D-Zilla tells us what it’s like to roll with legends

As soon as I saw the above picture of our own Damarques Johnson with an assembly of the who’s who in MMA I knew I had to talk to him. It isn’t everyday someone gets to roll with Pat Miletich, BJ Penn, Jeremy Horn and Matt Hughes (just to name a few, no disrespect to the rest of the camp) so I begged Cat to text the D-Zilla and then off we were-picking his brain for fifteen solid minutes. I hope you enjoy the insight into Hughes’ camp as much as I did. Thanks again Damarques.

So this is the first time BJ has joined forces with you, Hughes, Robbie Lawler and Jeremy Horn right? What was it like training with him? I’ve never been to college but I assume it would be like the freshman, the young kid from college going out for the first time and meeting the professor. That’s what it was like for me I can’t speak for anyone else. You’re learning from the people who wrote the textbook in wrestling, Jiu Jitsu fighting and ground work being in shape. It’s pretty much like MMA university.


As soon as I saw that picture of you and BJ and Miletich all training together it blew my mind, what was the atmosphere like? Did you ever personally get caught up in the fact that everywhere you turned was a legend? No, I mean…Wait I take that back, yes I got caught up in it. It’s the guys who made it all possible, it’s not the first time I’ve worked out with Hughes or anything like that Matt is kind of like big brother but whatever, guys like Pat and guys like BJ and guys like Horn…it really is like ‘wow’. The stuff these guys say, it may be something you have heard ten thousand times but sometimes maybe it’s not what is said but who is saying it? And it was kind of an eye opener and kind of a mental changer for me.


How did it mentally change you? I think everybody is naturally harder on themselves and they don’t give themselves enough credit. And for one of the first times I felt like I knew what I was doing, not that I was kicking anyones ass or anything you know, but if someone tells you, if a guy like BJ for example tells you what you are doing is great, just twist it this way or something. It reaffirms, it removes the negative image you have of yourself and injects a positive outlook unto yourself that every competitive person has. You know? Yeah I’m good but I’m not that good and you tend to be negative but maybe you are good at this technique or anything in life really. You spend so much time focused on the negative that you disregard all the good things you do.


Hughes said in his blog that in hindsight he probably could have charged to have people watch the training sessions… Yes he could have.


How did BJ vs Jeremy Horn go? Did everybody roll? Oh yeah we all went, everyone was healthy and I actually have pictures of Jeremy and BJ going at it. It was cool it was like two kids playing with their favorite toys exchanging ideas. It was amazing. It was like a brainstorm. Grappling wise, it was a brainstorm session. Every time we got in the room we had new ideas and we were just talking: ‘well I always run into this problem’ ‘oh I run into all the time and I do this but I get stuck here’ ‘oh I get stuck there and I do this’. I felt privileged to witness something special because you don’t get two multiple time world champs in the same room let alone working with other world champs and world class training partners and instructors.


And just throw out MMA, just from a grappling standpoint it’s amazing. Who got the best of everyone? Hard to say. Each person brought a new set of problems for each individual. It’s hard to say oh BJ is the best grappler or Jeremy or Matt is the best wrestler. I saw BJ take Matt down, I saw Matt give BJ Jiu Jitsu problems. I watched BJ and Horn go at it for what seemed like a two hour match and I’m watching it thinking ‘oh I got to steal that technique’ and I’m taking mental notes but then another technique is going that makes you forget the first one. Swimming with sharks definitely.


BJ vs Jeremy Horn in a no time limit grappling match sounds like heaven to me. Did you get a chance to get any commentating tips from Miletich because a lot of us think you would make for a good commentator in the future. Haha no. All the tips I got from Pat were definitely nothing you could print. That was the second best part of the trip, not only learning from the innovators of the sport but learning about the actual person. The things that BJ is into and what makes him tick. The things that Pat is into that makes him the man he is, and Hughes and on and on. All of these other guys, it was gangster shit.


Did you guys do any shooting? Ohhhh yeah


Who is the best shot? Um, I think it depends on what you are shooting. I would probably say Horn.


How do you think the Hughes/Koscheck fight will play out? Is anything going to have to change since this training was for Diego? You know, I don’t think so. We are going to have to watch and see. At the end of the day it’s a fist fight. No matter how much you are getting paid or your opponent, it’s still a fist fight and that is why we love it and watch it and are a part of it. I think you would have to make some small adjustments going from Diego to Kos, but Hughes has like fifty something fights so he;s seen it all.


Koscheck is talking a lot saying Hughes has nothing for him. Of course he is, Josh is the young lion and and Hughes is the old lion he has to do that. Now if he actually believes what he is saying is another thing. But hey, that’s what they are going to get into the cage for.


So what’s next for you? Fixing up my back, I started grappling again with Robbie and Hughes, I screwed up my last one so now I just gotta build it back up and do it.


Cat and I were talking about TV shows and we know you love your long form storytelling, do you watch Dexter or Weeds? Do you think they have overplayed their stay? Dexter isn’t really my thing and I couldn’t really get into Weeds either, My thing is I’ll buy entire seasons of DVD’s and watch them in a couple days. Lately it’s been Friday Night Lights and Sons of Anarchy which just started up and I’m sooooo excited for.
Published on September 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm
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