Eliot Marshall, former contestant on season 8 of the Ultimate Fight reality television show, is currently fighting his way back into the octagon and is scheduled to fight November 13th at Nemesis Fighting: MMA Global Invasion against Chris Davis.

Eliot has been through a lot in his career so far and I had the opportunity recently to have a conversation about his past, present and future in the sport of mixed martial arts and a little bit about his family life.

Eliot Marshal trained in Karate from a young age and transitioned towards Brazilian Jiu Jitsu later on where he competed competitively for a long time before switching over to mixed martial arts. We have seen many wrestlers transition to mixed martial arts and have great success despite having only wrestled for most of their lives, when asked to compare his well rounded background to a more one dimensional fighter, Eliot had the following to say:

“I like my background, I feel like I have a good pedigree and a good skillset to work with. When you’re talking about the wrestlers, sometimes those guys are just so good at wrestling that they can just grind it out. But, me personally I am comfortable with the way I do it, I don’t feel I am getting finished in many places whatsoever. I can present big problems, if you want to stay on the feet or if you want to go down to the ground, doesn’t matter to me.”

Being well rounded doesn’t just apply to fight. Eliot knows there is more to life than just fighting and he has been going through one of life’s great experiences, he had his first child, a baby boy a little less than a year ago. Eliot describes how having his son to come home to has helped him with his career as a fighter:

“I love it man, the best thing about it for me as far as the professionalism of it, is that when I go train I train and I focus on what has to be done in training, on the mat and things like that. When I come home I don’t dwell on it, I play with the baby and whether he is sick, whether he is not sick, a good day, bad day all the stuff that happens in training that you can just dwell on all day long [that can] run down your emotions and your spirit, it hasn’t really been happening. ()”

In fact, the little one has got Eliot working on his cardio everyday:

“Ah man I do extra cardio every day just chasing him [the baby] around.”

Of course having a little one at home can be a lot of work, but the reward of parenthood definitely outweighs the effort. While on the Ultimate Fighter reality series back in 2008 with Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as coaches, the reward although great maybe didn’t overwhelmingly outweigh the effort and Eliot describes this when discussing whether or not he would do the show again:

“Would I do it again if it was a first time thing? Yes. Would I do it again as in a comeback thing? There’d have to be some big incentives, I didn’t enjoy my time doing it. What I took away from it [and] my whole UFC experience is that I can hang with anybody, I can fight whoever it is they want to put in front of me.”

Despite not winning the Ultimate Fighter season 8, Marshall was still offered to fight for the UFC. Eliot Marshall won three straight fights before losing a split decision to a savvy veteran in Vladimir Matyushenko and was cut after that first loss. Some people might feel that cutting a fighter loose after their first loss in four fights is pre-mature, but Marshall isn’t one to point fingers:

“You know what? I try not to think about it, I try not to dwell on it, they [The UFC] can do whatever the hell they want to do. It is my job to go out there and be exciting and win fights. I [was given] the opportunity to do that you know, [it was] 100 percent my fault.

"Did they [The UFC] cut me early? Yeah, I mean I was 3-1, one guy beat me by split decision. [Still] my fault, 100 percent my fault, I am the one that has got to fix that and make it so that they don’t even have the option of cutting me, I just have to go out and smash people. They [The UFC] are not worried about Eliot Marshall, they are worried about the UFC, so I have to worry about Eliot Marshall.”

Eliot Marshall had a taste of the UFC, top tier competition and realised he could hang in there with anyone. However, like anything in life, losing your job and having to get back on the horse and start the comeback trail can be a long and arduous task. Eliot Marshall explains how it hasn’t been too hard for him to start over again because this is the life he loves:

“You either want to do this [mixed martial arts] or you don’t want to do this and it is simple. If you don’t want to do it then you stop and if you want to do it, you love it, you do it for the fun of it, it is a great lifestyle and you love to do it every day. [After getting cut by the UFC] for 10 minutes I was like ah man maybe I am done, after that I was like nah man, [expletive] that, I’ll be back.”

Training is probably the most important part of mixed marital arts and most fighters will say that the actual competition is easy compared to the preparation. The importance of a good training camp with the right training partners cannot be underestimated and being part of The Grudge Training center in Colorado has been of paramount importance to Marshall’s fighting career:

“Mostly, it’s just me, Nate [Marquardt], Brendan [Schaub], Chaun Sims, Shane Carwin, Duane Ludwig and Cody Donavan, those are the mainstays at grudge. Other people are popping in and out sometimes, but we’re the guys that are there day in day out.”

“I feel really well surrounded, we have great training, we go to Amal Easton who owns and runs Easton BJJ, we are all a big team, so we do our days at Easton BJJ, we do our days at Grudge, we have a wrestling coach who helps us on our wrestling, strength and conditioning, we just have it setup so well.”

“One of the main things is the guys just get along so well together, we’re friends, it’s not like you go to work and have to deal with these people, we are buddies.”

Chris Davis is the opponent standing in Eliot’s way back to the top and Chris Davis is looking to get to the top himself. Davis is 9-2 in MMA and what’s interesting is both Davis and Marshall had a common opponent in for Ultimate Fighter contestant Vinny Magalhaes. Marshall defeated Magalhaes and Davis lost to submission against Magalhaes in the first round. Despite having lost to Magalhaes, Marshall isn’t one to underestimate his opponent, but he isn’t shy to express the fact that he will be ready for Davis come Saturday:

“He [Chris Davis] is a tough guy I am sure, I could care less, I know I have been with tough guys. You are not going to find me a guy tougher than Nate Marquardt, you are not going to find me a guy tougher than Brendan Schaub, you are not going to find me a tougher guy than another kid in our gym named Chaun Sims.

“Let’s do it, he [Chris Davis] is a tough guy, 9-2, he lost to Vinny, he beat that guy Kiko France, I watched that fight he has learned not to take Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts to the ground, but wherever he wants to dance were going to dance.”

Marshall discusses his game plan for this fight and all fights after, it is pretty simple:

“My game plan is survival. I have one game plan from now [on], for the rest of my life, the last bell can’t ring. I have got to go as hard as I possibly can so that that last bell does not ring. I am asleep or somebody else is asleep, the fights finish. I can’t fight just to win, no more third and final bell.”

In his last two fights, Eliot Marshall has come away with victories, moving his record to 10-2. A win this Saturday would put Marshall on a three fight win streak and the possibility of getting a second chance in the big leagues may not be too far off. When asked about the opportunity to get back to organizations like the UFC or Strikeforce with a victory this weekend Eliot was quick to make things clear:

“The only place I want to go is the UFC, I don’t want to play in the CFL, I want to play in the NFL and the NFL for fighting is the UFC.”

On whether a third straight win would propel Eliot back to the top of MMA:

“I can’t control any of that stuff, I just got to go out there and from now on for the rest of my life I have to finish every single fight or at least fight with that mentality of not just winning. I can win against anybody and not get touched and move and move kind of like boxing, but I have got to stop people.”

It is pretty clear that Mr. Marshall is really emphasizing not just the outcome of his fights, but the excitement of them as well.

Being a Montreal native myself, I had to ask Eliot Marshall about fighting in Montreal for UFC 97, Marshall’s reaction is similar to that of UFC head honcho Dana White:

“Montreal is crazy. Montreal is the craziest city I have ever been in my fight career. You guys over there you love your MMA and my lord you treat us like rock stars. Montreal is cool I would love to fight in Montreal again.”

Despite the party atmosphere Montreal is known for, the family man Eliot Marshall had to keep it pretty low key when he came to fight in Montreal:

“My wife was pregnant at the time and she was there too, I can’t say we partied too much, but it was a cool city, we walked around a little bit, I love Montreal.”

Before closing off the interview and thanking Eliot for his time he wanted to take the time to thank the fans and the people who have supported him through his career:

“I just want to say thank you to everyone for the support, I’m working my way back to the big show. Thanks to all my training partners, my coaches, my management team at Alchemist everyone that helped me and my family do this sport of MMA.”

Almost as I was doing this interview, Eliot posted a link to his Twitter account of a new MC Hammer music video that he and his Grudge training partners are part of, the video is attached to the article.

MC Hammer actually operates Alchemist Management which is a company that manages MMA fighters, including Eliot Marshall and many of the guys who train at Grudge with him.

Eliot Marshall is fighting this Saturday for Nemesis Fighting: MMA Global Invasion at the Hard Rock in Punta Cana, another notable fighter on the card is former UFC veteran Keith Jardine.