Strikeforce fighter and San Francisco native Luke Stewart is coming off a controversial split decision loss to Andre Galvao at STRIKEFORCE CHALLENGERS 7 in Fresno, California. Stewart has the distinction of having fought exclusively for Strikeforce for the entirety of his pro MMA career. Stewart made his MMA debut at STRIKEFORCE: REVENGE in June 2006, and went on to win his first 5 fights in a row, including a big TKO win over former UFC fighter Jason Von Flue, before dropping a decision to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's BFF, and TUF 10 assistant coach, Tiki Ghosn in 2008. After a rebound win, and a TKO loss to veteran fighter Joe "Diesel" Riggs, Stewart took a 16-month hiatus from the sport.
Luke Stewart returned to the cage at STRIKEFORCE CHALLENGERS 7 on March 26, 2010. Stewart fought three full rounds with one of the best jiu jitsu fighters in all of MMA, Andre Galvao. In the end, Galvao was awarded the split decision victory, despite the belief of both Strikeforce analysts, Stephen "The Fight Professor" Quadros and veteran fighter Pat Miletich, that Stewart should have been declared the winner. Despite the loss on his record, Stewart's impressive performance against Galvao made his return to MMA a success. Madman Brian Palmer recently spoke with Luke Stewart about the Galvao loss, his thoughts on being a Strikeforce fighter, the possibility of fighting in Japan, and more.
BRIAN PALMER: Where do we purchase the “I am a cage fighter so what?” T-shirts?
LUKE STEWART: (Laughs) Well, they’re not in production yet, but when they are, I’ll let you know. As for now, they’re just printed in my friend’s garage.I think the market’s out there!
(Laughs) Get with my buddy Jeff Steel, he's an up-and-coming artist in the Bay area.Alright, so let’s start off by how long have you been training and where?
I've been training for 11 years with Ralph Gracie here in San Francisco. I trained a little bit before that, but I’d say I’ve been training altogether for about 13 years, but been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since '98.What motivates you to fight?
I love fighting and I love the competition, and you know I need it in my life, and I don't know why. I took a break and took a year and a half off. It really made me realize how much I miss fighting, getting in there, the preparation, the challenge, and challenging myself. Everything about it I love doing, it’s not something that I do for the money, or it’s not that I have to do it, I do it because I love it. I have a job that treats me well outside of fighting. I’m not one of those guys that has to do it to make a living. I just do it because I enjoy fighting, training and having something to prepare for and just pushing myself further every time.Did you feel any rust coming into this fight from the time off since your past fight?
Umm...it’s hard to say, you know? I definitely felt a little nerves. The weight cut was a little bit harder than it usually is. A few things like that – I think when you’re in a rhythm and you’re fighting all the time, those little things aren't as much of a big deal for you, so little things like that can add up in that way, but when I was fighting, I didn't feel any ring rust. I felt good. I felt like maybe I could have been in a little bit better shape for the fight, but I mean I trained hard for it. I trained 8 weeks, and maybe coming off the layoff affected me a little, but not too much.You've been fighting in Strikeforce your whole career, do you have any plans in place to cross promote or possibly fight in DREAM?
Yeah, actually I've always wanted to fight in Japan. I was supposed to be in that welterweight tournament [DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix 2009] and it didn't work out. Now I have an open contract (with Strikeforce), so it is a possibility. In the future, I’d like to fight (in Japan). I'd like to try out the 10-minute rounds, and I think it would be good for my style. I think the Japanese fans are awesome and I love going out there. I went out there in ‘05 and had a blast and I can’t wait to go back.We’ll get into the (Andre) Galvao fight. How do you feel with that outcome? Most every analyst had you winning that fight. Do you have any quarrels over that?
Yeah, well maybe the judges weren't paying attention until the end of the fight and they saw Galvao raise his hand. (laughs) And they realized, oh maybe he won! (laughs) I don't know? That’s the only thing I can think of. But, uh yeah, I was pretty confused about the scoring, especially the 30-27 his favor and the 30-27 my favor, and then the one judge 29-28 right down the middle. It just seemed like it was all over the board. I felt like I did enough to win, but it was a close fight and I can’t complain too much. I didn't put him away, so I didn't want to be the guy that says, "Oh, I should have won that split decision," (but) I am definitely annoyed that it went in his favor. So I think there is something going on with the judges and they need to educate themselves a little more with jiu jitsu. I just feel like a takedown shouldn't score higher than a reversal or a sweep, cause to me it’s all in the same playing field. Especially when there’s no damage done to the other opponent. That should be a factor, you know? You get all these old boxing judges in there and all they know about is boxing, and all they know is takedowns, and it seems like once the fight gets to the ground, they stop paying attention. I don't know, something funny is going on with that.Well, even with the loss, you made a good impression and you made some fans! How do you feel about that?
Yeah, it seems like people are responding well to the fight, and that’s awesome. I’ve had tons of people emailing me and calling me, coming up to me and telling me they thought I should have won, and that’s really cool and that’s really more important than winning. It’s what I fight for. I love going out there and putting on a good show, and at the end of the day it’s not about win or lose, it’s just that I went out there and people enjoyed watching it. That’s what really is important to me.Any plans for a rematch?
I think a rematch would be cool. I don't know if Strikeforce would want to do that. I just got to wait and see what Scott Coker wants to do, but I’d say, “Yes, give us a rematch and put us on a CBS card!” It seems like people enjoyed the fight, so let’s put it on, I’d be down!So what's next for Luke Stewart after coming off a tough loss? Are you gonna get back into the gym, or take a little time off?
I've already got back into the gym. I have a couple of injuries I’m trying to heal that I sustained training for this fight, so I got to kind of lay off a little. I have friends that are getting ready to fight, like my buddy Nik Theotikos, who is fighting April 24th, and I got Jake and Gil, who are getting ready to fight. So I’m gonna train with them and try and help them out like they helped me out. I’d like to try and fight like maybe May, June or July, it just depends on what gets thrown my way, but I definitely want to get back in there soon.So you have an open contract with Strikeforce?
I have a contract with them and it is open, so I’m able to fight in other promotions. It all depends on if it’s conflicting with Strikeforce. My manager, Nima Safapour, is looking for other opportunities for me, but I love fighting for Strikeforce, and they have a lot of shows coming up, so I’m sure that there’s something for me right around the corner.Is there anyone you'd like to thank?
Yeah, I want to thank all my training partners, all the guys at Ralph Gracie, Fight & Fitness, my trainers Neungsiam, Tark, Kurt, Nik Theotikos, my manager Nima Safapour, my sponsors and my girlfriend Lisa for taking such good care of me, and all of the people that are checking out my fights and giving me support.Thanks for your time Luke, any last words?
I want to give a shout out to my shop Seventh Son Tattoo and all the guys at Seventh Son Tattoo.Where can people find info about Seventh Son Tattoo?
Go to the website seventhsontattoo.com or go to my website lukestewart.tv, it’s like a blog format, and I try to update it as much as I can, so go check it out!