“I’ve been up in Stockton finishing up Nick’s camp. I’ve never done as much running in my life man. The other night after sparring we went running at like three o’clock in the morning, five mile run. I think this week I’ve run 17 miles already. His idea of “a little run” is a six-mile one at a pace that is just insane. He is nuts”, laughs Schilling down a crackly phone line.
“He’s in great shape though, real athlete. He did nine rounds of five minutes the other night with a fresh opponent each round, kickboxing with takedowns. He’s doing stuff like that almost every day. It should be a good fight, he couldn’t have had better training for it. I brought in Artem Levin for him to work with, Chidi Njokuani and of course myself. Chidi was perfect to finish the camp actually, he moves just like Anderson, he’s got a similar style.
“But everybody I brought in for Nick to spar with is a better kickboxer than the guy he is going to fight, you know? Artem is a better kickboxer than Anderson, I’m a better kickboxer than Anderson, Chidi has got even better movement than Anderson. It was a good camp. I was trying to knock Nick out in sparring all the time, and not knocking him out.”
The standard of Silva’s striking has always been a hot topic among kickboxing aficionados. Whilst he is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous strikers in the MMA game, there are plenty of people willing to question his efficacy in a striking-only match. Under Muay Thai rules, for example, he has two losses to Jose ‘Pele’ Landi-Jons.
“I think it would be embarrassing for him in there with me. The more I have studied Anderson Silva for this fight camp of Nick’s the more I think he is good at kickboxing for MMA but in a professional kickboxing fight he would get wasted,” says Schilling.
“I think in general his level of opposition hasn’t been that high, in striking terms at least. If you watch those fights with Chris Weidman he got frustrated. I think he broke mentally and that’s why he started acting cocky and playing silly games.
“Same thing as me against Wayne Barrett [at GLORY 12], I got frustrated and started putting my hands on my hips and all that stuff. Anderson was hitting Weidman but Weidman wasn’t going anywhere, he was shutting him down. He threw that kick out of frustration and got checked and got his leg broken.”
As a top-ranked kickboxer, Schilling’s opinion is no armchair-general summarizing. He has taken a good look at Silva whilst running the striking side of Diaz’s camp and he isn’t seeing things which make him worry for his friend.
“They have all these videos coming out of Anderson in training, doing like jump knees and s–t, but I look at them and think he doesn’t look that good. He is moving like an old guy. He doesn’t have that fluidity that guys like me and Artem Levin have,” he says.
“Artem came in and he’s just a different level. Nick’s not beating his ass but like I said to Nick, you don’t have to beat Artem Levin in a kickboxing match, you only need to beat the guy you are facing on fight night. So even though he was getting frustrated at times, he has learned a hell of a lot in this camp and I think that will show on fight night. He hurt Chidi checking one of his kicks the other day. He’s blocking kicks, he’s countering, he’s looking really good.”
Schilling spent three weeks at Diaz’s place in Stockton, went home for a week, then returned for the final week of camp. He stayed at Diaz’s house and says it was “crazy, like The Ultimate Fighter house without the cameras, just bodies everywhere, sleeping all over the floor and stuff”, although “nobody is partying, it’s all business.”
A big part of that business is fitness. When it comes to gas in the tank, few fighters have more than Diaz. He’s the kind of guy who does triathlons for fun and will go on long runs at a moment’s notice, as Schilling found out.
“We train late at night and afterwards everyone is just ready to go to bed. Then the other night I was making a joke to Nick and I said “Ha, I bet you’re not ready to go for a run now!” and he went “Let’s go motherf–ker”, so I was like “F–k, well I gotta do it now.” So we ended up running five miles at like three o’clock in the morning with these headlights strapped to our heads.”
That must have been quite a sight for the locals who were looking out of their windows at that hour. Like a group of deranged miners making their escape. “Oh yeah; I was fully expecting to get stopped by the police at some point, but there was nobody out.”
Levin moved from Russia to San Diego recently and is now teaching at a club there. Schilling brought him in for the Diaz camp, but that doesn’t mean the two are striking up a bromance now that they reside in the same state.
“No, I didn’t spar with Artem. No,” Schilling says, sharply, when asked about their interactions in the training room.
“Actually I brought him in mostly for the few days while I had to go home to LA. Artem and I are cool with each other, we respect each other. But it’s our job as well. They will probably want us to fight each other again soon. It’s hard to fight someone you’re too friendly with.”
Any other UFC fighters that Schilling thinks could cut it in the GLORY World Series?
“Who would do well in GLORY? Edson Barboza, Jose Aldo. I really like Ben Saunders, he would do well in GLORY. Luke Rockhold would do alright… Bisping, maybe. I watched him beat Cung Le up but then look what Rockhold did to him with kicks,” he says.
“But then it’s hard to say with these guys because they are having to defend takedowns and stuff so you don’t see what they are really capable of as strikers.”
Diaz faces Silva at UFC 183 this coming Saturday night in a pay-per-view offering. Just under a week later, Schilling has his own fight as he faces Canadian middleweight Robert Thomas at GLORY 19 on Friday, February 6. The fight airs live on Spike TV in the US.
If you’re looking for more from Schilling, here’s his appearance on The MMA Hour, late last year:
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