Ep. #42 – Modestas Bukauskas

Modestas Bukauskas is a mixed martial artist who was recently signed to the UFC Light Heavyweight division. The former Cage Warriors Light Heavyweight Champion is expected to make his promotional debut this summer.


Modestas Bukauskas:How-How’S quarantine been treating you, it’s actually been treating me quite well. To be fair, I mean I’m more fortunate than others in the fact that I have a gym at home and my dad’s, my head coach and I also live on my head coach. So you know it makes it a little bit easier. You know so to be fair. It’S made me, you know sort of work on certain things I wasn’t able to work on beforehand. It means that you know in terms of training. I can be a bit more specific to myself as opposed to you know you go to a session, you go to a class, you have to train something new or something else. I can train something specific that I want to do or I want to. I want to learn or whatever so you know and also, I think, in in any sort of situation whatever you’re, given you know you have to adapt and overcome. You know you got. You got to find the best way to to improve on everything, there’s as as best that you can like, even if, for example, I didn’t have, if I wasn’t so fortunate to have a home, gym and stuff like that, still find ways to train or always to Improve even if it means you know, I’ve been trying to learn a bit more if you’re weighing in as well to try and you know kind of clean up on my lips iranian language, because obviously it doesn’t sound like i’m too much foreign by Max and or Anything like that, so you know everything’s just been going good at the end of the day I, like I said, I’m grateful and thankful to have like loads of people helping me out around me so yeah. I just feel like I’ve leveled up, even more so than I would have done if if quarantine didn’t happen so, like I say it’s been a blessing in disguise as much as it’s not so you know not being able to see people and stuff like that. I’Ve still been able to improve myself in many ways. What’S that relationship, like you, said, you’re, your dad, your head coach, that’s got to be like great and something like you said, you get to train with them all the time, but at the same time there has to be some, like you know, you’re sitting at the Dinner table and it’s like okay, dad, like oh yeah. How does that? What’S that relationship like it’s? A very we’ve got an amazing relationship me and my dad. I think it’s, I think, really we you know, like I say we me and him a lot best friends. I think that’s another big thing with with you know we joke around with each other. You know we can talk serious, we get very excited about what we do. This is not just my career. This is almost like our career. You know he used to be a fighter back in the day, and so it’s you know almost like he’s living vicariously through myself, and I love that I loved. I want him to feel like it’s his career, also and stuff like that and, like I said, I think it’s because he brought me up a certain way. He told me to be disciplined and dedicate so he doesn’t really have to ask me to do much. I mean yeah, there is some times where you know you you, you want to have a cookie. You want to do this, you want, but we always talk to each other. Well, you know we we always like and console each other on sort of what we want to do like if there’s a day where I’m over trained he’ll tell me not to train, or he gives me advice and stuff like that. So you know realistically it’s you know, I know some people but heads with you know if they, if, if their family members their coaches, some of our, but it’s not like that. I told me of my dad. I, like I’ve, actually enjoyed it in quarantine. Actually, you know, I don’t. I wasn’t necessarily getting the chance to do that as much like just to hang out with him. You know because it’s more of like a professional thing, like you know, we’re training and then this and then I have to rest and I go to another training session. But we’ve we’ve now like since you’re in a home at home all the time and then your training, predominantly with him and stuff like that, you know it makes our relationship actually even better. That means we get to, you know, have some downtime and I you know, I really appreciated all of that, because you know on weekends. You know after a hard week of training, you’re traveling everywhere after I finished my training. I just want to go see some friends. I want to go do this, do that and you know I realized that I actually almost you know, didn’t hang out with him enough, so it’s nice to sort of have that as well. I think the relationship is is very professional and like we, you know and then the damn 26. You know I’m a man and stuff like that, and he understands it as well. I think that’s another big thing that sort of plays into the part. So it’s mainly the fact that we sort of determine our next moves with each other. We just talk through everything and it works out and, like I say, I think you can’t really have a much better relation and than that, especially as a father-son. You know going into going into a fighting arena. You know where there’s a potential to get hurt so yeah it’s a really fun and an exciting. I’M glad that we can have that excitement together. Cumulative lit your MMA journey is far from normal. I’D say right: you, you played basketball. You moved from Lithuania at three. You lived in the u.s.. You lived in the UK, what’s kind of. How was that like it and what was the ultimate decision to take MMA rather than take basketball as your Avenue? Well, I think so I mean I started training martial arts when I was five, you know my dad started me very young teaching me kickboxing and [ __ ], and you know you know we won a lot of prestigious events right. You know I was a four-time British kickboxing champion, so you know I’ve been competing from a very young age and I’ve always been doing good in martial arts, and you know I competing in some judo tournament so summer. I’Ve always been involved in that. So I really had some sort of knack, for you know competing in the combat arts anyways just because I’ve been training it for so long and then you know it came about where you know my skill set started, improving emboss with it, and you know when I Started playing basketball and you know it was just a sort of see like can I play other sports? Do I like this? Like you know, just try other things, my dad, you know completely embraced the fact, although he you know he wanted me to do martial arts. He was still embracing the decision for me to go and play boss. One then I ended up. You know going to America are playing at the same school, actually that my coach in England played fullback when he was younger in Louisiana, and I obviously any basketball players dream. You know I take everything very seriously whenever I go and compete in a particular sport – and I was one of my main goals in life – was to be a professional athlete and whatever chosen sport, I have, I had to compete at the highest level, so I went You know, as any possible player does he wants to play in the NBA he wants to play in Europe and stuff like that, and you know I had a couple of like you know: lower level like you know, sort of D, free schools. You know having a look and and – and you know like in my skill set, but in reality I didn’t get any. I didn’t really get any offers. So that’s why I ended up coming back home. I mean to be in all fairness. I probably could have done better and in American football because I think, like I say up but again, I’d have to like learn the rules a little bit better and stuff like that, like I was very raw, like you know, I’d never played before I ended up Starting on the on the American football team, not really know much about football, so I mean yeah. I had a bit of an actor, I think athletically, which I probably could have built on, but you know and as it seasons overlaps ended up stopping American football and then constrain and boss was so you know like, but I had to, I managed to take away A lot of amazing things, like you know, the strength and conditioning programs that you like have in America is insane compared to England, like that, you know, you’ve got guys doing clean and pretty power cleans like like 225 pounds for guys, like 18 years on us insanity, Like I never I never seen anything like that in my life, and you know for me to come out there and really embrace that system of you know being in the strength and conditioning and and suffering they take their sports very seriously. So it improve my Flex is improved my physicality and proved my mindset as well mentally, to have to be shout out by your head coach all the time and then stuff like that. So I gained a hell of a lot of experience being out in America and all those attributes just slowly together connecting the dots to where I called my dad deciding. You know what we gon na do now: we’re gon na go to college or we gon na, and I said my main goal in life was to be a professional athlete and to compete at the highest level. I said well, the last chance I’ll go is to do in MMA and I’ve been watching him a man. I’Ve got really like again interested in, so I think I needed that time away to then want to come back, and I think it was very useful because now I’m so motivated by from, like you know, I’m I’m obsessed with it almost so I think that break Was much needed but then, as soon as I got home when I was 18 that was it straight away, mmm a train all the way yeah so you’re now tending to you started off your career, solid for now, and you had two back-to-back losses. What did you learn from those losses that you changed into your game to really go on a tear and get six straight wins picking up the Cage Warriors world title? What lessons did you learn in those two fights? Well, the first fight. I learnt that it’s as much as a mental game as it is, as is a physical game and a skills wise game. You know you have to be confident in your own abilities. You have to you know you have to train very hard. You have to try and improve as much as you can, but at the same time, if you’re, not there the day or something’s wrong or something in your personal life or whatever it’s gon na affect you in the cage or you’re not going to be able to Show you something while I think one of the main things that I learned is that you need to have a bit of a killer instinct, or maybe it’s not the same for everyone, but here’s for me. I learned that I need to have a killer mindset where it literally is this guy’s about to hurt me. I’M gon na make sure I hurt him before he’s able to do that or you go into a cage really badly wanting to hurt a person until the bell rings like. I think that aggressive sort of violent mentality is something that I needed to bring out the best of me. I think in that first fight I mean listen. I was sparring with John Jones, you know going round after round, like you know us going at it. You know in the training room and having such amazing experiences out there. You know him him. You know praising me was a mate, like my idol, pretty much like praising me and stuff for that, like it meant so much to me having that guy, you know. Give you, though, give you that – and you know for me, even just being with the train room, was an absolute honor, so you know having those experiences you almost feel like you’re on top of the world and then for me to go in there and mentally. Just not be there not not perform, and just it was what I realized is. You know there was a bit of aggression that, but I didn’t even realize that at that point then it took the second loss for me to really understand that, because you know they got me an opponent and I was beating him the whole fight and then I’ve Got cool right hand and you know again: I came into that fight without that aggressive mentality. I was I I just got a win somehow, as opposed to. I want to really put some damage on this guy and I think in a fighting sense. That’S what you need, so I changed my nutrition. That was one of the main big things. I realize that I was cutting weight in there in a very unsafe manner. You know I was nutritionally, not fueling my body to perform. I added in strength and conditioning which my dad took over. That was a massive big thing that, without, though we added to the system which really helped me I’ll, really start to fill out and get strong in certain areas, I was actually over trained. That was another big thing, a lot of fires and especially younger fire, as if I can give any advice, this would be one of them, which is you know if your body is seriously on the brink of destruction. Do not train if you’re going into session really not caring or not thinking of you’re, just thinking I’ll when’s the end of this session go home. That’S not the right way to Train! That’S not really getting anything out of that session user. Your whole heart and soul and mind has got in that session. So I realize that I was over trained. I changed that and then you know I was literally on top of the world. I thought in the best shape of my life I was my cardio was amazing. You know this and that and then obviously another big sorry, another big factor as well outside of all of that was the box inspiring or doing you know sparring where the guys really don’t care about you. They just want to put you away. Are you an MMA file? Okay, let’s go come out and show him what’s going on John me and soak and I’d box with some of the top top boxes in in Britain and the fact that then, after after you know, even just a mom for training, I was able to hang in There and do well against these top-level boxes, and everyone like come out to me like I wish a pro boxing record and stuff like that. You know, but I needed that meant a to those guys are trying to hurt me like. I think I got a concussion like one or two of those sparring sessions. Obviously you don’t want to get too much of that, but the point is like I needed to realize that you’re not here to play games you’re here to you’re you’re you’re here. To put some damage on someone so I’ll say if anything was the biggest thing that I took from it is to Train smart. Obviously, the new nutritional aspects and yeah you’ve got to be a killer in there. I think now, when I come into every fight, I’m not just there to to pick up a win, I’m there to hurt the guy whilst doing so yeah, so you’ve just got the call a few months ago, you’re in the UFC. What’S a bigger moment that or winning the world title for Cage Warriors? Oh you know it’s it’s funny. You ask that because I remember when I won that the hamlet fight, I was such a massive underdog like I don’t know what the odds were I mean. Listen. I told everyone on my Maysles like put those bets on me. Trust me, I won’t let you down and lo and behold I managed to win. I think a couple of my friends about 120 quid, which is pretty decent but, like I remember the odds at the beginning before it’s fun, to do that it was like four to one or something. I was something pretty bad, like everyone thought he’s gon na wipe the floor with me. He’S gon na go on his high horse off into the UFC in Copenhagen and this and that, and you know, and ride off into the sunset – and you know literally just one fighting cage was pick up the title and then get out of there like at the End of the day I saw that has a little bit of disrespect as well. I mean you know, I think, that added fuel to my fire, so there’s a lot going into that fight. Everyone counting the hour, everyone four already, even when I was six and two when I just came back and won two fights and rose people still didn’t believe him. He didn’t think I was gon na. Do nothing. Oh yeah he’s good, but is he really that good and this and that and it at the beginning of the year I beat boy: that’s what I’ve got people’s attention? That’S when my dad was like listen, we need hard fights now, let’s go like give us a big challenge. We took it on and done well so and then, when I got the hamlet fight, I knew I was gon na win like this is the thing I like. I went and saw John John Jones at the body power Expo and I actually handed him a sheet of paper. You know I might be able I’ve actually got it. Yeah I’ll show you I’ve got it on a rock like framed or whatever I mean you can’t release. He says got like different photos and stuff like that, and and it’s got like free put the photos of me and John Jones and then one photo where he said. You know the present and the future and stuff like that. And then he signed it and I wrote underneath, like you know what the outcome of the fight was gon na be, and I told John Jones I would you be able to sign my thing and you know like you know, and it was crazy because when I Saw him he knew me straightaway, like that, was the really quite empowering moment. Just like you coming back to see him after a couple of years. Not you know never really talking too much and then next thing you know he knows exactly who you are scientist [ __, ] paper-like, because ii was like, i hadn’t left you i mean it was an amazing thing, like i said when your idols there in front Of you so and then yeah, like you know, when i went into the fire like i said, i had to add a lot of things like you know: people not believing in me and and and this and that – and I just want to – I want to prove Everyone wrong, I might listen, I’m gon na go and take this tile. You all think I’m down and out you think, I’m not I’m not gon na. Do it. You think oh yeah, you got taken down so he’s gon na get, but they don’t know they don’t know how I trained. They don’t know what I do so at the end of the day, I know what I’m capable of so i’ma show you what they all think they’re gon na wrestle me and just take me down to the floor and hold me they ain’t gon na have like They saw, but this is the thing they fought. Oh yeah, he got taken down easy, but did you not see that I got back up to my feet every single time? Obviously, they focus heavily on that sort of game, and I know that you know my opponent went to training, you know big super camps and stuff and I’m just like listen. I’Ve got a great group of guys. I’Ve got a great coaches, I believe in myself. I know one capable of I haven’t been able to. I wasn’t able to show was capable of so that was the fight I was like. I just want to show it like. This is the time. So when I won that fight, I had a whole load of emotion like as much as you know. I uh it was. It was an amazing thing like I was like dad. We’Ve done it like this is the thing that you told me when I was injured when, when I’d lost, you know those two fights when I lost the sponsor of law, I spent with a girlfriend. You know no job, no money, youth. You were telling me every single day, like I can do it. I can be a world champion like he was always telling me they never give up. He told me you, you got the skillset. You’Ve got everything you just haven’t shown it. You just need to go out there and do it so after all of that to then put the belt on his shoulder at the end of that whole journey was like. You know. That was quite a special moment for me, like I’d pictured in my head. I visualized it when I was going to sleep and stuff like that thinking, that’s what’s gon na happen and then you know, lo and behold it did happen, but I always knew I’d beat that guy. I knew he had. No, you know no really really. No technical, striking whatsoever – and I knew I could overcome his his his abilities to try and pressure that’s why straightaway, even in the first exchange he wanted to, I knew he want to try and push like pressure me forward and walk me down. I stood then, and you know, slammed a jab in and overhand right, I’m I’m telling like I’m here to stay as soon as I go out. The second third round, you could really tell his spirits were just completely depleted. Now. Listen! Don’T get me wrong. He’S an amazing athlete and a very good competitor, and you know I I really thank him for giving me that challenge and and and so far that he is a really good fighter. You know you can’t take nothing away from him, but when everyone’s that really just make you know making out, I come as if I’m a nobody. You know he gave me the extra like to go and win so obviously afterwards, because I visualized so much it felt. Like I didn’t even know, I don’t even have to explain it. Man like it was, it was like a mix of like he was weed, because when I defended the title I didn’t have that same feeling. I didn’t have that same feeling of like I can’t believe it like it’s almost like when you’re you’re standing at the top of a mountain and you’ve seen like the whole world from well like from like a building or something, and it’s just like seeing an amazing View it wasn’t like that when I, when I defended the tie on my well, this is like the next step in the road, like I’m ready for the next bit now, whereas when I won the World title the first time I might or now the dream of Being in the UFC can actually become reality like it’s now, even closer to that, and then, when I defended the title, I’m just like what my skills have improved. I’Ve done it, but now I’m ready for the next thing I want to go. I want to you know, show myself on the world stage now so but yeah when I got the call it just all the emotions that had like from winning the title from and I’ll just think him back to my past, like I was thinking back to when I injured myself when I lost theater too fast, and I was thinking what did I feel then, and I’m like the the dream of being in the UFC. The thing that you’ve been won in this whole time. You’Ve been in this and when it look like to everyone that you were never gon na, make it, and then you finally did I just I just sat there, I’m just like, even when I’ve got the core, I must have said like wow, like literally, I said, Like wow, or no way like literally like a frickin parrot for at least like 20 or 30 seconds, I just didn’t know what to say when my manager told me and that they were all laughing and smile, and I’m just like, like. Are you for real, like join me, and so it was almost like. I felt like I was a bit in a dream, but at the same time I knew I was gon na. Do I knew is gon na happen. I said: listen. I just won the World. Ha I just defended it. How could they not want to sign me now, like you know almost, for it was that, but even then I was I was ready. I might listen. I will defend my title funny like I was just ready to pick up. Winds pick up the experience and get ready for whatever it was that they’re gon na they’re gon na put in front of me. There was even talks that I would have to do the contender series which I’m lucky that I got signed and I didn’t do that route because then that would have never happens. Oh it’s been. It’S been a it’s been a crazy, an amazing journey, but I think looking back on all the memories, I’m so glad that the roller coaster went the way that it did, and there was a lot of ups and downs because that’s what’s made me the fire ant Today and along with all the lessons that I had yeah man, I like they’re, just very different feelings. I think from winning the title the first time to two against our mother UFC. Well, it’s amazing! You have that that thing with John Jones being able to have someone like that and Andrei Arlovski, I think you’ve trained with in the past. Having guys like that who have been an influence on you, when you start it up your career, that that has to be an amazing amazing thing to have, and secondly, now that you’re signed as pandemics really just delayed your debut. What do you when are you ready to get back in there and obviously they just announced fight Island? It’S an Abu Dhabi. Is that something that is it of interest to you yeah? Well, I can’t say too much but just know that that the most show is about to come into town. You know like I had a fight booked for May 16th and that was supposed to be in San Diego, but obviously everything fell through that way. But it’s coming over, I know, and it’s John there’s been so many people that I’ve been that I’ve been asking me that I’ve been telling me like. You know like when’s your debut and they all happen. Just know that is coming sooner than you lot think. That’S all I’ll say all right. Well, I won’t. I won’t nag you any more than that. There’S three three fights that were announced today: three massive fights for UFC 251, we’ll start with the main event. What’S your prediction on that Gilbert burns and Camaro huisman first, is it the guy who you think deserves it? And secondly, what’s your prediction? Well, I would have loved to have seen the Jorge Marvel doll fight, but I mean listen coming off the back of Gilbert burns. His last performance that was amazing, like he literally just blitzed, the former champion like as if it was nothing and his striking look chris is resting. Look good is jiu-jitsu, is amazing, as well. Overseas compete a very high level on those jiu-jitsu to tournaments, so I’m giving him a lot of praise now. Listen! Kumar oozma is an amazing champion, he’s literally beating the best, the best of the best and he’s climbed his way up. The ranks and beating some very good guys he’s got very good wrestling. You know he’s got good striking, but in my personal opinion I mean I think that Gilbert burns will win that fight. He just looks so much he’s very hungry. Like I understand, obviously, you know being a champion you’re also going to be hungry to defend your title, but I think, like the way he looked in, that last fight against another top-level wrestler. His striking was Chris who’s aggressive. Like you know, he had a bit of a swagger about him and you know I think that that you know we’ll be able to combat what Kamara huisman is able to do, because I know Kobe comment and did land some shots and stuff like that. I think Gilbert Burns has a bit more of that venom behind his shot. So but again it is a five-round fight, so you know, but it didn’t look like you’re what burns us fade in either so yeah, I think Gilbert Burns will will win that fight. How I’m not sure, but I probably go to a decision because Kumar huisman is a tough he’s, a good tough guy to crack. Is it’s just really the question of whether Kumar who’s man can take him down and then what were the jujitsu do if he does take him down and what’s gon na happen there, but I think Gilbert probably has a slight edge on the striking, in my opinion And they’ll ask the same sort of thing for the Volkhov ski Holloway fight. I think we already saw it. Do you think it plays out the same way or do you think it ends differently? It was a very close fight. Obviously you know Volken ops, he was was clear on sort of the scorecards they’re always going to be improving, aren’t they I mean listen max Holloway is gon na keep improving, but then so so again is Vulcan offski. So I mean, I think, max always a little bit younger. I think it will see the fingers. I don’t know like max Holloway. He comes out in fights and, like you know, he again he’s easy. He’S got a very, very slick. Sort of striking star he’s got a good way to defend the takedown, the stuff like that, and you know and he’s it again, also very extremely tough, but I do think it will probably go the same way that it did the first fight I mean, although there There there you know both of them are amazing athletes. I don’t really. I don’t really see if they’re all both improving at the same rate. I don’t see it for it to go any other way, even though it was close the first time around. So I think not volkov ski again will edge it all right. Last question before I let you go. Obviously you you announced that you do have a fight, can’t say who can’t say where what can we expect from you in your next performance just expect? I think the most dangerous, aggressive flamboyant version of myself – I think people are really gon na see now, like I said, the most, the the absolute best out of me, because I think for a long time it taken me a while mentally to break through to sort Of let out a my more vicious and dangerous techniques and to build the confidence and and everything that’s needed to go out and to literally perform at your best. It takes a lot, not just you know, through through the training and the preparation, because you know some people have seen me in the training room. Do some crazy things and, and you know they know what I’m capable of so you know, and I’ve not even showed you know, even all of that, even with my last couple of fights so just know that when it comes to me going inside that UFC Octagon And I’m gon na be putting all out on show it’s gon na be explosive. It’S gon na be, like I said, flamboyant and, and I’m going in there to finish the guy there’s there’s there. My fight style is not to look for a decision, I’m going for the finish all right, perfect. I am looking forward to it man. I appreciate you taking the time not whether it’s on flight Island and the apex and the UK doesn’t matter to me. I’M looking forward to that next fight. Thank you. So much more evolved really appreciate that I’ll call wait to put on a show for you all right, all the best all right, nice one, take everyone.

Sergio Pineiro

Sergio Pineiro is the Founder of FighterPath.com and host of the Quarantinecast podcast. Based in Canada he is both a sports journalist and MMA enthusiast. He practices the sport but has a passion for the individual stories of training, fighting and living the fighting lifestyle.

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