“I’ve been working on a lot of stuff and I’ve improved in several aspects. I don’t think I can ask for a better camp than what I have had.”
Jeff “The Executioner” Rexroad
Interview by: Barry Laminack
The road leading up to Legacy Fighting Championship 9 has had more twist than a Chubby Checker record. (That was my ode to “The Voice” Michael Shiavello).
In a span of a week the man known as “Sexy Rexy” (I made that up too) went from facing Paul Kelly, to Efrain Escudero, to now Larry Crowe. He also saw the scheduled fight weight change from 168 (Kelly and Escudero) to 175 (Crowe).
Despite all of these changes Rexroad has stayed focused and feels like he’s in the best shape of his life. He said he’s coming off the best camp he’s ever had and he told me the game plan didn’t change much (even thought the opponents did). We even talked briefly about a possible title shot in the future when I spoke with “the Executioner” (that’s his real nickname, not the one I made up) over the phone just days before his fight at Legacy FC 9.
Jeff: Well other than having to prepare for three different opponents, the camp has been awesome.
No injuries, no major problems. I’ve been working on a lot of stuff and I’ve improved in several aspects. I don’t think I can ask for a better camp than what I have had.
TCD: The obvious question is how much are you cramming as far as preparing for Larry Crowe?
Jeff: I wouldn’t say that I’m cramming. The game plan I had for Paul [Kelly] I had worked on that for several weeks. I only had to do some minor changes to go to Efrain [Escudero]. With it being Larry, luckily the stuff I was working on helps me for all three of those guys; I just have to use the tools in a different way. Larry is a different fighter than those other two guys.
Paul is a very technical fighter. He can get a little wild but even when he starts to brawl he’s a technical brawler. Efrain is a very technical wrestler, where as Larry isn’t as technical but he’s big and strong and he overcome what technique he is lacking with his agility, strength and determination to do what he has to do. He’s a very aggressive fighter and he loves to fight and that can make up for what he might lack in technique.
TCD: Paul Kelly was going to be the highest caliber fighter that you have ever faced. Is there any disappointment or let down that you’re not fighting a former UFC name?
Jeff: Funny story about that, the whole time I was talking with Mick about this fight he kept telling me it was Paul Taylor. I was like cool man, yeah, I can fight that guy. So over the next few days we work it all out and Mick sends me a note and says, “Ok, it’s on. You and Paul Kelly”
I was like, “WHAT?!?! You said Paul Taylor.”
He said, “No, it’s Paul Kelly.”
I said, “No, it’s Paul Taylor.”
We figured it out and it was Paul Kelly. It was funny thought.
Anyway, I will say I had my hopes up. It was nice to have a guy like Paul and Efrain. That’s the fights that got me excited. Both guys are UFC fighters. Paul was only let go because they downsized the roster not because of his performance. He had a winning record in the UFC and he fought a lot of really good names, so it’s not like I was going to catch somebody who was past their time.
In Efrain he was cut for roster size as well, but he didn’t help himself by missing weight for his last fight there. He had a winning record in the UFC as well.
Larry is going to pose several challenges to me. It’s not the same as going in there to fight a guy who had fought 9 times in the UFC. That doesn’t mean that I’m taking Larry lightly at all. He’s a really tough guy who is hard to finish. He’s strong, he’s athletic and he’s going to pose some serious problems that I’m going to have to deal with and hope I don’t get caught. I’m not taking him lightly. I’m going in there with the same mentality that I was with Paul, but as far as the same pedigree and background, it’s two different levels.
TCD: You guys are fighting at 175 but you had been aiming for a cut to 170, so do you think this is am advantage for you to be fighting a little heavier? It’s going to be his first time fighting this light.
Jeff: I was already down pretty low. The fight with Paul and Efrain was supposed to be 168 so I was already at 180lbs and getting ready to make the cut. When Larry took the fight he said he would do so at 180. I told Mick, I’m already at 180. He asked Larry about 175 and Larry said yes.
It was kind of good for me because I got to eat some. I didn’t go crazy but I got to bring my weight up a little bit so I can cut down to 175. I can feel a difference in my training since I can eat a little more. I can feel it in my energy and my cardio and my ability to go work out and not tire. I don’t feel as susceptible to injury either. A lot of times this close to the fight I’m low on calories so I get weird little muscle tweaks and I’m not having that so in that since it’s helping me out.
At the same time it’s going to be a little bit of a disadvantage for me because he’s going to be bigger than me.
TCD: Well, that said, you’re a BIG 170. Do you think him fighting at this fight for the first time is a disadvantage for him at all?
Jeff: My first couple of amateur fights were at 185 and then I moved to 170. I don’t know what weight he was at so I don’t know what he’s cutting down from, but if he doesn’t have a good cut that might effect him a little, but for all I know he’s already walking around at 190 or something like that, he looks in great shape. I’m not holding my breath that he was super fat and is going to be affected by the sauna.
In the end, I think I might have the speed advantage, but he’ll have the size and strength advantage. You can just look at the guy and tell that he benches Volkswagens. It’s going to be a classic speed vs. strength thing.
TCD: Do you think you have an advantage in any particular discipline over Larry or are you saying screw it and just preparing for anything and everything?
Jeff: I always prepare for everything. Just because a person looks one way in one fight doesn’t mean he’ll look that way in the next fight. Take me as an example; my last 3 or 4 fights have all looked difference. I never expect guys to look just like they did in the last fight.
One of my advantages is that I’m well rounded in all aspect. I’m a descent striker; I have descent jiu jitsu and descent wrestling. I also have a pretty good ability to mix all those together and transition back and forth between them.
With Larry, he definitely has knock out power. He’s a big dude, he’s got heavy hands and I’m going to have to watch out for those head kicks. He also has the ability to use his size to drag things out and slow the pace. He likes to hold people against the cage and dictate the pace sometimes. The only thing is these are five-minute rounds, not three minutes. It’s a lot easier to control somebody in a position for 3 minutes vs. 5 minutes.
TCD: How does it feel being the co-main event? I know you would have like to be fighting a guy from the UFC, and I think you should be getting a title shot, but are you still excited to be the co-main?
Jeff: Yeah, I’m excited. It’s a great honor that Mick chose this fight to be co-main event. It’s going to be a great fight and I appreciate the opportunity that he has given to Larry and me.
As far as the title thing is concerned. Mike [Bronzoulis] was a teammate and a friend of mine as well as being the titleholder, so that was never going to happen. I would never fight Mike at this level…at the UFC yeah. We’d both make money and then go have a beer or something.
The last title fight was Macaco and Pete Spratt and it was an awesome fight so you can’t really argue with that. Macaco wins and now Mike has the opportunity from Zuffa to have a fight outside of his contract. I couldn’t be more excited for that fight; I think it’s going to be crazy.
I can’t wait to get my fight over with and run back and change so I can watch that fight. I’m really looking forward to the fight and even if Mike wasn’t my teammate I wouldn’t have a problem with that fight because I don’t see how that is going to be a boring fight. They both don’t know the meaning of the word quit; they are both going to come forward the entire time.
TCD: Well, then you know I have to ask…Lets say that Macaco defends his title and you defeat Larry. Do you want a title shot? Do you think you’ve earned it?
Jeff: I definitely think I earned it but that is all up to Mick, and it’s also up to my wife! There are some things that I have in my personal life that are coming in the spring that may or may not make that possible, but yeah, I would love to have a shot at some point.
Jeff: First I’d like to thank my wife Danese for all the support. Like I have always said she is the person who makes it possible for me to do all of this. I’d also like to thank all of my training partners at Paradigm for pushing me and helping me get ready for this fight. Having guys like Mike B, Brian Melancon, Lee King, Lester Batres, Evert Gutierrez, and many others makes it easy to get quality work done at the gym. I’d also like to thank the entire staff and all the coaches at Paradigm for providing a top-notch training facility with some of the best instruction you can find. I especially want to thank our new wrestling coach Grant Johnson who has taken a lot of his own time to work with me and I’ve seen drastic improvements as a result.
Lastly I’d like to thank my sponsors Duel Athletics, BrittanyLopez.com and you guys at TheCageDoor.net. All three have been very supportive of me and are huge supporters of the Houston MMA scene. That support helps make all of this possible.