“My plan is to go in and punch him in the face. If that works, I will keep punching him in the face.”
Jeff “The Executioner” Rexroad
Interview and Photos by: Barry Laminack
Jeff Rexroad continues to be one of the most entertaining and underrated fighters on the Houston scene. Coming off his win at Legacy FC 6 over Alex Morono, Rexroad now takes on the always tough John Malbrough at this weekend’s Legacy FC 8. We had a chance to sit down and talk about what has happened since we last spoke to him, just before his epic battle with Ricardo Talavera.
Rexroad: I just talked to him the other day. That was a crazy fight. The first time I dropped him I didn’t realize I had dropped him. I hit him with a short right to the chin. I was gonna follow it with a hook and he wasn’t there. I was surprised he was on the ground, and I jumped on him with a delayed reaction. I dropped him three times, and I thought the second one finished him. I felt knuckles crushing jaw and he collapsed. I thought he was done, but he is just so tough. He goes into survival mode just long enough to recover his wits, and then he is right back in it. What made the fight so good, a lot of people get dropped and they get gun shy. It turns into a chasing game. In that fight, I dropped him and he kept getting right back in my face. He is super tough and hard to finish. I hit him as clean as I could, and he kept coming back at me.
TCD: Did you know him before that fight? It seems like you guys have a pretty good relationship now.
Rexroad: It’s funny. I had never met or talked to him before the fight. I knew who he was, and I knew he was a tough dude. After you have a fight like that, it bonds you a little bit. What’s funny is, he moved up to Pittsburgh and now he lives about 5 miles from my dad. Kind of a small world. I will probably get up there by the end of the year, and who knows. Maybe we can get a roll in or something.
TCD: What was the biggest thing you learned from that fight?
Rexroad: A fight like that lets you know where you stand as a fighter. A lot of people will break in those kind of fights. Whether it was Ricardo for getting dropped or me not being able to finish. Also, there was no dancing. It was balls to the wall the entire time. I think it just let me know where I stood mentally. It also taught me not to think it’s over until it’s totally over. I got some confidence from being able to drop him, and also from absorbing some of the shots that I took.
TCD: What are you expecting out of the John Malbrough fight?
Rexroad: John is another tough dude. This is the first time I will have fought someone I actually know. We have been on a bunch of cards together or we were coaching on the same card. We have talked a lot. I like him. As far as the fight, John is a grinder. I don’t think he is great at anything, but he is really tough, and he just loves to fight. He took that Jake Rosholt fight, which probably wasn’t a great decision this early in his career. He took that fight knowing what the result could be, but it just shows you his mindset. The guy just loves to fight. I respect that.
TCD: Where do you think the fight takes place?
Rexroad: I don’t care. I am comfortable either way. I never go in there with a plan of taking someone down. My plan is to go in and punch him in the face.
If that works, I will keep punching him in the face. If he is punching my face more than I am punching his then I am going to try and get it on the ground. That is pretty much my game plan for every fight. If I am losing the “punch you in the face” contest, I will try and turn it into a “choke you” contest.
TCD: Let’s talk about your career goals. Are you wanting to be in the UFC? What is the long term picture?
Rexroad: If it happens, it happens. I have a bad ass job that I love to do. I have a wife and a daughter that are my priority. That takes precedence over everything else. If they give me a call, so be it. If not, it won’t hurt my feelings. I like the sport, I like to fight. It keeps my competitive juices flowing. I don’t have to make it. I don’t live for that chance. “Strikeforce, Strikeforce! UFC, UFC!”
TCD: You had a pretty good opportunity to fight Antonio Flores for the title. You said no because you wanted Brian (Melancon) to have the fight, knowing how close he was to his big shot. Talk about that and why the decision went that way.
Rexroad: Ever since I met Brian, his goal was always to get to the big show. He has shown he has what it takes to do that. IXFA called me and asked if I wanted the fight. I was a little bit heavy. I could have probably made it, but Brian was also available. He was looking for a big fight and we both thought he was one big fight away. I told them to ask Brian first, and if he doesn’t want it, I will take it. Turned out he didn’t need the fight because he got the call [from Strikeforce] before it anyway. This is Brian’s life, so if I could help him I wanted to in any way I could. That win would have meant a lot more to him than it would have meant to me.
TCD: With Brian and Mike (Bronzoulis) both in Strikeforce now and not really fighting local MMA, there is now a title fight between Pete Spratt and Macaco. Do you feel like with a win you may be in line for a title shot?
Rexroad: I have to win this one first. Nothing against John, but I wanted 2 other guys who were in the top 10, but for some reason those fights couldn’t happen. John wanted the fight, so I was cool with it, but I am trying to work my way into that spot. I am looking forward to seeing who wins that fight. The only people ahead of me in the rankings besides Brian, Mike and Todd (Moore) were Antonio, who lost to Pete, and Alex Cisne. Of course I want to get to the top of that. Who knows how it pans out after this, but with Macaco and Pete, it is a pick your poison. I think I would be close if I win this fight. I am on a one fight at a time schedule, but either guy would be a tough fight. I don’t want to get choked out or knocked out, so I have to take those guys seriously. Pete is so fast. His hands are crazy. But if Macaco gets him to the ground, it’s over. I will be watching either way. You never know.
TCD: Anyone you want to thank?
Rexroad: Of course you guys at TheCageDoor.net. All my guys at Paradigm. No offense to anyone else, but I don’t think anyone has better guys to train with than I have here. It is amazing to see the talent walking around this gym on a day in, day out basis. BrittanyLopezCPA.com, FIghtnightMMA who made all my awesome walkout shirts and shorts and ProFormance mouthguards for giving me my bad ass mouthpiece.