Eliot “The Fire” Marshall is not the type of person to just sit back and hope for the best.  Following his time on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter, he won his first three UFC match-ups before a single loss, against veteran Vladimir Matyushenko, resulted in his release.  Determined to make his way back to the promotion, Marshall wasted little time, picking up two consecutive wins with smaller Colorado based organizations, and a third under the now infamous Nemesis Fighting banner in the Dominican Republic. While the victories alone may have been enough to prompt a phone call from UFC match-maker Joe Silva, Marshall decided to take matters into his own hands.  After reading online that fellow Light Heavyweight Karlos Vemola had been forced to withdraw from his bout at UFC 128, leaving Luiz Cane without an opponent, he seized the opportunity.

Nearly a year to the day since his last octagon appearance, Marshall will look to solidify his place on the crowded UFC roster when he faces dangerous Brazilian striker Luiz Cane this Saturday night.  Here’s what he had to say about his preparations for the bout, returning to the UFC, and his new outlook on fighting:

You’re set to face Luiz Cane at UFC 128, how is your preparation going and what do you think about him as an opponent?
We’re ready to go. Just got to lose some weight now, that’s the uncomfortable part.  (Luiz Cane) is a tough guy. I’m excited, he’s aggressive. So we’ll get it on and the cards will fall where they fall.

Alright, and you took this fight on relatively short notice to replace Karlos Vemola, has this affected your training and are you doing anything differently to prepare for Cane?
No man, just getting ready with the guys I always get ready with. He’s a southpaw, so obviously that’s different.  There’s fewer southpaws than there are orthodox guys.  It just is what it is man. Just train hard, get in shape, and get ready.

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Its been a year and three victories for you since your last fight with the UFC.  How does it feel to be returning and how did the opportunity come about?
I was just looking on the internet and I saw that three dudes got hurt.  I saw earlier in the week that Tito (Ortiz) pulled out, and then later on, a couple days after that, Jason Brilz’s opponent got switched. So then when I saw that Vemola got hurt, I was like, “They’re going to need somebody.” So I contacted my management and was like, “Hey guys lets get on this, lets do this, call them.”

Yea, they were playing a bit of musical chairs there. And how do you feel about returning?  Are you excited?
(Sarcastically) Nah, I didn’t really want to fight in the UFC again. I figured I would just fight for nothing (laughs). Of course, of course man, I’m excited.

This will be your fifth fight in a year’s time. Do you prefer to remain this active or was it more about getting back to the UFC as soon as possible? Was that your primary goal?
I prefer to remain active.  I want to stay as active as possible.  I want to fight four times a year.  I don’t want to fight twice a year.  Everything just feels better, ya know?  It just feels normal. It feels like everything is going the way its supposed to be going.  When you only fight so sporadically, its like all this pressure, then it goes away, then all this pressure (again).  I would rather just stay in the pressure cooker. 

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Absolutely.  So, what do you think about the big news we got on Saturday regarding Zuffa acquiring Strikeforce?  Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing?
We’ll see how it works out.  They’re running a business, and they’re smart business men and they’re going to do whats best for them.  So I don’t know, we’ll see how it plays out.  I don’t want to speak prematurely or anything like that.  Nothing has really happened yet.

In your first run with the UFC, you were released after three wins and just one loss. Does that give you a greater desire to get in there and prove yourself this time around?

I’m just excited to show them that they made the right choice in bringing me back.

There are a lot of your Grudge training partners and teammates on this New Jersey card, do you feel any added pressure because of this or does that help you mentally?
Man, I feel zero pressure about fighting anymore.  The day I got back in the UFC, all the pressure went away.  It all went away.  I’m just excited.  Tell me the worst thing that’s going to happen to me?  I’ll fight and if for whatever reason they cut me again, well alright, that already happened.  I feel zero pressure.

What is your prediction for the Jon Jones vs. Mauricio Rua fight?

I’ve trained with Jones a couple times.  I think he is going to take it. I think Jones is going to take it in the second round.

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For those who may have been unable to follow your progress since your initial run with the UFC, what adjustments have you made?  Whats the biggest difference between the Eliot Marshall from then and now?
I’m just more relaxed about fighting.  I’m not nervous about what’s going to happen.  The first time, the only thing that I was thinking about was not losing and not getting cut. It happened and now I don’t even have to worry about it.  I’m here. I’m on this wave, this second wave coming through the UFC. And man, when it breaks, it breaks, and I’ll be done fighting.  I’ll move on with my life and I’m at peace with it.  I’m just excited to get back in the octagon and go have some fun.  I’m really excited just to get back in there and scrap and just let all the cards fall where they will.

Any Predictions for your fight on March 19th?
Its going to end decisively.  Its going to end very, very decisively.  No one is going to wonder who won and who lost.

Excellent.  Its been a pleasure, is there anything you would like to add or any sponsors you would like to mention?
I just want to thank everyone who stuck by me through my time of need (laughs).  Nah, but through this down time and I really appreciate all my training partners and my family and everyone at Alchemist for sticking with me.



Image Source: Sherdog.com