By Mick Hammond
Over the last few years the once mighty heavyweight American MMA division has seen a severe thinning of talent. There are fewer and fewer top caliber heavyweights to make a run the UFC Heavyweight Championship, once thought to be the most prestigious title in MMA. With just a few quality wins a fighter can now find themselves on the biggest stage of American MMA, and among the fighters vying for that position is American Top Team Olympia heavyweight Fabiano Scherner.
Scherner will be making his UFC debut against Brandon Vera. The winner of this match could have the inside position for a title shot next year if they continue to win. Recently Scherner spoke to MMA Weekly to discuss his career and his thoughts about getting his opportunity to becoming a legitimate heavyweight contender.
MMA Weekly: First off Fabiano, tell us a bit about how you got involved in MMA.
Fabiano Scherner: I started in BJJ six years ago in Brazil with Carlson Gracie student Murilo Rupp, he introduced me to Mario Sperry, Mulio Bustamante, and Bebeo (Duarte). Bebeo invited me to start training at BTT Rio. I stayed at Bebeo’s house for three years training with BTT Rio and won a lot of tournaments. I have like six Brazilian tournament championships.
MMA Weekly: From there how did you end up in Olympia with ATT?
Fabiano Scherner: I received my black belt in three years and nine months and for a Brazilian I’m a big boy (nearly 6’5″, 250lbs) and two years ago Ricardo Liborio invited me to start in MMA. Liborio thought that it was a good idea to put me here (Olympia) to teach BJJ. I’m a big boy and good for Jeff (Monson) to train with. I help him train a lot in grappling and he helps me train in wrestling. It’s very good here, Dennis Hallman is the MMA coach and he has a large background in MMA so I’m learning a lot of things with him because I’m very new to MMA. In MMA I’m like a white belt. We have a good team here, these guys are my friends and they care about my career.
MMA Weekly: Tell us a little bit about your career so far.
Fabiano Scherner: I start here in AFC 3, where I won (defeating Scott Bowman). A lot of people start to look at me big in Brazil; I have a big name there. I fought two times with Assuerio Silva, and then I stop for one year last year when I moved from Brazil to US. Now I have finished moving and I’m fighting again. I’ve had four fights this year and things are going very good.
MMA Weekly: Speaking of Silva, your only loss in MMA came to him very early in your career. Now that you have more experience would you like to rematch him?
Fabiano Scherner: I want a rematch, but I want more time to prepare. He’s a tough fighter, when I fought with him I had just one fight, then we fought again on Jungle Fight and he’s really tough guy. I respect him, he’s self trained I think, I don’t know if he has a team. I respect him for that and he comes from a tough place in Brazil, he’s a warrior. For sure I want to fight him again in the future.
MMA Weekly: In your latest fight you won your first MMA title. How does it feel to have a belt in MMA after capturing BJJ titles in Brazil?
Fabiano Scherner: I feel good, very good, it’s my first time fighting in the cage. This is my first belt, for me it’s amazing, it’s very special. I finish my guy (Brink) very fast, I know he has a lot of fights and a good name. He has a lot of experience and I beat him pretty fast, so I liked that a lot. The show is a good show, IFC has a good name, they have respect around the world, so it is good for my career.
MMA Weekly: Your next fight is your UFC debut against Brandon Vera. Tell us how this fight came about.
Fabiano Scherner: The ATT owner called me and told me I have a contract for the UFC and to come to Miami to train. When he called I thought it was a joke and didn’t believe him until Thiago (Alves) called me and told me we’d be fighting on the same night. About a day after that it sunk in and I started to realize I will fight in the UFC.
MMA Weekly: I know you were originally in training to face Jay White at Sportfight 12 in September when you were picked up by the UFC. Did the change in opponent alter your training?
Fabiano Scherner: I’m doing what I’m always doing, so doesn’t change too much. He (Vera) is a good wrestler, but Jay is a good wrestler, so I am ready for that. He has good skills in BJJ and stand up which is also similar (to White), so I don’t change my training very much for my fight. I think I can submit him and I will give a good show.
MMA Weekly: If you win this fight you could put yourself in line for a title shot very quickly. How does it feel to be able to get that kind opportunity?
Fabiano Scherner: This is like a dream. The first fight I watched in my life was UFC. Watching it the first time I said I wanted to do this and then I started in BJJ. Now I will be on the show and I’m living this dream. I think all fighters have the same dream, go to a big show and be a champion. I want to be the champion and I will fight anybody, I don’t care who I fight, just want to be a champion.
MMA Weekly: Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule for the interview. Is there anything you’d like to say as we head out?
Fabiano Scherner: I want to say thank you for all my students in Olympia, they help me a lot in practice. Thank you for Dennis Hallman and the guys there, they are training me well. And also because of Murilo Rupp I’m here I want to make sure to thank him. Thank you for Jeff Monson and my sponsor Brazilian Fight Wear in Brazil and of course to all people that like watching me fight. The American people have been very nice to me, they have given me a lot of respect and support after every time I fought and I want to thank them for that.