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Interview with Dan LaSavage

Tyler Welch
27 September 2007
LaSavage PoseOnce upon a time, the mixed martial arts competition field was a common ground where fighters of different disciples could meet and go head to head to determine which martial art reigned supreme. In the past 5 or 6 years, though, a new type of fighter has emerged – the true mixed martial artist.

A new breed of fighter has been born with the advent of MMA – an elite athlete who specializes in not one discipline, but rather a multi-talented individual individual who is well-versed in techniques that practically apply to MMA. ...

Dan LaSavage is one of these fighters; neither striker nor grappler alone, Dan is indicative of the future of the sport – an athlete who began training not to excel in one particular martial art, but to compete in the MMA world. With the rise of this type of versatile combatant, the level of competition has been raised.

We talked to Dan in his retail fight gear shop Combat Corner, about his perspectives on the new direction of MMA, the competition in the lighter weight classes, and his Gladiators Fighting bantamweight title shot coming up October 6 at GLADIATORS FIGHTING 47 - CAGED COLOSSEUM.

USCS: So, to start, where’re you training mostly?
DL: Training with Duke Rufus and Eric “Red” Schafer at Rufusport Gym.

USCS: How long have you been training there?

DL: 4 years about, now.

USCS: What would you say is your fighting style?

DL: I would say I’m more of a stand-up fighter, like Muay Thai, boxing – but I also have decent Jiu-Jitsu.

USCS: You’ve been training a little with Henry (Matamoros of Henry Matamoros BJJ)?

DL: Well, I started with Jon Friedland (Jon “White Trash” Friedland of Neutral Ground BJJ), I’ve been with him for 2 and a half years, maybe. And then, training with different people, too, along the way.

USCS: So where are you from?

DL: I’m from Milwaukee, I’ve lived here my whole life.

USCS: So how long have you been fighting MMA?

DL: My first amateur fight was October of 2005, so I don’t know how long ago that was…a couple years ago, and then my first pro fight was this February…February whatever.

USCS: Was that a Gladiators (event)?

DL: Yeah, it was a Gladiators event here in Milwaukee. Don’t remember the guy’s name, but it lasted 30 seconds.

USCS: So how did it feel? Fighting your first big pro fight?

DL: Yeah, it was a big deal too, because it was the first one where I’d fought on a main spot on the card, and instead of just being on an undercard, or like the first fight. It didn’t really affect me – I don’t really pay attention to that too much. I just go out there and fight.

USCS: So how are you feeling about this one coming up (
DL: I’m pretty confident. I’ve seen this guy fight – he actually fought on the same show in February, a couple fights ahead of me, versus Omar (Omar Choudhury of Matamoros BJJ), who I also train with. I just feel confident that my style is gonna match up very well with his, no matter where it goes.

USCS: So did you catch any tips from Omar?

DS: Well, Omar’s fought the guy twice, so I’m getting a little bit more (from that), I got footage of him on the internet, I can watch his fights, and also I got a training partner that can tell me a little about his style, so it’s a plus.

USCS: So do you do a lot of research on your guys before you fight them?

DL: Usually there’s not much you can get if the guy only has like 4 or 5 fights, they usually don’t have that much footage.

USCS: Yeah, I think this guy’s (John Hosman) got something like 9 fights.

DL: Yeah, 9 or 10. I don’t really know, it could be more than that. But yeah, finding footage on some guys is harder, like some of the guys I’ve fought before, there’s no footage. You can find a Myspace or something, and see their style (laughter), or check ‘em out on Google, but that’s about it.

USCS: So what’s your pro record?
DL: My pro record is 3 and 0.

USCS: So tell us a little about your training regime? What’s your typical training like?
DL: Twice a day, 6 days a week. Usually I have a morning session and a night session. The past couple weeks, (I’ve been working with) a specific strength & conditioning coach out in Waukesha at Joe Panos’ Next Level Fitness. We do all sorts of cool stuff out there during the day - they beat the shit out of us. And then at night I go and spar and do my grappling and stuff like that.

USCS: How about before a fight? What’s your mindset?

DL: I get pretty pissed off, actually. I’m not easy to be around. A lot of my teammates don’t like to be around me, cos I’m an asshole. I mean, a lot of guys are calm, cool, whatever – that’s just not my style. In normal life I try not to be too much of a dickhead – I still am (laughter), but, you know, I’m even worse then, I’m very irritable.

USCS: Do you have to cut much weight?

DL: Yeah, it depends what weight I fight at. This fight’s at 135lbs, so I will have to cut a decent amount of weight. My last 3 fights have been at 145.

USCS: Have you fought at any other weights?

DL: I fought at 150, once - catch weight.

USCS: Do you do any visualization before a fight?

DL: I think about the fight, but I never sit down and do that full fight run-through of exactly what’s gonna happen, cos it never goes that way, anyway.

USCS: What about when you’re fighting and when you’re training? What keeps you motivated?

DL: That I fucking hate to lose. Period. I don’t care we’re fucking racing across the street, I don’t want to lose. I don’t want to lose anything, man (laughter).

USCS: So before you were doing MMA, what were you training?
DL: Well, I trained basic Muay Thai, but it wasn’t much longer before I started my MMA training.

USCS: You still ever do any Muay Thai stuff?

DL: Yeah, we do just spar stand-up and stuff like that, but mostly everything’s integrated.

USCS: So you’re pretty much just going down the pure, straight-up MMA path?

DL: Yeah, there’s separate training sessions for different things, but almost everything’s towards one thing now. It’s not like I train Muay Thai here, Jiu-Jitsu here, wrestling here – it’s all together now, which seems to be the routine for pretty much everyone now. Like, 5 years ago it was completely different: you got your ground specialist, your stand-up specialist, your this, your that. Now everyone’s getting good at everything.

USCS: Do you have any MMA ambitions? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

DL: I’m trying to move into the WEC. That’s where I’d like to be. It’s the premier organization for 135, 145 pounders. That’s where I want to be.

USCS: So, trying to get into the WEC, do you follow it much?

DL: I watch every WEC event. I like it better than the UFC, which is most likely a biased decision because I’m small, but the fights are great. That Chase Beebe/Rani Yahya 135 title fight was an amazing fight. 5 rounds of just action. There’s good fights in every division, you know, it’s just that a lot of people like to see divisions where they fit in, and that’s why I like it, and a lot of guys like this weight, or that weight, and the casual fan still likes the big guys because of the big knockouts. There’s still knockouts in all weight classes – you gotta remember that in boxing the best weight classes are 135, 154 and 160. And people think that those guys in MMA don’t have no power, and that’s just ridiculous.

USCS: Got any plans for after the fight? Gonna go out and party?

DL: Yeah, I’ll go out and party. Go get f***ed up (laughter). Everyone knows the spot is Cush afterwards in Milwaukee, so we all go there, load the place up, get drunk.

USCS: So there’s a pretty tight-knit MMA scene here in Milwaukee?

DL: Yeah, everyone knows everyone, pretty much.

USCS: So tell us about Combat Corner (Dan’s fight gear retail/online store):
DL: We opened about 5 months ago now, and it’s really starting to pick up. We’re getting a lot of support from the community. I try to give everyone a good, fair deal – everything’s either the same price or cheaper than on the internet, and you get to try it on, and it’s in stock. The inventory’s been increasing every month, it’s not like I’m just carrying the same bullshit. I restock the store with all new stuff every time I get new orders. We’re not just an internet company or anything like that. We sponsor a lot of local fighters, we’re working on sponsoring some Jiu-Jitsu guys, and maybe some high school wrestling kids – just get some support for everyone who’s doing well in the sport.
For More Information on Combat Corner please visit their website or myspace!

Combat Corner
1121 S. 108 St.
Milwaukee, WI. 53214
Hwy 100/ 1 block north of Greenfield

Dan’s sponsors:
• Combat Corner (
• Roufusport (
• Speedy Metals
• JoJo’s Martini Lounge
• Assassin Fight Wear
• Fight Chix
• In Your Face Tattooz
• Forbidden Tan
Last Modified:
18 July 2009

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