Benji Radach may face the toughest test in his mixed martial arts career on October 4th when he wages battle with Murilo “Ninja” Rua at CBS ElteXC Saturday Night Fights. While Benji is more known for explosive boxing and wrestling and Murilo is more known for his technical muay thai and crafty jiu-jitsu, one thing they are both known for is putting on exciting fights. After a lengthy layoff following his loss to Matt Horwich in the IFL late last year, Benji is hungry to return to action and put on an impressive performance that could possibly send him on the fast track to a title shot with EliteXC.
Pro MMA recently had the chance to catch up with Benji and talk with him for a bit about many things, including his upcoming battle with Ninja to the time he physically prevented an armed robbery attempt at a restaurant where he just happened to be eating. That’s right, Benji Radach is a real life hero. Check it out!
Pro MMA: Hey Benji Thanks for taking this time with us. We know you’re extremely busy in preparing for your upcoming fight with Ninja. How are you feeling physically right now?
Benji: Good man, everything’s healed up and coming together. It’s been a little different this time because I’m working full time as well. I was kind of spoiled when I was training full time all last year. Considering I took the fight on five weeks notice and I was completely out of shape, I’m doing pretty good.
Pro MMA: What are your thoughts on Ninja and how do you feel you guys match up?
Benji: I think we match up great. He’s pretty much good all the way around, you know, he’s got good kickboxing and good jiu-jitsu. Of course I think I’m the better wrestler and I think I have a harder punch so it’s just going to be one of those things where I think we’re going to throw down quite a bit and it’s going to be who catches who.
Pro MMA: Who have you been training with to prepare for this fight?
Benji: I’ve been training a lot with Mo Lawal. He’s a really high level wrestler that beat the gold medalist in the Olympics and a world panamerican champion. I’ve been training with Team Quest, different people holding the pads for me and then Bas Rutten on the weekends.
Pro MMA: How’s training been going? Are you focusing on anything specific for Ninja or are you just focusing on your entire game right now?
Benji: Just pretty much focusing on what I need to do and that’s mainly not getting underneath him. So I’m pretty much planning on throwing down with him on the feet the whole time and putting him on his back. Just worry about what I need to do to win the fight and not worry about what he’s doing and take it to him. So we’ll see how it goes and see how my training went this time, because of having to work and stuff it’s a little rougher but I’ve done well considering all the things involved. I’ve gotten in really good shape man, I feel really good.
Pro MMA: You are widely known as on of the sport’s most dangerous punchers. Do you think Ninja will stand and trade with you or do you expect him to try to take the fight to the ground?
Benji: I think he’s going to try and stand but I think he’s going to try to put me on my back as well. Personally, I think he’s going to try and get me on my back. That would be the smartest thing for him to do but he is a good kickboxer and he likes to stand, so that might be what he chooses to go to.
Pro MMA: Do you think a win against Ninja will put you right into title contention with EliteXC? I know it’s your first fight with EliteXC but a win over Ninja would be pretty big.
Benji: Yeah I think it would be. You know, it just depends on what they want to do of course. At this point in my life I just want to fight the best guys so if that gets me to the title shot I’m down.
Pro MMA: Now not looking past Ninja, how do you feel with current EliteXC champ Robbie Lawler?
Benji: I think I match up great with him. We’re both sluggers and that’s one of those fights that definitely wouldn’t go the distance. We’d just beat the piss out of each other and someone’s going to hit the deck. That’s just how that fight would go. We both hit too hard to not have the fight end.
Pro MMA: Yeah I think that would be an exciting fight for the fans and a great fight for CBS to put on as well.
Benji: Yeah, it would be interesting and fun but definitely a dangerous fight for both people.
Pro MMA: This will mark your first fight back in about nine months. Do you think ring rust will come into play at all or do you feel the time off will work in your favor?
Benji: Yeah, well last year I lost my last fight to Matt Horwich and I think I fought too much. I was so active, fighting six times in the year and all the hard training with Bas, you know like twice a day, it really took a toll on my body and I was kind of burnt out at the end of the year. I didn’t have the fire like I usually do. So the layoff has been great. I’ve been able to heal up coming off of a fractured neck. I’m feeling good. I’m strong, my hands are fast, and feeling 100%. I’m hungry and ready to go so I think it will be to my benefit this time.
Pro MMA: You seemed to be nearly unstoppable early in your career before a fluke knockout at the hands of Danny Lafever. Afterwords, you suffered another disappointing loss to Chris Leben and took three years off. Did those losses affect you psychologically or was the layoff more due to the string of injuries that you suffered?
Benji: It was completely the string of injuries. I had some other fights scheduled and I started training right after the broken jaw from my fight with Chris Leben and I started training for another fight and I had a bad herniated disc and it just put me down. It basically paralyzed my whole right side, my right pec and my right triceps. I couldn’t even do a push up, it was really horrible. So I had to come back from that which is amazing, and I did. Man, it was just one thing after another. I had a really bad staph infection and an ACL replacement. It was just horrible thing after horrible thing so it’s cool to come back from all of that and be strong and on top where I am now.
Pro MMA: So during your layoff you suffered a badly broken jaw, a herniated disc that caused partial paralysis, a spider bite that created a large hole on your leg, a torn meniscus that required knee surgery, and a staph infection from hell that almost caused your arm to be amputated. Talk about a string of bad luck. Was there ever a point in the midst of all of this that you thought you were done with fighting?
Benji: Yeah, tons of times, you know what I mean. You look at life and your like “there’s other things out there to do that’s not so dirty, crappy and just filled with all kinds of bad things”. Fighting just is, you know, for all of the guys that are doing it know that it’s tough and there are more negatives than positives but everybody that’s still doing it are people that are loving it and they’re doing it for the love of the sport and not the benefits because there’s not a lot of benefits besides what you get from your wins and personal feelings that you get from the sport.
Pro MMA: Yeah, I definitely think the posers are being sorted out from the real fighters now.
Benji: Yeah exactly, there’s a huge gap. Your going to see these guys that are putting a little bit of time in and they’re trying to be an “ultimate fighter” now and then there’s these guys that are throwing down, loving the sport and putting their whole lives into it. They’re so much more, they’re just a legitimate fighter, you know. They’ve put their time in and they’ve had their ups and downs. You know, there’s farmed fish and then there’s natural wild fish, it’s the same thing with fighting.
Pro MMA: Where did you find the inspiration to reel of 5 consecutive impressive victories after all of these setbacks?
Benji: I think a lot of it was all the time I had sitting around wanting to get back and all of the drive I had. I knew I had something. I knew I wasn’t done fighting. I just had these bad things going on in my life that I had to get through. I just kept that in my mind that I was going to come back again. Then the IFL and the Anacondas came out and Bas asked me if i wanted to be on the team and I was going through neck surgery so I couldn’t at the time, so they put Mike Pyle in my position for a year. Then I had my knee surgery and Bas asked me again because Pyle had went on to the Showtime show and I jumped on it and man, it just took off. I felt great, I felt hungry, I was ready for action. Definitely nervous, you know, definitely fighting emotionally rather than with my brain and just throwing down but it got me the wins. Now I’m kind of settling down a little bit, getting back in there and starting to use my head a little bit. In the Brent Beauparlant fight you can really see that. I really came a long ways from my first fight in the IFL to my fight with Brent Beauparlant where I was in the best shape of my life and really took advantage of that fight.
Pro MMA: I heard you helped foil an armed robbery attempt a while back but never heard any of the details. Can you share a little bit about what exactly went down?
Benji: What happened was my buddy Dennis Hallman was fighting in Portland at Sportfight and after that we went out on the town and partied it up for him and the next morning we were having a late lunch. It was me, my girlfriend Lacy , her sister, and Dennis and we’re sitting down at a four seater table at Elmer’s restaurant and it was clear in the corner of the restaurant so it was probably like 70 feet from our table and this little girl comes running up she was just crying “This guy’s got a gun! This guy’s got a gun!”. So I turned and looked and sure enough there’s a guy sitting there with a handkerchief across his face and goggles and a hat on. He’s got the gun right in this chick’s face, “Give me the fucking money! Give me the fucking money!”, you know. He kept looking to his left because the general manager was to his left, so his main focus was forward and to his left. He wasn’t paying attention to his surrounding area at all. When you’re sitting there watching it all, these things are going through your mind, you know, “Do I have time to get to him?” That’s what I was thinking. I was thinking, “Man, it’s totally open”, like he’s not looking my way. He was looking straight forward with the gun in her face and he was looking to his left screaming at the general manager. He wasn’t even thinking someone would be dumb enough to come running up to a guy with a gun. So I thought,”Man, here it is, I’m gonna get him”, so I snuck and I tried to stay out of his peripheral as much as I could and aggressively walked. I didn’t want to sprint up because he would probably hear me and shoot me in the guts or something. So I just aggressively walked and he was in mid-conversation with the general manager to his left with his head turned and the gun still in that girl’s face, “Get the fuck back! Get the fuck back!”, and I just grabbed his wrist and his gun out of her face, first of all, straight up into the air and then
wrist locked it to his back. At that point it was on his back and I had his wrist and his gun at a weak point so if the gun went off he would shoot himself. So I had a free hand and I dropped a big right hand on his face and broke his upper mandible in his jaw. His head was on the concrete and I was just thinking totally adrenaline rush life or death situation so I hit him probably as hard as I could. I’m surprised I didn’t break my hand because I hit him so hard.
Pro MMA: So you just hit him once?
Benji: I hit him one time, “Smack!”, knocked him out and threw the gun off to the side. People were running out of the restaurant and running under tables, it was pretty wild. It was WILD! It was the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve ever had, you know, way more than any fight, it was just like “Whoa”. Then afterwords the cop was telling me, “That was really stupid that you did that.” And the more I thought about it, I guess it was kind of stupid because all it takes is this crazy guy to hear you walking up and shoot you.
Pro MMA: Well maybe stupid to that cop but you never know. You don’t know how many lives you may have saved, so from me to you, you’re a hero. You’re a hero dude!
Benji: It was wild. I’m just really glad that it went the way it did because there have been times where people have turned on the restaurant and shot people all over the place and I just sat there and I was like, “I’m not going to be one of those people. I’m going to end this guy”. If I saw that the guy was looking around and really aware of his surroundings maybe I wouldn’t have done it. I saw that opening, that he really wasn’t looking around at his surroundings and he was vulnerable for just a second and thank God that it worked out.
Pro MMA: You did what most people say they would do under those circumstances but we both know that most people would not have been able to react the way you did.
Benji: It was amazing because I think most people have thought about what they would do in that situation but there it was and it was either do it or not and it was just like wow, it was killer.
Pro MMA: I know a lot of people can’t even function under those type of circumstances. The nervous system will just shut down.
Benji: In every fight I’m nervous. Just so full of energy and there’s so much adrenaline and just so much going on with my body but I’m able to deal with it and direct the energy the right ways. I think a lot of it has to do with at a young age I was competing. I was wrestling at a really young age and also riding dirtbikes. I learned how to ride a dirtbike before I could ride a bike. I was like three years old riding a tiny little JR-50. So I think being on those bikes and competing at like four or five years old, you kind of get used to the adrenaline and handle the stress.
Pro MMA: Before I let you go, how about a prediction on your fight with Ninja?
Benji: I’m predicting, I definitely want to win this fight. I wouldn’t have took it if I didn’t think I could win. I’m predicting that it’s going to be a very exciting fight. It’s going to be up and down. It’s going to be balls to the wall and I hope to come out on top of it.
Pro MMA: Thank you so much for your time Benji. Are there any sponsors you’d like to thank?
Benji: I’m not sure about the sponsors that I have just yet but I want to thank Bas Rutten, Team Quest, LA Boxing and HB Ultimate as well because I’ve really needed the help in all different ways because i don’t rally have a “training camp” necessarily. I’ve just been bouncing around so much and I really appreciate their help.
Pro MMA: Thanks again Benji and good luck on your fight!
Be sure to watch Benji Radach in what is sure to be a very exciting fight with Murilo “Ninja” Rua, live on October 4th on CBS Saturday Night Fights. The main event will be Ken Shamrock vs. Kimbo Slice.