Before all the Pay-Per View action begins at UFC 178 this Saturday, the preliminary card will broadcast on Fox Sports 1 and showcase some of the UFC’s top talent. While the return of Dominick Cruz has overshadowed the rest of the prelims, the bout set to kickoff the evening is sure to deliver nonstop action as John “Doomsday” Howard squares off with Brian Ebersole. Heralded as one of the hardest hitting welterweights in the business, Howard is on a mission to get back in the win column, climb the rankings and march towards the title.
ProMMANow spoke with Doomsday earlier this week to get the scoop on the Boston brawler before he goes to war this weekend.
Questions from ProMMA’s Kinch in bold.
Answers from Doomsday are italicized.
We last spoke following the fight with Ryan LaFlare. I know we discussed it briefly, but how badly did that devastating shot to the groin affect your performance?
“Man, that was the whole fight, it changed the entire outcome. Because of that shot to the groin I wasn’t the same and I was in pain through the rest of the fight. I’ve said this a few times, but the doctor basically had to push my testicles back out. What makes me mad about the situation was that they didn’t take a point away, they did nothing and then they gave him the unanimous decision. This is a situation where he clearly hit a low-blow and you’re not going to take a point away? Thats bull.”
Let me get this straight, the doctor had to literally adjust your junk back to normal?
“Yeah man. I don’t know if you remember but at the end of the fight I went for a knee-bar. The reason I couldn’t finish that knee-bar was because I was going against my cup, that was the most pain I have ever felt. That whole fight pissed me off. I call him Ryan “I Hit People In The Nuts” LaFlare. I don’t respect him much because you can’t come out of that fight where you clearly hit me in the balls and say, ‘I won that fight decisively.’ No, you hit me in the junk! Then I asked for a rematch and he said, ‘I’ll rematch you.’ I told him to put it out there and he never did, so it’s whatever man. I’m just really pissed that no point was deducted and he feels like he won the fight, I don’t know how.”
Aside from the shot below the belt, you looked great against LaFlare. You reversed several positions and were working off your back more than you have in previous fights. How focused have you been on becoming more proficient from the bottom?
“Really focused. I don’t expect to be on my back for this fight because I don’t think this guys shot is that good, but my jiujitsu got way better and I think keeping me on my back is going to be way harder. LaFlare was a brown-belt in Brazilian jiujitsu and he’s a great wrestler and he could barely keep me on my back. So I think everyone in the UFC is going to have a hard time putting me on my back and keeping me there.”
What was the experience like in Abu Dhabi? Did you get a chance to go out and enjoy the culture at all?
“It was interesting. It was definitely a different kind of culture but not as extreme as everyone made it out to be. I went out at night so I’m not really sure what it’s like during the day but it was different, nothing too crazy though.”
Before we dive into your quest for a title in the UFC, I have to mention your recent presence on social media, SnapChat in particular. Has that allowed you to better connect with your supporters? Getting lots of love from the fans?
“The fans love me on SnapChat, man. I get over two-hundred views on every video I post and a lot of people have been responding to me. The coolest part about it for the fans is that I pretty much video blog my entire training camp. You also get to see what I do from when I wake up until I go to bed and experience what it’s like for a UFC fighter as a fan. Fans don’t get to really see what goes on unless they see a video blog, so with this you get to watch my video blog live as it happens. I think it was a great idea.”
Moving on to Saturday. You’re set to face Brian Ebersole and kickoff the Fox Sports 1 preliminary broadcast. How excited are you to get back in there and show the world that you’re a contender at 170?
“I’m excited, I think it’s my time to show that I can be a world champion. I think my performance in Abu Dhabi showed that I’m more well-rounded, I’ve been working on my jiujitsu and working on my wrestling. If that shot to the nuts didn’t happen I have no doubt in my mind that I would have won that fight. I just really want to show the world that not only am I a top-ten fighter in the UFC, but I can be the future welterweight world champion.”
Ebersole is a crafty veteran and my guess is that he will try to take this fight to the ground and avoid your power. Would you agree? And what kind of a tilt have you been preparing for?
“I expect a well-rounded fight. I think he knows that I expect him to take it to the ground, so I doubt he’ll be predictable about it. He’s going to try and play what I call the up and down game; strike and when I strike back take me down, try to take me down and then strike. Obviously he’s not going to want and stand with me but he knows he has to stand with me to take me down. But what he doesn’t know is that I’m just as well-rounded. I’ve been working on my ground game everyday and I train with top level grapplers often. I think he’s good but I don’t think he’s top-tier. My whole plan is have a straight-up MMA fight, wherever this fight goes I’m ready.”
I know that you’re the type of guy who wants to please the crowd, always looking to take someones head off. That being said, is it frustrating at all to be booked against grappling focused opponents back-to-back? Or is this just the name of the game these days?
“That’s just the name of the game these days, man. It’s not at all frustrating, even with LaFlare. He didn’t have me frustrated at all on the ground and he really didn’t do anything. I actually took him to the ground and swept him a few times. It could have been a completely different fight. People forget that my submission game is on point too. When I first started MMA I only had like six submissions, so don’t be surprised that if I have the opportunity to submit somebody, I will.”
Assuming you defeat Ebersole on Saturday, should we expect you to call out LaFlare for a rematch? What match-ups are you most interested in next?
“That’s a rematch that will happen one day but the person I want to fight after I beat Brian is Rick Story. We were set to fight each other and I had to pull out with an injury, I think he and I would put on a great show for the fans.”
That has Fight of the Night written all over it. I also have to ask about Matt Brown, does that rematch still interest you after you break into the top-ten?
“Honestly, every single person I lost to in the UFC I want a rematch with. Matt, Thiago Alves, Ryan, and Jake Ellenberger. I want a rematch with every single one of them. I’ll take whoever I can get but I want to avenge all of my losses in the UFC.”
Changing gears here for a moment, your statement about the War Machine incident made headlines last month. I completely agree with what you said and I’m wondering what we can do to rid the sports world of this aggressive machismo behavior?
“Unfortunately, domestic violence is not uncommon in the world today. I don’t agree with it at all, but it’s not just happening in the sports world. What’s different about War Machine is that this isn’t the first time he and Christy Mack have had their domestic disagreements. When I first heard the news I figured that he slapped her around and she would go back to him just like she has before. I saw the pictures of what he did to her, that’s when I went off. I was like, ‘Dude, you went overboard.’ I don’t condone domestic violence of any kind but I just thought it wasn’t going to be that serious. When I saw what he did to her I was appalled.
“I met Christy Mack a few years ago in Boston, she had a little special event in my area and we happened to bump into each other. She’s a small, little thing, she can’t weigh any more than a-buck-twenty, probably smaller than that. Then when I thought of War Machine, he walks around at two-hundred pounds easy. So when I saw what he did I called him a pussy. You’re a two-hundred pound man who’s an athlete and could beat up any average guy and that’s what you did to her? The scars and bruises on her; he beat her like it was a cage fight. That’s what bothered me the most. I have daughters and to see a woman get beat down like that was just too much. Give me a break man, it’s disgusting.”
On a much lighter note, the last time we spoke in length you mentioned a plan to reinvigorate the MMA scene in New England with Jorge Rivera. I’m wondering if that is still on track and moving forward?
“We tried man. It was just an idea that we had, Jorge cross trains with me a lot so that’s been good, but we don’t know what’s going to happen yet. It’s something that was put out there because unfortunately in this sport, there are so many egos that clash against each other. It’s really hard for people to see the big picture, you know? My fingers are crossed that it happens but hopefully we all smarten and do what the West Coast did. In the West, all the big gyms came together for the movement, but the Northeast is not really doing that. We fight each other and bruise each other up here in the Northeast, we go ham against each other up here. By the time we get done, we’re tapped out.”
It sounds to me like an instance of New England pride and no one wants to unite the gyms. That could be because the market here isn’t that large yet. However, your boys at CES MMA just landed a multi-year broadcast deal with AXS TV. How monumental do you think this for MMA in the region and can we expect to see you on the broadcast team in some fashion?
“That deal they got is huge for New England. Now we get to showcase the great talent we have out here on a national stage. People forget that while UFC fighters may come out of the Northeast, it’s because of the people we train with that you’ve never heard of. It’s going to be awesome, big ups to CES for making that happen. I’m still the champion at CES and you will see me being a part of the team, anything I can do to help them out. They helped me get back into the UFC, I told them what I wanted to do and they helped me, so anything I can do in return for them, I’ll do it.”
Let’s get back to Saturday. Assuming you come out of this fight free of injury and healthy, when would you like to get back into competition?
“A month and a half. If I’m injury free I want to get right back in there as soon as possible. Hopefully I can get on the next Vegas card. The place I like fighting most is Vegas, it’s the best fight city for me. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hometown hero or from another country, Vegas gives you nothing but love. Hopefully I come out of this injury free and get right back on another Vegas card, I don’t care if it’s a prelim or an Ultimate Fighter card.”
Was there an injury that has kept you from action? We last saw you in April, that is a longer break than most guys want, right?
“Yeah, I injured my knee in my last fight. I twisted my leg weird to get back up from a takedown and I just thought it was sore. Come to find out I was training with an injury and made it worse, so I had to get it taken care of to be totally healthy. If I’m injury free I want to fight as much as possible, I’m 31, I’m in my prime and I want to keep fighting until I get that title. I want to be like Robbie Lawler, that guy fights every chance he gets. That’s the kind of kick I want to be on.”
You’ve landed a spot on yet another stacked card with some really great fights. What bout are you most looking forward to watching after you get the job done on Saturday?
“I want to see Demetrius Johnson fight, I haven’t had a chance to see him fight live. I want to see them all, but that’s the fight I’m most excited to see. It’ll be a good time for sure.”
I know that most guys would obviously rather be the marquee fight or co-main event, but is it more pleasurable to get the job done early and enjoy the rest of the card?
“Honestly, the prelim fights are better, man. The reason is because when you’re on the main card you have to wait a long time before you fight. Sometimes you get the adrenaline rush and then you get burnt out, it’s crazy. I like to get there and get it over with.”
As for Ebersole, how do you visualize this fight going down and how do you get your hand raised?
“I see a knockout. I’ve got a lot of frustration built up and I want to end it before the second round. By no means is this going to be an easy fight, he’s a really durable guy and he can take a shot, but I think it’s going to be a war. It’s going to be one of those fights that you have to watch. I see myself knocking him out but I know it won’t be an easy one to get. You’ll just have to look out for it. My power right now, it’s like a heavyweight when I’m throwing combos. Everybody knows that one thing Doomsday has is raw power and it’s only getting better. If I hit you clean one time, that’s it.”
Anyone who has followed your career knows that you bring the fight and always put on a show. But for those who don’t know, why should fans tune in on Fox Sports 1 this Saturday?
“They should tune in to see Doomsday do what he does best. I’m coming out with heavy hands and I’m trying to break someones jaw. I’m going to get the victory and I’m looking for the Knockout of the Night. You want to see some action? You want to see someone get hit and get hurt? Come watch Doomsday. I have this saying, I’m either going to break your jaw or break my hand, one of the two is going to break. Doomsday approved.”
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