Stevenson: “This is the Fight Card of the Year”

“This is the Fight Card of the Year”

by Brady Crytzer
photo by Chris Cozzone, Fightwireimages

In one of the most anticipated lightweight match-ups of the year, The Ultimate Fighter 2 winner, Joe “Daddy” Stevenson, prepares for the toughest task of his still-budding UFC career when he battles Japanese sensation Dokonjonosuke Mishima on Saturday, November 18th at UFC 65: Bad Intentions.

Though he will be facing an opponent of a different breed in the very flamboyant and unpredictable Mishima, Stevenson is not to be deterred by the bells and whistles.

“Everyone I fight is unlike anyone else,” Stevenson admits.

“But Mishima really is a different kind of fighter. I talk to guys that have fought him, like Din Thomas … they tell me he is very strong. But when I see him, I see someone who looks like me.”

Mishima, who fights out of Osaka, Japan, has used his lightening-fast style and surprising strength to amass 17 wins over some of the world’s best. Though a fan favorite in the land of the rising sun, Stevenson knows that at UFC 65, he will have home field advantage.

“He is going to be in a different world,” Stevenson says. “He is going to have to deal with the cage, five minute rounds . . . and me.”

Besides the obvious differences between fighting in the ring and in the cage, Mishima still has to overcome being in a foreign country and fighting in front a whole new breed of fans. Stevenson knows this, and plans on taking the fight to his opponent right away.

“He won’t have a strength advantage. I still have 20 pounds to cut, so I know I will be the stronger fighter.”

In his last appearance in the Octagon, Stevenson stepped up to the highest bar in his career against veteran Yves Edwards at July’s UFC 61. Fans and followers alike salivated at the thought of this world class match-up and the fight was everything but forgettable.

In the opening round, Stevenson opened a cut on the head of Edwards that bled throughout the round. Despite the Octagon being painted red, the fight was allowed to continue until the ringside physician had finally seen enough at the end of the second round. Along with an impressive stoppage for the young Stevenson, his bout with Edwards is sure to go down in history as the bloodiest bout in UFC history.

“I’m glad they didn’t stop the Edwards fight too early,” Stevenson says. “I was able to show that I wasn’t going to let him up. I knew I had some adjustments to make like keeping busy and keeping him down. It really let me focus on making every shot land with evil intentions.”

Stevenson, who made his debut on The Ultimate Fighter at a staggering 190 pounds, competed for the length of the show at the 170-pound limit. Feeling undersized and overmatched at welterweight, Joe “Daddy” made the decision to cut another 15 pounds and throw his hat into the ring of the UFC’s deepest and most competitive division.

“There are some definite changes that I’ve had to make to be 155 pounds,” Stevenson says. “I am starting to really like Splenda (laughing.) I have had to change my running routine and some of my workouts, too.”

“Some people are good at different things . . . I’m good at cutting weight.”

In October, the UFC crowned its first lightweight titlist in nearly five years when Sean Sherk defeated Kenny Florian in a dominant and brutal five-round war. Of all the people watching that fight, Stevenson was undoubtedly watching the hardest.

 “I understand that Sherk had some kind of shoulder injury for that fight,” says Stevenson. “I gained a lot of respect for him for fighting with an injury, and I gained a lot of respect for Kenny. A lot of people said he didn’t have a chance and he went the distance.”

Stevenson vs. Mishima is one of the main co-features of what many are calling the most impressive UFC fight card in recent memory. With two title fights along with six other exciting bouts, UFC 65: Bad Intentions will almost certainly live up to the hype.

“This is the best fight card of the year,” Stevenson said. “The main event is definitely the fight of the year. Don’t bet on this fight. You have to give it to Hughes for being the trenches more, but St. Pierre has youth and hunger on his side. This is a great card—nobody has an easy fight.”

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