Runez: Yeah, it was definitely a slower pace than I’m used to, and it was more cardiovascular.There was a lot of boxing involved in that fight, so for me it was pretty much just boxing, takedown defense and knees in the clinch. I think that had a lot to do with me not getting tired as much and still feeling fresh after five rounds.
FiveOuncesofPain: Right, but I’m sure that the fact that you were able to go all five rounds and not feel gassed should let you know that you don’t have to worry about pacing yourself as much in the future.
Pat Runez: Yeah definitely. Especially in the first round, maybe go all out a little bit more. I can’t pace myself, you know. If I don’t shoot or I don’t go to the ground and don’t grapple; I know if I can keep it up standing that I can pace that battle out a little bit better, and it will allow me to go a little bit harder.
FiveOuncesofPain: Do you feel like that fight will go a long way in helping you progress as a fighter?
Pat Runez: Yeah, definitely. I learn something from every fight and that one was no different. The first time I watched the fight, I just watched it to enjoy it, but the second time I watched it I’m already picking things apart and I’ve already seen at least ten things in that one that I know I can improve or do better on.
FiveOuncesofPain: Being a flyweight in a gym filled with big guys like Ryan Bader, Aaron Simpson and C.B. Dollaway? Who do you find yourself training with the majority of the time at Arizona Combat Sports? Do you spend a lot of time with Jamie Varner?
Pat Runez: We all work out together. We have a professional class that goes on, so we’re doing all of the same drills together, but when it comes down to sparring I try to go with guys that are under 150 pounds.
FiveOuncesofPain: Just with the timing aspect of it. The guys you’re going to be fighting are going to be so much quicker that you really need to get used to that rhythm.
Pat Runez: Exactly, you really need to have guys your size pushing the pace so you know exactly how it’s going to feel. You just have to with guys that are near your size. We’ve gt plenty of guys down at Arizona Combat Sports. My main training partner is John Veraga. He wrestled at Arizona State University and he’s going to be going pro this year in MMA. He’s thinking about going at either flyweight or bantamweight, and he’s going to be an animal once he breaks into the scene.
FiveOuncesofPain: Another addition of the ASU wrestling talent coming out of ACS huh?
Pat Runez: Yeah, exactly. People are going to have no clue. I feel sorry for his competition because he’s had one amateur fight and there’s just nothing on him right now. The first guy he fights isn’t going to be able to study up on him very much so I feel sorry for that guy. I also train with Jesse Moreng, who’s a WEC veteran; Ryan Diaz, who is just a phenomenal kickboxer and a King of the Cage champion that’s dropping down to 135 pounds. Actually one of my main training partners is a girl believe it or not. Her name is Elena “Baby Doll” Reid.
FiveOuncesofPain: Oh yeah, I know Elena. I actually went to her last fight up there at the Apache Junction when she TKO’d Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson.
Pat Runez: Yeah, I was cornering her for that fight. She’s preparing for a fight right now as well.
FiveOuncesofPain: Wasn’t it Jamie Varner that actually cornered you in your last fight?
Pat Runez: Yeah, he’s been at every one of my fights except for one because he was fighting Donald Cerrone. Jamie teaches a class at ACS and I always warm up in that class. His boxing skills are just unreal, so that’s what I’m working on the most with him. But he just knows my game. He knows my wrestling game and he knows my jiu-jitsu game, and that’s why I like him in my corner.
FiveOuncesofPain: Now I’ve got to ask you because the last time I was down there at the gym I talked to Jamie a little bit about this match-up before Benson Henderson recently defeated Donald Cerrone; What are your thoughts on Varner vs. Henderson?
Pat Runez: I think Varner’s going to KO him. I think Varner’s going to handle him honestly, in my personal opinion. I think it’s going to be a good fight. I think Henderson is going to try to push his wrestling and grappling a lot, but I just don’t see him being able to stand up with Jamie. Also Jamie’s grappliing background is pretty extensive, so Ben’s not going to be able to just take him down like he did with Cerrone, and if he tries he’s going to gas himself trying.
FiveOuncesofPain: Tell the people that aren’t that familiar with the flyweights why they want to watch them.
Pat Runez: Well flyweight fights are going to be action packed from beginning to end, and most of the flyweights are really well rounded fighters. The pace of our fights are really unparalleled. With the smaller guys, a lot of times it’s harder to get that knockout, so that forces some really action packed wars.
FiveOuncesofPain: It seems like it’s always the lighter weight fights that end up resembling Rocky movies, because like you said, it’s just harder to get that knockout. So what ends up happening is you have to very skilled fighters just trying to kill each other the whole time. You see the growing interest in the 145 and 135 pound divisions because of fighters like Mike Brown, Urijah Faber, Jose Aldo, Brian Bowles and Miguel Torres, and it just seems that all of the reasons people like watching those fights, they’re going to like even more when watching the 125 pounders.
Pat Runez: Yeah definitely. When you’re watching it on TFV, if someone’s 145 or 125, you can’t tell the difference in size.
FiveOuncesofPain: Talk to me about the current state of the 125 pound division in the United States; Do you feel like you’re the best flyweight on American soil right now?
Pat Runez: I think there are some really tough guys out there, but right now there are really only two big regional promotions putting on quality flyweight fights, so outside of that, it can be hard to find a flyweight fight. Fortunately I was able to fight for one of the major titles recently when I won the UWC championship. I definitely think I’m one of the top flyweights in America. There are a lot of tough guys out there at 125 pounds but we’ll never know until we can get some of these Japanese guys over here to test them.
FiveOuncesofPain: What do you know, and what do you think of Jussier da Silva?
Pat Runez: I watched that fight where he beat Shinichi Kojima; he looks tough and he looks like he has a solid game, but I’d definitely like to get in there with someone like him and get after it. I think we’re all pretty even but you’re never going to know until you get to face one of them. I almost had a chance to face Rambaa Somdet, who is ranked in the top five at a lot of places, and that fell through because he got injured. That’s one of my major goals, to get one of these guys and to just get in there so we can know where we all stand. We’re never going to get to the top until we do that. But all of the American fighters, the top guys have really strong grappling backgrounds, and we’re all athletes, so there’s no reason we can’t compete with these guys.
FiveOuncesofPain: It’s almost like the current state of a lot of the lightweight rankings where you have these guys like Shinya Aoki, Joachim Hansen and Eddie Alvarez fighting each other and they’re all ranked in the top ten anywhere you look; and to me it’s just maddening because you have guys like Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard and Tyson Griffin that can’t even break into the top ten at a lot of places. But until you have someone go over there and test them you just never know. I’d love to see how Shinya Aoki would be able to handle himself against a guy like Clay Guida.
Pat Runez: Yeah absolutely. There just needs to be more cross-promotion. Usually the guys you’re going to see ranked really high are fighting over in Shooto. Hopefully with the UWC now promoting the best flyweights stateside we can see some of the top competition competing against each other.