32-year-old Ben “The Baker” Neumann (12-5) of White Bear Lake, MN will be featured once again with Legacy Fighting Alliance on AXS TV this Friday, June 1st at The Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, MN.
Friday night will be the 7th straight fight that Neumann has competed for LFA/RFA. Prior to that, Neumann was a regular fighting with Driller Promotions and a few other local shows.
Neumann will face veteran Bobby Cooper of Missouri in one of seven televised matches. Eight undercard fights will kick off the action at 5:30 pm (TV fights begin at 8 pm).
Neumann is a battle-scarred 9-year MMA vet who is one of the more dangerous grapplers around. People have taken notice of his striking which could also be on display against Cooper, who likes to stand and trade. Minnesota Fight News caught up with Neumann to discuss his MMA beginnings and this Friday’s fight.
You turned pro in 2009 but I don’t see any amateur fights listed. Did you turn pro without having any amateur fights?
I didn’t have any amateur fights. I think they were just starting up in Minnesota or it wasn’t real big yet. I was told if you want to fight, you just go pro right away. It would have been better to have more preparation as an amateur, but it worked out alright I guess. I got into martial arts in the military. We had Army combatives. We did some training before I went to Iraq. I really enjoyed the competitiveness of it, and constant learning through the jiu-jitsu aspect. I used to train jiu-jitsu and a little boxing when I was in Iraq. When I got home I started training at Warriors Cove here in the cities. I was training five or six days a week. Twice a day most times. I’ve been doing that ever since.
It seems like a lot of fighters have also served in the Military. Why do you think that is?
That’s a good question. I wonder if there’s a correlation between the kind of person that wants to join the military and the overlap with the competitiveness and the need to push yourself for something big. And maybe the adrenaline that goes with people who also like fighting. I bet there’s some overlap in the Venn diagram of people who want to do both activities.
Can you share some background on where you are from and where you train at?
I grew up in Hammond, Wisconsin. I live in White Bear Lake now. I live there with my wife. I only live about 8 minutes from the Warriors Cove location in Little Canada. I’m the head instructor there. Teaching, training, and fighting is pretty much all I do. Our student’s goals here are more self-defense and maybe compete in some jiu-jitsu tournaments. I have a little over 200 students at my school. There’s two or three of us that fight. Most people do train jiu-jitsu and spar MMA and help me get ready for my fights, but their goal isn’t to fight half-naked in a cage in front of people. That’s not our main focus for teaching. It’s a real technical skill. I went from knowing nothing to fighting as a pro in two years here at Warriors Cove. It’s been good to me, and I try to help people the same way.
How would you describe your fighting style?
My personal style differs a bit from how I teach the full variety of moves and approaches. I am more cautious, especially with the striking and standing aspect than I teach. We teach a lot more offensive striking than I personally use. When I go to the ground, that’s when I’m 100% comfortable against everyone I’ve faced so far. I never feel that I’m completely over my head against anyone once it goes to the ground. My style is pretty much straight Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with a little bit of striking to close the distance.
I don’t know exactly what you call it, but I did see you pull off a flying, feet first, take down in a recent fight. Is that something you made up? Where did that move come from?
I learned that at the Warriors Cove. We call it a drop round kick. I’ve only seen one or two people do it in MMA before. Basically, you can do a drop round kick to their thigh or calf. Or you can do a drop side kick which penetrates a little deeper but is harder to aim. I do the drop round kick depending on how my opponent holds his stance. My opponent was a Thai fighter who had an upright stance. So I aimed for his back leg and chopped his leg out from underneath him. So it was pretty cool to pull it off in a fight.
You got rolling early in your career with Driller Promotions followed by some big fights and wins with RFA and LFA. Your last fight was an LFA title shot. What is the most memorable fight of your career and why?
Maybe three fights ago, getting a win against Jordan Larson. I’m usually the underdog. He’s the biggest, strongest guy I’ve ever fought. Being able to get a win, pretty much not getting hit at all. He took me down 5 times and kept letting me back up. Finally, I got a scramble and got the takedown on him. It was good to show I could beat a big strong wrestler. My last fight I fought a big strong wrestler, too, and lost. You can’t win them all. Winning that fight was a good confidence builder for me.
This Friday night will be another featured televised fight for LFA. What can you tell us about your opponent Bobby Cooper and what kind of fight are you expecting?
I think it’s a fun match up because he’s pretty much a straight striker. He doesn’t enjoy the ground. He’s pretty good at scrambling and getting up. He has decent takedown and submission defense. He’s never been submitted as a pro. I’d like to be the first guy to submit him. That’d be kind of fun to have a guy tap who’s had 15 fights or so and never had to tap before. He’s a good boxer, a lot of counterstriking. In his recent fights, he’s been doing a lot of boxing. He’s mainly a striker, so it’s a striker vs a grappler. It’ll be fun to see who gets what they want here.
Before I let you go, I have to ask if Bobby Cooper can expect any baked goods at weigh-ins?
(laughing) My past four or five fights, usually I give someone a piece of pie or whatever. But nobody ever takes it! Except for Damion Hill who’s a local guy. He knew the schtick so he ate it. But everyone else just throws it away. I wouldn’t eat a pie from somebody I didn’t know.
Well yeah, especially from a guy you are fighting. Who knows what you could have slipped in there for the guy!
Yeah (laughing) I don’t know, before that I would bring a giant whisk or rolling pin to weigh-ins and face him with that. I’ll probably go one of those routes. I’m definitely making a bunch of pies. I put pies on my VIP tables. Actually, everyone that has bought tickets from me gets a mini pie when they pick up their tickets at will call. I’ve made about 110 mini pies and 12 full sized pies for this fight.
Anything you want to say in closing?
I appreciate the people cheering me on for my last fight and loss and still wanting to come see me after that. Hopefully we’ll get a good win.
For more show info check out our past preview here.