Suffering the second loss of his career last March at the first STRIKEFORCE event, Josh “The Punk” Thomson (8-2) hopes to once again experience the sweet taste of victory.Suffering the second loss of his career last March at the first STRIKEFORCE event, Josh “The Punk” Thomson (8-2) hopes to once again experience the sweet taste of victory. Preparing to go to war with Hawaiian bad boy, Harris “The Hitman” Sarmiento (18-13) on June 9th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, at STRIKEFORCE “Revenge”, I spoke with him about his controversial defeat at the hands of Clay Guida, which many have said was attributed to “dirty” fighting.
Rick Caudle: Josh, I know you were very disappointed about your unfortunate loss to Clay Guida? What went wrong with your game plan that night?
Josh Thomson: There were a lot of variables. First of all, the fight should have been over in the first 30 seconds. I had several submissions that would have made him tap, but they kept sliding off. He was slippery right from the beginning and I know it had to be oil because neither of us had broken a sweat yet. The dishonesty really bothered me and I lost focus. I fell apart after that and it came together for him.
Rick Caudle: Many people have suggested that besides being greased up, he was gouging your eye, and he also tried to use his fingers to open your cut and cause you to bleed more. Is there any truth to that?
Josh Thomson: Yes, in fact, I had to get extra stitches in my eye because he kept pulling it down. He kept trying to work my cut so it ripped the corners of my eye. It wasn’t the eye that frustrated me; it was the fact that I couldn’t get a grip on him due to the baby oil. It should have been over several times, that is really what bothered me. Since the fight, I have actually had many videos sent to me by fans and other fighters, showing that he had done the same thing in previous matches. You can hear his opponents complaining to the Ref that Clay smelled like coconut oil. He was shiny when he came out, and as soon as we made contact, I knew he was wet.
Rick Caudle: I don’t want to tarnish your reputation as “The Punk”, but it seemed like you didn’t want to talk about his unsportsman-like conduct after the fight. Did you do that out of professionalism or you just didn’t want people to think it was sour grapes?
Josh Thomson: It was both. I wanted to be a gentleman and I have mutual respect for other fighters. I didn’t want people to think it was just sour grapes, like you say. It was too late to do anything about it and really no reason to bring it up. I was fighting in my hometown, and the fans, my corner, and the Ref all knew what really happened.
Rick Caudle: Do you have any plans to seek a re-match with Guida?
Josh Thomson: Oh yes, we are planning to meet again on August 5th in Fresno, California. Of course, that depends on the outcome of June 9th for me, and Guida’s next match. But, at the moment, I am totally focusing on my fight with Harris Sarmiento. After that I will be ready to deal with Clay again.
Rick Caudle: Your only other loss was to Yves Edwards at UFC-49 when he caught you with a kick. Was he your toughest opponent so far?
Josh Thomson: No, not really. I was having my way with him and instead of letting it play out like I’d planned, I got overconfident and tried to get fancy. That is when he caught me with the kick. I had other opportunities to win early on, but like I said, I got cocky and didn’t follow up like I should have. Actually, Hermes Franca was my toughest fight.
Rick Caudle: You have had some impressive wins during your career in both the UFC and Pride Fighting. What, if anything, is different about the STRIKEFORCE venue?
Josh Thomson: It’s in my hometown, that’s the biggest difference! At the UFC and Pride, I knew I had friends and family in the crowd but it was so big I really couldn’t see anyone. Here in San Jose, I know lots of people and everyone knows me, so there is a lot more pressure to win. But I know after this fight, I will be back on top!
Rick Caudle: You have won 50% of your fights by submission. Do you prefer to take it to the ground, or does that depend on who you are fighting?
Josh Thomson: I am very aggressive both ways and always in your face. I am constantly throwing combinations and I will try to shoot 10 or 15 times per round. Not too many people do that consistently but that is my style of Jiu-jitsu, I am always on the attack. On the ground, I am very stubborn about getting the submission.
Rick Caudle: In some of my previous interviews, your name has often surfaced when the subject of training current fighters comes up. I know you help a lot of fighters train, who helps you the most with your ground and pound?
Josh Thomson: Javier Mendez works my striking skills, Dave Camarillo is my Jiu-Jitsu coach, and Bob Cook puts it all together. Bob has a lot of experience and lets me know what is safe to do in the ring.
Rick Caudle: Your opponent, Sarmiento, has lost his last 3 fights. Does this give you a definite psychological advantage?
Josh Thomson: No, because I am coming off of a loss too. If he is a real fighter, he will rise to the occasion. If not, he will blow his chance to shake off those losses. If he beats me, his last 3 fights will be null and void.
Rick Caudle: Josh, I know you are very hungry to get a win over Sarmiento, will this change the way you usually fight? Without giving away your strategy, will you be more technical in this match or will you go out with more of a Kamikaze blitz?
Josh Thomson: More of the Kamikaze blitz. Fans are coming to see a fight and I am going to make sure they are not disappointed. Of course, I will do it a little differently than I did last time cause I need the win! I will be back to the way I use to fight, very aggressively.
Rick Caudle: Give us a little insight into the mind of Josh Thomson. What are you driven by? What makes you tick?
Josh Thomson: Ha ha ha! It’s all about the competition. And the fun! That’s all.
Rick Caudle: Thanks a lot for giving me an interview. I know you are a busy man and I really appreciate it. Anyone you would like to thank for helping you get ready for June 9th?
Josh Thomson: Sure Rick. Thanks to my good friends Phil Baroni, Trevor Prangley, and again to Javier Mendez, Dave Camarillo, and of course, “Crazy” Bob Cook, and all the people at AKA.
Rick Caudle: Thanks again Josh and I wish you well next Friday night at the HP Pavilion.
Josh Thomson: All right Rick, thanks to you too.