Friday, June 5, 2009

K2 Interviews: Undefeated Prospect Cody "Donnybrook" Donovan

One of the goals of Keyboard Kimura is to introduce you to some of the names you may not know; the guys fighting for smaller promotions, trainers who plan strategies and work corners while their fighters are household names or fellow MMA writers penning pieces to continue the growth of the sport in the mainstream media.

Today is an historic day, as we bring you the first of hopefully many interviews from the world of Mixed Martial Arts.

Cody Donovan is an emerging light heavyweight prospect fighting out of Denver, Colorado with a professional record of 4-0-0, including first round stoppages in each of his last two fights. The man known as “Donnybrook” took time out from training to talk with us earlier in the week.

At what age did you get into your first fight and what brought it on? Who won and did either of you cry?
My first fight was in elementary school I'm sure. I got beat up a lot back then. They've all kinda blurred into one. I do remember being about eight years old and getting punched in the nose by this kid named Mike Owney. A girl I had a crush on was standing there watching us talk trash and saw the whole thing. I'm standing there trying not to cry and my mom comes running up thinking that she was saving the day (laughs), I started balling. I must have looked like such a wuss. Mom winning my fights for me. Needless to say I didn't get the girl.

When and how did you first get started in MMA?
I studied Brazilian jiu jitsu in college. MMA was just kind of the next step. I took a trip to Jackson's with Christian Allen about five years ago. We trained with Joey (Villasenor) and Keith (Jardine) while we were down there. That's when I started getting serious about it. A few months later I was training 5 days a week back in Denver.

Where do you train and who do your fight for?
I train out of T'sKO Fight Club in Denver, and Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque. We’re like a big family. When one of us has a big fight, we all get together in one of those cities. I guess Montreal would be on that list too. I was able to go up there for Georges' fight with B.J. Penn. That was a tough camp.

Your training partner at T'sKO Brendan Schaub has been rumored as one of the contestants on TUF 10. Can you give us any insight into what to expect from him?
(Laughs) I can't comment about the TUF show, or whether or not Brendan will be on it. I can tell you that Brendan is a beast. You can expect big things from him wherever he goes. He is one of the most explosive athletes I have ever met. He is a great boxer, and picks things up faster than most fighters. People better watch out for him. And don't call him a football player.

Kimbo Slice is also going to be on the show. What are your thoughts on Slice as a fighter and do you think his inclusion on the show is good for the sport?
Kimbo has the potential to be a good fighter, someday. Right now he is just a slugger. It’s not hard to beat up a bunch of regular guys in some parking lot, and throw it up on YouTube. If Kimbo were to step in the ring with any of the heavy weights I train with, they would take his lunch and hand him his ass. I’d like to see him do well. I hope he sticks with it. I'm sure having him on TUF will be great for their ratings.

Tell us a little about your relationship with Nate Marquardt.
Nate's kinda like a big brother to me. He's already been through a lot in this sport, and is always willing to sorta lead me in the right direction. He’s a teacher to me as well. His technique is insane. He spent the last ten years traveling the world learning martial arts. A true mixed martial artist. I'm always picking his brain.

Is that relationship with Nate what brought you to Jackson's MMA?
It definitely got me in the door. People took me serious right from the start because I was "Nate's guy". Being the same size and weight as [Keith Jardine] helped as well. I was invited back the first couple times as an extra body for him to throw around. (Laughs)

What is it that makes Jackson's team such a strong group in the sport?
We are like a big family. We really want to see each other do well. With as hard as we all work, it’s pretty tough to find opponents that can match our training camps. I think the other part is that we have the best coaches and trainers in the world. Everyone knows Greg is the man, but there are so many others as well. We have stand up coaches like Trevor Wittman - the best boxing coach on the planet - Mike Winklejohn, Christian Allen, Phil Nurse and Firas (Zahabi). Wrestling coaches like Mike Van Arsdale and Leester Bowling, and strength and conditioning from Jonathan Chaimberg and Chris Lattrel. In Colorado we train our jiu jitsu with Amal Easton and the rest of his black belts; he is a genius on the ground.

Have you been down to Albuquerque since UFC 98? How's Rashad reacting to the loss?
I have not. I'm sure he's not happy about it. But I know that Rashad is not in MMA to take easy fights. He wants to challenge himself and leave a mark on this sport. I think it will just push him to fight that much better the next time around.

Where are you fighting right now and what are your goals for the next year?
My last two fights were in D.C. with the UWC. I really like that organization and I’m hoping they will have me back soon. Over the next year I want to continue to move up the 205 ranks. I'm not going to take any steps backwards. I don't like to have anything to do with choosing the opponents I fight though. I feel like if I have to say yes or no to a fight, it takes away the very thing that makes me a fighter. I let my manager and trainers make those decisions. I’ll fight whoever they put in front on me. I just train hard and enjoy the ride.

What song(s) do you use for entrance music?
Johnny Cash, Dropkick Murphys, Atreyu. I think I'm gonna mix it up on this next one and come out to some Jay-Z.

How do you mentally prepare for a fight?
I did some work with Brian Cain a while back. He helped me a lot as far as understanding sports psychology and fighting. I also use conditioning drills, high altitude training, and circles to instill confidence in my cardio. If I'm not gassing out, the other guy is screwed. (Laughs)

If you could fight anyone - past or present - who would and be and who would be the winner?
Good question. I’d wanna fight some old school warriors. Guys like Achilles, Alexander the Great, or William Wallace. That would be a fight. And I'd crush them because they don't know jiu jitsu. (Laughs) Maybe Jack Dempsy, he’s from Colorado too.

Time to get your picks on some of the upcoming fights:

Mike Brown vs. Urijah Faber II?
I'm pulling for Faber. He's good buddies with Tyrone Glover, who is one of my jiu jitsu coaches. Brown's a beast though. I wanna see my boy Leonard get another shot at him.

GSP vs. Thiago Alves?
Come on...

Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin?
I think there is only one middleweight that can beat Silva. Hopefully he'll get his chance again soon.

Normally, I’d call you a total homer, but (1) I can’t blame you for supporting your team and (2) I don’t want you choking me out, so we’ll just move to Lesnar - Mir II?
Mir. Lesnar is a monster, but Mir is much more well-rounded. My good friend Eliot (Marshall) trained with him on TUF. He said Mir is a freak athlete.

And now the non-fighting stuff so people can know a little more about you outside of the ring:

Favorite movie?
Right now it would have to be Step Brothers. Of all time, maybe Gangs of New York or The Departed. Or some old school Chris Farley stuff.

Ever teabag a drum kit? Wait... don’t answer that.

Favorite food?

Favorite athlete?
John Elway

Best place you've ever traveled to?

Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
My friend Joe Ban. He makes it possible for me to pursue my fight career, he's the man. My boy Ryan at 5280 Fighter. He does a lot for the up and coming guys in Colorado. My friends and fam, I’m lucky to have so many good people around me.

Thanks for doing this.
No problem.


K2 Interviews will appear periodically on Keyboard Kimura. If you're interested in being featured in this segment, contact me at and we'll try to put something together.

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