Justin “The Viking” Wren will step back in the cage this weekend for the first time since making an impressive showing on The Ultimate Fighter season 10, and then losing a three round slug fest against his friend and cast mate Jon Madsen in the Finale. Justin got some great experience on the show, and even got to make his UFC debut, all before the age of 23.
On Friday night, Justin will face Josh Henry at “Ring of Fire 37″ in Omaha, Nebraska. ProMMAnow.com caught up with Justin this week to find out how excited he is to get back in the cage, and to find out more about his opponent. We also wanted to know what Justin has been up to since TUF 10, how his first winter in the mountains is going, and what the future holds for the young “Viking.”
Hi Justin. How are things with you and what have you been up to since The Ultimate Fighter?
Jack, it is great to hear from you, thanks for the interview! Things have been great since The Ultimate Fighter, the best part of it is that I found the absolute best fitting team for me. I met my current Coach and Head Trainer Trevor Wittman from www.GrudgeTrainingCenter.com on TUF and it is definitely the best thing to come from the show for me. I am now training with guys such as Shane Carwin, Nate Marquardt, Brendan Schaub, Rashad Evans, GSP, Paul Buentello, Duane Ludwig, Eliot Marshall… Geez, the list could keep going on and on. I am extremely fortunate to be my age and to be under the tutelage of Coach T and the rest of Grudge. I have been about everywhere there is to train, and in my opinion this is the best training and atmosphere in the world.
How has your first winter been up there in the mountains of Colorado; are you surviving, and have you ever been around so much snow?
The winter hasn’t been too bad, I am gonna email you a couple of pics from up on the mountain from a couple of weeks ago. (laughs) I am from flat, brown, Texas and to be living at 8,800 feet in the mountains with a view of downtown Denver is amazing. I wake up everyday, get to take in the scenery and the fresh (THIN) air and then on the way to practice I get to see heard of elk or deer and even saw a mountain lion once. I have never been around SO much snow but Denver has over 300 days of sunshine a year so it snows, then a day or two later its all gone. Our first snow on the mountain was a blizzard of over 3 feet, 4-5 days later it was all gone.
Have you done any skiing or snowboarding since you’ve been there, and how far are you from the nearest ski resort?
I only live about 40 minutes from Loveland Pass and there are lifts there and then I live maybe an hour at most from Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper and several other resorts. I invested in my first ever snowboard and I have only been about 5 times… I am enjoying learning it but I have to keep my thrill seeking self in check so I don’t hurt myself for my fights, and I won’t ever board close to a fight.
Now, you are fighting Josh “Hardcore” Henry on March 5 in Omaha, Nebraska. From what I could find, he seems to be a pretty good grappler with decent stand-up. Does that sound pretty accurate, and what do you know about him?
That is pretty accurate, I keep hearing tons of different records… I have seen 2-0, 5-0, 6-1 but none of that really means much. I know he is a wrestler, I personally think I am a better wrestler. He won his last fight by armbar after attempting a failed kimura, guillotine, and even oma-plata, so his base is grappling. I feel I will be winning the battle anywhere the fight takes place. I don’t know too much more about him, so I have been preparing for everything and hope he comes prepared as well.
Is this fight at heavyweight? What are you walking around at these days?
I just weighed in this morning at 257, I am definitely at heavyweight and am gonna continue to fight at heavyweight.
How are things at Grudge Training Center, who have you been working with for this fight, and how do you feel you match up with Henry?
I have been training a lot with Shane Carwin, Brendan Schaub, Paul Buentello, and Eliot Marshall who all have UFC bouts at the end of the month, and all of us are heavyweights except Eliot Marshall. I have so many great training partners and coaches, I am very fortunate. I feel that I am Josh Henry’s youngest, but toughest opponent he has faced. I feel that I am gonna fight at a pace that he won’t be able to match, I am gonna be very active in this fight and I am looking for something to end up on a highlight reel. I am still disappointed in my performance against Roy Nelson and Jon Madsen… I am out to make a point in my fights for now on and Josh Henry is gonna be the first opponent to experience it.
Where do you feel you have improved the most since your last fight?
That I am a much more intelligent fighter. Before the show I was trying to learn, but fought a lot like a meat-head wrestler. (laughs) In my fight with Roy and Jon I fought like I was a sloppy boxer… I am excited that I have a World Class Camp behind me and that I am able to learn from them. I am learning to mix everything together, I am learning to transition from striking to takedowns and from takedowns to submissions. Learning how to mix in kicks and knees behind my hands. I am trying to build experience and the training I am getting everyday is the best I could imagine. I feel my conditioning, and mentality are what have gotten a lot better since my last fight.
How excited are you to get back in the cage to do your thing; and what can the fans expect to see on March 5th?
Man I am itching for this fight bad. I wish I could have fought a week after my last fight on the Finale. There is nothing more that I want to do than to get back on the winning track, and set my sights back on a bigger and better future. The fans can expect to see me get the “W” and to put on a dominant performance. If I come out with anything less then it’s back to the drawing board, but in my mind, I am looking to dominate.
What does the rest of 2010 hold for Justin Wren?
Hopefully I will be fighting often and staying active. I have been told after a quality win or two I would be asked back to the UFC, but I am not only worried about that. Of course that is where most of the best fighters are, and I want to fight them as soon as my trainer and agent give me the go ahead… However, 2010 could be a year of building for me, I wouldn’t mind getting as much experience as possible and then when we feel ready get back in the mix and push forward.
It’s been great catching up with you my friend. We wish you the best of luck in the upcoming fight. Are there any sponsors you want to thank or do you have any shout outs?
I want to thank Full Tilt Poker, Rockwell Watches, Tokyo Five, Fight Ribbon, The Fight Pastor (www.FightPastor.com) and America’s Best Sports Photography. I also want to thank you guys at Pro MMA Now for the continued support!! I am lucky to have such a great website behind me, supporting me, and it was a blast blogging for you guys during TUF10. I am loving the new look of your site, you guys do a great job! I also want to give Eddie’s friends and family my deepest condolences, I remember being on his radio show a couple of times… He was an amazing guy, he was great at his interviews and you could tell he was extremely passionate about MMA. It’s undoubtedly a sad loss for all his family, friends, ProMMAnow, and the MMA community. Again, thanks so much for spending the time to interview me Jack.