"The biggest addition to the guys I have been training is James Toney. I recently worked with him a good bit. It's a lot of guys down there wanting to learn Jiu Jitsu and Toney is one of them...It's actually rewarding when my students start picking up little things that I've been showing them. What happened was, I was trying to pass his guard. He didn't pull guard or anything like that. I'm not going to say how we got to the ground because I don't want to give anything that he's trying to do away. We were going over a few things and I passed his guard and I got a mount and he turned and like grabbed my foot. I'm lucky he didn't break it. He was close to breaking it. I think James has to learn how to not tweak submissions in training," stated mixed martial artist and world champion grappler Dean Lister as he talked about the training he's been doing with boxing legend James Toney, his future plans and much more. Check it out!
PC: How is everything going Dean?
DL: It's all going good man; all going good. I'm training hard. I'm trying to get back in shape, you know?
PC: Definitely. You are on your way to Brazil. What are you going out there for?
DL: I'm going to coach a friend in a tournament this weekend in Rio. I'm going to hang out with some old friends also in Brazil.
PC: You train King Mo in Jiu Jitsu and he comes from strictly a wrestling background. What has his progression been like?
DL: I tell you what, Mo has been able to pick up things so fast, it's pretty unbelievable. As a matter of fact, there are a few things that I showed him for his last fight that he's perfected now. He's doing it to me in reverse and it's pretty messed up, you know? He's kind of getting some payback. It's good to see that though.
PC: I know a lot of guys look to you for grappling purposes. Who are some of the guys you have been training?
DL: I have so many friends down in San Diego, down in SoCal, but the biggest addition to the guys I have been training is James Toney. I recently worked with him a good bit. It's a lot of guys down there wanting to learn Jiu Jitsu and Toney is one of them. It's good, you know?
PC: What do you think of James coming over to MMA and how is his training going?
DL: He learns really fast. I mean, of course his striking is unparalleled, but I tell you what, for a big guy, he moves fast. He's not all fancy with things yet and he's not the most technical guy on the ground, but he is so strong man. He is a strong guy.
PC: You can plead the fifth on this, but from what I understand, he not only caught Mo in a submission, but he almost pulled something out on you as well.
DL: (Laughing) I won't plead the fifth man (laughing). It's actually rewarding when my students start picking up little things that I've been showing them. What happened was, I was trying to pass his guard. He didn't pull guard or anything like that. I'm not going to say how we got to the ground because I don't want to give anything that he's trying to do away. We were going over a few things and I passed his guard and I got a mount and he turned and like grabbed my foot. I'm lucky he didn't break it. He was close to breaking it. I think James has to learn how to not tweak submissions in training (laughing). I mean, I guess he didn't tweak it, but he was really waiting on a tap (laughing). But he landed like a toe hold and I didn't really get to see exactly what he was doing because my back was turned, but he twisted it pretty good. I had to roll out of it, so I don't know if I should count that as a submission or not, but I was impressed. Let's just say James Toney almost submitted me! I had to get up and give him some dap for it. I was very proud of him. He is a fast learner.
PC: How do you see his fight against Randy going?
DL: I tell you what man, it's going to be a good fight no matter what. I know Randy well and he works real hard. Randy's hands have gotten better. He's been training his boxing forever. Of course his boxing doesn't stack up to Toney's, but I think Randy may be willing to mix it up a little bit in there.
PC: When can we expect to see you back in the cage fighting?
DL: I'm finally healthy. My knee and my back are good and I'm ready to start looking for a fight. I had a 2 fight deal with the MFC in Canada, but I'm not sure when my next fight is going to be there. Whatever the case is, I want to fight somewhere. I know I have been saying it forever, but my striking, I really mean it now, and I've said that as well (laughing), but it's a lot better. I promise.
PC: What has the crossover been like for you being that you had so much success in the Jits tournament circuit and now you're trying to evolve as a martial artist and you're able to be healthy now?
DL: Injuries happen to everyone; I'm not an exception. The big part of being an athlete is how you deal with injuries. It's one of the things you just have to get over and I've gotten over it. I tell you what, now that my knee is better, I'm starting to show a little more rhythm in my stand up. I had no rhythm before and now I have at least a little bit. I would like to know what James Toney says about that because I did learn a little bit of that from his camp. I'm getting up there man because I'm finally figuring out that it's about rhythm and movement, which is funny because I can always throw a right hand and a jab and a hook, but the distancing, the rhythm and the movement is the biggest thing. I'm starting to grasp that now, which is huge for me.
PC: It has to be important in this day and age as a martial artist to cross-train with people that are world-class in other areas, which it seems you are doing. You are world-class in Jiu Jitsu, Lawal is a world-class wrestler and now you have added a world-class boxer in James Toney. How beneficial is that and how important is that?
DL: It's so important because if you work with people that are on your level in an area, you're not going to learn from that individual. So when you got a guy like King Mo, who is a world-class level and Olympic-level wrestler, he's going to push me to new levels. Whoever I'm going to fight next is not going to be the wrestler that King Mo is, he's not going to be the boxer that James Toney is and vice versa. The guys that they fight won't be...I mean, they have a few, but they probably won't be at my level. The sport of MMA is a mixed sport. It's not just boxing combined with wrestling combined with Jiu Jitsu. It's all in together, which makes it a sport, but it's all in an element of individuals, which brings it to a whole other level of competition for us and a whole other level of abilities.
PC: Good luck in your tournament this weekend. We will get a lot more with you on the site. Is there anything you want to say in closing?
DL: I will be in Houston for Mo's fight. He is training hard and I tell you what, he is going to be a problem for anyone in Strikeforce and anyone in the world for that matter. I'm happy to be a part of his camp and his coach. He's my coach as well and when I fight, I know he will be in my corner as well, so it works out great for the both of us. Hey man, I know you talk yo James Toney a lot. You tell him training is training and the fight is the fight (laughing). That guy doesn't have an off switch. Tell him to take it easy on my foot the next time. You would have thought it was David Haye's neck (laughing).