The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 is the first in the series' history to feature four ex-NFL players turned MMA fighters competing among 12 other heavyweight fighters for a six figure contract with the UFC.
Team Rashad's Brendan Schaub is one of those four ex-football players, but he will be the first to tell you that martial arts has always been his true passion.
A product of Greg Jackson's MMA and Trevor Wittman's T's K.O fight club, Schaub is considered one of the early favorites to win the competition and after watching his first-round submission victory over Team Rampage's Demico Rogers last week it's easy to see why.
In this exclusive interview, Schaub discusses episode four involving his preliminary fight with Rogers, why Matt Mittrione "snitched" and other interesting TUF-related topics.
Mitch Ciccarelli: Starting the episode off is a recap from last week's fight between Kimbo Slice and Roy Nelson. It seems more people were impressed with Kimbo in his loss than they were with Roy in victory, is that true?
Brendan Schaub: Yeah, I think for the most part more people were impressed with the way Kimbo composed himself. He did a good job against Roy [but] he just made a sloppy mistake by throwing that knee moving backwards.
To do that against an experienced fighter like Roy doesn't really make sense and I think [Kimbo] has learned a lot from that fight. I think Kimbo came out the winner, even though he lost, I think he showed everyone that he can compete at this level.
Ciccarelli: Would the result have been a bit different if Kimbo were on Team Rashad and Nelson was on Team Rampage? Or do you think either way Nelson would have won just on the pure fact that he's a much more experienced fighter with legit grappling skills?
Schaub: For Kimbo to beat Roy, that would have been a pretty tall order for him. It would be a tall order for anyone, and even if he had the best coach in the world, it would have been tough for him. I think down the road Kimbo may be able to beat him but not now so it wouldn't have mattered who his coaches were.
Ciccarelli: There was a brief scuffle after the fight with Nelson and Rampage. I believe Nelson was kind of joking around about how he lost count of how many times he punched Kimbo in the head and Rampage kind of shoved him away and told his assistant coaches how he "can't stand that fat mother [expletive]".
What was that all about and is Rampage really in a position to where he can get mad at someone for being a jokester when he himself is probably the biggest jokester there is?
Schaub: That was just bad timing on Roy's part. Roy's a good-hearted guy and he was just kind of joking around and it was just bad timing on his part. Rampage's top pick just got taken out so it wasn't a good time for it but other than that Roy and Rampage get along well with each other.
Ciccarelli: Well let's talk about the incident that happened at the house involving big Marcus Jones. He seemed to be sweating profusely and was having difficulty breathing. They didn't really explain to us what that was all about but maybe you can give us some insight as to what that was?
Schaub: Yeah I don't really know what that was all about with Marcus but it could be because his body isn't used to training at such a high level [in this sport] and it just kind of sneaked up on him. He got some fluids in him and he was back on his feet at the time, man.
Mitch Ciccarelli: How were his injuries at this point in the competition?
Schaub: I think his injuries were from his days in the NFL, but he's done a lot of rehab on it, so I don't think that's an issue. I think it's just an issue of dehydration and stuff like that.
Ciccarelli: The speculation before and after this episode is that Marcus is unable to compete in the competition and is replaced by Kimbo. Now we don't know for sure if there is any truth to that yet, but is that something you guys were thinking about at the house as well?
Schaub: Yeah, they were looking for any real reason to get Kimbo back into the competition and so when we saw Marcus might not be able to continue, we all thought Kimbo would get a chance to come back in.
Ciccarelli: Alright so let's move into the strategy Team Rashad cooked up as far as match-ups. The biggest one that surprised me was the decision to eventually match Matt Mittrione up against Marcus.
Why exactly is that a good matchup for Matt, and do you think Zak Jensen would have been a better fight for a rookie like Matt?
Schaub: Yeah I definitely think there were some better matchups out there for Matt being as inexperienced as he is, but Marcus would be a tall order for anyone, man. The guy is very athletic and he's pretty talented on the ground, so I think Rashad and the other coaches' decision to match those guys up was based off of athleticism.
They were also hoping Matt could keep it standing and maybe catch Marcus. Matt's a big dude too, not as big as Marcus though but I can kind of see their logic in matching those two guys up.
Ciccarelli: Watching the show it seemed like the coaches wanted you to fight Demico Rogers but after reading your blog on mmajunkie.com it seems like you were the one who approached the coaches with the idea of fighting Rogers? Is that true and if so why did you want to fight him first?
Schaub: Yeah I told them I wanted to fight Demico and my reason for that was because he was one of their top guys and I felt I could beat him wherever the fight went so I thought I'd make a statement to the rest of the house that I was there to win the show. I definitely could have picked some easier opponents but I decided I would take the harder route I guess.
Ciccarelli: They also offered you a fight with Scott Junk and you definitely showed some interest in it, but you also said it would be a brutal battle and wanted to wait until the later rounds to take that one. Do you think Junk is the top dog on Team Rampage?
Schaub: Junk kind of had a little bit of hype around him, not so much coming into the house but once he was in the house everyone was telling me how talented he is and how much of a brute force he was in practice.
I knew he was a stand-up guy and he had some K-1 experience, stuff like that so I told the coaches that I had my mind set on fighting Demico and I thought the game plan we had would be an easy win for me if I stuck to it, although Demico is a tough guy.
When they brought up Junk, I think it was a day or two before the fight announcements and I was just focused on Demico, so I didn't want to change that.
Ciccarelli: Well back at the house sure enough Mittrione spills the beans to Junk and gives away all of the secret match-ups. What exactly is wrong with Mittrione, did he do this just on pure stupidity or was there a solid reasoning behind this idiotic behavior?
Schaub: Matt's just a meat-head, man. His nickname is 'meat-head' and sometimes he just doesn't think and I don't know if he did it because he didn't want to fight Marcus or if he was just trying to be everyone's friend but in the end he's actually a good guy.
I knew Matt prior to the house from football and he's a good guy, man. He's funny and he's just kind of different so you just have to take him for what he is and I was still his friend but you'll see as the show goes on the rest of the team kind of alienates him.
They kind of leave him off on his own because the guys were really upset that he did that and he lost the team's trust after that.
Ciccarelli: When it came time for fight selections, Rashad stuck with the original plan and matched you up against Rogers.
They showed a clip of you walking around the Octagon with Coach Trevor Wittman, and he was pumping you up and calling you the best in the world. What is it like to work with such a motivational coach as Wittman and how much do his motivational words increase your performance in fights?
Schaub: Trevor has been with me since the start and he's my coach that I work with every day [back at home] and having him there was great, he put a lot of confidence in me.
When he tells me that stuff I feel like I can compete with anyone in the world so it gives me a huge advantage mentally and they could have thrown anyone in there and I would have been ready to go with Trevor on my side.
Ciccarelli: Rashad also brought in another one of your coaches from back at home, and arguably the best coach in the world, Greg Jackson on his coaching staff for this season. But we haven't really seen him coaching much on the show yet. Did he serve as a full time assistant coach on the show or was he only able to coach every now and then?
Schaub: No because at the time of the filming [of the show] it was right before UFC 100, so he had Georges [St. Pierre] that he was helping get ready [for his title defense against Thiago Alves] and he had a couple of other guys preparing for fights, I think Joe Stevenson too [for his fight with Nate Diaz at the TUF 9 Finale] so he was busy.
He was in between Albuquerque and Vegas so I think he only made it [to coach on the show] half the time but you guys will see more of Greg, for sure.
Ciccarelli: Another thing that surprises me so far this season is the lack of Wes Sims shenanigans. Just from interviewing that lunatic I figured 'man, this guy is going to be all over the show', I thought sure enough he would receive the most amount of camera time but so far he's barely even being shown. Why do you think that is and are you just as surprised as I am?
Schaub: Heck yeah, he's a character and hopefully they do start showing Wes because I mean this guy is entertaining, man.
He's a weirdo, he's funny and he's a big bully at the same time but he just does some antics that are priceless. I think they'll definitely start showing some of his stuff soon because it's going to be good for ratings.
Ciccarelli: I heard something involving him and a stuffed cat, care to explain?
Schaub: Well before you go into the house they have to check your luggage and you can only bring certain things with you on the show.
Well he brought this dead stuffed cat and he was all pissed off because they wouldn't let him bring it back to the house with him and I guess when he got back there was an ear broken on it so he was pretty pissed about that.
Ciccarelli: Well let's go ahead and talk about the fight with Rogers. Immediately he comes out looking to take you down, and you do an excellent job of defending his shot but he eventually takes you down successfully. Were you surprised as how strong his wrestling was?
Schaub: Yeah well when he first shot that double, I kind of pride myself on my takedown defense but he just ended up getting a good shot and he got me good and clean.
I think for a lot of guys when they get taken down it's like the end of the world and they freak out about it but training with the team I have here, I have been in a lot of bad positions before and I'm no slouch on the ground either, so if it goes down there, I'm comfortable and can win the fight down there or get back to my feet and end it there.
The rumor going around the house was that Demico was going to stand and bang with me and I was like 'man there's no way he's that stupid' but in the back of my head I thought it could have just been house rumors with guys trying to stir stuff up so it is what it is.
Demico is a tough guy and we knew he had a lot of finishes from ground n' pound because it was kind of his thing. I think he was also the Strikeforce fight of the night a few times so he's a tough dude and he definitely has a bright future.
I think he just got a tough draw and if he would have fought some of the other guys on the team, I think he would have done well.
Ciccarelli: I also heard he was talking by the pool about how he would be happy to win just one fight so that way he would be brought back to the finale. Was it him that said that and what was your initial reaction out of hearing this?
Schaub: Yeah he did say that, man. We were all around the hot tub and he and a couple of guys were talking like that. You know when I hear stuff like that I make a little mental note like 'alright I'd love to fight that guy or that guy'.
When I hear stuff like that, I just think 'man, you're not here to win it' so although Demico is a very talented guy that was another reason why I called him out.
Ciccarelli: The end result of that fight saw you submit Rogers with a very advanced submission hold, the anaconda choke. Everyone who knew a little bit about you knew you had solid boxing skills but I don't think a lot of the viewers watching at home knew about your jiu-jitsu.
Were you happy you were able to showcase your ninja-like BJJ with an impressive submission over one of the top fighters on the other team?
Schaub: Heck yeah man and I think the best thing about finishing Demico with an anaconda choke is because Colorado fans know me mainly because I did the biggest [grappling] tournament out here, the Colorado open in 2007 or 2008 and I competed in the advanced division finishing six guys in a row with an anaconda choke so it's kind of my thing.
People in Colorado when they see that I think they'll be like 'man I remember that guy so it was good in that aspect. It was definitely good because I train hard on my Jiu-Jitsu so it was good to win like that.
Ciccarelli: After the fight it looked like Rampage completely left Rogers in the Octagon by himself and instead of giving him some words of wisdom, he just said he was disappointed in him and couldn't believe he got caught.
I think a lot of people, when they watch this at home they kind of lose some respect for Rampage on a personal level. Do you think he meant any harm at all in his behavior after the fight or is he just that horrible of a coach that he doesn't understand you have to motivate your fighters even in defeat?
Schaub: You know what? I think he's just a fighter and not a coach so I don't think Demico was too disappointed with Rampage because they didn't expect much out of him. He actually told those guys on the first day 'hey guys I'll be the first one tell you that I'm not a coach, I'm a fighter.
I'll tell you what I know about the fight game but other than that I'm just not a coach' so I think mentally those guys knew what they were getting into and didn't expect much from him.
Ciccarelli: A lot of people criticize Rashad and call him cocky but do you think after watching that, people will start to respect him more and recognize him for being a very down-to-earth fighter?
Schaub: Yeah definitely and you know people say he's cocky but as a fighter you have to have confidence.
There's a big difference between being cocky and being confident and I don't know any fighter who isn't confident and if they are than they aren't a very good one so there's a thin line between confidence and arrogance and I think Rashad is good at doing that.
I think he's coming off good on the show and people will see him for who he is, he's a great coach and a great guy.
Ciccarelli: At this point you have advanced into the quarter-final round and are just about two victories away from moving on to the finals. What emotions were running through your mind? And also how was your body feeling, did you make it out of that Rogers fight unscathed or did you suffer a few nagging injuries?
Schaub: I didn't have any injuries coming out of that fight and that was the nice thing about it but I was a little disappointed in my performance but at the same time I won in the first round and I did it without getting injured. I'm looking forward to the next round to fight again and I didn't care who was next.
Ciccarelli: The preview for the next episode shows a couple of the fighters arguing with some guy and we couldn't see who it was but there was a clip of you saying 'he doesn't belong here'. Now obviously you can't tell us exactly what goes down until it airs but maybe you can explain a little bit about what that was?
Schaub: Yeah there's a guy on Team Rampage who was kind of the sheep in the house and he doesn't really stick up for himself so you guys will see how it plays out. I said he didn't belong there and I still feel that way.