After submitting Chris Lauzon in just 50 seconds at King of the Cage Canada’s “Goldmine” event in October, Mike Froese has not only been tapped for a main event appearance, the rising veteran has been granted a shot at Canadian Middleweight Champion Elmer Waterhen. After three plus years of professional fighting and countless hours of martial arts training, it’s a dream come true for the Albertan.
“You know what, it was “wow,” said Froese, while discussing his reaction upon finding out he would fight Waterhen for the belt, March 9th
at Edmonton’s Mirage Banquet Hall. “It’s goal number two off the bucket list. One of my goals was to win a fight after I turned 40, and now I’m given this awesome opportunity to contend for the belt and walk away with the strap if things go my way. So I was really excited to get that news.”
Of course Waterhen is no stranger to many Canadian fans. Not only has the Saskatoon fighter competed for KOTC Canada extensively throughout his near decade long career, but he’s taken on several of the nation’s UFC vets like Jesse Bongfeldt, TJ Grant and Rory MacDonald.
“Elmer is quote, unquote a badass,” Froese said about his next opponent, who stopped Brad Stewart last July to become the middleweight champ. “He’s taken some of the top notch guys out there to the distance. I do see one weakness, and his weakness is that he’ll fight anyone. That’s not always necessarily a bad thing, but he won’t turn down any fight, and his record reflects that a little. No one can look at his record though and dismiss that, he really is badass.”
While Waterhen has often earned praise for his toughness and willingness to stand and exchange, Froese is keenly aware that the Champion will bring more than just that to the cage.
“I think it may be fair to say his ground isn’t as good as his striking, but let’s not take away his ground skills from him either,” Froese noted, while discussing whether Waterhen is more of a danger on his feet. “The guy pulled the Chael Sonnen on Aaron Bruce; he was taking a hefty licking and he pulls his heart out of nowhere and triangles him in the third round. His ground might not be as good as his striking, but that’s only because his striking is that good. I’m not underestimating him in any area.”
Froese (5-3) heads into this Friday’s “Infamy” card having gone undefeated in his last three fights and has not lost since May, 2010, when he was submitted by current KOTC Canadian Lightweight Champion Chad Freeman.
“I guess I’m a guy that likes to set the pace early; I wouldn’t say that I’m as high energy as Elmer, but I’m a style of my own,” said Froese, who has recorded four wins now by submission. “I’m not afraid to stand and bang, but gravity’s on my side, so I’ll take that edge if it needs to go down. If not, I’ll stand and bang. There’s all these names for fighters, whether it’s a wrestler, a ground fighter or a Muay Thai fighter, whatever, but let’s go back to the old days and say that I’m freestyle.”
Froese continues to benefit from the guidance and training that’s provided through one of Canada’s leading facilities, The Hayabusa Training Centre in St. Albert, Alberta.
“Wrestler extraordinaire, Roger Alves is a key component to all of my camps as of late,” Froese noted, when asked to relay who has helped him prepare for the upcoming title fight. “Submission guru Luke Harris; that guy has really put a lot of technique into my ground game, and then I have guys like Chase Degenhardt, Chuck Pelc, and Jeff Montemurro really adding their pieces into my game…All the guys there, the students too, have been helping me out.”
Now, as the biggest fight of his career approaches, Froese is keeping his eye on the prize rather than speculating too much on what lies ahead if he becomes champion.
“You know, one fight at a time,” said the former welterweight. “I’ve struggled with trying to keep my weight up for this fight, and that’s something I’ll have to look at moving forward at 185. It’s clear that my body is telling me that it likes to be at a lighter weight class, so I may have to put some lean mass on and see how that works for me.”
“The plan for this fight is to just go out there and fight my ass off; hopefully walk away with the belt,” Froese furthered. “Then we’ll go from there and see who Ken (Kupsch) puts in front of me.”