Interview By: Barry Laminack
Photos By: Dave Mandel (Sherdog.com)
Just days after he returned from his trip to Yuma, Arizona, I had a chance to sit down and talk with Chad “Robo” Robichaux about his fight against Zach Makovsky and whats up next for the Bellator fighter.
Robo: Yeah, Bellator treated me like a rock star. The organization of it was great. 3 months out they started communicating with me. It was very organized. When we got there they had an itinerary for us, and they worked us like 6 hours a day with interviews and such. The staff was great. I was very impressed.
TCD: How does it feel suffering your first loss?
Robo: If anything, it’s given me more confidence. There is nothing anybody can throw at me that didn’t get thrown at me in this fight. I was out wrestled; I got punched in the face, hard. I got put in some tight submission and escaped. What is anybody going to present me with that didn’t happen in that fight?
TCD: What do you think you underestimated most about Zach?
Robo: His footwork. I know he trains at Philadelphia fight factory and has a great boxing coach in Eddie Alvarez, but you never see him trade punches. He’s got good striking he just chooses to wrestle. A couple of times I started my spinning back fist and he was gone. It kind of made me fill silly. I felt like I needed to keep the pressure on him and chase him down and that’s when he would shoot on me.
TCD: What do you walk from this experience with?
Robo: It was never my goal in MMA to be undefeated. It was never my goal in MMA to fight in the UFC, Strikeforce or Bellator. It was always my goal to compete at the highest level. I didn’t care if it was in a parking garage somewhere; I just wanted to compete against the toughest guys. Even though I lost I have a really high level of satisfaction.
TCD: You seemed to want to stand with him. Was that the case?
Robo: I knew I wasn’t going to put him on his back or out wrestle him. I could tell right away when we went to the ground that I wouldn’t be able to put him on his back. He’s stronger than anybody I’ve ever grappled with before.
TCD: What do you think you could have done better? Put another way, if you were to get through the next tournament and get another shot at him, what would you do different?
Robo: I think I’d hang back and be a counter-striker and counter-wrestler. I think that’s the only way to beat Zach. I almost did the polar opposite of what you need to do to beat him when I kept going at him. He’s not going to buckle and he is not going to break. Neither one of us were. You also have to be pinpoint accurate with your strikes.
TCD: It looked like you took some pretty solid shots early on.
Robo: Yeah, both of us got our chins tested.
TCD: I noticed that you had some kind of lean in your stance. Was that on purpose?
Robo: Yeah. That’s Lewis Wood. He’s a back leg boxer and he says it helps with range. You keep all your weight on that back leg and you can clear the range faster when somebody throws. [Demonstrating] Instead of have to step back, you can just lean back. Yves Edwards does the same thing because of Lewis.
TCD: The two things I was curious to see was could you take a shot and how your cardio would hold up.
Robo: I learned a lot about myself. I learned I have a good chin and I learned that I can push the pace against a top level athlete for 15 minutes and be fine. I didn’t know that going into the fight. I new I could do it in the gym, but not in the cage.
Robo: No, nerves never hit me. Even though it was the hardest opponent I’ve ever had, I never got nervous. I walked in that ring like I was walking in the gym to train.
TCD: Talk about the up kick that you got warned for.
Robo: When it happened I said, “Man I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.”
He said, “It’s cool, it happens.”
TCD: Before we get to the submission escapes, talk a bit about your submission attempt in the first round. It looked tight but I wasn’t sure if you were going to burn your arms out with him being on your side.
Robo: You know, that’s kind of a trademark move of me. I’ll hit that guillotine on my side like that and people will think they are safe. That’s when I hip escape, slide my foot in and finish. Zach did something that was like we almost trained together before. Normally, nobody would hold that leg because they would want to pass, but he held that leg to prevent me from hip escaping and creating that space I needed. Very intelligent on his part.
I thought at first it might have been coincidence, but the second time I had it he did it again.
TCD: So you weren’t burning your arms out huh?
Robo: No. It wasn’t a squeeze; it was slow, steady pressure. I could hear that it was affecting him a bit. I wasn’t trying to put it on, I was just keeping the pressure steady and waiting for him to let go of that leg so I could hip out and finish it.
TCD: Talk about the two submission that you got out of. The first being the rear naked choke. It looked deep. I remember your face turning really red.
TCD: How did you get out of it?
Robo: He had it in deep and he was very strong. I just had to clear his guard and get back on the ground. I figured if I’m too stubborn to go to sleep in the academy, I didn’t plan on tapping in the cage.
TCD: Where you close to going out?
Robo: It was imminent. If he would have had it a little longer I would have gone out.
TCD: What about that head and arm choke. How did you get out of it?
Robo: We new that was his go to move, so we really worked on how to get out of it. In fact, I would start in the head and arm choke during training. I had two escapes for the fight. The first I tried right away, bridging backwards on his fist, but I could tell it wasn’t going to work. The second was my pendulum. I started working it like a month ago. Hand on the ear, take the pressure off then put my feet straight in the air and pendulum my legs. It breaks the grip. It feels like your wrist are going to bust. It looks kind of silly but it works.
Funny thing is, in the end those escapes screwed me. In the very end, he had mount so I turned my back so he would try and choke me, but he didn’t try and choke me. I tried to get to me feet but he flattened me out. The referee said he was going to stop it. I was a referee before so I knew he was going to but I couldn’t escape because he was so squeezing with his legs so tight and his legs were so strong. I was trying to pop my hips out but that’s when he stopped it.
Later, I told Zach, “Man, I gave you my back.”
He said, “You already got out of two of my best chokes. I figured if I kept swinging the ref would stop it!”
Robo: If I was a referee I probably would have stopped it. I didn’t jump up upset; I was just getting up to show that I was OK. As a fighter, I was fine, but he did his job.
TCD: So what’s next for you?
Robo: The tournament. I hope they put me in the tournament and don’t make fight first, but if they do make me fight first I would love to fight Joe Warren.
TCD: And when does the tournament start?
Robo: September. Hell, I could be on dialysis by that! [Laughs]
TCD: So tell the truth. Do you think Joe won his super fight vs. Galvao?
Robo: No. Zack and I both had it 2-0.
TCD: Anything you want to add or say to your fans?
Robo: At this level you don’t want to lose, but you want to be part of fights like this. I’m not happy I lost and I’m not content with just being a part of it, but if you are a fighter you want to be in a fight like this, against one of the best in your weight class.
Also, I’d like to thank all my sponsors: Alchemist Management, Sayved.com, cardwoo.com, CashforGold.com, Ranger Up, Gracie Barra and WrestlingOverload.com.
Special thanks to the talented Dave Mandel of Sherdog.com for hooking us up with the photos.