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Tuesday September 25, 2007 12:45 PM PST


Daniel Puder Q & A

By Gary Herman

Making the transition from professional wrestler to mixed martial artist is a very challenging task.

With his near submission in a shoot match over Kurt Angle at a World Wrestling Entertainment show, Daniel Puder immediately made a big name for himself. Since leaving WWE for MMA, Puder has looked very impressive in amassing a perfect 5-0 record.

Now, Puder takes the next step in his path to the top of the heavyweight ranks as he takes on Richard Dalton (3-2-1). The clash will take place at the Strikeforce show on Saturday, September 29.

We recently caught with up Puder to discuss multiple topics including what happened in the Angle incident, how the changeover from wrestling to MMA is going, and who he thinks he’ll be fighting in the future.

Question: What are your thoughts on your upcoming fight with Richard Dalton?

Daniel Puder: He’s a brawler. He’s a big guy, and I’m expecting him to come after me.

Q: Are you expecting this to be a stand-up battle?

DP: He has a wrestling background so I think he’ll do a little bit of both, but it really doesn’t matter. I’m going to out-strike him or out-wrestle him.

Q: How did the fight with Dalton come about?

DP: People keep saying that I asked for him, but I believe he asked for me so - he’s going to get me. I believe he said that he could beat Kurt Angle too.

Q: Speaking of Kurt Angle, that is something you are pretty well known for – the famous WWE incident where you locked Angle up in a keylock while you were trying out for WWE through WWE’s Tough Enough. Can you elaborate a little bit on what happened?

DP: Sure, Angle called me out. He called everyone out. I was the only one to have the guts to raise his hand so I raised my hand. I went in there, and I keylocked his *ss and made him look like an idiot in front of the world. Now, he doesn’t want to fight me.

Q: After the incident was over and the two of you were in the ring, it looked like Angle was saying something to you. What was he saying?

DP: He was pretty pissed. He was saying that I couldn’t use submission moves, and I said, “Well... yes, I can. They said I could.” So he kind of went off on me and wasn’t very happy. The whole point of it was for Angle to look like a champ and a star, and Vince (McMahon) thought he was just going to run through everyone. Now, I just want Angle to come and fight for Strikeforce so we can fight and settle this, but he won’t do it.

Q: Angle has made some mentions that he may be interested in mixed martial arts. Do you think he’s serious?

DP: Nah – he’s just blowing smoke at this point. If he was serious, he would have gotten into this a while ago. I’ve challenged him multiple times. I’ve even said that I would put up the money I would be paid by the organization against the money he would be paid by the organization, and that’s pretty far to go. I’m willing to do it, but he doesn’t have the guts to get in there with me.

Q: How about the professional wrestler switching over to MMA Brock Lesnar?

DP: I think he’s a stud. I’ve never personally met him, but I would love to train with him or maybe even fight him in the future. From what I’ve heard, he’s a great guy. I think he’ll do very well in the sport.

Q: How would you compare the pro wrestling locker room with the MMA locker room?

DP: Completely different. MMA is much less political. You’re not fighting in the same gym for the same spot. There are many companies we compete at. Everyone can get a spot with a different company. In WWE, there is a lot of crap going on. Everyone wants TV time, and they will do anything to get it. There is a lot more camaraderie and teamwork amongst MMA guys.

Q: Besides the locker room, why choose MMA over wrestling? It would seem that there would be less chance of injury with wrestling.

DP: It’s actually not as safe. Wrestling is harder on your body. You get tossed more. There are 300 lb guys jumping on you off the top rope or outside the ring. There are so many things that can go wrong. I’ve been there. In mixed martial arts, I’ve never gotten injured. In pro wrestling, I was way more beat up.

Q: How is the training going? Are you training with American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose?

DP: Yes, I’ve been training at AKA and also at Cung Le’s. I sparred with Chuck Liddell last week. I like working with the top guys. I even sparred with Rampage in the past. I like to see how the top guys train so I can improve myself.

Q: Did you see Liddell’s fight the other night?

DP: I didn’t see it, but I heard that Chuck’s coach called a few things. Liddell stuck to it, and he may have lost the fight because of it. But I think Liddell is a stud. He’ll come back if he wants to.

Q: AKA has been on an incredible run recently with Josh Tomson, Jon Fitch, and Trevor Prangley.

DP: Yes – absolutely. Bobby Southworth has done well. Phil Baroni was up there for a while as well as Josh Koscheck. Christian Wellisch is a heavyweight I like to work out with. We’ve has so many good guys up here.

Q: This upcoming fight is with Strikeforce and promoted by Bodog. Are you signed with Strikeforce?

DP: Yes, I have an eighteen month deal for six fights with Strikeforce. This will be my first fight with Strikeforce.

Q: Has Strikeforce given you a plan for the next eighteen months?

DP: It’s one fight at a time right now, but we are looking at potentially Bob Sapp or Kimbo Slice down the line. I’d like to fight both those guys. I brought up Bob Sapp and Strikeforce mentioned Kimbo. They’re both big boys. People like to see me knock out the big boys so it should be good.

Q: What will you be weighing in at for this fight?

DP: I’ll weigh in at about 225. I’m leaner than I was in the past. I’ve trained a lot harder. I feel a lot better than I ever have.

Q: For your long term plans - do you have designs on ever fighting in the UFC?

DP: I don’t know. Strikeforce takes great care of me. It’s a very good company. They’re doing what I want. Who knows what will happen down the line.

Q: Another interesting thing you have is your own website – www.danielpuder.com – what can fans expect to see there?

DP: It’s real interesting there. I’ve hired a full-time guy about a month ago to really make the site good. We have a big competition on there. We’re giving free stuff out. You can get new pictures and new videos. It’s going great.

Q: Well, I’d like to thank you for a few minutes of your time. Any closing thoughts?

DP: I’d just like to say that I appreciate everyone, and I would really like to thank everyone for watching and for their support.


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