Say what you will about UFC lightweight and upcoming UFC 156 competitor Jacob “Christmas” Volkmann, but one can never say he is short when it comes to having a provocative personality. He calls it honesty. Either way, in a sport full of athletes that continually give media the same old cliches in interviews, his humorous candor is appreciated. And usually, controversy follows when one ventures into that territory with Volkmann, whether rightfully or not.

Volkmann is probably best known as the fighter that stated a desire to fight U.S. President Barack Obama in a post-fight interview at UFC 125. Of course, he didn’t mean any actual physical harm to the commander-in-chief. It was just his way of stating his political beliefs and having fun with the “who would you like to fight next?” question. But it’s not necessary to rehash that situation and the other that happened after a UFC 141 win, though it did give him a fun angle to bring into the cage as well as a new title of failed presidential candidate. We saw his “Volkmann for President” shirt in his most recent fight and win over Shane Roller last October at UFC on FX 5, and since he’s not running our country (nor was he ever legally eligible to anyway, due to his age), fans might be wondering how he fared when he asked undecided voters to write his name on the ballot in November.

“I got a few hundred votes, I think. It didn’t go so well. [Obama] got re-elected. It went horribly, actually,” Volkmann, with a laugh, told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview.

Volkmann celebrates (James Law/Heavy MMA)

Volkmann maintains that he is not simply being a provocateur to get himself attention. Whereas Chael Sonnen and Nick Diaz are known for talking to get what they want out of employers or opponents, Volkmann’s words come from being “frustrated and feel[ing] like I might as well say it.”

“I’m not being provocative, I’m just speaking the truth,” he clarified. “People don’t like what I have to say and I don’t care.

“Sonnen talks crap. Diaz brothers, you can’t understand them. They got some mental issues going on, you can’t understand what they’re saying anyway.”

Volkmann is a veteran of nine UFC fights, having won six of them. However, he has yet to make it past being placed on the preliminary portion of the cards. Many hardcore fans would say Volkmann is deserving of better placement on fight cards or a better ranking in the division, but what of his opinion?

“You can’t really go by the ratings,” Volkmann said. “The ratings are controlled by who the UFC puts on the main card. That’s who everybody sees and why they get so high ratings. But I dunno, it’s hard to say where I’m at. I haven’t even fought a top-10 guy, according to the UFC’s top 10.”

Continually placed on the preliminaries, Volkmann finds his fights broadcasted on Facebook, where the fighter won’t receive the most exposure. Outside of a small segment of fanatical fans that do sign into Facebook to watch fights, he believes “nobody even bothers to watch those.”

We’ve seen this scenario before with other fighters having a seemingly solid resume on paper, but being bound to their placement in the division. Jon Fitch is probably the best-known example in the UFC of someone, who like Volkmann, maintains a strong wrestling pedigree from college that doesn’t translate well as an exciting base for fighting in the Octagon.

“Yeah, they don’t like that style of fighting. Fans want more knockouts,” Volkmann admitted. “They want the heavy hitters, the ones that throw it all out there. Fitch is more of a control guy, he’s a ground guy. Most fans don’t like the ground. They don’t understand. [That’s] just the way it is.”

After dropping his first two fights for the UFC at welterweight, Volkmann moved down to lightweight and went on a streak of five wins. All of those victories went to the judges’ scorecards, and we all know how decisions draw the ire of fight fans. Criticism against ground fighting can be a confounding complaint considering that this is mixed martial arts, but nonetheless, Volkmann understands that the UFC is selling entertainment.

“The UFC puts, like I said before, the main-card fights—they put the people on the main card because they finish fights, and I haven’t finished my first five fights at lightweight,” Volkmann said. “So, I think that hurt me. [I] came close a few times, but that never happened. It’s a business, that’s why they didn’t put me on [main cards]. They want most of the famous ones.”

Volkmann was one of Paul Sass’s submission victims last May, but he bounced back in October to record his first finish for the promotion. It was a quick submission victory against Roller, and many would agree that it was his best performance in the UFC to date. However, don’t be so quick to pull out your Gladiator quotes or assume that the win for “Christmas” granted him a better spot on a card or a fight against a well-known opponent. His next bout will be against Bobby Green, a five-fight veteran of the now-defunct Strikeforce. So, does a win against Green help advance Volkmann’s career?

“Not really. Bobby Green, done,” said Volkman, disregarding his opponent. “He’s a good fighter—I’m gonna treat him like he’s one of the best fighters—but he’s from Strikeforce and he hasn’t really fought anybody. Beating him is not really going to do anything for me. I tell people I’m going to fight Bobby Green, and they’re like ‘who is Bobby Green?’ So I don’t think he’s going to help me out at all.”

That begs the question of who Volkmann would like to fight. And he shows no hesitation in his answer.

“I want [Benson] Henderson,” Volkmann confessed.
However, despite having his eyes set on the man at the top of the lightweight mountain and seeing little to gain in a win over his current foe, Volkmann continues to take his training seriously for Green.

“[Training is] going alright. Going as planned,” Volkmann said. “It’s rough, everything hurts [laughs]. Two-a-days. Run in morning, wrestling and spar in afternoon, wrestle in the afternoon. It’s going.”

Volkmann (l) connects with a kick (Ryan Loco/Heavy MMA)

In preparation for Green’s brawling style, Volkmann sees his timing with wrestling as being his ticket to another victory in the cage.

“Timing punching to shots,” he explained. “He’s going to be swinging some heavy hits out there. I think he’s a street fighter—is his specialty. He wrestled in high school. He’s a punk. He was adding me on Twitter and really irritating the crap out of me. So the goal is to get him down, finish him right away.”

The Twitter beef between Volkmann and Green seems to have originated in December. Green criticized Volkmann’s style as being boring and insulted him by saying his fights are booed. Green also wrote that Volkmann would get “whacked” when he attempts to shoot for a takedown. One of Volkmann’s few responses to Green’s light-hearted antagonism was a tweet calling Green a “Twitter Bully.”

While MMA fighters at the highest level must be prepared for everything, it appears that this will be a classic striker vs. grappler match. Volkmann expects to work his game around that conflict of styles.

“He’s going to try and defend the shots the best he can,” Volkmann said. “He’s going to be throwing knees and uppercuts and a lot of hooks. Throw some wild hooks, those to time well, as well as a takedown. We’ll see, we’ll see about that.”

It is yet to be seen if threatening a certain game plan is just gamesmanship on either side, but the most unexpected part of the fight will likely be what comes out of Volkmann’s mouth if he is to win. He’s a politically outspoken fighter that has seriously ruffled feathers with his forthrightness in the past, which is understandably a headache for employers, but can also be intriguing to others. Volkmann didn’t want to give anything away when asked, but he cryptically hinted at having something in store for a post-fight interview in the cage.

“I got something I wanted [to say]—hopefully I’ll get a post-fight interview,” Volkmann said. “It’s been bothering me for awhile. Unless they don’t let me [laughs].”

Top Photo: Jacob Volkmann (R) delivers a punch (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

David Massey
Staff Writer

David Massey studied Humanities and Art History at the University of Central Oklahoma. He first found interest in MMA from the first TUF show and has been hooked ever since. He began posting on mmajunkie then submitting Sunday Junkie entries and that began his interest in writing about MMA. Through twitter David found other MMA enthusiasts and began contributing articles to marqueemma.com. He looks forward to growing as a writer and being a part of the sport he loves.