Fury FC 2-Final Combat Fighter Interview Part 1: Dave KaplanOn a card featuring top jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts stars such as Delson “Pe de Chumbo” Heleno (Gracie Barra), who is attempting to avenge a loss to the dangerous Daniel Acacio (Chute Boxe), as well as former BJJ world champion, Givanildo Santana, two names stand out from the others: Dave Kaplan and Mike Easton. Both representing the United States and Team Lloyd Irvin as the only American competitors on this card, they carry with them undefeated amateur and professional records, in addition to a number of regional titles. With both Dave and Mike poised to take the next step up the ladder in the professional fight game, On the Mat interviewed the two American representatives to get some more insight into what it takes to travel to the home of jiu-jitsu and compete against their toughest opposition to date:
Up-and-coming MMA fighter, Dave Kaplan of Team Lloyd Irvin boasts a professional record of 3-0, as well as an exciting style that has produced three stoppages in his three professional fights. On the East Coast, he has long been regarded as a potential future star, never failing to deliver an exciting fight. As the proud owner of an unblemished fight record, and having trained with some of the best wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and Muay Thai coaches that the world has to offer, Dave appears ideally positioned to make his mark on the international MMA scene, and on November 30, 2006, at Fury FC in Sao Paolo, Brazil, he’ll have his chance. This chance will come in the form of Dave’s greatest challenge to date in Chute Boxe’s Cristiano Marcello, a veteran of Pride Bushido.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, Cristiano Marcello is the co-head jiu-jitsu coach for the legendary Chute Boxe team that is also home to Pride FC superstars, Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, and his brother, Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua. With training partners of that caliber, Marcello is sure to be familiar with the kind of heat that Kaplan will bring, but one never knows how things will go once the bell rings. We’ll know the result in a short time, but you can hear from the man himself right now:
OTM: Can you give us some information regarding your training background? Who have you worked out with in the past?
DAVE: Obviously, I’ve done a lot of training with Master Lloyd and the guys here at Team Lloyd Irvin. I spent the month of October 2006 training at Vos Gym in Holland, being trained by Ivan Hippolyte and Ernesto Hoost, and sparring with Gilbert Yvel and Remy Bonjasky, as well as a number of A-level guys at Vos.
OTM: Did you ever have any interest in doing the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter show?
DAVE: Not really. I enjoy watching the show, but I’d rather be on Temptation Island or the Brazilian version of Big Brother. I’d do those in a heartbeat.
OTM: What sort of advantages do you feel that training with Lloyd Irvin and the fighters at Vos Gym give you?
DAVE: Well, it’s really the best of both worlds. Lloyd is one of the best Jiu-Jitsu guys in the world, much less the USA. If you watch Brandon Vera’s fights in the UFC, you can see that the proof is in the pudding. As a side note, Lloyd defeated Cristiano Marcello in the Mundial black belt absolute division in 2000. It’s nice to know that you’re learning from a coach who personally knows how to beat the guy you’re fighting. On the other hand, you have Vos Gym, which is, in my opinion, home to the best Muay Thai guys in the world. I moved to Holland a year ago to train for 6 and a half months, and I go back twice a year for a month each time to keep sharp. There’s no stand-up training like it.
OTM: I know you’ve had to cut a fair amount of weight, and the travel to Brazil can’t be helping the comfort factor. How do you feel physically and mentally for this fight?
DAVE: Yeah, this is the most I have had to cut for a fight (25 lbs), but I feel good. It’s the biggest fight that I’ve had so far, and I feel strong at this weight.
OTM: What do you feel makes your skill set uniquely suited for fighting opponents like Marcello who come from strong BJJ backgrounds?
DAVE: Outside of my experience edge, my stand-up is much more technical than his, and having an elite wrestling background, I feel that I will be able to dictate the pace and range of the fight. You can’t submit someone if you can’t take them down. Also, I feel like the stand-up is what people want to see, and I’m out to deliver an exciting, technical fight. That said, I’m strong in all ranges, and I’m ready to fight anywhere I need to, as I’m sure is he.
OTM: You have a style that has often been compared to that of a Chute Boxe fighter. How do you see this impacting the fight, and what do you feel could be the potential deciding factors against Cristiano?
DAVE: Firstoff, thank you for the comparison. It’s flattering to be compared to those fighters, and it’s an honor to get to compete against someone from an academy I respect and pattern myself after. I would say, though, that while our styles may be similar, the technical edge is my way from the wrestling and muay thai standpoints. I won’t be throwing haymakers or takings sloppy shots. It’ll be crisp stand-up with the goal of knocking him out as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
OTM: What made you interested in taking the fight against Marcelo, and where do you see your career going following this fight?
DAVE: To answer the first question, at Team Lloyd Irvin, we only want to fight the top opposition available. Chute Boxe fighters are always representing, and I look forward to getting in the ring against a tough opponent. As for the future, the sky’s the limit. This is my second international fight, and I do enjoy fighting outside the country. In terms of specific promotions, obviously the UFC and Pride Bushido are appealing, but I will fight anyone if the money’s right.
OTM: Have you been able to study any tapes of Marcello’s matches, and do you like to prepare specifically for each opponent, or do you prefer to go out and simply impose your game on whomever it is across the ring from you?
DAVE: I’d like to think that I fight the same way everytime I get in the ring, but I have seen his fight against Ishida in Pride Bushido.
OTM: Why do you feel that you have the best Brazilian impersonation that many people have ever come across?
DAVE: Practice, practice, practice. My Dutch impersonation is getting pretty good, too.
OTM: Thanks for your time, Dave, and good luck in Brazil!
DAVE: Muito obrigado.