Joe Proctor – Back for Fight Night Jaragua and Ready for Cristiano Marcelo (Interview)
By Chris Jester
Introduced into mixed martial arts on a whim, Joe Proctor is ready to make the fans believers. Prepare for a personal interview with UFC lightweight prospect Joe Proctor as he sets his sights on his battle in Brazil against Cristiano Marcelo on February 15th. Joe talks about the details of the injury he suffered, why it took him a year to return to the Octagon, the UFC lightweight division, his take on MMA judging and where he envisions himself at the end of 2014.
PDG: Thanks for taking out the time to sit down and have this interview.
Proctor: Yeah, no problem at all.
PDG: The first question I’ve got for you is, what made you start mixed martial arts? Was it your intention to become a professional mixed martial artists or did it start out as a hobby?
Proctor: When I first started out it was a hobby. One of my best friends, Joe Cushman, who fights locally and has worked his way up, introduced me to it and said, “You really should come try it. It’s a good work out.” I was always into lifting and hockey. So I said yeah I’ll come try it out. I went in there and fell in love with it. I was getting tapped out left and right. But I also never expected to be in the UFC. I actually didn’t want to fight when they first asked me to fight. I was totally against it.
PDG: How did you get introduced to Joe Lauzon and his gym?
Proctor: That is where I first started training. That is where I took my first classes. I have been training with him the whole time. After I first started training, they noticed my interest and thought that I had some talent. They asked me to fight and I said, “No absolutely not.” I had no desire to fight at all. They ended up convincing me to fight and it is all history from there. I have been fighting every few months and even getting some wins.
PDG: You have not fought since December 2012, what was the injury that you suffered and how did it affect you?
Proctor: Yeah, my last fight was against Ramsey (Nijem) and in April (2013) I was supposed to fight Al Iaquinta, but I actually tore my labrum in my shoulder and I broke two ribs. I was actually going to fight Al with the torn shoulder. It popped out a lot but for the most part I thought I was going to push through it. I had like two weeks before the fight and I got hit. It broke two of my ribs. I figured it was a sign from up and above. This was not the time to fight. I ended up getting shoulder surgery and had a full recovery. It is a million times better now.
PDG: When you sat out for that length of time, was it solely because of the injury or were there other things that you had going on?
Proctor: No, it was all recovery. I looked it up online and they said it would be a year recovery and I ended up healing and was good to go within four to five months. Which was great because I was dying to fight again. You know the whole time I was recovering, all I wanted to do was train and get back to fighting. I was ready to fight again for the UFC.
PDG: When you are away for that length of time, what are some of the things you have to re-learn, if any?
Proctor: I actually thought I would have to work on my timing and my boxing. I went in there and hit mitts. I felt a little bit off. For the most part, it took me two weeks to get everything back to where I belonged. You know, I was actually more surprised than anything that I actually came back that fast.
PDG: So many fighters like you, get in the Octagon with pre-existing injuries, how does that actually affect you and does it stay in the back of your mind while you’re performing?
Proctor: When it comes down to it, I don’t think any injury really holds anyone up. With all the adrenaline and thinking about doing one goal for 15 minutes, I don’t think you think about the injuries. You just push through it. Injuries do suck and it happens to all of us. We all get bumps and bruises and big injuries like torn knees and shoulders. It’s a part of the sport. It is obviously not the best part but sometimes it happens and you just got to be smart about it and recover the proper way.
PDG: Do you think you’ll face any ring rust and what do you think you’ll have to do to combat that?
Proctor: Ring rust? No. I really don’t believe in that whole ring rust thing. I took a year off but I am also training all the time with some of the best guys. Training with Joe and all of my sparring partners. The fights are a little bit tougher but for the most part I am in there training my ass off the whole time. I just don’t believe ring rust will be an issue at all.
PDG: What is some of your standard routines when preparing for a fight in your camp?
Proctor: Standard routines? well, I work full-time in construction, so I try to keep doing that. I have to keep bringing in money to pay my bills. For the most part, my training camp is work two or three days a week and I’ll train the rest of the day and I’ll train at night. It is basically like having two full-time jobs.
PDG: Your next opponent is Cristiano Marcelo, one of your TUF cast-mates and a highly regarded Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist, where do you believe your fight will take place and where do you think you’re at the most advantageous?
Proctor: I think that the fight will mostly take place on the feet. I have seen some of Cristiano’s fights and he has that mindset where he just wants to put a good show on. He wants to prove that he is the tougher guy. That is fine with me. I would like to stay on the feet. I know Cristiano’s BJJ is top of the line but I am not worrying about getting on the ground either. I train with Joe Lauzon, one of the best 155(lb) grapplers in the UFC right now. He has great finishes and I roll with him all the time. I am no slouch on the ground either. I think anywhere it goes, I have the upper hand.
PDG: Were there things during the show that you saw that you think you might be able to exploit from him inside the Octagon?
Proctor: With Cristiano on the show, we trained a lot but he lost his first fight on the show. He trained a lot but he was actually very helpful as a coach. He pushed us through our workouts. He is a great guy. I can’t say one bad thing ab out him. But he does have some flaws that we’re going to utilize next week and I can’t wait to show it.
PDG: A lot of fighters talk about how taxing it is on the body when they have to go fight in another country. In your upcoming fight, you’ll be in Brazil. Does that time zone change play a factor in your performance?
Proctor: I have never flew out of country to fight before, so I am pretty excited about this. But no, I don’t think it will. We’re used to the hot summers and its pretty hot down there right now, but it’s only a three hour time difference. So it’s the same as me going to Vegas or to California. I don’t think going out of country is going to be that big of a deal on fight night.
PDG: We’re a few months away from the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, as a Massachusetts resident, how did this affect you during that time and has it had some long lasting affects on you?
Proctor: The Boston Marathon bombings was a huge thing around here, as for everybody. A lot of people lost their lives. Me personally, I was affected. It touched me because I had a lot of friends running in the race. People I knew and family members that were running there, but we really did not know what was going on when this whole thing happened. So your mind is just going crazy. But Boston came back very strong and we’re all sticking together. So we’re never going to forget that.
PDG: Some fighters like to settle down with video games or a favorite drink after training. Is there some kind of hobby that you like to do once you’re not fighting?
Proctor: My hobby pretty much after fighting is that I like to eat. I like to eat a lot of bad foods – Oreo’s and ice cream. But I am always training. My hobbies are training. That is why I was able to compete in the sport so fast. I enjoy training. I never thought of it as a job. I like being in the gym and I work out a lot. I just like working and hanging out with my friends.
PDG: One of your fellow TUF alumni, Julianna Pena, has been in news recently with some controversy surrounding her camp and a bad injury. What is your take, if any, on the situation with Julianna and her training camp?
Proctor: I really don’t have much to say about that. I have heard mixed stories. You never really know who is saying what or which one is true.
PDG: How often do these sort of things happen in camps? Has this sort of scenario taken place at Lauzon’s?
Proctor: Injuries do happen and sometimes it can be from not warming up. Sometimes it can be just a freak accident. Sometimes it is just that time for that muscle or that particular part of the body to go. Injuries happen all the time whether it is minor or major.
PDG: In the fight with Cristiano, how do you hope the fight to go? Do you want a finish, do you want a 15 minute war. What is your goal at the end of the day?
Proctor: On February 15th, I want to go in there and finish. I am not looking to drag it out 15 minutes and show all of my little tricks. I am trying to go in there and finish. That is what we train for. We train over there at Lauzon’s to go for the finish. You can tell, he’s the #1 finisher in the UFC. I learned from him, so I am going to finish the fight and I don’t want to go to decision because I am in Brazil and you never know how that decision is going to go.
PDG: You’re still relatively young in your mixed martial arts career, what do you see for yourself at the end of 2014? What do you hope to accomplish?
Proctor: By the end of 2014, I want to have an undefeated streak. I want to have three or four fights in the UFC, with no losses. I want people to know that when they see the name Joe Proctor on Twitter or any of these interviews who I am and that he can fight, I love watching him. That is who I want to be. I want to be someone that people love to watch to fight.
PDG: What happened in your loss to Ramsey Nijem and how have you progressed since then?
Proctor: Ramsey is a tough kid. We expected him to come out and wrestle me, I did not expect him to stand up with me. It just wasn’t my night. He won a decision and when you go to a decision they can either be great for you or tough for you. But he was a tough kid, I have tons of respect for him. He beat me fair and square and it was a great fight. But I think a lot of people who watched that fight were excited and they liked to watch it. It was a back and forth brawl.
PDG: One of the things in sports that has not gone away and has in some ways gotten kind of worse in mixed martial arts is judging. What do you think that these commissions have to do to create more uniform judging across the board?
Proctor: Judging has been pretty bad. Some of these fights have clear winners. Johny Hendricks and GSP, I think Johny Hendricks clearly won that fight, you know. But judges did not see it that way. I think one thing that should happen is that judges need to compete. If you want to be a judge you need to compete in MMA or compete in a jiu-jitsu tournament or some sort. They need to be in there. They can’t just be judging around the fact of this takedown wins this whole round because he got top position in the last thirty seconds. It is not like that in a fight. You have to look at it as a whole and in bits and pieces.
PDG: When you bring that up, it also reminds us of the role that Ricardo Almeida is playing now. He’s a judge and he even judged at the last UFC event. He has a lot of trainees who participate at events he judges. How can these former fighters be unbiased when they may have to judge a fight their former or current trainees are participating in?
Proctor: That is a sticky situation. Obviously, there may some biasness but they have to be professional about it. They have to put all that friendship and training aside. They have to realize they have a job to do. Just as we have a job to go in there and fight, they have a job to go in there and judge a fight to make sure the best person won. A loss can change a whole person’s career and perspective on fighting.
PDG: Are there any fighters out there that you are still inspired by and excited to see fight?
Proctor: Honestly, this is very biased but it is Joe Lauzon. I love watching Joe fight. He brings 100%. Whether he’s getting beat up, he never quits. The Jim Miller fight was a perfect example. He was losing the fight and he did not stop. You just can’t kill the kid. You have to beat him with a bat. I look up to him as a friend but as a fighter as well. He’s just the type of fighter I want to be.
PDG: There are a couple of good fights coming up real soon. Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann and a few others. What fight coming up in 2014 are you looking forward to as a fan?
Proctor: As a fan, I am looking forward to seeing Jose Aldo and Anthony Pettis. I am not sure if they are going to do it at 155 or a catchweight. But I am excited about that fight. They’re a great stylistic match-up and that could definitely be fireworks.
PDG: Your division is really beginning to fill up. What do you think about the depth of the division right now?
Proctor: I think the 155 division is stacked. There is not just one guy making waves, from the top 10 to the guys who are just starting out. Think about the guys who came out from The Ultimate Fighter 15, like Daron Cruickshank and Myles Jury. Those are tough fights and those guys just came off the show. Then you got the guys from the top 10. There is no easy fight in that division.
PDG: There is a lot of guys who are beginning to talk a bit more on Twitter to try and talk their way into fights. How do you feel about that and is there anybody at 155 that you feel like you want to test yourself against?
Proctor: I see a lot of people that do that. They go on Twitter and try to ruffle up some feathers, try to put themselves up the ladder a little faster than they are going. That is not me. That is their style. That is how they want to portray themselves but that is not my style. The UFC is so good because they (Joe Silva) pick great match-ups. I let them figure it out, and whoever they put in front of me, I never say no. I just go in there and fight. I don’t really call anyone out. It is whoever the UFC wants to put me against.
PDG: That is a good mindset to have. Joe, we appreciate the time you have taken out for this interview. Is there anything you would like to add or any shout outs to your sponsors?
Proctor: Yeah, I would like to thank some of my sponsors – Torque, REVGear, Training Mask. Check out all of those guys on the banner. See you guys on February 15th.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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