“I don’t care who they put in front of me, I feel like I am going to crush them.”
Interview by: AJ Hoffman
Mike Bronzoulis has had a roller coaster ride over the last year. First, the highs of winning the Legacy welterweight title, winning his Shark Fights debut and eventually getting a call from Zuffa to come fight for Strikeforce. Then came the lows of a disappointing loss to Todd Moore in his Strikeforce debut, which was bumped from the televised card at the last minute. But after a win over Chad Leonhardt in his second Strikeforce fight, Bronzoulis now returns to Houston on an all time high. He takes on Jorge “Macaco” Patino for the 170 lb. title that he once held at Legacy FC 9 on December 16th.
Bronzoulis: Honestly, this might be the first fight I have ever gone into with no injuries. Mentally I am feeling great, and physically I am peaking. I feel incredible right now.
TCD: One of the things you and I always talk about is the mental aspect of fighting. How are you doing mentally right now?
Bronzoulis: I am a big believer in energy. I think you have to find the missing pieces to the puzzle of life. Right now I think I have all those pieces. I am gaining experience. I am getting great coaching. Coach Grant Johnson, my wrestling coach here at Paradigm. Coach Frank here at Paradigm. I am back with Saul Soliz. I am still a Paradigm fighter, but Saul is helping me tie up some loose ends. He has helped me a lot. It felt like there was a lot of bad energy when I left there, and to be reunited with him feels great. My training partners are peaking right now. Everyone around me has me in a great spot right now. I am ready to go out there and go to war. I don’t care who they put in front of me, I feel like I am going to crush them.
TCD: How would you rate your Strikeforce experience?
Bronzoulis: I was disappointed with the first fight. I was tired. I ended up having to fight at midnight. There are no excuses I guess, but that isn’t how I would have liked it to go. Overall though, it has been a great experience. It feels good to know that I can compete on that level. It is a great accomplishment. The win was amazing. It was like everything I have been working for had come together. It gave me hope that I can really keep climbing and keep going with this thing. It made me feel excited to be alive.
TCD: How exciting is it for you to be taking on a legend of the sport? Where does this rank for you?
Bronzoulis: I have never been so excited for a fight. This is the biggest fight of my life, and I am taking it very seriously. I have done everything it takes to be prepared for this fight. I respect Macaco to the fullest. This is going to be an extremely bad ass fight. I’m thinking to myself, I have fought in Strikeforce twice. I got a win over a guy they had big plans for. Now I am fighting an international legend on HDNet in the main event for Legacy. People can think he is past his prime or whatever. I don’t look at him like that. I look at him as the guy who had those crazy vale tudo fights in Brazil and fought for a UFC title. I think a win here could catapult me to the next level. The sky is the limit if I can win this fight.
Bronzoulis: His strength is obviously jiu jitsu and his power. He is always in good shape, but so I am. I feel I will be much bigger and stronger than him. I think I have better striking than him. I want to take him down and smash him in the face. I am wrestling with the best guys in the world. National champions. I know I can take him down. No one thinks I will want to be on the ground with him, but I am rolling with black belts. I want the fight on the ground. I see myself winning this fight with ground and pound. Also, they say crazy people have the strength of 10 regular people, and I am crazier than him.
TCD: Were you surprised he stood with Spratt?
Bronzoulis: Not really. I was surprised that he couldn’t sub a guy who has been choked out 20 times. I don’t think Macaco’s BJJ has gotten worse, I think Pete’s submission defense has gotten better. But I knew Macaco wouldn’t be afraid to stand with him. He isn’t the kind of guy to run from a fight.
TCD: How does it feel to be fighting for Legacy again, where you won your title?
Bronzoulis: Mick was great to have me back. I appreciate the fact that they wanted and accepted me back. It’s a warm feeling. Coming back and representing my hometown and fighting in my hometown. It doesn’t get any better.
TCD: I remember talking to you the night Macaco fought Pete. When you saw Macaco win the title, what was the feeling?
Bronzoulis: It was tough to watch those guys fight. I love that belt. Honestly, it was heartbreaking. I use to ride around my bike down the street flapping my arms like a bird wearing that belt. I slept with that belt. I loved it. I wanted it back after watching them. When I saw Macaco walk out of the cage with that belt, I knew we were going to fight. I didn’t think it would bother me so much until I saw him wearing it.
TCD: Is there any pressure for you, being the Strikeforce fighter now coming back to fight on a local card?
Bronzoulis: I don’t feel any pressure. The reason I don’t is because I truly believe in my mind and my heart that this is meant to be. I am going to be the champion again. Not only that, this is the launching point for me to eventually become the UFC champion. I don’t really know how to describe it. There is no pressure, because I feel like it is already mapped out. Besides, if things go bad, it is good for me. I work best when it looks like things are going to go horribly for me.
Bronzoulis: Paradigm, Mickey Dubberly and KO Dynasty, Clean by Troy Garza, The Lot on Washington, Houston Spine and Disc, Houston Granite and Flooring, Inner Loop Realtors, Bullshirts, Jesus Didn’t Tap, Saul Soliz, Brian Melancon, Jeff Rexroad, Chris Rucker, Lee King, Jason Friedman, Coach Frank, Coach Grant, Gulled Ahmed, Lou Savarese, Bobby Benton (my boxing coach), Randy Hauer, Lester Batres, Evert Guttierez, Thomas Mancha, Reed Shelger, Gordon Oehmig, Nick Salazar, Mike Alvarez, Aaron Reeves, everyone else at Paradigm who has helped me get ready. Thecagedoor.net for always supporting me. Thanks to Mick Maynard and the entire Houston MMA community for welcoming me back with open arms. Thanks to my mother, Barbara. Special thanks to my girlfriend Crystal Elizando for helping me out and putting up with me all the time, especially when I am in fight mode.