Featherweight Tommy Hayden (8-1) will step into the cage this Saturday, August 9, against Dennis Bermudez (8-3) in hopes of earning his first victory in the UFC. Here's a look at his journey to UFC 150, his training with Jorge Gurgel, and his desire to become a champion:
You lost your first fight in the UFC. How did you deal with that?
Hayden: It's bittersweet because I took the fight on a week's notice, so I knew that I was going to be in the UFC. That was my goal since I got out of college two years before that. Now I had a chance to show myself., and I took the fight against [Fabricio] Camoes. I knew that he was a world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I guess multiple times.
When I woke up on the mat from him choking me out, the first person I saw was Joe Silva, and the first thing he said to me was, "We're going to have you back." So inside, it was a small victory for me because I guess they liked the way I fought. I came out, I wasn't scared, and I went for it. But standing there and knowing that I just got choked out, that was just the worst feeling. It made so hungry. I didn't stop training. I've been here six or seven days a week since then, because I don't ever want to lose like that again.
Are you concerned about possibly overtraining?
Hayden: Yeah, I've been talked to about it plenty of times, but I'm a wrestler. It's what I do. I rest then I train some more.
What do you know about your opponent, Dennis Bermudez? How are you preparing for him?
Hayden: I'm preparing for him much the same way that I prepare for everybody. I drill a lot. I drill a lot of everything. He's primarily a wrestler, which is cool because I'm primarily a wrestler, so I'm totally down with that. I've fought mostly wrestlers in my career, so I prepare for takedowns. I do a lot of takedown defense. I still work on my jiu-jitsu every day because that's what I do. I work on my striking almost every day because that's part of what I do.
There's certain patterns - certain things in videos that I've watched - where I'll make game plans and certain combinations that I'll throw more than others, and I'll specifically try and land them on everybody here. Other than that, it's the same grind as always. It's to get in the best possible shape and train like crazy. I train like four or five hours a day.
Do you feel pressure to win this fight after losing in your debut with the UFC?
Hayden: Pressure? Not so much when I'm training. When I'm training, I feel like there's no possible way that he can beat me. In the dark at night when I'm lying awake, sometimes I feel a little pressure when I think about it. But that only motivates me more; it's just makes me want to train harder.
Is there anything different about training for this fight in comparison to previous fights?
Hayden: This fight is in Denver, Colorado, so it's a high-altitude fight. That takes my training to a different level as far as conditioning. You know I can drill as much as I want, and do all the moves that I want, but I still got to have the lungs to do it.
So I called up Training Mask, and I talked to them about it. Their second generation high-altitude masks just got released on July 1. I got mine a couple weeks early because they decided to sponsor me for this fight. This mask looks like I should be in Mortal Kombat like Sub-Zero, and it sounds like Darth Vader. When you're working and breathing and sweating and trying to move, these things are the devil.
How much more difficult is it for you train with the mask on?
Hayden: In training today, I went six five-minute rounds, so 30 minutes, and I just go. So after that sixth round is over and I pull this mask off, after two breaths I'm good. Basically, what it does is I can really truly feel the diaphragm working, and it's giving me a greater lung capacity. In a higher altitude, I'll have thinner air to breathe, so this has been my best friend.
What do you have planned for after your fighting career is over?
Hayden: Well, I want to become a psychologist; that's my end goal after fighting. Everything I do now is when I'm in my prime. I'm young, and I'm doing what I want. Some people travel the world, some people get their jobs right out of college. Me? I'm doing what I love. I'm a fortunate person to be able to have the opportunity to succeed.
Hayden would like to thank Swole Sports Nutrition, Training Mask, Scott Wright at Oxford Physical Therapy, his physical therapists Shane and Laura Sweatt, his coaches Jorge Gurgel and Jamie Miracle, and his entire team. You can follow Tommy Hayden on Twitter @WildCard_MMA.
Click here for part one of this interview with Tommy Hayden.Derek Ciapala has been following MMA since the days when Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie fought in the octagon. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala or Facebook.
Source: Personal Interview
- Martial Arts
- Sports & Recreation
- Tommy Hayden
- Jorge Gurgel