Jiu-jitsu expert Dean Lister will make his return to the Octagon on June 21 at The Ultimate Fighter 7 finale on SpikeTV against fellow tactician Jeremy Horn. Lister and Horn have a history together because they fought back in 2003 when Horn earned the majority-decision victory. It was a close fight, but Lister came up short and he's looking forward to getting some redemption.
"Absolutely. If you are a true fighter, you definitely want to avenge any kind of loss you ever had," Lister said recently on an interview with MMAWeekly radio. "I definitely want to have a good fight here."
While that loss did hurt Lister's career a little bit, he maintained a positive attitude in his defeat. "I care if I win, I care if I lose. But every single fight you have, win or lose, it's something on your path and your journey to become a better fighter. That's all I want to do is become a better fighter. That was just one little stop on my journey. That's all it was. No big deal."
"The Boogeyman" hasn't fought since UFC 79 back in December when he defeated Jordan Radev. Prior to that fight, he had an 11-month hiatus. Part of the reason for the layoff was for Lister to prepare himself mentally to fight and the other part was because of a serious bicep injury before and after his fight with Nate Marquardt.
"Before that fight, I had hurt it sparring," Lister explained. "I pulled it. And after the Marquardt fight, I completely tore it. Just imagine snapping a rubber band. I felt it and it didn't feel good."
The San Diego native has had a pretty successful MMA career thus far, but he is well known for his wins in Abu Dhabi. MMAWeekly.com asked Lister if he had any plans to return to competitive grappling in the near future. "Right now, the only grappling one I'd consider is Abu Dhabi," he replied. "That's my home. If they'd call me and say someone's injured and we'd like you to fight in a super fight, I'd do it. Other than that, I really want to concentrate on my mixed martial arts. I want to focus all my time and energy to that now."
A lot of jiu-jitsu practitioners have tried to emerge in the MMA world. Some have enjoyed success and some have failed. Lister shed some light on why there are ups and downs with some of the transitions. "Who was it that said, everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face? It's a huge thing to say whether you can take a hit or not. I'm very fortunate. I don't know if I'm part Neanderthal. I can take a hit. I don't want to, but I can. It's either something you can do or you can't."
However, Lister believes the most invaluable piece of advice he can give is to get involved with a great camp. "It's the number one piece of advice I give. The number one thing you can do consciously as a fighter is find a solid training camp. You can't train yourself. What you can do is trust your training from someone who really knows what they're doing."
Horn is a legend in the sport and has over 100 fights to his credit. Lately, he has hit a slide losing three out of his last four bouts, all fights that he was finished in. That doesn't mean much to Lister, as he would never underestimate Horn's unmistakable ability to show up at any point.
"With Jeremy Horn, he's such a well-rounded fighter that's been around for so long," Lister commented. "I'd hate to try to identify what he's going through right now. Everyone goes up and down, and has things happen to them. I don't know what's going to happen. The reason I don't know is because he's so well-rounded. I'm just going to try to focus on what I can do. Look at Wanderlei Silva. He lost three fights in a row, and came back and looked great. I don't want to count anyone out or in."
One priority that the San Diego native has on Saturday night is to go out and have an exciting fight. That's why he never thinks about the next fight and only concentrates on the task in front of him. "We can't just go in there thinking about our next fight. I have to try to make it a very exciting fight. The UFC being the biggest organization in the world, who knows who can be cut at any point? I'd rather get "Fight of the Night" than "Submission of the Night."
Lister will admit he's not the type of guy who goes out and challenges individual fighters. He wants to fight whoever the UFC matches him up with and anyone who gets him one step closer to his professional goal: the UFC middleweight title. "Maybe it would be more exciting if I challenged guys all the time. I'll fight whoever they put in front of me. I'll fight whoever is the right guy for me to fight at the time. I would love to have the UFC middleweight title around my waist at some point. I mean, if that's not my goal, then I shouldn't be fighting."
When asked for a prediction for the fight, Lister said, "What's going to happen is... I don't like to predict what happens. I see there being action. I see it going to the ground. I see two guys going in who like to finish fights. And I think it's going to go that way, finishing the fight."