by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy UFC.com)

At this weekend’s upcoming WEC event at The Joint in the Las Vegas Hard Rock Casino, the future of the promotion’s welterweight division could very well be shaped by the outcome of the fight between UFC veteran Brock Larson and KOTC fighter/commentator Erik Apple.

Both fighters have impressive records and both could be a few fights away from the UFC, but for the time being, they represent some of the better talent in the WEC’s 170lb weight class and the winner could very well set themselves up for a WEC title shot in the future.

For Larson in particular this is an opportunity to further sharpen himself for a serious run in the UFC should he do well in the WEC, and justify his multi-fight contract with Zuffa.

So it’s understandable to know that he’s taken this fight as seriously as possible.

“I feel really good,” said Brock. “I’ve had six good, solid weeks of training. I’ve changed up my cardio a little bit, so I’m going to have a little more gas in my tank for this fight.”

Larson continued, “My submissions are coming along real well. I feel probably the best I’ve felt [in a long time]. I’m injury-free and feel really good going into this fight. My stand-up is getting better. So everything’s looking pretty good.”

When it comes to his opponent this Saturday, Erik Apple, Brock doesn’t seem worried at all, considering Apple’s lack of experience against top opposition.

“I’ve watched a couple of his fights, [but] it’s hard to judge a guy who’s never fought anybody top [caliber],” commented Larson. “He’s fought three guys with winning records. Two of them that he’s fought are like 5-4, and his last fight was against a guy who was 14-11 I believe.”

“So it’s hard to really judge how good he is. He’s more athletic and stronger than everybody that’s he’s fought, but it’s really hard to tell how he’s going to do under pressure,” added Larson.

As Brock sees the fight, it’s going to be a contrast in styles, where he feels a distinct advantage in one aspect.

“I think it will be a good ‘striker versus grappler’ type of deal,” exclaimed Larson. “While my striking is good, but he’s better there probably, to be honest, but I think my grappling is going to be way above and beyond his.”

Brock further stated, “I train with four Dave Camarillo black belts and two Pedro Sauer black belts in Jiu-Jitsu, so I think my training there is going to be beyond his. I do train striking with Thai boxers at Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, so it’s not going to be unfamiliar ground for me.”

This weekend’s upcoming WEC marks the second time the promotion has held a show under Zuffa ownership. And according to Larson, he’s happy to be able to fight for the promotion, as he feels it can only lead to a bettering of his skills.

“I think it’s good, because I have holes [in my game] just like everybody does, so it gives me a chance to kind of sit back and focus on the areas I’m not strong in,” explained Brock. “And not having to force things that I do have to, I can sit back; work on things, and still fight at a high level.”

“Everybody in there is still super tough, but the level drop is just enough that I can fine-tune myself at that elite level and still compete. My goal is to win that WEC title and go from there,” continued Larson.

Brock further explained his future by stating, “A lot of it depends on this fight and my contract. I’ve got a contract with the UFC, which of course goes with the WEC, so it’s kind of up to me and how this goes.”

“This is the second fight of my contract and I work full-time road construction, which is seasonal, so I’m laid off right now, but I’ll be going back to work in the spring real quick,” said Larson. “So it depends on whether I’m going to take a leave of absence and concentrate on fighting or go back to work and start [fighting] again in winter.”

Brock added, “It’s all how well I look, how well I do. I’ve kind of got my own fate in my hands on what I’m going to do, so to speak.”

So with his future plans weighing heavily on this weekend’s clash with Erik Apple in the WEC, you can bet that Larson is going to put his best efforts forward, as will much of the talent on display at The Joint will.

“I want to thank Koumie Dojo in my hometown of Brainerd, Minnesota, Revolution Jiu-Jitsu and Minnesota Martial Arts Academy,” concluded Brock. “Everybody come out and check it out. It’s going to be a great fight and it’s a great card. It’s a bunch of up-and-comers who are going to put on a great show, so come out and see us at the [Joint in the] Hard Rock.”