A Joker Who's Serious About Fighting
Date: 2008-11-01 17:49:22
Submitted By: Pride Fights
Jess Liaudin is known for his cheerful demeanor and lighthearted interviews, but opponents who fail to take "The Joker" seriously soon find out there is a lot more to the Frenchman than jokes and laughter. Over the last 18 months, Liaudin has racked up an impressive winning streak, stopping all five of his opponents inside the distance. Success has sent his career soaring out of the pits of frustration that almost led the well-rounded fighter to abandon his career in 2005. "MMA was just another hobby for me, just like wanting to fight kickboxing or Thai boxing or whatever," Liaudin said. "It was just train a little bit, fight and get some money for it, just nothing special for me. My priority was to work and make a living." All that changed, however. Liaudin found the spark that had been missing from his career and he took the bold step of relocating to Team Quest in California -- the perfect environment to refocus his attitude toward the fight game. "I knew I had the technical ability," Liaudin said. "The only problem was, I wasn't training. Now that I was training, I was getting more and more motivated and knew that I was going to surprise people." Surprise people he most certainly did. Dennis Siver (Pictures) was among those caught off guard, when he and Liaudin made their UFC debuts against each other in April 2007. Against the German-based fighter Liaudin exhibited his dazzling kicking ability early in the contest, seemingly throwing Siver out of his game plan. Siver fought back, bundling his foe to the mat. However, once grounded, Liaudin quickly isolated his opponent's right arm with an apparently rejuvenated sense of confidence to score a decisive 81-second submission victory. "Even though it was in the UFC in front of 14,000 people, I wasn't really put off by that because I actually enjoy fighting in front of big audiences like that," Liaudin said. "I was more excited than nervous about it. I knew my grappling was better as well, so I submitted him quite easily." After one of the more jubilant celebrations seen in the Octagon, Liaudin returned at UFC 75 in September. In front of his hometown crowd in London, Liaudin hammered "TUF" graduate Anthony Torres (Pictures) all around the cage, stopping the overmatched American after four minutes of painful abuse. "I have very good kicking technique, and a lot of people know me for it," Liaudin said. "But this time around I just wanted to work my boxing, and that was what I was working on with my striking coach at Team Quest. "Anthony was a good grappler and a state wrestling champion, so I didn't really want to throw too many kicks so he could grab my leg and take me down. My game plan was to stand, break the clinch and use my hands -- and that's exactly what I did. I think that I surprised a lot of people, but people who train with me or people that have known me for a long time know that I really have some striking skill." Liaudin seems a keen proponent of the old saying, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it." Once again he has put himself through the torturous regime of Team Quest in preparation for his Saturday bout against Marcus Davis (Pictures) at UFC 80. "When you get to spar with some of the best competitors in the world, when it comes to fight time, you're not worried at all," Liaudin explained. "The training sessions are very difficult, very demanding -- physically and mentally -- so there's no doubt that when the fight comes, nothing is going to be quite as hard." With an air of newfound confidence, Liaudin casually assessed the strengths of his opponent, who is perhaps one of the pound-for-pound hardest hitters on the UFC roster. "He's a good boxer and he fights like a boxer," Liaudin said. "The thing is he trains with a very good striking coach (Mark DellaGrotte), and he's probably been looking at my fights and thinking about what he should and shouldn't do to counter me as well. Because you can be the best striker in the world, [but] everyone's got some holes in their game and makes mistakes. "This time I'm going to try and use my kicks. He's a lot bigger than me and he's going to use his heavy hands and his power. I'm not going to try and knock him out; I'm going to try and break down him, bit by bit -- that's my game plan. I'm going to adapt my game to his so I can beat him." With 17 years of competition experience behind him, stepping in the cage is, literally, just another day for the French fighter. Indeed, the pre-fight nerves that sometimes give rise to promises of murderous violence in the cage from some fighters are entirely absent from Liaudin's mindset. "I've never been known for trash talking," he said. "That's not really my thing, and Marcus has come across the same. I've seen some of his recent interviews; he's been quite respectful. Yeah, he said he was going to knock me out, but that's our job. That's what we're supposed to do, and people expect that when we step into this Octagon." "We are both very experienced fighters, standup as well as on the ground," Liaudin continued. "So I don't think that no trash talking is needed for this fight. I think when they announce both our names, people should get their popcorn, sit down and just enjoy the ride." Considering that Liaudin recently inked another three-fight deal with Zuffa, fans on both sides of the pond can expect to see more of his fast-paced, unpredictable style regardless of the outcome Saturday. It's a dream come true for Liaudin, who chuckled as the interview came to a close. "I'm going to be with the UFC for another while yet," he said, "and so people better get used to my face."