Volkmann vs Paulo Thiago - Courtesy of Sherdog.com - Click for Source
Jacob “Christmas” Volkmann, who holds a five-fight winning streak inside the octagon (longest active streak in the UFC’s lightweight division), looks to continue his quest for the title when he takes on Paul Sass at UFC 146 on May 26 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Jacob was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to meet up with me and discuss his upcoming bout and other various topics.
Patrick: (MMABurner.com): Obviously you’ve got a big fight coming up against Paul Sass on May 26 at UFC 146. Like yourself, Sass is known for his grappling skills, but he’s a guy who’s willing to pull guard and fight off his back. How do you train for a guy like that?
Jacob Volkmann: The thing about this guy is that I’ve actually put the Gi on. So, i’ve been training with the Gi and working with guys who do more triangles, heel hooks, and guys who are always moving on bottom. I actually watched one of his videos and he constantly moves. I don’t think he burns a lot of energy down there, so it’ll be interesting to see what he’s like in the second and third period because he hasn’t been there too often. As for stand-up it’s been my same routine. Every Tuesday & Thursday I’ve been working my stand-up and then after every Monday & Wednesday practice, I’ll do hands (hit pads). So everything else is the same. I run everyday but the key has been working with guys who are active from bottom.
Patrick: (MMABurner.com): You’ve been working with the Gi, that’s great. We know that Sass will be looking for submissions and considering your Jiu Jitsu is constantly improving, will we see you going for submissions if the fight hits the ground?
Jacob Volkmann: Obviously I will be looking for submissions if the fight goes to the ground. I just wont be opening up and getting reckless to try for one. Meaning I will not be letting any space between him and me, and I will be controlling his hips as best as I can.
Patrick (MMABurner.com): Good to hear. A submission win over a guy like Sass would be huge. Who have been some of your best training partners throughout the years?
Jacob Volkmann: Sherk with the wrestling and grappling, Nick Thompson, Nik Lentz, Derrick Noble, Zach Juusola, Nick Compton, you better put Jordan Parsons in there or he’ll throw a fit. Mike Richman has been a good training partner too. There’s more but those have been some of my best training partners. For this camp, I’ve been working with Dan Opsal, who’s a purple belt at the academy – This guy name Tex (Ryan Pogue), he’s a great scrambler from the bottom so he’s been helpful too.
Patrick (MMABurner.com): Alright, cool… What are some of your goals with your MMA career?
Jacob Volkmann: Long term goal would obviously be to win the title. Short term would be to take one fight at a time and I actually need to treat this guy like he’s the champ. He’s very dangerous and the first period is going to be the worst.
Patrick (MMABurner.com): Obviously you are one of the best wrestlers in the lightweight division. What are some of your wrestling credentials.
Jacob Volkmann: Well, I was a three time state champ in High School at 140, 145, and 152 lbs for Ottertail Central (Battle Lake/Underwood/Henning) High School. I’m originally from Henning. As far as College goes, I wrestled for the University of Minnesota and I was a Big Ten Champion one year and a three time All-American.
Patrick: (MMABurner.com): I actually read this morning you wrestled at 174 lbs your Freshmen year and you took fourth place in the individual tournament (top eight earn All-American honors). I know you eventually wrestled at 165 your Junior and Senior years, but I find it pretty amazing you wrestled at 152 lbs your senior year in high school and then you go on to earn All-American honors your Freshmen year at UMN at 174 lbs. That’s a huge jump in weight and quite the accomplishment. Would you mind talking about that? Did J Robinson (Head coach at UMN) have anything to do with that?
Jacob Volkmann: Yeah it was all J Robinson. We actually had a guy named Brad Pike, who was a senior and wrestled at 165 lbs – they wanted me to jump up to 174. I was actually certified my redshirt Freshmen year at 149 – so they ended up putting me on creatine to gain weight. It sucked, I hated it.
Patrick: (MMABurner.com): Yeah that doesn’t sound fun… So obviously in MMA you only fight a few times a year – It’s more difficult to develop rivals compared to wrestling because of all the matches throughout the season. Are there any guys that you considered rivals during your wrestling career?
Jacob Volkmann: I don’t know if I consider him a rival but the guy that I had the worst battles with was Otto Olson from the University of Michigan. That’s one guy I would not want to step in the ring with. He was just freakin mean. He took the skin off my face.
Patrick (MMABurner.com): Wow. Are you kidding me?!?
Jacob Volkmann: No, ha. I was 0-4 against him… Another guy would be Tyrone Lewis from Oklahoma State. He was a four time All-American and I went 2-3 against him. He was the #1 recruit in the nation (coming out of high school) at my weight. I had some good battles with him.
Patrick (MMABurner.com): Yeah I’ve definitely heard of Tyrone Lewis… Good stuff. So how long have you been training at the MN Martial Arts Academy?
Jacob Volkmann: I’ve been training with the Academy for almost five years now. I didn’t know MMA existed until I met Sean Sherk and Greg Nelson. They were pushing me into it, those bastards. Ha.
Patrick (MMABurner.com): Did you not want to do it? Do you have any regrets?
Jacob Volkmann: I don’t know, I was kind of hesitant at first. I’m glad I’m doing it now. It pays the bills, kind of.
Patrick (MMABurner.com): Okay, so what are some of your hobbies?
Jacob Volkmann: Well I collect coins. Ha. So, yeah if anyone wants to sponsor me with coins we can throw them right on my shorts, ha…Also, the UFC gave us an IPAD for Christmas last year and that thing’s addicting (the aps and games).
Patrick (MMABurner.com) That’s cool. I imagine you’re a pretty busy guy too. I know you’re a family man and I’m sure playing with your kids keeps you busy. How many kids do you have and how old?
Jacob Volkmann: Yeah they keep me busy. I have three kids – two boys and one girl. My girl is the oldest and they are 5 and 1/2, 3 and 1/2, and 1 and 1/2 years old. The halves actually do make a big difference. Don’t go telling my five year old she’s only five. Ha.
Patrick (MMABurner.com): Ha, that’s awesome… I saw one of your interviews after your escudero fight where you were asked how close you were to passing out. You described it on a number scale 1-10 – 10 being passed out and that you were at a nine. Did you consider tapping?
Jacob Volkmann: No. I remember looking at the clock and thinking, what the hell – what is this crap? I was very angry with myself… As soon as I felt him (in the first round) I was thinking this guy doesn’t have a prayer. I took him too easy. I made the same mistake against McKee. I was winning the fight and had a mental fart in the third round, and then he took me down.
Patrick (MMABurner.com) Yeah I suppose all it takes is one mental mistake… So I know you train with fellow UFC fighter, Nik Lentz. He obviously has a really good guillotine. How good is it and how would you compare his to Escudero’s guillotine?
Jacob Volkmann: Escudero’s guillotine has nothing on Lentz’. To be honest, I don’t know of a guillotine that’s tougher (referring to Lentz’). What Escudero should have done when I was on all fours when he relocked it up, he should have pulled rather than staying parallel with me because it would have brought my chin down. That would have locked it up better and that’s what Lentz does a much better job with.
Patrick (MMABurner.com) What’s your favorite Martial Arts movie and/or what’s your favorite movie? And why?
Jacob Volkmann: How about Gladiator? Does that count? I don’t have any Martial Arts movies that stick out to me. As for favorite movies… I like Braveheart. Oh shoot no, Zoolander, obviously Zoolander. I like Zoolander for many reasons but mostly I think Ben and Owen are great in any movie together. I’ve seen that one about 20 times. Ha.
Patrick (MMABurner.com) Ha, that’s great. I didn’t expect you to be a guy who liked Zoolander. Awesome movie… Alright, I wanted to take about your fighting style. I think your jiu jitsu has come a long ways. You came close to choking out all three of your last opponents – The D’arce choke with Castillo and then rear naked choke attempts against McKee and Escudero. What do you have to say to those who consider you “just a wrestler”?
Jacob Volkmann: Well right now I am just a wrestler. If they want to see my stand-up someone will need to stop my takedowns. The thing about the sport, at least for my situation, if I lose I’m cut. So I’m going to stick with my strength. I’ll never go away from my wrestling. I’m going to get cut if I lose so I can’t (go away from it). Plus I don’t want to get hit in the head too often because I’m a doctor. Ha. But if someone can stop my takedowns then I’m going to have to open up my stand-up. So, yeah I really don’t care what they say.
Patrick (MMABurner.com) Yeah I imagine you are not one to be on the internet reading what people have to say about you. I disagree with you in a sense because of your Jiu Jitsu skills. You were relentless with your submission attacks against Castillo… Anyways, do you really think considering you are on a five fight winning streak, a loss would get you cut?!?
Jacob Volkmann: Yeah I do. They’d cut me for sure.
Patrick (MMABurner.com) That’s bull s***. I really hope not… Who would you say is your biggest fan?
Jacob Volkmann: Biggest fan, hmmm… Well, it’s definitely not my wife, ha. She went to Las Vegas when I fought Martin Kampmann and she had to leave the venue because she passed out. She hyperventilated so she doesn’t watch me fight anymore.
Patrick (MMABurner.com) Oh, no! That’s too bad… Do you have a favorite fighter you enjoy watching?
Jacob Volkmann: I like watching Clay Guida and Sonnen is fun to watch too.
Patrick (MMABurner.com) Yeah I imagine you can appreciate their grappling skills. What’s your favorite Martial Arts to practice?
Jacob Volkmann: I love doing Muy Thai. I only started doing it a few years ago and it’s exciting.
Patrick (MMABurner.com) Alright, what’s the hardest you’ve ever been hit? Practice or a fight.
Jacob Volkmann: Ha. It was a leg kick by Derrick Noble (former UFC Vet) one day in practice.
Patrick (MMABurner.com) Ha, nice. Yeah I remember Derrick Noble – good fighter… Well to be honest that’s all I have Jacob. Anyone you want to thank?
Jacob Volkmann: Obviously I want to thank the Academy (MN Martial Arts Academy), Athens Archery, SEG (Sterling Entertainment Group), Heatwave, Headrush, VersaClimber.com, Volkmann Chiropractic, Training Mask, Infinite Insurance, and MMAOverload.com.