Jamie Varner Talks UFC 173, Call of Duty, King Mo and James Krause

Jamie Varner Talks UFC 173, Call of Duty, King Mo and James Krause

By Dave Carpinello




Former WEC lightweight champion and UFC veteran Jamie Varner recently talked with PunchDrunkGamer.com about his upcoming fight Saturday night at UFC 173 against James Krause, his new gym Impact MMA, Call of Duty, King Mo’s meltdown and short notice fights. Enjoy!



PDG:  How did your fight camp for UFC 173 go and where did you do most of your training?

Jamie Varner – It was a great camp, it was my first full training camp that I have had in over a year. That was nice, no more short notice fights for Jamie Varner. The whole camp was held at my new gym, Impact MMA and I brought in my sparring partners and coaches and did the whole thing in house this time.


PDG:  You mentioned your new gym, how is it going so far and is it more of a family oriented training facility or a fight gym?

Jamie Varner – It is family style, a fitness facility more than anything else. It is a place for people to achieve their fitness goals and we have some of the best trainers in the valley. We have Kelly Davis who has been boxing for about 16 years with his brother Kelvin “Koncrete” Davis, the former International Boxing Federation (IBF) World Cruiserweight Champion. For jiu-jitsu, we have Augusto Mendes who is multi-time World Champion, Nick Rita for Muay Thai and then myself. We have a stacked coaching staff there and so it doesn’t matter what your goals are, we have a coach for you.


PDG:  At UFC 173 this weekend you will be facing James Krause, what do you think of your opponent?

Jamie Varner – He is tough, he is one of the toughest fighters in the UFC. He finished Sam Stout, which not many fighters have been able to do. I had the option of facing Krause who is a very tough submission fighter or facing someone who was one my idols coming up in mixed martial arts and so I chose Krause as opposed to him.


PDG:  You are on a two-fight losing streak going into this fight, albeit one was “Fight of the Night” (vs. Abel Trujillo) and the other one most people thought you were robbed by the judges (vs. Gleison Tibau). Does that mythical “Three losses and Your Cut” add any more pressure to this fight for you?

Jamie Varner – You know, pressure turns coal into diamonds. I don’t think about losing one or two fights in a row but rather what I have been able to accomplish in this sport and the things that I have done for the UFC. I have helped the UFC out a lot, taking four fights on short notice. I started my UFC career back in 2006 when I got a call a few weeks before UFC 62, I was 21 years old and they wanted me to fight the #9 ranked fighter in the lightweight division, Hermes Franca. I took the fight and then in the last few years I have fought Joe Lauzon and Edson Barboza on short notice and even the Gleison Tibau fight was technically short notice (I had only five weeks, which was a lot less than I am used to). I have always been a team player so I am not that concerned or really even thinking about will the UFC cut me. Three out of those four short notice fights I lost and part of the reason I believe is that it is hard to condense a nine week training camp into three or four weeks. I was always getting injured because I wasn’t giving my body enough time build up for 3 five minute rounds even though I was ready conditioning wise. And yeah that fight with Tibau was garbage, the judges were terrible and that guy doesn’t come to fight. He is just looking to do enough to squeeze out a decision. What are you going to do though, you can’t win them all.


PDG:  The UFC lightweight division is pretty stacked at the moment; what are thoughts on the division and the guys at the top that your are hunting down?

Jamie Varner – It is very competitive and I would have to say it is the most competitive division in the UFC right now. In my opinion the top two guys in all of the UFC right now are Renan Barao and Jose Aldo and there is such a huge gap between those guys and the other guys in their divisions. Then you look at the lightweights – Anthony Pettis, Ben Henderson and Gilbert Melendez and you have five super talented fighters that you may only see once in a lifetime. So that is my top five and three of them are in the super competitive lightweight division and I feel like I should be right up there in the top ten and that is one reason that I am going to stop taking fights on short notice.


PDG:  Now that you mention it, in the official UFC lightweight rankings they don’t have you listed in the top 15 but they do have fighters that you have beaten that are ranked ahead of you. What are your thoughts on the rankings and their relevance?

Jamie Varner – I don’t think you can really rely on the rankings. Like I stated before with the short notice fights and I am sure that has had a very negative effect on my ranking, losing three out of those 4. I definitely feel like I am one of the better fighters in the division and I was winning each of those fights but I ended up getting caught later in the fight and suffered the losses (not including the Tibau fight). Which is one of the reasons that I told Joe Silva that I would prefer not to take any more short notice fights. In the Lauzon fight I was beating the brakes off Joe and then got caught in the triangle choke in the third round. I had Trujillo out on his feet and was trying to finish him off and I got caught with a punch. Everybody gets caught, Anderson Silva got caught, Georges St-Pierre got caught but had I been better prepared and better conditioned I would have won those fights, I would like to rematch all three of those guys.


PDG:  Outside of fighting, most of your fans know that you are a big gamer. Have you been able to get in any good Call of Duty time when you haven’t been training?

Jamie Varner – Yeah, I have been playing, just last weekend I was on Black Ops 2. I think my best game that night I went 25-3 (kills/deaths). Which is pretty stellar for me but yeah I definitely try to play when I am I doing my weight cut because it takes my mind off of it. Once I start playing time just flies by, next thing you know it has been three or four hours.


PDG:  How excited are you for the new Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare that will be coming out in November?

Jamie Varner – Right now it is so far away that I don’t even waste the time thinking about it. It is kind of like when you go to the movies and you see an ad for a movie that doesn’t come out until next year and you are like why are you doing this to me. Your going to get my hopes up for something that could be awesome but then I have to wait eight months for it. I love all of the Call of Duty games, I started back when Modern Warfare 2 came out and I have bought every single game since. I really enjoy it and it is the only game/series that I play. I tried Halo but I didn’t like how different the controls were from COD so really just couldn’t get into it.


PDG:  Have you upgraded from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One yet?

Jamie Varner – I haven’t yet. I got all my nerd friends telling me that I need to go out and buy it but I have been so busy running the gym, training and traveling that I just haven’t had the opportunity to get it yet but after this fight I will be getting the Xbox One.


PDG:  Cool, let’s get back to fighting. I know you watched Bellator 120 last weekend; have you ever seen an employee call their boss a “Dick Rider” before that night like King Mo Lawal did with Bellator President Bjorn Rebney?

Jamie Varner – That was unbelievable and I couldn’t believe all of the cussing they were allowing on that show. A lot of those guys were acting like what anti-MMA guys think we all act like and most of those guys are college educated so I don’t understand why they were acting like immature imbeciles. That was definitely interesting on King Mo’s part but I do enjoy watching other organizations. I think competition in all sports is good. I like Bellator, I like what they are doing and I like the fact that World Series of Fighting is out there. I wish all these shows would get going mainstream and doing pay-per-views and such. It would make for a competitive job market for all the fighters out there. I am 29 years old now and so I probably won’t be fighting in a couple of more years so I need to make as much money as possible now, so having competition in the sport is a good thing for all fighters.


PDG: I agree. What do you would happen to a fighter in the UFC if they called Dana White that derogatory name after losing a fight?

Jamie Varner –  I don’t know. Tito Ortiz wore a shirt to weigh-ins that said “Dana White is my Bitch” and he got to keep his job so I think it depends on who the fighter is. If it was me I am sure I would done but I would probably get a nice contract offer from somebody else {laughs}.  That is not my style though. Judges make bad decisions happen not the president of whatever organization you are fighting for. Dana usually gets just as angry as the losing fighter and the fans when it is obvious that the judges screwed someone. If you are looking for something positive to take away from that night it was definitely how Michael Chandler and Will Brooks handled themselves.


PDG:  Fair enough. Back to your upcoming fight against Krause. Do you have any preference where the fight takes place? Either stand and bang or ground ‘n pound?

Jamie Varner – This fight is going to go however I want it to. It is nice to have that confidence going into this fight since I actually had a full training camp. I feel that I will be comfortable on the ground with Krause despite his jiu-jitsui and standing I think I have the technical advantage. So I will be comfortable wherever this fight goes. I think standing and banging makes for a more exciting fight and gives us a better chance at winning some of that performance bonus cash, so I would like to keep the fight there. But I know that I have lost my invincibility there since I was knocked out against Trujillo. I will now be a little more cautious on my feet.


PDG: Cool, is there anything else you wanted to add?

Jamie Varner – Check out my sponsors below and I really want to thank the people that got me ready for this fight, my family, my friends and the fans. See you Saturday night!



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