Jeremy Horn Discusses his Career, MMA & Conor McGregor
Beginning his mixed martial arts career in 1996 in a warehouse in Atlanta, Jeremy Horn is the most famous fighter you’ve never heard of. Unlike many, Horn has not let his remarkable career go to his head. This humble fighter has fought the who’s who of MMA such as Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen, Chuck Liddell, Dan Severn, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy Couture, Forest Griffin and so many other legends in the sport.
Now, at age 40 Horn is still very much an active fighter. What’s more, Horn has used his wealth of knowledge and experience of martial arts to open his own gym called Jeremy Horn’s Elite Performance MMA in Sandy, Utah, USA. Read what the man responsible for putting Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell to sleep, the man who defeated Chael Sonnen three times. Or finally, the man who gave Forrest Griffin his first KO loss of his career had to say.
Everything Jeremy Horn:
What’s the reason you continue to fight?
I just enjoy the sport, I enjoy fighting and I always have. And I’ll keep doing until it’s not fun anymore!
How have you managed to have such a long and successful career without sustaining any serious injuries?
I think it’s mostly because of my mentality towards training and you know, fighting. I’ve always been of the mindset to train smart and not super hard. You know, not just be a brawling bone head, and that’s just always been my mentality.
It’s kind of funny, all these guys that are now advocating to not go super hard, don’t get concussions when your sparring, don’t do this or that; I’ve been saying that for 15 years!
I’ve always believed that you should focus on technique, doing things right, doing them smoothly and that it’s not always about biting down on your mouthpiece and throwing as hard as you can against everybody and everything.
You need to go hard every now and again, because… You have to be capable of doing that. You need to know that that is something you can do. But if you do it all the time just to prove that you can or to make yourself feel good is just silly.
In 1999 you fought 21 times winning 20. Can you describe your training regiment during that time?
Ya, I fought just about every weekend that year. So it was pretty much train Monday through Thursday, then travel Friday and fight Saturday. Then come home on Sunday and then train again on Monday.
Every now and again it would be, leave on Thursday and fight on Friday. Or sometimes I would even fight on Friday and Saturday.
So that was basically it; train Monday through Thursday, go to the fight, flight, and then come back and train again.
If you could fight any fighter from any generation and organization who would you fight? Your dream fight.
I never really picked who I fought or wanted to fight. I like to fight and I’ll fight whoever’s in front of me. My goal has always been to fight because I enjoy it, so I don’t really have anyone in particular that I would like to fight.
We recently saw Damien Maia fight Gunnar Nelson; two grappling all-stars. Would it be of any interest to you to compete against one of them?
Oh, I’d love to! It would certainly be very entertaining to get a chance to compete against either of those guys. I think they’re both fighting at 170 lbs, so aha, I’m way off that these days! I’m walking around at 235lbs now so that might be a little hard but ya those guys are both incredible grapplers and it would be really fun to compete against either one of them!
If you weren’t fighting or teaching martial arts what do you think you would be doing?
You know, I don’t really know. Before I got into martial arts I was doing construction and honestly, I really enjoyed that kind of work. I imagine I would be doing that. I’ve got a little bit of OCD/ADD in me so fabrication and construction have always appealed to me. So building things and then watching a design take shape has always kind of appealed to me.
Luke Rockhold just defeated Chris Weidman for the UFC’s Middleweight belt. Who do you think should get the next fight?
I can’t argue with Yoel Romero, he’s done well, he just beat Jacare Souza. But I don’t know, it comes down to how you want to make people qualify for getting a title shot. Yoel Romero has done well, so there’s an argument that he’s the most deserving but Vitor Belfort’s history would certainly put him in the running as well. But Belfort did just get a chance when he fought Wideman last so it’s hard to say.
I personally don’t have a preference. The best fighter is going to continue to win so who cares. I remember a long time ago. I think it was Frankie Edgar who was speculated to deserved a title shot against the champ BJ Penn at the time but then got another fight instead.
Anyways they were asking him about it and he said “You know I don’t care how many fights I have; I think I’m the best which means that I’m gonna beat everybody. I don’t care how many fights it takes for me to get a title shot because I believe I’ll beat everybody.” And I think that’s the perspective that everybody should take.
Conor McGregor is bringing a lot of attention to not only the UFC but to the sport as a whole. Do you think his personality and notoriety is a positive representation of martial arts?
Hmm, as far as if he’s a good representation of martial arts; that’s borderline. He really goes back and forth.
I’ve always said, being loudly aggressive and confident is good for the sport; you know, the kind of Chael Sonnen approach where you strut around and say you’re the greatest in the world and nobody’s going to touch me. And that’s fine, but there’s a difference between saying I’m the best and saying you suck. That to me is where the line needs to be drawn.
So Conor McGregor was really walking that line. When they ask him what he thinks of his next opponent it’s one thing for him to say he’s going to obliterate him, or there isn’t anything he can do to me. But then he started talking about Aldo saying “Well he’s a bum, he doesn’t deserve this…” to me there’s a difference there.
“You can be respectable and still think you’re the greatest.”
But when you start being disrespectable to other people is when I think it’s bad for martial arts in general. But as far as the UFC goes, who cares. He’s bringing more attention to the sport. Love him or hate him, everyone wants to see him fight. So he’s good for the sport but the sport is not the same as martial arts.
Man, Conor McGregor is an amazing fighter though. He’s certainly very skilled but I personally think that his biggest weapon is his confidence. When he fights, he’s not just talking shit; he truly believes that he’s the best fighter on the planet. And when he goes out there, he fights like that. I always tell my guys, when you watch him fight, there isn’t anything that he does that you couldn’t do to your 12-year-old kid brother.
Like the techniques that he’s using are good but there are thousands of people out there that can do them exactly as he does them. The difference is, he’s doing it at the highest level to the best competitors out there and he’s still doing it and still making it look easy. And that comes from his supreme confidence in himself.
The gym that trains Jose Aldo and Renan Barao, along with many other UFC fighters, Nova Uniao, has been relatively unsuccessful as of late. What do you think they may be behind the times in their training regiment?
No, I don’t think it has to do with either. And I certainly don’t think it has anything to do with the drug testing. I think they’re both really talented guys and I think they just ran into talented fighters that were bringing a style that they weren’t used to.
When you’re used to being the hammer you don’t take well to being the nail. So yeah, both Barao and Aldo, so very talented for so long and just used to smashing everybody. And people kind of showed them a level of respect in the fight. But then guys like Conor and Dillashaw say “Hey, no you’re not dangerous, I’m not scared of you, and you can’t keep up with me…” I just think they just got caught with something new that they weren’t familiar with or prepared for.
Current State of MMA:
What’s next for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts?
Man, it’s hard to say. It’s going to continue to grow and gain acceptance. I don’t know if it can gain any more attention, because it’s already pretty well-known worldwide.
But there a lot of people that support the boxing community that look at MMA as the thuggish kid brother of boxing that nobody really cares about…More people are going to learn about it and realize how much skill is involved and gain a little more respect for it.
I think one of the biggest things that it needs, is there needs to be another organization out there, a legitimate organization that can challenge the UFC for fighters and for money. There is no question that the UFC controls the sport and that’s good and bad because the UFC is doing great things for the sport.
But it (The UFC) almost has to control. I don’t wanna say that their holding fighters back because that certainly isn’t true but there’s a lot of fighters who are stuck where they’re at because the UFC is the only option. So as soon as there becomes another major player to legitimately challenge them and give fighters some other options they’re kind of stuck.
With Bellator, you get more freedom of sponsors which for some people can be really good. But you know, they put together some freak shows and some not so legitimate tournaments and that kind of thing. And a lot of people aren’t interested in that and want to see something a bit better.
What really seems strange to me is that Bellator certainly has, with the backing of Viacom, they have the money to challenge the UFC for fighters and to really make themselves a major player. But they don’t seem to want to. I can’t really tell if they’re just playing it smart and just growing their brand slowly or if they’re just scared to challenge the UFC and waste a bunch of money.
Obviously Bellator has been around for a while and I see them continuing but they don’t seem to be making a big push to grow.
While on the topic, Bellator will be featuring a fight between Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock soon. What are your thoughts?
When that’s their selling point and main event; you can’t do that too often. I would almost count myself in that category! I’m 40 years old now, so I think I would be more in the master’s division as opposed to the relevant contender division! But you can’t really build your brand around things like that. Everyone wants to see the young stars challenging for world titles.
Is there anything you would change about the current state of MMA?
Hmm, ya, I mean I really would like to see another major player come along to challenge the UFC and along with that, I’d like to see some more mid-level shows. There are some local shows creating some stars but as far as national or mid-level stuff it’s hard. A lot of those guys (National/Mid-level Promotions) have a big name but really they’re only half a step above a local show. You know, they come into town, and the only people they want are local guys who are big-ticket sellers and then they bring one or two of their stars with them.
But let’s say I’m in Utah (USA) and they’re doing a show in Kansas City and this is a show that is presenting themselves as the gateway to the UFC but I can’t even get them to let a fighter who’s ready to make that transition fight! They (promoter) ask “How many tickets can he sell? Oh, are you willing to drive?”
“When you’re saying you’re the gateway to the UFC you shouldn’t be requiring fighters to drive 10 hours to get to your show.”
A lot of times in MMA, guys up into their early fights in the UFC are still working a regular job on the side. And there’s nothing wrong with that but I don’t know too many professional athletes in other sports who still work a side job. And everyone will say “The UFC should just pay more money!” but it’s funny,
I just had a conversation with one of my fighters about this the other day. I don’t necessarily think that the UFC should just blanket pay more money. Because it’s definitely a complicated situation; there are guys in the UFC that don’t belong there. When you’re a guy who’s 4-0 or 5-0 and you’ve only fought locally; you shouldn’t be in the UFC.
The fact that you’re very charismatic or you’ve won a couple of your fights spectacularly should not automatically place you in the UFC bracket. You don’t see guys in college basketball have a couple of good games in their first year; they don’t automatically go to the NBA.
But ya, it’s frustrating, like you said the pathway isn’t very clear. You’ve got guys who absolutely skill-wise belong in the UFC. They’ve fought locally and smoked everybody, they fight regionally and do very well, and then they try to make a push to the next level and they just can’t make it there because they aren’t loud mouths or they haven’t got enough exposure… but then you’ve got guys that nobody has ever heard of, but damn they’re good lookin’ and then they’re in the UFC! It’s insulting to me and for those who actually put in the work.
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