Stansbury ready to cool off hotbed

East Liverpool mixed martial artist Josh Stansbury will fight Jeremy “The Grizzly” Kimball on June 25 in Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Arena. Stansbury is 8-3, 1-1 in the UFC. (Submitted Photo)

EAST LIVERPOOL — East Liverpool mixed martial artist Josh Stansbury is rolling the dice with a new training approach.

The 32-year-old Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter has been in the UFC hotbed of Las Vegas lately preparing for his June 25 light heavyweight bout with Jeremy “The Grizzly” Kimball set for Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Arena.

Before his three-round unanimous decision loss to Devin Clark in December, Stansbury got to meet with Syndicate MMA owner John Wood. Syndicate is a gym in Las Vegas which trains his Ultimate Fighter season 23 castmates Khalil Rountree, Cory Hendricks and Jamie Moyle.

“We talked a little bit about me going out and training with Khalil and Cory,” Stansbury said. “When I found out about (the June 25th) fight, I reached out to them and they opened up the doors for me.”

The Syndicate training camp is a total of six weeks. He went to Vegas in the middle of May for three weeks, came back home for a week and then returned today to finish the training. He will fly directly from Vegas to the fight in Oklahoma City.

Stansbury said the training move to Vegas has helped him because he is now able to give 100 percent to his preparation. He said little things in everyday life at home sometimes take the focus away and he was glad to be involved in a training environment with high-level competitors.

“It made me fall back in love with the sport as far as learning new things and becoming a better fighter are concerned,” Stansbury said.

While Las Vegas is the hub of glamour and glitz, Stansbury said his training schedule is quite strict and there is no time for indulging in anything Sin City is known for.

“I train two times a day, come back to my apartment, watch a little TV and sleep,” Stansbury said. “I am lucky to have a few friends out here to go out to eat once in a while, but mostly this is all business.”

The Sandman is also quite aware of the stress he puts on his family when he is away from home. He said he is grateful for his girlfriend, Rochelle Russell, and parents for stepping up in his absence.

“They’ve been doing everything while I have been out there and it means a lot to me,” Stansbury said. “I could not do this without them.”

Stansbury’s time in Vegas also intersected with the first UFC Athlete Retreat in which hundreds of fighters were invited to the UFC headquarters by the organization’s owners to take part in various activities and talks centered on the sport and promotion.

Speakers included former basketball star Kobe Bryant and Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan among others. Stansbury said he was impressed by most of the speakers, but a Budweiser rep’s address seemed to rile a lot of the athletes in attendance.

“The Budweiser guy wanted us all to be Conor McGregor and stand out among other fighters,” Stansbury said. “That made guys mad because you want to just be yourself.”

Stansbury said being a part of the promotion gives him access to the UFC’s new $12-million Performance Institute. He got a tour of it at the retreat and later came back to utilize it.

“They said it’s better than what the Dallas Cowboys have,” Stansbury said. “I met with a nutritionist and changed my diet. I also got a bone density scan. You get to train in a full size UFC octagon with nine cameras there. You can use that to break down the training session with your coach. I can get a breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. It’s all available for free for UFC athletes. It was unreal seeing all of that. They treat the athletes like kings. It’s a step up in the game for the UFC.”

Stansbury (8-3, 1-1 in the UFC) hopes that his fight with the 26-year-old Kimball (14-6, 0-1 UFC) is one that ups his profile significantly.

“I know his fighting style and know what he’s about,” Stansbury said. “I really like how I match up in this fight as far as technique and styles go. I’m really confident and excited. I think this is going to be my coming out party in the UFC. I put myself where I’m swimming with the sharks in practice everyday, and I know the best Josh Stansbury is going to come out on June 25.”


¯ Stansbury fought on the same card as Kimball in 2014 at a bout in Denver.

“I’ve seen him around,” Stansbury said.

¯ Stansbury does not know where he’ll end up on the card. Against Clark, Stansbury was under the impression he would be on the televised part of the preliminary card, but instead was booted to UFC Fight Pass, the organization’s internet streaming service.

“They told me at weigh in the last time,” Stansbury said.

He said he’s seen bout cards with him on the preliminary portion televised on Fox Sports 1 and also on UFC Fight Pass.

He’s not making any guesses where he’ll end up.

¯ Stansbury said the loss to Clark was a hard pill to swallow since he felt everything lined up for a good performance, but for whatever reason he was never able to execute the way he wanted.

“I was gun shy,” Stansbury said. “I couldn’t pull the trigger. It was a learning experience.”

¯ Like Stansbury, Wood was also on a reality television series for a spell. In 2014, Wood and then girlfriend Jenna Jameson were in season five of “Couples Therapy” on VH1. The therapy did not work out. Wood and the former adult film star are no longer dating.