by Jeff Cain
Brian Gassaway will make his UFC debut this weekend against Diego Sanchez, but Gassaway’s no newcomer to Mixed Martial Arts. He’s been competing professionally for nearly a decade, and has been in there with Gideon Ray, Vernon “Tiger” White, Travis Fulton, Yuki Kondo, Minowa, just to name a few. Brian spoke with MMAWeekly about his UFC debut, his opponent, Diego Sanchez, and his prediction for the fight. Sixteen fighters in sixteen days counts down to UFC 54 with Brian Gassaway.

Even though Gassaway has competed thirty plus times in MMA, he’s a relatively unknown fighter to many. Describing his fighting style, Brian said, “I definitely love to stand up with people. I’m a striker. I love to punch, kick, you know? But I don’t emphasize the kicks at all…I will go down to the ground if I have to.”

Diego was the winner of the middleweight contract on season one of The Ultimate Fighter, but this fight with Gassaway will take place at welterweight. “I know I’m bigger. I mean my body type, I carry my weight very well. I’ve got a very small waist, and I don’t have any body fat basically.” Brian stated. He added, “I’m tired of fighting those big boys now because when I first started out if there was a weight class it was like 200 and up. I was fighting people cutting down to make 200. I’m sick of that. I’m not doing it anymore. I like to be the bigger guy for a change.”

Brian has studied several of Diego’s fight tapes. Questioned about his opponent, Gassaway commented, “He’s great at submissions, great on the ground, but his take downs really don’t impress me. You know? I think more or less kind of bullies people down. I don’t see a lot of technique although I know that he is a wrestler. He’s not going to bully me. He’s not my size. I know he’s dropping from I think 190 pounds…He’s not a big 170 pounder. He’s definitely not a big 185 pounder, and I’m a decent sized guy as far as fighting at 185. I know he’s not going to bully me around. If he does get me down to the ground, big whoop. I mean I know how to fight from the ground. I know how to protect myself, so that’s not something that I haven’t done for years and years.”

Gassaway went on to say, “He’s great on the ground. He’s very aggressive. He comes at every body. He’s pretty unrelenting as far as his attack, but I think he does tire. Like after the first round his energy level definitely drops. What he’s great at on the ground. You know? He’s average standing up. He’s not as bad as people say he is standing up, but he’s average.”

Asked about what he’s worked on to prepare him specifically to face Diego, Brian said, “Everybody knows that he’s going to shoot in, and he’s going to try to take me down. I’ve been working on my sprawls. I’ve been working on just jacking him up, just creating space. You know? Firing those nice short punches.” Looking at the fight itself, Brian said, “I definitely want to meet his aggression with that same intensity, but I don’t want to overexpose myself, and leave myself open.”

Gassaway continued, “People wait, and people are so fearful of Diego shooting in and taking them down that they stand there and wait for him to come. I’m not waiting for anything. I’m taking the fight to him.”

Brian’s prediction for the fight was, “I’m sure that I’m going to have to weather an early storm, but I give it a first round TKO.” He added, “I’m psyched man. I’m ready to get this over with.”