When fighters are described as having an iron chin, what is really meant is that their neck is strong enough to resist the sharp turning of the head which results in brain trauma, causing concussion and usually a loss of consciousness. Of course, that goes out the window when talking about Conor Heun who literally does have a titanium chin, after breaking his jaw in 2008. This means that while he has a while to go before he resembles Colossus, he is really hard to knock out, as KJ Noons discovered last year. The decision loss to Noons was unfortunately Conor’s last fight, but fortunately he spoke to Middle Easy about training with his brother, his year-long lay-off and his upcoming fight with Magno Almeida.
you haven’t fought in a year. Has the layoff been detrimental or have you been honing your craft? I don’t think there is really much of a substitute for experience, but sparring at Jackson’s is about as close as real fighting experience gets. People are going full blast in there, getting knocked out all the time and you can see Cub Swanson’s Twitter what happened to him during sparring. I would say that it has been to my advantage.
Does having these wars under the Strikeforce banner give you an advantage over Almeida? I think just fighting the level of guys I’ve fought gives me the advantage. Ive seen some of his fights, and not to take anything away from him or his opponents, he certainly hasn’t fought the best competition. Ive seen the guys he has caught in these first round submissions and in my opinion their submission defense was very pathetic. They didn’t do some very simple things, some very basic BJJ defense. He is fighting in different territory now.
How do you get along with training with your brother? I know some other athletes have a very hit and miss relationship in that aspect. We’ve had a very strange relationship through history, I’m not training with him, he is in Boulder and I’m in New Mexico, so he has just been giving me some workouts and is doing some of the math and science for me. you know target heart rate and things like that. but working with him for this fight has really brought us together and I am very thankful for that.
What is your opinion on Zuffa buying Strikeforce, what’s going on with these sponsorship issues? A lot of people have been asking me about that, it’s a hot button topic…um. I’m very happy to be with Zuffa, I’m happy they took over Strikeforce, the fact that they are giving us insurance is amazing, the promotional muscle is awesome. I’m happy about it all. The only problem right now is that I have had a couple of guys sponsoring me since I was on the small shows, now they can’t sponsor me when wanted to return the favor and give them the time in the bright lights they deserve. They invested in me when I want doing much and now that i am on the big stage I want to support them like they supported me when there wasn’t much return. I do understand what Zuffa is doing and I think it will be better for the fighters in the long run. I mean, I would be taking these small clothing company sponsorships and I would be getting $500 and the reason I would be doing that is because it’s the same $500 they would give me when I was on a local show. That’s all they can afford and I want to show loyalty, I’m a loyal person and loyalty is very important to me. That being said, I really shouldn’t be taking $500 sponsors, I’m a pro athlete who puts his heart and should into this 24/7 365 days a year and I think that is what Zuffa is doing, they are weeding out the smaller sponsors and using their promotional muscle to make sure the fighters are getting paid you know? For me, I made some statements about it, in the long run I think bringing in blue chip sponsors, people who can pay us what we are worth, I think that is a good thing in the long run. If someone is paying the fighter $10,000 they don’t want them fighting on the same show who is getting $500 for the walkout shirt. In the end it’s going to be great for fighters, the short notice hurt this time so I wanted to make sure these guys got known, but I will find ways through Twitter and things like that.
That’s an interesting perspective that definitely is not out there right now… I must say I spend some time on the Underground forums and man, I’m reading these perspectives that broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to the acquisition and the tax. That is what I really like about the forums, outside of the ridiculous posts there are a lot of intelligent people on there who have good things to say if you can sift through the nonsense…I’ve always been a person who enjoys learning and educating myself and when I go on there you can broaden your scope on what’s going on.
It’s just difficult to sift through the trash sometimes… HA yes, yes it is (laughs)
Zuffa loves their exciting fighters and you are now one of them, where does a win tomorrow put you? Just one step closer, you don’t get the belt for being exciting. Look at GSP, he has an impeccable record but personally I don’t like watching his fights. I have picked up some of his interesting techniques but I like fighters who finish fights and I don’t think he does that. I think he has a lifestyle he wants to support and he is a very intelligent fighter. That said I go out there to kill people. I compete in BJJ tournaments and I don’t even know the rules, I just go out there and try to sub people. When I fight I try to knock the dude out or take him down and try to sub him. Im just hoping that now with the Zuffa purchase, I heard a rumor that there are a couple of 30k bonuses tomorrow night, for the KO, Sub and FOTN. I wish those were here with Gurgel and KJ because I thought both of those were fight of the nights. That would help me out a lot. but those bonuses even being hinted at is amazing. I never care about winning or losing, I just care about performing and going out there to show my heart and use it as a measuring stick to figure out how far along on my path I am. My goal is to be the greatest martial artist I can be. I go out there, see what I can improve on, and what I’m doing well. To be able to go out there and learn as much as I learn from the KJ fight or the Gurgel fight and get an extra 30 grand in the bank that would be nice. If that type of thing happens tomorrow night, this kid has real good BJJ. If I get caught in a submission that would suck, but that type of thing might happen. Realistically if he is going to beat me it’s going to be a God damn war. I’m gonna go balls to the wall and I’m going to do everything in my power to smash him. If I lose the decision to him but I get a check for #0,000 dollars well, that will lighten the load a little bit. Hopefully they keep me around and I get the FOTN bonus or KO bonus or Sub bonus. That’s what I’m shooting for, just knowing that going out there and fighting my heart out might get rewarded makes things easier. I fought Gurgel and I got 4,000 for that fight and I needed my ACL reconstructed after that. Now I’m over 20,000 in debt because of that. The fight insurance only covered 50k and for some reason that wasn’t enough. I should have negotiated with the hospital, but I assumed that was enough. You know, OK I have insurance it should be covered, but it wasn’t. In fact it put me in such a hole that I recently had to claim bankruptcy.
Wow. Yeah only $50,000 is covered. I know Zuffa is 100 grand so that would have done it, but yeah with 50 grand I uh yeah. I found out the hard way. I think if you tell them you have insurance they just bill the shit out of it, and if you don’t then you have to negotiate and work something out. I learned. I went in and said ‘yep it’s covered’ but that wasn’t the case.