DALLAS, TX, December 2, 2011 – As the finale for our pre-fight coverage for tonight’s FIGHT GAME event in Dallas at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, we talk to Robert “Bubba” McDaniel. At 18-6 as a pro overall, Bubba will be looking for his fifth win in a row in order to enhance his bid at ultimately landing with the UFC. Even more impressive about his resume is the fact that with 24 fights overall, he still has yet to go to a decision. Win or get beat, that’s the priority for McDaniel every time he hits the cage. Tonight, one of those two results will be sure to happen as he takes on fellow veteran Eric Schambari. Read on as Bubba shares his pre-fight thoughts with TXMMA.com.
Interview – Bubba McDaniel
Bubba, for fans of the sport that haven’t had the pleasure of seeing you fight yet, can you give us a quick summary of how you got into becoming a fighter?
Okay, a quick summary – I was a bouncer at a bar and wanted to be a tough guy, I guess, so I entered a few toughman contests then eventually figured MMA would be a better way to fight. I went to a gym here in Wichita Falls that had Jason Maxwell, Keith Sutton, and those guys. I basically got beat up by them for a really long and didn’t even know I’d get the chance to really do it (fight pro) but I stuck it out long enough to where they finally started mentioning me for fights. It was a humble start in pretty much what you’d call a shed in the back somewhere where they had a map and some rope strung around some steel bars. It was pretty different world that what you’d see now and was a hardcore place to get started but I still use probably 85% of the stuff I learned out there.
Why do you continue to do this? What do you like about being a fighter?
What I like about being a fighter now is it’s one of those things where I get called a pro athlete and I can be happy about that.
You’ve had over 20 fights (18-6 overall) since 2005. Do any of those stick out to you as the most memorable?
I’ve had 24 pro fights and have actually had more that were exhibitions against other pro fighters along amateur fights and exhibitions also. The ones that stick out you know are pretty much the losses. The Gerald Harris (UFC vet) loss, that sticks out as a big one. You got my losses to Alexander Schlemenko (Bellator vet) and Lucas Lopes (Shark Fights), those are ones where I think I should have beat all these guys when I lost to them and it’s kind of bumming to think about that but I’ve also had my last two wins against some solid vets in Kyacey Uscola and Johnny Reese, those are good builders I think I’ve earned for myself. You know, like they say, “your next fight is always your biggest fight” so I’ve always got to look ahead.
So what is next for you? What do you want to accomplish with this fight and in the near future?
I want to win this fight and I want Zuffa to give me a contract. You know I’ve put in my work and if I win this fight I’ll be 19-6 with a five fight win streak. I’ve put in a lot of work and will have 9 wins in my last 11 if I win this one so I’d like to have a good look and get my chance in the big show. I’ve fought people that are deserving of it and beat them but I’m still sitting on the sidelines without having a shot yet other than EliteXC that went out of business so I want to get back in there.
With those big guys (Zuffa), of course just about all the fights are televised. Why should fans want to see you fight on TV? What should they like your style?
Man, I’ll tell you what. I’ve never been to a decision in MMA. Look at my record, I’ve been to the third round one time and that was early on in my career where we were still doing 3×3 minute rounds. My longest fight is 9 minutes and 55 seconds. I’m out there to win or get beat and It’s always one of the two that’s going down. I’m out there hitting you or if you touch me then more power to you but I’m out there trying to put a hurting on noggins.
Do you have any other hobbies outside of this sport?
Man you know the thing is outside of training and fighting there isn’t really isn’t a life. I’m bouncing again at a strip club in Albuquerque and live at the dorms out here at Jackson’s MMA and live very humbly. I live in a little bitty room with a bunk bed and two crates of clothes that sit on the side. That’s my whole existence right there. I go to work, come home, and train. I train seven days a week and twice a days from Monday through Friday. Other than that, there’s not much else. Wake up, train, and sleep or wake up, train, and go to work. I’m okay with that. That’s the way it goes with my lie. It’s an MMA-oriented life – being an average broke fighter trying to make it in this sport and earn some respect.
Why is all this worth it to you?
You know, MMA at one point in my life saved my life. I’ve been up and down the road a few times and have done some things I wasn’t supposed to. MMA in my life is what keeps my head straight. It’s been my lifesaver and I’m not just going to give up on it. It’s the yin to my yang. Otherwise, I’d be just a big jerk. <laughs> I get my aggression release in the gym and I get to go home and be a nice guy there because all the energy is spent in MMA. I’m a homebody now. I don’t really do much on my nights off anymore. Maybe I’ll go and see a movie or something but pretty much I want to go home and relax. I’m dedicated to my sport.
As far as training at Jackson’s, I know that place has been a destination point for a lot of fighters looking to get better and make it. What’s so special about that place?
Oh my God, Jackson’s is the best camp I’ve ever trained at. You’ve got so much talent running in and out of this place with guys coming here to get ready for fights, maybe 4 weeks at a time or something like that. Of course you have guys that live in the area also but you never get the same look from the same guys all the time so it’s always evolving and always changing. Your game does the same because of all the fighters you’re working with too so it makes you a better fighter. I’ve only been at Jackson’s since July and I feel like I’ve made leaps and bounds just from being there.
Moving on to this Friday’s fight with Eric Schambari. How are you approaching this one?
Eric Schambari is a tough fighter. I’ve really been in camp since May since I was supposed to fight in a few other fights but injuries have held me back a little bit. Besides that, I’ve been in shape since May and just have had to take it up to another level over these past few weeks. Training camp has been good and everybody goes into fights with some kind of injury and that’s just the way it is but other than that, you know, I feel good. I’m in there with the best sparring partners – guys like Jon Jones and Brian Stann. There’s guys like Kyle Nokes, Joey Villesanor, and Keith Jardine around. It seems every day I’m getting time with top-caliber partners and I fee like I’m improving because of it and feel like I can compete.
Any predictions as far as this fight with Schambari?
I’m not going to make any predictions but I’m sure it’s not going to a decision one way or another. I’m going to make it a fight.
Any last words?
I have a new clothing gear sponsor called Karmma FightGear and they’ve recently came on board and send me some help to be able to train and travel on. The place I work at, TD’s Gold Club, they take care of their own where I’m at so they’ve helped me get down here. Also want to thank my management and training partners. My buddy Hunter Tucker will be down here cornering me and he’s been with me for a long time. Just thanks to everyone that’s helped me get where I’m at – my family, my kids, everyone. That’s who I keep pushing forward for.
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