Camozzi Plans On Beat Down of Lemaire

Before making his GLORY kickboxing debut last December, Chris Camozzi (1-0) was chomping at the bit to get into the ring.

The former UFC middleweight asked to be placed into a tournament. He asked for top contender Robert Thomas, who is now the No.4-ranked middleweight. He asked for Mike Lemaire, ranked No.10, who he will now face at GLORY 52 on Saturday, March 31. Hell, he even asked for a title shot for his debut.

“I knew that wasn’t happening,” Camozzi told FIGHT SPORTS, laughing. He would settle on Kyle Weickhardt, who he handled at GLORY 48 in convincing fashion, winning by TKO in the second round of a a lopsided affair.

It doesn’t matter who is at the top of the division, Camozzi, 31, wants to face the very best. In fact, at the time of this interview, the GLORY newcomer said he has no idea who a lot of the top contenders even are, He just wants to test his skills against the best in the world and earn a shot at the gold.

“I want to make a title run this year in GLORY,” said Camozzi. I feel like the division is wide open. I’m not sure who the middleweight champ is right now,” he revealed.

“I don’t know who half the guys in the division are is the funny thing. Even though I watch GLORY—I watch every card—but I don’t know who half the guys in the division are because I can’t pronounce a lot of their names and stuff. If I see them I recognize them like, ‘Oh, I’ve seen that guy fight.’ I’m a fan of the sport, I just don’t happen to know all of their names or who is at the top and who is not.”

The current champion is Alex Pereira, in case you are wondering, who defeated Simon Marcus at GLORY 46 to win the middleweight title. The champion, who is 27-6, followed that up by knocking out the No.1-ranked contender Yousri Belgaroui at GLORY 49. Camozzi, meanwhile, is ranked No.11 and has just one kickboxing fight under his belt, but he would step in against any of the top fighters tomorrow. You get the feeling if he were house shopping he’d go against conventional wisdom and purchase one sight unseen, convinced it would work out just fine.

There is something to be said for that kind of confidence. It’s very admirable, but it doesn’t just happen by accident. Even though Camozzi, who compiled a 24-13 record in MMA, doesn’t have the amount of kickboxing experience that the others in the division possess, he does have the advantage of having the No.3-ranked middleweight contender Dustin Jacoby as his teammate. The two have trained together at Factory X in Englewood, Colo. for several years now, and Camozzi has cornered Jacoby for all of his fights since he signed with GLORY in 2014.

“He’s a guy that if him and I go out to the bar and play bar games, I’m on his team because he’s good at everything,” said Camozzi, who recently spent time coaching on UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic’s team for the latest filming of The Ultimate Fighter. “He’s solid everywhere. I learned a lot from him. That’s the thing, that last fight was my first kickboxing fight, technically, but I’ve been training with Dustin every camp that he’s been kickboxing, and him and I spar together all the time just kickboxing. If you ever watch us spar it’s like a fight. You are seeing heads get snapped back, mouth guards get knocked out. It doesn’t feel like sparring to me. I felt pretty ready going in there.”

Camozzi defeated Jacoby in the UFC back in 2012, but now that they are friends and teammates a rematch in GLORY is off the table.

“I don’t think there is a need for it,” said Camozzi. “We’ve done it. Now we are friends. We kind of new each other before we fought in the UFC. I don’t want to take money from him. He doesn’t want to take money from me. Our wives are friends. We all go out and hang out. I feel like that would make it awkward. There are plenty of other good guys to fight. If he wins the belt, then maybe I’ll consider going up a weight class or vice versa. I can see him going back to 209 [pounds] if I win the belt. Or, I’ll just fight everybody and they’ll have to beat me to fight him or vice versa. I think there are plenty of other guys to fight and make money. I don’t see it happening.”

He added: “We just joke about having a race to the title, whoever wins it first.”

Camozzi still trains MMA, he said, and revealed that his wrestling and takedown defense have gotten much better due to working so much on his footwork for kickboxing. But once he has a GLORY fight lined up he will only train for kickboxing.

“I don’t know, my body all around feels healthier just training for kickboxing, which is great,” he said. “I feel like I can push harder and there is more time during the day to do skill work and get in shape.”

Since transitioning into kickboxing, Camozzi said his body feels much better with less wear and tear on his joints, neck and back from taking time away from grappling, wrestling and defending submissions, which are unavoidable in training for MMA. And since he’s fought five-minute rounds for his whole professional career, he absolutely loves that there are three-minute rounds in GLORY.

“I can keep that volume up very easily,” he said. “I don’t think you will ever see me gas out in kickboxing.”

When he and Weickhardt faced off in his debut fight, Camozzi said, “I’m used to the MMA gloves, and right of the bat when Weickhardt and I started throwing it felt just like sparring. So that was kind of cool. The few times that he hit me it felt like those gloves can’t really hurt me. I don’t know. It’s a weird mental thing.”

GLORY has switched to Fairtex gloves now, which have considerably less padding than Hayabusa, the previous glove provider. “I like them a lot more,” Camozzi said. “There’s not much to them (laughing).”

The Colorado native thinks they will be an advantage against the defense of Lemaire, saying,”He goes real high guard and kind of wide, and I think with these new gloves it’s going to open it up for me even more.”

Camozzi has seen Lemaire up close from cornering Jacoby when those two fought in 2014, and described him as a “solid fighter.” He feels he has in advantage in that he’s familiar with the Frenchman, while Lemaire only has his debut fight to watch for preparation.

“There wasn’t a whole lot to go off of,” he said. “I wasn’t even throwing full power in that fight. The guy was backing up so much it seemed like a waste of energy. Those knockouts generally come when a guy is stepping in or going forward and you catch him. I don’t think I showed too much of what I have due to being able to throw whatever I wanted.”

In addition to going after the middleweight title, Camozzi said he wants to “set the record for most punches” in a GLORY fight. “In all of my fights in GLORY I want to have the highest punch count, highest volume,” he said.

And his plan for Lemaire?

“My goal is just to walk him down and beat him down and make him tired from running away from me.”

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