As I stated in an interview with BJ Ferguson that I just posted, MMA fans in an around the Shepherdsville, Ky area have more to choose from this weekend than just the UFC. Hardrock MMA is putting on a massive fight card with eighteen fights capped off by a 135 pound matchup between area standouts Jeremy Pender and BJ Ferguson. I had the opportunity to correspond with both Pender and Ferguson before their fights. Just like I said in my interview with BJ, take some time to learn a little bit more about both these guys, and if you’re in the area make sure to catch the fight. It’s going to be a banger.
At just 23 years old, Pender has amassed an amateur record of 13-4 and currently 2-0 as a pro. He has never been to a decision in any of his fights, and only one of his losses is under 155 pounds. Currently training full time to concentrate on his MMA career, I caught up with Pender via email to get some comments from him on his history in the sport and what he thinks about his upcoming fight. Here is what he had to say:
How did you get into fighting?
I was big into MMA in highschool so I started to learn to box and did a little bit of wrestling. After I started college there wasn’t anything to keep my attention outside of academics so I started doing jiu jitsu and mma at Miletich Fighting Systems of KY.
What did you do before fighting?
I went to college for a couple of years and realized it wasn’t really for me just yet. I’d like to get back into it, but right now it’s on the backburner in order for me to pursue MMA. Job wise, I had a bunch of them. Anything from doing odd jobs at a warehouse to slinging donuts and coffee at Dunkin Donuts. Eventually I started mentoring special needs children and subbing for some preschool classes. I was gonna do that as a career until fighting took off.
Where did you get the nickname Ponyboy?
The truth is not nearly as fun as the speculation. My manager was signing guys to fight for him and as he signed them he’d say “another horse in the stable”. When I signed he said I wasn’t big enough to be a horse at 135 lbs. but I could be a pony. I took it and ran with it.
Who are you training with for the fight?
I have been training at Vision MMA for the last 9 or 10 months. The Godfather of the group is Rod Housley, he brings everyone together and keeps everything moving smoothly. My Jiu Jitsu instructor is Aaron Thomas. He’s not a big name on the competition circuit but I’d put my money on him vs. pretty much anyone in this area as far as BJJ goes. My kickboxing coach is Scott O’Brien. I’ve been with him for my entire career and he’s still amazing me everyday with all the little things he teaches me. Training and sparring partners are different from day to day and week to week but the core group is Dan Straus, John Hays, Tyler Johnson, Victor O’Donnell [recently named as a TUF 11 competitor], Roger Bowlling [recently signed with Strikeforce], Mick Berwanger, Chris Curtis, Steve Muldrow, and all the guys who come to the classes everyday. There are a lot of guys and girls in the gym that play an important role in my training everyday. If I got them all on here there wouldn’t be much space left for an interview.
Is there anything in particular you’re working on for this fight?
Yeah, we’ve been working a lot of stuff that I think will work really well in this fight. I don’t wanna come right out and say what I plan on doing but I am hoping he comes to fight.
What do you think of your opponent?
I don’t really know that much about him. I do know he’s a tough dude who isn’t afraid to stand in front of someone and throw his hands which is exciting. He’s a purple belt in BJJ and I’m going into the fight thinking that he’s gonna have a technical edge on the mat but i’m definitely not worried about it. If you look at my fights, all of my wins but one came from submissions. I think BJ will have a hard time keeping me off of his limbs if the fight goes to the ground. So I guess on paper he wins or whatever, but I’ve been there. A lot. I try to make a habit of finishing guys who should beat me easily.
Who are some of your favorite fighters?
My favorite fighters to watch are Joachim Hansen, BJ Penn, Nick Diaz, and pretty much anyone who comes out and fights. I’ve had enough of guys “playing mma” people want to see fights, they don’t want to see you do exactly what is necessary to win and only that. I also like watching Victor O’Donnell and Roger Bowling from my gym fight. They’re both ridiculous and full of natural athleticism and talent it’s really not fair to regular people.
When you’re not fighting, what are your hobbies?
Im a homebody really. I don’t go out much unless it’s to the gym. I like to stay in and hang out with my girlfriend and family. Even at home I’m usually doing something that’s related to fighting. I’m pretty boring I guess. That’s the exciting life of a fighter apparently.
What do you have planned for your long-term fighting career?
I want to fight. I have 2 fights lined up in February, 1 in March. I’m trying to get more all the time. Fighting is what I do and I want to do it as often as I can. I’m not a 4 fights a year kind of guy. I like to stay busy. I’d like to eventually get picked up by a bigger organization like Sengoku, Dream, WEC, or something like that. As long as I can fight a lot I’ll be happy.
Thanks for taking some time out of your training to answer some questions, Jeremy, is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to?
A humongous thanks to everyone at Vision MMA, Marissa, my friends, my family, everyone who is going to come watch me and BJ punch each other in the head. I’d like to thank BJ too for taking the fight. You couldn’t imagine how hard it is to get a decent fight. He totally stepped up and showed me he is a real fighter unlike most of the guys around here who like to act like their fighters but when they are asked to fight they can’t or they want a ridiculous amount of money, or they back out last minute. Also, thanks to FightRibbon for hooking me up with my threads for the fight. Check em out at www.FightRibbon.com!
By: Brian Furby