Justin Wren looks like the first guy you see when you arrive in Asgard. He goes by 'The Viking' not because he rocks a full beard and drains his own cauliflower ear as a past time. They call Justin Wren 'The Viking' because he pile-drives dudes directly into the center of the planet and leaves them there without a ticket back to the surface. If you had to assemble a team of hybrid viking/x-men, Wren would be at the top of that list (shortly followed by Keith Jardine and Technoviking). Justin Wren will be appearing on this season of Spike TV's 'The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights' along with Big Country and Mr. 'I rock golden gloves around my neck and if you don't like it there is absolutely nothing you can do about it', Kimbo Slice. Check out our exclusive interview with The Ultimate Fighter's Justin Wren conducted by Dick 'Starscream' Grayson only at MiddleEasy.com.
Zeus told me you were moving horses earlier. Are you the farmer type?
No actually my girlfriend...looking at her you would probably think she was a rocker chick – she's actually a barrel racer
. We’re in Iowa...that’s where she’s originally from so we’re just moving the horses from one location to a trainer.
What type of rider?
A barrel racer
. She rides barrels in like rodeos and stuff.
Who do you train with right now?
Right now I’m training with Travis Lutter
, TUF season 4 winner. I train with him and that’s the way I’ve been for the past...probably 2 and a half year -- 2 years. But I might be moving camps here shortly.
Do you have an idea of which camp or are you keeping it close to the chest?
You know..yeah I do. I’ve been going around to different camps kind of like treating it like college recruiting trips and I’ve been out to Frank Mir’s gym
. I was kinda helping train with him a little before Brock. Then I visited Vegas. I visited “Golden Glory
” out in Holland. I visited American Top Team
in Miami and then tomorrow I’m going to Denver. So camps that I’m looking at though seriously are either Vegas—moving out there and kind of cross-training with some gyms or probably Denver just because I really like the guys out there.
What was your social scene like when you were training for the olympics?Yeah uh I’m a pretty disciplined guy. I’m definitely—I guess--on the younger side but I’m very disciplined. My goals are high. I want to be the best I can be and hopefully be a world champion some day. So I'm not saying I don’t go out and have a good time but I’m very disciplined. No drugs. Not a lot of alcohol at all. And definitely no extra drugs or anything like that.
Are you currently in college while you pursue your MMA career?
No I gave that up for MMA. I had a scholarship to a lot of D1 universities. Iowa state was recruiting me and I was up here for a year. In Ames, Iowa. But I just decided while I was up here. I was kind of like a medical red shirt. I started fighting MMA. Kind of sneaking around and Cael Sanderson
(Olympic gold medalist) would pull me in and was like ‘did you have another fight?’ And I was like ‘yeah’. ‘You cant be doing that.’ And I’m like ‘well I love it.’ You know.
So you got caught?I’m like ‘ah well I love it.’ And he’s like ‘Well you’re going to have to make a choice.’ And so I kind of chose MMA.
Why do you think that he didn’t go the MMA route? Wrestling—he is probably the most amazing, talented wrestler I’ve ever been on the mat with and he’s been approached a lot by whenever Pride was still around and then like Dream and all of those organizations have contacted him and I think they offered him serious cash, but he’s a guy that’s just loyal to wrestling where he came from. And he wants to be be the best wrestler he could be, you know? 4-time NCAA champion. Probably the best American wrestler in history and Olympic gold medalist. Just decided that he wants to now be the best coach possible so and he did all of the competing. I sure he’s burned out from all of the training. He just decided to go the wrestling route and be a coach.
When you go out with your friends, what type of person are you?That’s a difficult question...I would say the fun guy. I guess. Because I’m a bit of a goofball, but I’m right there in the mix of everything. I guess the jokster starting all the fun and jokes stuff like that.
Give us a general description of your experience in the house.
My experience was great. I think all the guys would say that. We got to be in there with 16 heavyweights and for a heavyweight to have 15 other big guys to train with there—you know 7 on your team—was an incredible experience because that’s hard to find. You walk into a gym and there might be one maybe two of you. Its hard to find that many heavyweights—that are talented—in one spot. The coaches
were great. The experience—I think everyone would say—was awesome for everyone.
How much food was consumed in that house? It was...it was incredible the amount of food we went through. They had to keep coming and restock it. Every night when we would go to bed, they would come in and restock it and it was incredible the amount of food we put down. He’d tell us ‘all you can eat’. We were ordering everything. And it was all like luxury food. Like ‘we want this. We want this.’ So they got it for us and it was awesome. They said the budget from last season to this season was completely different. You know little guys to heavyweights.
TUF alumni say they've nearly gone crazy in the house, you experience any of that?You know…I don’t know how much I can say about that. But you know it’s a crazy, crazy experience. It’s like a – I don’t know – its like a social experiment almost on television cause we can't talk to our girlfriends our family, our parents or friends. There’s no TV, no books, no Bible, no nothing. So it's kind of nuts... it was definitely an experience. I guess I could say that there’s definitely people breaking mentally from it.
Your thoughts on Kimbo Slice.
He kind of surprised a lot of people. He’s a good guy. He’s not just a street brawler. He wants to learn. So I think that’s going to come off in a good way. I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people.
There’s a bunch of ex-NFL guys. What were they like?Good guys. I mean everyone in the house was good. Everyone had their moments where they went nuts but all of the guys this season were real fighters I think. Past seasons I think there were a lot of guys that go on TUF just to say that they were on TUF. Or just to say that they’re a fighter or just to be on TV um but I would say that the majority or every single one of us went on the show with high goals of winning the show, performing well and making this our full-time occupation. So the football players—the same thing—they are not just trying to get in this to be cool. I think that they’re in this to really be fighters.
Early on was there anyone in particular that impressed you?Um…I can't really give you too much. All the guys were impressive. Because all the guys had legit skills. I mean certain guys were more well-rounded or more experienced but you know some of the guys hit like a ton of bricks. Certain guys were great wrestlers and certain guys were great submission guys. So I would say that you know those first couple of days you find out that certain guys are great a grappling, certain guys are great at striking and then certain guys are the X factor—they’re super experienced and so you always gotta watch those guys because they are experienced and have been there and done that…with the best guys in the world.
So no one really came in having nothing to offer? Everyone had something? Uh yeah everybody brought something to the table. And every single guy in the house you had to fight smart because if you didn’t, then they could catch you with something. Either – I mean with heavyweights—either with hard shots or some guys were really slick on the ground so you had to be careful with every person.
What makes a fighter successful after the TUF experience?I would say being an exciting fighter. The guys that come on TUF, the ones that you see after the show doing well that might not have even won it that are still doing great like you know like uh like Keith Jardine or Josh Koscheck... or Kenny Florian—great example. You know these guys they’re really skilled but whenever you watch them fight, they’re like Kenny—he didn’t win the show but you watch that guy fight and its gonna be exciting. He’s gonna be well-rounded and everything you know. That’s what the UFC wants. They want guys that are going in there—laying it on the line—win or lose gonna fight their heart out. If you take the guy down and you lay on him—ad me being a wrestler I’m speaking about myself if I were to take a guy down, lay on him and just sit there and try to squeak out a decision, they’re not going to be bringing me back much. So I mean you gotta do that. Be an exciting fighter.
What percentage of your class do you think will make the UFC and stay in the UFC?I would say a good majority. I would say maybe up to 10 guys—maybe even 12. I think that they’re within the—I mean I can’t speak for the UFC but I think they are trying to revamp the heavyweight division and bring in more talent. So that way they can just start having more heavyweight fights. So I think that there are going to be several guys who make it after this.
Who do you think has the best shot at defeating Brock Lesnar in the UFC right now? Um…Shane Carwin. Shane Carwin yeah. And I’m actually going to train with him next week so I guess I can see from training with Shane and training with Frank how they differ and kind of size-up.
What tools do you bring to the table if you faced Brock Lesnar? I think my wrestling can keep it on our feet. And I think that I am trying to become as well-rounded as possible. So I think that I could keep it standing… any heavyweight pretty much hits hard so I bring my wrestling to the table and a well-rounded game.
Most impressive fighter in each weight division in the UFC...starting with heavyweight I would say Randy because he’s a legend and the way he carries himself. Mir because of his sick submissions.
What about light heavyweight?I don’t want to use either of the two coaches. Ss an up-and-comer, John Jones. He impresses me and I know him from the wrestling world so I think he’ll do real well.
Middleweight…I would say Dan Henderson.
Welter…GSP. Hands down.
FeatherI would say Mike Brown.
Anyone lighter than that?Miguel Torres. I mean that’s kind of just picking the guys that everyone knows, but those guys do impress me.
Which fighter not in the UFC would you want in the UFC?Fedor.
What’s the geekiest thing you’re in to?Uh…man I don’t know. I help with a youth group.
What movie are you looking forward to see next?
Uh..oh man. I already saw The Hangover
. We were all talking about watching that in the house and saw it and I thought it was hilarious. But coming up? Uh..crap man. I haven’t been watching too much TV lately to know what’s out. Which is ridiculous but I’ve just been busy
Your nickname is the 'Viking'. If you were a Transformer, what would be your vehicle?Maybe a … meat truck. No I don’t know. A freight train. There you go. No that’s Brock. No I don’t know man..
Favorite food?Sushi. My girlfriend got me into that big time and we eat it all the time. Sushi or pizza.
Do you think women should have 5 minute rounds or 3 minute rounds?
I think until they establish themselves more, 3 minute rounds. Once they are more established, then maybe go to 5 minute rounds, but 3 minute rounds keeps it to where its exciting. Maybe even turn it into 5 three minute rounds that way there’s more action.
Other than TUF 10, what other reality show would you want to be in?I want it be something fun…I would say The Amazing Race. Cause I get to see the world and maybe get a million bones. That’d be awesome. …My girl and my dream is to travel the world, so that’d be awesome.
Do you want to give any shout outs?Texas MMA shop
because they’re my sponsors and I think will continue to be my sponsors...if I'm in UFC down the road, they’ll be sponsoring me there too