sPidA: You’ll be competing at the Element Fighting Championship 2 “FULL THROTTLE” on June 9th for a title shot, how much more does this fight mean to you?
Cleburn: This fight means so much to me already that I am doing something I haven’t done in years, which is go away from my family to put in a proper fight camp. I am leaving next Sunday to go stay at the Tapout House. I have hurt my record and my reputation in recent years by not showing up at my peak potential but I am using this fight as an opportunity to make a statement. The fact that it’s for a title just adds even more motivation.
sPidA: What does your training consist of before a fight and does it change with your opponent?
Cleburn: As I mentioned, this will be my first fight in over 3 years that I leave home to focus 100% on the fight at hand. My training doesn’t really change for my opponent. Since I can’t tell the future I have no idea how he may respond to me. All I can do is constantly improve myself and be as prepared as I can, as well as make note of whatever habits of my opponents that I may suspect will play a factor but ultimately I am going to fight my fight and be ready for everything.
sPidA: Your coming in with 17 bouts in MMA, what lessons have you learned more from ,wins or losses ?
Cleburn: I learn from everything but most of my losses aren’t a reflection of my skill or ability. Most of them to me are a reflection of poor decision making during difficult times in my life. But after a fight, whether I won or lost, I analyze my performance and look for anything I can improve on. Then I continue moving forward. I am never defeated nor satisfied. I am simply moving forward at all times. (or at least trying to, lol)
sPidA: Your representing Phalanx MMA, with you and now your training partner James Vick in the TUF house, what does the gym offer to those looking to train in your neck of the woods?
Cleburn: I train at Phalanx and Genesis Jiu Jitsu, and from someone who has trained with lots of people in lots of places, I can tell you that the technical expertise you will find at these places is better than anyplace you are gonna find! I am so happy to finally have home gyms that really have helped me grow and improve a lot in such a short time. And unlike other experiences I’ve had in the past, the coaches at Phalanx and Genesis actually care about you and make you feel like part of the team. Feeling at home is extremely important when you are trying to grow.
sPidA: What do you know about your opponent and how has your training been since getting word on this match up?
Cleburn: I know he is gonna be extremely athletic and explosive, but I see no way that he will be on par with my technique or experience and I’m pretty athletic and powerful myself so I have been training to make sure I absolutely show up at my very best. He is gonna be a little unpredictable, so I just am making sure that I am ready for everything.
sPidA: You recently had an addition to your family, as a parent, would you be supportive if your kids grew up wanting to compete in a combative sport?
Cleburn: Yes I just had my fourth child this January. As far as I’m concerned the support process starts during pregnancy. I constantly pray over my children and am constantly trying to be the best leader of the house that I can so that as they grow, they will grow in wisdom and grow closer to God. That way when the time comes for them to make decisions about their lives they will already be on the right track and I will have faith in what they feel they are supposed to do with their lives. And whatever they choose to do, I will help them as much as I possibly can. And what I can’t help with I will encourage them to find someone more knowledgable than myself so that they can fulfill their potential.
sPidA: I was able to meet up with you in Austin Texas for your fight at King of Kombat a while back, you had a great personality going into the bout. Do you get people having a misconception of you being a cage fighter? What do you think has helped the way fans view the sport now?
Cleburn: Thank you sir. I really can’t tell what people think of me. All I can do is conduct myself as best I can so that anyone who meets me will get a positive impression. And at this point I think the sport is so mainstream that people view MMA athletes as what they are, which is some of the hardest working athletes in the world competing in the toughest sport in the world.
sPidA: Thank you for your time bro, I will be contacting you closer to fight time, any last minute words?
Cleburn: Thanks to the Lord for seeing me through so many hardships and continuing to give me more and more opportunities. Thanks to my wife April and the kids for being behind me 100%. And thanks to coach Durwyn Lamb and coach Tony Tipton and Master Sina Hadaad for giving me so much of their time and knowledge!