Being a good Canadian boy myself, it’s always an honour and a pleasure to sit down and talk Mixed Martial Arts with someone who understands that there should be a “U” in honour and knows what a toque is.
Fighting out of Edmonton, Alberta, Tim Hague will be making his second appearance inside the Octagon at UFC 102, taking on undefeated newcomer Todd Duffee, a representative of American Top Team and formerly the Hardcore Gym in Athens, Georgia.
In this installment of the K2 Interview Series, Hague discusses everything from crying in the cage, his thoughts on Brock Lesnar and Brandon Vera, and the state of Mixed Martial Arts in Canada, as well as offering up his answers to the world famous Keyboard Kimura Questionnaire.
Thanks so much for doing this.
Any way I can get you to apologize for the Edmonton CFL Franchise contributing to the misconception that people in Canada live in igloos by being known as the Eskimos?
(Laughs) I don’t know about that name, but whatever.
I spoke with fellow Canadian UFC fighter Krzysztof Soszynski earlier and got him to confirm just how damn cold it can be in his hometown of Winnipeg. Can we start a “My city is colder than your city” battle or does Winnipeg have Edmonton beat?
I don’t know. I think they’re on the same level.
One last Edmonton related question (for now) before getting down to business, although it is a two-part question. (1) Is there a worse contract in the entire NHL than the one the Oilers gave Dustin Penner? and (2) Do you think Pat Quinn and his team of assistants are the right group to get this team to the next level?
Uh, I don’t know, that one was pretty bad. $4 million a year for what he did? I think shovelling the driveway involves more work than what he put in. [As for Quinn], we’ll see. I hope so.
Now that we’ve got the Canadian content out of the way, I have to ask how you went from teaching kindergarten in your hometown of Boyle, Alberta to being a professional fighter?
I was taking classes at the University of Alberta, I heard about some free training and started training Travis Galbraith, Kyle Cardinal and took a fight eight months later, I won and so I just kept fighting.
We’re seeing more and more Canadians both in the UFC and gaining momentum in Mixed Martial Arts in general. In your opinion, what is the state of MMA in Canada and where do you see it going in the next year or two?
Well, I think if Ontario can sanction the sport it would blow up in Canada, just based on the population alone. I think right now, Edmonton is kind of the hotbed for MMA; there are five or six promotions [based out of] Edmonton and I’m hoping that it just gets bigger and bigger, and fighter’s pay checks just get bigger and bigger too.
Montreal has hosted two wildly successful UFC cards without incident and Dana White has earmarked both Toronto and Vancouver as potential venues for the future. What do you think continues to hold up the rest of the provinces from sanctioning MMA, when more and more states are doing so and they’ve seen the success the sport has had in Quebec?
Maybe it’s just the association of mixed martial arts with some barbaric, head-smashing competition, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the stigma attached to the legislative bodies that won’t change for MMA. I don’t know what the problem is, but I’ve been hurt a lot worse in hockey than I ever have in MMA.
One frustration I’ve had when it comes to MMA in Canada is the relative lack of coverage “Canada’s Sports Leader” TSN provides despite the growing popularity of the sport and the number of Canadians competing at the highest levels.
Should we start a petition amongst the Canadian MMA fighters out there to send to TSN asking for more coverage or should we just pledge allegiance to Showdown Joe Ferraro and Rogers Sportsnet, giving up hope that TSN will ever catch on?
(Laughs) Well right now, Showdown Joe and Sportsnet are doing a pretty good job actually; I’m pretty impressed with the coverage they have on the UFC and MMA fighters in Canada that are up and coming, but it would be really nice to see TSN pick up the slack as well.
Maybe I’ll have to have a chat with [TSN anchor] Bryan Mudryk. I know I attend his golf tournament every year and he grew up in the same town that I did, so maybe I’ll try and get a hold of him and see what he has to say.
Moving to your upcoming fight, what do you know about your opponent Todd Duffee and how do you see the fight going?
Todd’s a big, strong, aggressive guy; he looks to be a very good athlete, he likes to move forward, throw heavy strikes, so my coaches and I have formulated a game plan accordingly and it should allow me to take him out if all goes as planned.
You sunk in a pretty tight guillotine on Pat Barry last time out. Is that a part of your game you’re working on and can we expect to see more submissions and ground work, perhaps even this time out against Duffee?
Definitely, I`m always working on my submissions. Jiu jitsu, wrestling, the ground game can win you fights as we saw in my last one. I had a guillotine choke in my first fight, [but that move] isn’t something I normally catch guys in in training, but the opportunity presented itself and I seized it.
Duffee last fought September 13, 2008 when he scored a TKO over Assuerio Silva in Brazil. Do you see his extended layoff playing any part in the fight or at this level does everyone come in pretty much ready to roll no matter how long they’ve been off?
I don’t know if it will affect him at all, maybe a little mentally, but he’ll probably come in super hungry, wanting to prove himself. I just think it will be a good fight; I think Todd will be more than ready.
Give everyone the scoop on where you train and how has training camp been going so far?
In the mornings I train at Hayabusa Training Center with a group of awesome training partners there and a couple of coaches.
In the afternoons, I work with my Strength and Conditioning Coach Shara Vigeant from Shara Vigeant Personal Training in Edmonton. Her workouts are hell and I mean that in the nicest possible way.
And in the evenings, I work with my jiu jitsu coach and mentor Kyle Cardinal. He’s been by my side ever since the beginning and he’s never said a bad word about me. When I started, I wasn’t the most technical or graceful guy, I didn’t have the most skill. I kind of won some fights on my toughness and good chin. But yeah, that’s my team.
Apparently, every so often you can be found boxing on your front lawn?
Correct, yeah, sorry, I forgot Chris Ladouceur as well. He worked with me on a few fights with my hands, my boxing coach, and I brought him back for this fight and I’m very confident in my hands once again.
If all goes as planned and the ref is raising your hand at the end of the night, are we going to see more tears?
No, I think I’ll have my emotions a little more in check this time.
How much ribbing have you taken for crying? I can’t imagine your friends not taking a shot or two, regardless of the fact that they were understandable tears of joy.
No one really said too much about it.
That certainly doesn’t bode well for me then as the first one to take a shot at you about it, so please don’t come hunt me down.
Ah, I’m a nice guy. It doesn’t really bother me either way.
There has been a lot of speculation and demand throughout the online MMA community for the UFC to create another heavyweight division, from 206-240 for argument’s sake. What are your thoughts on that idea?
Right now I’m not sure the numbers are there, but the Cruiserweight division would be awesome. That’s probably where I would fight; I cut down to about 235 or 240, but I don’t know if the numbers are there right now to have a class [at that range] and fill it up with talented fighters.
Who knows? Maybe in the next couple years, there are a lot of new heavyweights coming into the mix. I think it’s a great idea once the numbers are there.
As a heavyweight, I would be remiss to not ask you about Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. He’s quickly climbed the ladder and sits atop your division. What do you think of the champion’s performances thus far and what do you think it’s going to take for someone to beat him?
Well, it’s going to have to be a big heavyweight, who if not matches his power, at least can keep him at bay and not get taken down. Brock looks pretty impressive when he’s on top. He’s a tremendous athlete and I think for someone to beat him they’re going to have to load up their hands and try to knock him out.
He’s the champ for a reason. I mean, he beat Frank Mir and [Randy] Couture and [Heath] Herring, so he’s there for a reason.
Fair enough. Is Shane Carwin the guy to knock him out? We’ve seen he’s got some dangerous hands. What do you think of that matchup?
I hope Shane’s the guy to take him out. I don’t really like Brock’s attitude and Shane Carwin seems to be a pretty stand-up guy. I think his skill level is there, we’ll just see if he can match Brock’s power.
Before getting around to some more insightful and investigative journalism-type questions, let’s run through the Keyboard Kimura Questionnaire:
Best fight you’ve ever seen – live or otherwise?
I don’t know. I like any fight with a real good knockout.
Most Underrated Fighter?
Geez, I don’t know. Most underrated fighter? These are questions I’ve never really thought of. I have no idea.
Is Fedor the Best Pound-for-Pound?
For sure; until he’s beat legitimately he’s the man.
Probably a Filet Mignon from Tom Goodchild’s Moose Factory.
If I wasn’t a fighter, I would be … probably back teaching?
I don’t know. I kind of enjoy more manual labour, blue collar type jobs. I just got my teaching degree coming out of high school because my parents said I had to go to college and I didn’t know what else to do. (Writer’s Note: Very much like my Psychology degree.)
Explain the origins of your nickname.
I grew up on the farm and my boxing coach just started calling me “The Thrashing Machine” and it just stuck. I got it around my fifth fight or so.
September marks the launch of Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, a season dedicated to heavyweights including Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson.
As a guy who has fought his way into the UFC by dominating the King of the Cage circuit, is there any resentment or frustration that one of these guys, if not more, are going to get the same opportunity you had to earn by winning 9 out of 10 fights through being on a Reality TV show?
No, I have no resentment towards any of them. If they win their fights, they’re going to be successful either way. The Ultimate Fighter is just an awesome platform for fighters to launch their career from.
If I had had the chance coming into the UFC, I probably would have taken it, but the UFC just picked me up and I’m here and I have to win this fight to keep going.
With all the hype and promotion for the show greatly involving Kimbo, chances are we’ll see him in the UFC once Season 10 has run its course. Do you think Kimbo is a legitimate prospect who could have a future in the sport or is this simply a mutually-beneficial situation where the UFC can capitalize on Kimbo’s popularity and Kimbo gets another 15 minutes of fame?
Well his hands look dangerous. [Seth] Petruzelli kind of caught him on the button. I don’t know if his chin is weak or if Petruzelli just hit him right, but he’s got a future for sure, as long as he can work hard and not get hit on the button anymore (laughs).
He seems to have some pretty dangerous hands of his own and he’s an exciting guy to watch. Win or lose, I think he’s going to bring a lot of viewers to the UFC, so hopefully he does well until he fights me.
That was honestly me next question. If Joe Silva offered you Kimbo, would you take the fight?
In a heartbeat.
Alright, time for some UFC 102 Predictions if you’re up for it. Obviously we know who you’re picking to win the Tim Hague / Todd Duffee fight, but let’s get to the rest of the card.
Couture vs. Nogueira?
I think Randy might grind him out to a later TKO or decision, but Nogueira is known for his subs out of nowhere, so who knows on that one?
Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva?
Thiago Silva will come back and win that one.
Chris Leben vs. Jake Rosholt?
I think Rosholt will beat him, possibly by decision.
Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia?
I’d like to see Marquardt put Maia away, just because I like Marquardt a little better. He’s a more exciting fighter to me.
Brandon Vera vs. Krzystzof Soszynski?
I think Krzysztof is gonna keep it rolling and I’d like to see him knock Vera out. Vera’s a little too arrogant for me. He came onto the scene with a lot of hype and, I don’t know, I just don’t like the way he carries himself. He’s a kind of cocky.
Before I let you go, we’ll close things out the way I always close out my interviews.
If you could fight anyone – past or present – who would and be and who would be the winner?
If I could fight anyone right now it would be Fedor Emelianenko because he’s the best in the world and if I got lucky and beat him, I’d be considered one of the best in the world too.
If you could play matchmaker for one day, regardless of organizational ties or anything like that, what three fights would you make?
Fedor and Lesnar first of all, then probably either Anderson Silva or Lyoto Machida against Gegard Mousasi, and maybe Georges St-Pierre versus Jake Shields or Nate Diaz.
Any final comments or people you need to send a shout out to?
Yeah, I just want to thank a guy who has really helped me out, a company, M&D Glass and Aluminum and everyone who has helped me trained for the fight. Of course my wife Brianne and my boy Brady.
Thanks again for doing this and good luck in Portland.
No problem. Thank you.