Idol chatter - an interview with HW prospect Scott Barrett
In combat sports rarely do athletes get a chance to fight their idols. If, you were a grappling based MMA heavyweight who got into the sport post-TUF 1 chances are you glanced over a few Jeff Monson (33-9) fights.
28 year old heavyweight prospect Scott Barrett (9-1) was a college wrestler when he discovered MMA through season one of the Ultimate Fighter reality show on Spike TV.
Fighting out of Georgia, Barrett is one of the top unsigned heavyweight prospects in MMA today. At a stout six foot even, Barrett brings a tough grappling skill set that has gotten little resistance from his opponents through 10 pro fights.
Now riding a three fight winning streak Barrett is booked in the main of event Xtreme Kombat League versus a fighter he may have modeled his own style after in the 39 year old Monson. The Michigan MMA event is set for Saturday March 20th on the campus of Eastern Michigan University.
Barrett is a four star prospect who with win over a big name fighter like Jeff Monson has done more than enough to punch his ticket to a national MMA organization.
ULTMMA.com spoke with Barrett in the week prior to the biggest fight of his career. Barrett opens up about his training camp, game plan for Monson, and goals of signing with a national MMA organization.
ULTMMA.com: How did you first hear about MMA?
Scott Barrett: I watched the first season of the Ultimate fighter when I was in college and I loved it. It was fun and it was average guys who were just starting out.
ULTMMA: You're College educated. Was it a tough decision to commit to MMA full time?
Barrett: The money is not the greatest when you first start out, but it's something you have to do. In this sport it takes a full time commitment to be where you want to be.
ULTMMA: What are your current strengths and weaknesses as a fighter?
Barrett: My strength is my ground game. My wrestling and ground game all around. I've been just really working on my hands and my stand up game has come really far over the past six months. I was afraid to stand up, but now I'm very comfortable on my feet.
ULTMMA: Take us back to February 2009, for fans who didn't see your fight with Chad Corvin describe what happened that night?
Barrett: It was huge fight for me and I was excited. I came out and he threw the big punches like he always does. I took him down, passed his guard and was kneeing him against the cage. I planted my weight on my left leg to throw a knee and I just went down. I hyper extended it and tore my meniscus.
ULTMMA: If, you were not injured how do you think that fight would of gone?
Barrett: I think it would been a war still. I was in charge of the fight at that point but I wasn't dominating. He's in the UFC now and I heard he signed to fight Joey Beltran in May that should be a pretty good fight.
ULTMMA: What were your initial thoughts when you heard he signed with the UFC?
Barrett: When he heard he signed with the UFC, I know he hasn't fought since February of last year. He's been sitting pretty much idle for a year and his last fight was an injury win versus me. I've had four fights in a row all by TKO and he gets the contract. It was hard to swallow there for a minute.
ULTMMA: How was it coming back from the first major injury of your career?
Barrett: I think the first fight or two after I was back. I was real nervous and tentative of my knee. It was just real stiff. It was rough after the Chad Corvin fight. I was trying to come back a little bit early. I was pretty upset because I was training hard than I go and break my hand training.
ULTMMA: Is it hard finding fights when you're a heavyweight with a 9-1 record?
Barrett: It's the worst thing ever. I was supposed to have a fight at the end of February and it was a former pro boxer with a decent record. They called back right away and the guy just said no way. It all happened within 48 hours; I had a fight than the guy backed out. That's happened a lot, since I've been around 6-1.
These shows don't want you to come down and fight their heavyweights that are good because they may lose. They're not going pay you to travel just so you can come in and beat their guy. I also think there are a lot of good guys out there who are afraid to fight someone up and coming because they are suppose to win, but anything could happen.
ULTMMA: How did you react when you heard you were fighting Jeff Monson?
Barrett: It's great for me but what gets me is that he was my idol. We are good at the same things. When I first saw him fighting I thought "wow that's me." We're both great on the ground and are big strong guys. That was the first thing that came in my head when they said you get to fight Jeff Monson. Wow. Wow, that's what I want to make my style like.
ULTMMA: What do you think Monson's strategy to stop you?
Barrett: I think he's amazing when he's on top. He is able to get some of the best guys on the ground. When he gets's top position he will stay there. Also, I've watched a lot of his fights you find him pulling guard on big guys than sweeping them. That's where he may make a mistake.
I want to stand-up. If, he pulls guard I don't think he will be able to sweep me.
ULTMMA: Have you been working on your takedown defense in anticipation of a stand up fight?
Barrett: Yeah, it just comes natural to me from all the years wrestling heavyweights in college. I don't think he will be able to take me down with ease like most of the fighters. He will have to work for it and after he works for it hopefully he will be really tired.
ULTMMA: When was the last time you were a big underdog going into a fight?
Barrett: I would say the Chad Corvin fight because everyone said he was the stuff back then. I've actually been the underdog in a few of my fights. I travel a lot because it's not like there are too many big heavyweights in Georgia. I may not be the underdog but I do get booed a lot because the fight is usually in their hometown.
ULTMMA: How far are you away from competing in a National MMA promotion like UFC, Strikeforce or Bellator?
Barrett: I think I'm about two past due. I'm ready. I feel like I thought I was ready, but now that I can see the difference in my hand speed and the way my stand-up has come along I know now this fight will show a lot. I think I'm going to surprise a few people with my cardio, hand speed and how good my grappling is.
ULTMMA: As a six foot fighter what is it like fighting heavyweights five or six inches taller than you?
Barrett: What I noticed is that you have to change your stand-up game. You can't stand there and bang because they can hit you before you can hit them. That's why it's good to have a wrestling base, you have to work your angles to get on the inside of a fighter.
Its suck but I enjoy it. I think there is a lot of power in little arms. When I hit you it's not going to feel good.
ULTMMA: Is there anyone in the UFC or Strikeforce right now who you would like to fight with?
Barrett: Chad Corvin. (Laughs) I think any of top guys right now. I would like to solid camp. I think I can hang with anyone on the ground and my hand's have to come to a point where I can defend myself in order to get it to the ground.
I'm ready. This is my life now. If, you do this you have to be ready to fight anyone at anytime. I would love to fight Bobby Lashley just because he thinks he so good, but he hasn't fought anyone. I'm not taking anything away from Bob Sapp or Wes Sims. Bob Sapp is a great fighter on his feet, but if a wrestler takes him down he can't get off his back.
Sims, you just look at that fight and can tell he doesn't train anymore. He fought Wren on the Ultimate fighter and just looked horrible. That really bothers me. You can only baby him for so long.
ULTMMA: Any people or sponsors you would like to thank?
Barrett: Full Tilt Poker helped me out a lot. Also would like to thank my all my coaches, training partner and manager. I also have to always thank my parents Hal and Brenda Barrett for the support they give me in pursuing this sport.