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Strikeforce Challengers 14 spotlight: Erik Apple

Erik "Bad" Apple (10-2). Photo credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog

Erik Apple didn’t become involved in MMA in the typical way. He didn’t wrestle or box growing up, but he was a fan. Just for fun he joined a gym where some of his friends were training, but then he started fighting.

Apple (10-2) loves competition, and his desire to compete against the best fighters in the world has taken him from training in a gym with his friends, to training under Rafael Cordeiro with top fighters like Nick Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and Fabricio Werdum.

Being around some of the best fighters in the sport has definitely paid off. Of all his fights, only one has gone to decision, and that is something Apple prides himself on. No matter the outcome, Apple is looking to finish the fight, or go down swinging.

This Friday, Feb. 18, Apple will face Ryan Larson (5-2) at Strikeforce Challengers 14, LIVE on Showtime.

ProMMAnow.com’s (www.prommanow.com) Josh Cross caught up with Erik “Bad” Apple this week to talk about his upcoming fight at Strikeforce Challengers 14. Apple discussed his training, what his goal is in fighting, how he plans on winning, what the fans can expect to see, and why he is not taking his opponent lightly.

PRO MMA NOW: How long have you known about this fight, and how long have you been training for it?

ERIK APPLE: I’ve known about this fight since about the first of the year. Strikeforce has been looking to fit me on the last couple of cards. [Strikeforce] just didn’t have the right opportunity or the right time or the opponent, so I’ve been sort of half training for a little while waiting for a spot. I found out about this fight around the beginning of the year.

PRO MMA NOW: Is there anything specific that you have been working on for the fight, or training specifically for?

ERIK APPLE: Nowadays every fighter is training for the fight to be in all positions and every fighter is training their stand up and their wrestling and their submission game. I trained everywhere. I’ve trained with some of the best in the world, some guys my size and some guys bigger. I trained last night with Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez, both Strikeforce champions. I train with Renato “Babalu” Sobral on a regular basis. I’m in the room with world champions like that pretty much every day. Fabricio Werdum. Those guys are pretty much surrounding me at all times at Kings MMA. You know, I get the best looks as far as training in all positions, standing, on the ground, and wrestling.

Erik Apple lands a big one on Bobby Voelker. Photo credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog

PRO MMA NOW: Both of the losses your opponent has are from submissions. Does that affect your game plan going into this fight at all?

ERIK APPLE: Not necessarily. I watched his last fight and he got ground and pounded from the mount and then he came up his back and got choked. So basically to me that didn’t show a weakness to me in his submission game more so than a weakness that he didn’t like getting punched so he turned over and gave up his neck instead of getting punched. From what I know he has a Gracie brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu, so I certainly will take his submission game serious and be ready to avoid any submissions of any kind. To be honest I’ve been training long enough and with good enough guys on the ground that I’d be very, very surprised if any brown belt of any kind could submit me who is my size.

PRO MMA NOW: Is there any specific way you see this fight ending?

ERIK APPLE: I see myself winning this fight with punches either on the ground or standing up.

PRO MMA NOW: Do you ever get nervous when you get in the cage?

ERIK APPLE: Well, no. You know, I’ve been fighting for about 6 [or] 7 years now and this is my 13th pro fight. This is my third Showtime fight, so those jitters are out of the way. The only nervousness I have is just that I want to get my fight done, I want to get my victory and I want to go home.

PRO MMA NOW: After this fight, where do you see yourself going forward?

ERIK APPLE: I didn’t get into this sport with any particular goals. I got into the sport because I was a fan of it. I didn’t grow up involved with combat sports. I didn’t wrestle. I didn’t box. I was a fan and growing up being very successful as an athlete I thought that I could do this too. I literally joined a gym where my friends were training and just stared doing it for fun. Then I had my first fight and it was successful and kind of continued on that and just for fun but was getting paid and then gradually I’m getting paid more and more. Then I got a fight on TV and was fighting for belts and fighting real tough guys and just improved from there. I never had any specific goals. I just want to compete against the best guys that I can and put on the best performances that I can. One thing I pride myself on is that my fights are always exciting. I’ve only had one decision in 12 fights and I had an injury in that fight and if it wasn’t for that I think I would have been able to finish that fight as well. I look to finish at all times and I kind of go out there with a kill or be killed attitude. Luckily I’ve done the killing instead of being killed most of the time.

PRO MMA NOW: What can fans expect when fans tune in to watch your fight on Saturday?

ERIK APPLE: They can expect a kill or be killed attitude. I’m going out there to win the fight and to finish the fight in an exciting fashion with a submission or a knock out and if I don’t do it I’m going to go down swinging.

Erik Apple puts a footlock on Brock Larson. Photo credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog

PRO MMA NOW: Is there anyone you would like to thank?

ERIK APPLE: I want to thank Strikeforce for being so good at taking care of me. They really do take care of the fighters and they really do care about people. They are a great organization. Rockstar Energy Drink as well. Metal Militia has been there for me for a long time and I appreciate it.

PRO MMA NOW: What would be the best way for fans to keep up with what you’ve got coming up?

ERIK APPLE: They can check me out on MetalMulisha.com or they can follow me on Twitter (@ErikApple) or on Facebook.

Strikeforce Challengers 14 will air live on Showtime this Friday at 11 p.m. ET/PT from the Cedar Park Center in Cedar Park, Texas. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, online at Ticketmaster.com, as well as the Cedar Park Center box office.

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