CFFC light heavyweight contender Anton "The Body Snatcher" Berzin is a Philadelphia transplant that is ready to put on for his city this Saturday night as he faces Jamelle Jones for the inaugural CFFC 205-pound title.
Berzin spoke with CFFC.tv about his beginnings, his fight against Jones, and his aspirations as a martial artist in this featured Cage Fury Q&A session.
How did you feel when you first found out you’d be getting a title shot?
"It felt good. This is exactly the kind of fight I wanted. It’s what I need right now and the best thing for me outside of the UFC."
Can you explain your relationship with your camp Balance Studios? You also did some training for this camp down in Florida with Henri Hooft's camp, H Kickboxing right?
"Ricardo and Phil are the owners of Balance and they’re some of my closest friends. We hang out daily, they’re my instructors, and whether it’s on or off the mat they are always pushing me. A lot of people may not know but Ricardo is one of the best jujitsu practitioners on the planet.
Training at Henri's was really good too, man. I just needed to switch up the training partners a bit. They have a lot of good guys down there that were giving me a push. Great guys, great team, great training."
Talk about your upbringing, where are you originally from, and when did you come to Philly?
"I was born in Ukranie and my family came here when I was two years old. I’m the youngest of ten kids, eight boys and two girls. We moved from Ukraine to Nebraska, from Nebraska to South Jersey in Vineland, and then from there I eventually moved to Philadelphia."
What does it mean to you to fight in Philadephia? Is this the place you call home??
"Philly is definitely my home so I’m really excited. This is gonna be my first fight in the 205 in my whole career so I’m pumped, man. I love my city and the city loves me. I have a good-sized following and I have a great relationship with a lot of different communities here from electrician unions, blue collar workers, to just all of the people I see around town that support me."
Talk about your layoff. What was the reasoning behind going almost 4 years without fighting between 2012 and 2016?
"The reason I haven’t fought didn’t come by choice. I’ve been in camp for like the last four years trying to get fights. My last fight was against Matt Thompson at CES 34 in April of 2016. Before that I was just constantly looking for opponents over and over again. I had a bunch of situations where one guy fell through, then another guy’s camp fell apart, then another guy got injured—It was just a constant headache not knowing if I’m gonna fight or not and I’m still training all the time. So, It’s not like I wanted to go that long without fighting. From what I understand Jamelle is game and he’s ready to throw down so I’m very excited for this fight."
Let's talk about your matchup with Jamelle Jones. How are you preparing for him and how do you feel you two stack up?
"I’ve fought wrestlers like Jamelle before. I actually lost to Pat Walsh on 'The Ultimate Fighter' and he’s just on a whole other level--he was tough. I’m sure Jamelle is tough too, he’s a great wrestler, very explosive—just look at the guy he’s built like a f***in house. But I feel good. I learned a lot losing to Pat. I’ve changed my game plans up and that loss taught me a big lesson.
I pride myself on being a very well-rounded fighter, ya know? I train with some of the very best around whether it be boxing, kickboxing, jujitsu, wrestling, whatever and since I’ve started I’ve never let people put a label on me as a grappler, or striker. I work at everything the best I can so I can be the best mixed martial artist I can be. I wanna be the best at all aspects.
Jamelle like I said is a very tough guy, but I fell like I’m a little more well-rounded than him. I know what he’s gonna bring, I know what skills he has, I know he’s gonna try to tackle me and put me up in the f***in air slam me on my head and try to knock my face off, but I’m ready for that. Wherever it goes I’m gonna control the fight and I’m ready to rock n’ roll."
Can you talk to me about your goals and the kind of fighter you want to be?
"My goals are big. Yeah I want to be CFFC champion and beat Jamelle, but that’s not my ultimate goal. I’m not in MMA to be a regional MMA champion I’m in it to beat up guys like Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones. That’s not to say I’m looking past this fight at all. I’m well aware I have to do this to get to where I wanna be. I think of myself as the best in the world and people just don’t know it yet.
One of the beautiful things about fighting and something that makes it so exciting is deep down I truly believe in my heart that I’m gonna take Jamelle’s head off and I’m sure in his mind he thinks the same thing. That’s what makes this such a dynamic sport. Even at the biggest sporting events in the world like the Super Bowl—If a fight breaks out in the stands guess what people are watching? The fight, not the game right? There’s just something primal about it that all humans love, especially MMA.
This isn’t boxing where you hit some mitts do some sparring and go for a run, no, in MMA there is just so much you have to learn and practice in order to succeed. Nowadays every guy in the UFC is well-rounded. There are no guys that are strictly boxers that only train their hands. You have to be elite in every facet, and that's what I'm striving for."
To catch Anton Berzin's light heavyweight title bout against Jamelle Jones this Saturday at CFFC 65, order you tickets or the LIVE stream by clicking the links below.