by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy IFL.tv)
2007 has been a banner year not only for the IFL’s Los Angeles Anacondas team as a whole, going 2-0 overall with an impressive 8-2 individual record, but it has also proven to be affluent for the members of the team.
Case in point is the Anaconda’s middleweight, Benji “Razor” Radach. After years lost to an inexplicable series of injuries, Benji has made a case for Comeback Fighter of the Year, going undefeated in two bouts in the IFL.
At the Friday, June 1st IFL event in Everett, Washington, Radach will have an opportunity to continue his hot streak as he returns to the state he once called home, to participate in the Anaconda’s third and final seasonal match-up with the Seattle Tiger Sharks and their middleweight, Bristol Marunde.
During final training sessions for June 1st’s match-up at Randy Couture’s Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Benji talked to MMAWeekly and discussed the great year he’s having, his team’s chances in their next battle, and a possible rematch with the Quad Cities Silverbacks in the World Team Tournament.
MMAWeekly: First off Benji, tell us how these last six months have been fighting compared to the years proceeding where you were pretty much out full-time due to injury.
Benji Radach: There was no training, and I was pretty much bed-ridden a lot of the time [with] knee surgery, neck surgery, and a broken jaw. I had a little bit of time in there training Evan Tanner for when he won [the UFC 185-pound] title, when I had my own gym. But, other than that, I didn’t do any training.
So this last year has been incredible, just for the fact that I can actually compete again and get into the swing of things. My first year back, in the IFL, right out in the mainstream, it’s really, really cool. [I’m fighting] good competition and still winning, so it’s great.
MMAWeekly: Where do you feel style-wise after having two fights under your belt since your return?
Benji Radach: Right now, it’s kind of almost like I was just starting out again. It was full of adrenaline, flair, and just throwing everything with intentions to kill, you know? I wasn’t really relaxed, so I think as time goes on I’m going to get more relaxed and get back into the swing of things.
MMAWeekly: So you feel that we’ll continue to see a more evolved fighter the rest of the year?
Benji Radach: Definitely, definitely, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, two fights in. I’m training a lot, every day and I’m learning to relax a little more and focus on my stand-up a little more and work my kicks in, which I had never really had before. I have always just been kind of punching, working ground and pound and wrestling, so it makes it a little bit more of a complete game, compared to what I’ve had in the past.
MMAWeekly: How’s it been being part of the Anacondas, the current top-ranked team in the IFL?
Benji Radach: I think it’s awesome; we have a great team, a great group. It started out with Bas, now we’ve got Shawn Tompkins, a great kickboxing coach and he’s helping me out a lot with my kickboxing. It’s going to be a tough road here coming up.
MMAWeekly: Speaking of that, you guys have the Tiger Sharks on June 1st in Everett, Washington. What are your thoughts on the individual match-ups and the overall team battle?
Benji Radach: The Tiger Sharks are tough as hell right now, so I think it’s going to be one of our toughest match-ups. I think we’re going to win it. We should take the 155-pound match; we should take 170 and the 185. If everybody stays on their toes and doesn’t underestimate anybody, we should win those three. The next two [light-heavyweight and heavyweight], will be tough matches and can go either way. So it’s going to be really, really interesting.
MMAWeekly: What can the fans expect to see from you in your fight against Bristol Marunde?
Benji Radach: Of course the fans can expect me going in blazing. I’m thinking this fight is going to be more of a stand-up war because I think they realize the only way they can win is with a big punch. So I think they’re going to try to twist my arm and make it a stand-up war, which they won’t have to twist very hard for because I’m excited for that too.
If everything goes right, I should do well. I should win the stand-up battle and come out with a big win. I’m hoping for that, but you know how MMA is, it can go either way. So, we’ll see what happens.
MMAWeekly: This will be Shawn Tompkins’ first full time head coaching the Anacondas from training all the way through to fight time, after replacing Bas Rutten. What do think about Shawn as the team’s Head Coach?
Benji Radach: I like Shawn as a coach. He’s real calm. He talks to you nice and slow, and it’s calming in your corner. You know, it’s not like having someone there who’s screaming, yelling and telling you a bunch of random stuff. He comes in calm, talks slow and gets things across to you, so he’s really comforting to have in the corner. He really knows what’s going on, especially in the stand-up. So, it’s going to be great having him in the corner [against the Tiger Sharks].
MMAWeekly: In speaking with some of the Quad Cities Silverbacks fighters, they seem real anxious to rematch you guys in the World Team Tournament after you defeated them earlier this year. What do you think about possibly facing them again?
Benji Radach: I’m not really anxious to fight them again, because we’ve already fought them. They’re tough, and I don’t mind fighting them again, but I’d like to get another team in there that we haven’t fought yet and see how we do with them.
If they’re looking for a crack, they can come and get it. We’re not shying away from anything. We’re all training really hard; everyone’s really strong, tough and ready to blaze. So, I think whoever steps up, we’ll do our best to take them down.
MMAWeekly: Good stuff, Benji. Is there anything you want to say before we head out?
Benji Radach: Look for us to come out and put on a good show. We’ve all trained really hard for this. So we’ll be in phenomenal shape and look for some excitement. I think we’re all looking for KO’s and not holding back. Not to mention, the other teams on the card look tough, so I think everybody should be excited for the whole show.
I’m excited for the [Middleweight] Grand Prix too. I just got accepted for that, and it sounds like it’s going to be four tough guys. It sounds like it’s going to be Matt Horwich [of the Wolfpack], Fabiano Leopoldo [of the Pitbulls] and then I think Brian Foster [of the Razorclaws].