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Mike & His Beloved Father

“This is the sport I love, and if I die in the ring, then so be it. I am going to die doing what I love, but not before I am champion.”

 

It takes barely five minutes with Mike “The Greek” Bronzoulis to know what’s in his heart. The Bellator MMA Fight Master finalist has had his fair share of trials and tribulations trying to climb his mountain, but he’s finally near the top. On Saturday, November 2nd, Bronzoulis will take on Joe “Diesel” Riggs in the welterweight division in hopes of being crowned the Spike TV reality show’s first ever winner and earn the title of “Fight Master.”

 

In the final week leading up to his fight, the former Legacy champion sat down with me in our hometown of Houston, Texas, to discuss the show, his roots, Riggs’ injury, and his newfound relationship with mentor and coach, Randy Couture.

 

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The Early Days with Dad

SJ Sports: Tell us how you got started training MMA.

 

Mike Bronzoulis: I got into mixed martial arts when I was about seven or eight. My dad had a restaurant here in Houston and there was a Shotokan karate place next door. Since my dad was Greek, he wanted us to train martial arts and be into the whole “Spartan,” “300” stuff. He was really proud of [his heritage.] I fell in love with [MMA.] I did Taekwondo, karate, Shotokan, Shito-Ryu, American freestyle, American kickboxing, Thai boxing. When I was 16, I moved to Chandler, Arizona, and went to Fairtex Thai boxing camp. I came back when I was 17 and met Saul Solis. I’ve been training with him ever since. About two years ago, my gym and I moved over to Paradigm Training Center. Now, I am also training with Randy Couture at Xtreme Couture in Vegas.

 

SJ Sports: How did the opportunity come up for “Fight Master?”

 

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Mike with Randy & Ryan Couture and Don Gilberg

Mike Bronzoulis: It’s a funny story. I called my manager and I was like, “Hey, man. I need a fight. Is there anything on the table?” He said there wasn’t and to just keep training. I said, “What about that Bellator reality show I heard about?” He told me that he didn’t think I wanted to be on it and he had already sent two guys on there and that it was too short notice. I was upset; what does he mean he doesn’t think I wanted to be on it? I’m not really sure what he meant by that, but we hung up. I took it in and had faith; I asked God to help me through this. Later on that day, Drew Ratichek called me and said the producers were looking for me to see if I wanted to be on the show. They called me that same day and Skyped an interview with me and said they wanted me on the show.

 

SJ Sports: What was the experience like living with the other contestants?

 

Mike Bronzoulis: There are always going to be problems when you live in a house with a bunch of guys. Most of them that are married are used to having their wives do everything for them. When you take away their wives, they don’t know how to act. They don’t know how to cook for themselves, they don’t know how to clean; they’re pigs. It’s not fun.

 

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Mike Wearing SJ Sports with Maurice Smith & Anthony Njokauni in Las Vegas

There weren’t too many problems as far as altercations, except for that one incident with Chris Lozano and I. We were really good friends and hit it off big time. When it came down to it, he told me we weren’t going to pick each other and then he picks me. So, that’s what pissed me off, but there is nothing but respect and love now. I know, one day, he wants to work his way back up and get a chance to fight me, so if that happens, it happens, but I still love the guy and I’ve got no problems with him.

 

I think that people had the wrong impression of me when I first got there. I was ranked last the whole time. They see the tan skin, they see my hair, they think I’m this “Jersey Shore” guy fist-pumpin’ around… I can see why they wanted to pick me, but I already knew that they were looking at me like that. They had no idea what I was capable of. I wasn’t cocky about it; I was very confident and you can see in my interviews; I called it, like Babe Ruth. I said I was going to do this, this and this, just because that’s what I know I am capable of doing. I’ve fought the best fighters around, the best wrestlers, the best jiu-jitsu guys, the best stand-up guys and I know where I stand. I’m good everywhere.

 

SJ Sports: Going in to your first fight on the show, had you already picked out who you wanted as your coach?

 

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“Fight Master” on Spike TV

Mike Bronzoulis: I knew exactly who I wanted. I was trying to find out any information related to the show. I saw Randy Couture’s name and it was a done deal; no brainer. This guy was world champion eight times in two different weight classes. He started when he was 36 and finished when he was 47 and captured another title. This is “the man.” In my eyes, he’s the best in the world, and no one will ever be able to do what he did. I wanted nothing more than to be on his team.

 

SJ Sports: Had you ever met him before?

 

Mike Bronzoulis: One time, when I was in Strikeforce… it was either me or Brian Melancon who was on the card… with his son, Ryan Couture, and Randy was backstage. I was like, “Oh my God, there’s Randy,” and I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth to say something!

 

SJ Sports: You’re now living with Randy in Las Vegas. How did that come about? Obviously, not everyone who Randy trains gets to have that opportunity. How did you become so close?

 

Mike Bronzoulis: Randy and I have a really strong bond. I think he admired my work ethic and my heart and determination. I think he sees something in me. He took me under his wing and moved me into his house, I train at his gym, he has mentored me, we spend time together, talk about stuff. I pick his brain, he tells me all kinds of inside information that he experienced as far as fighting goes and his experience and what made him so great. It was a dream-come-true. It gave me a lot of confidence on the show knowing he was in my corner and that he believed in me and it gives me even more confidence now that he took me in like that and has done so much for me. The man has been there for me like a brother, like a father and has shown nothing but love for me. That guy is a great guy. I just want to make him very proud.

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Team Paradigm Before Our Interview

 

SJ Sports: Regardless of the outcome this Saturday, are your plans to stay in Vegas at Xtreme Couture?

 

Mike Bronzoulis: I’m always going to stay here in Houston; I am going to keep my place here. I am always going to train here at Paradigm and with Saul Solis. I’m always going to train at Lou Savarese‘s Main Street Boxing Gym and with Bobby Benton. This is my team over here [at Paradigm,] but also, that’s my team over there now [at Xtreme Couture.] Randy is my coach, all the coaches over there are my coaches. I love Xtreme Couture with all my heart. I am going to finish out my career getting ready for my fights with them.

 

SJ Sports: When Riggs got injured, were you disappointed the finale had to be postponed?

 

Mike Bronzoulis: No. When Riggs got injured, I wasn’t disappointed at all, because actually my back went out and I was going to fight the way I was. I wasn’t going to tell Bellator. The whole team wanted me to pull me out, but I wasn’t going to do that. I wasn’t going to give the opportunity to somebody else. [Riggs’ injury] gave me time to get injections in my back and my neck and now I’m healthy.

 

SJ Sports: What do you think would have resulted from Tito vs. Rampage?

 

Mike Bronzoulis: I think Rampage would have ended up knocking Tito out. It’s good that the fight fell through because now it’s live on Spike, which it should have been in first place. I’m happy about that.

 

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Fight Week

SJ Sports: Tell me what you know about Riggs and what type of competitor he is.

 

Mike Bronzoulis: Riggs is a good dude; I like Riggs. He’s a very well rounded fighter; he’s been in the game. Everybody knows everything about him. He had an opportunity to become a UFC champion and Strikeforce champion. His mental strength isn’t that great and his heart’s not that great either and I am going to exploit both of them. Those are both my strong points and we are going to see what he’s made out of. We are going to test him.

 

SJ Sports: Has he been in camp at Jackson/Winklejohn’s?

 

Mike Bronzoulis: Greg Jackson was his coach on the show, but now he trains at The Lab in Arizona with Ben Henderson and his coaches. As far as I know, Greg was his coach just for the TV portion of the show. His stuff was fake and all for TV; mine was real.

 

SJ Sports: After this fight, will you be locked in with Bellator?

 

Mike Bronzoulis: I have a two-year contract with Bellator and Spike TV. Who knows what will happen after this fight; maybe they will renegotiate my contract. Hopefully I will win and they will lock me down for longer. I want to stay where I am going to get paid. I want to become champion and I want to get paid. This is a very hard life to live. You can’t do it for cheap.

 

SJ Sports: Tell us about your experience fighting for Legacy Fighting Championship.

 

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After Winning the Welterweight Title for Legacy FC

Mike Bronzoulis: Legacy is an awesome organization, by far one of my favorites. Mick and Andrea Maynard are awesome people and good friends of mine. I love them to death. I am a former Legacy champion. They have a great show and have some of the best fighters in the world fighting for them. He’s right up there with the big dogs; Mick’s done great and I am very proud of him.

 

SJ Sports: Tell us about your dad and how he was such an integral part of your life and still remains to be even after his passing.

 

Mike Bronzoulis: My role models have always been my parents. My dad was this big Greek guy, this foreigner that could barely speak any English when he moved to America. He went from being a dishwasher to owning his own restaurant; he was a serious workhorse. I admired that my whole life. This man came from nothing. I always wanted to be like my dad and always wanted to impress him, but I had some big shoes to fill.

 

My dad passed from cancer six years ago. His last wish before he died was that I become champion and take care of my mom. That’s what I am trying to do right now; make good on my dad’s last wishes. This week, before the biggest fight of my life, my brother was moving into his new house and uncovered this letter that my dad had written for me that I hadn’t seen until just now because it was hidden amongst some things. It couldn’t have come at a more important time. It’s like he’s talking to me from the other side. I could have gotten that letter any time in the last six years, but the week before my fight? It’s unbelievable. The chances of that happening are one in every billion.

 

SJ Sports: You had a couple of really rough years…

 

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With Mother, Barbara, at the QUILT Show in Houston Last Weekend

Mike Bronzoulis: I was in an accident in 2004. A Ford Expedition hit me from behind. The last words out of my mouth were, “Mom, I think I need to get back into church,” and then, bam. God wanted in my life. You know how people ask for signs? My mom said to me that she has never seen God in anyone’s life more than me. I was hospitalized and couldn’t walk for six months. The doctors said I would have problems walking and would never fight again. I got better and believed in myself and believed in God to give me strength and here we are. I still have back and neck problems, but I am working through them. The doctors say if I get injured one more time, I will probably be paralyzed for the rest of my life. This is the sport I love, and if I die in the ring, then so be it. I am going to die doing what I love, but not before I am champion.

 

SJ Sports: Is there anyone you would like to thank?

 

Mike Bronzoulis: I want to thank everyone at Xtreme Couture and Randy Couture, Metro Fight Club and Saul Solis, Paradigm Training Center, Reed Shelger, Grant Johnson, Brian Melancon, Jeff Rexroad, Lester Batres, Angel Huerta, all my teammates, George Parker, Main Street Boxing Gym, Lou Savarese, Bobby Benton, all the guys over there. I want to thank my sponsors Innovative Pain Care Center, Lexani, KO Dynasty, XCAP Athletic Pharmaceuticals, Blu Medical, RBP, Trap Fighter, Formula Med, and International Garage. I also want to thank my neighbors, Tara and Damien Gaffney. They went and got me this beautiful St. Michael’s pendant from Italy that was blessed by Pope Francis. I want to thank my brother, my nephew Dylan and my mother, Barbara Bronzoulis. The woman has spilled nothing but encouraging words into my heart and into my mind since I was a child. I wake up and I see this encouraging signs that she leaves me. I see encouraging phrases about never giving on and staying strong. Believe. No Fear… She is my rock.

***

Tune in to Spike TV on Saturday, November 2nd to watch Mike Bronzoulis take on Joe Riggs at Bellator 108.

Follow Mike on Twitter

 

Photo Credits: Mike Bronzoulis and Family   Mike Calimbas   Bellator MMA   SpikeTV

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War Machine vs. Blas Avena

On June 19th, War Machine [né, Jonathan Koppenhaver] made his first appearance in the cage since November 2011. He faced BJJ black belt, Blas Avena, under the Bellator MMA banner. After pulling off possibly the most talked-about crucifix of the entire year, the ref stepped in to stop the fight before the end of the first round, and War Machine was victorious. Now, just a few days before his next fight in the Bellator tournament (to be held on Friday, September 20, 2013), Koppenhaver is more determined than ever to silence any opponent that would stand in his way.

 

Quite possibly, there has been only one interview in SJ Sports history that continues to get hundreds of views per day, and that’s War Machine’s. Love him or loathe him, he does only what he knows how to do best: winning. Or perhaps more importantly, maintaining an utterly spellbound audience.

 

Last time Jon and I spoke, I mentioned that these interviews are not for the faint of heart. Once the first question leaves my lips, anything goes. In this particular interview, we talk about his first fight back, how his current opponent has fought only “Kung Fu dorks,” his opinion on Matt Riddle’s retirement from fighting, and his and girlfriend Christy Mack‘s salacious new business endeavor.

 

Read on if you dare…

 

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SJ Sports: Tell me about your last appearance at Bellator against Blas Avena. How did it feel to be back in the cage? There wasn’t any apparent “ring rust,” but did you feel any?

 

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Victorious over Avena

War Machine: At first, I was a little more nervous than usual because I hadn’t fought in so long. It was my first fight back on TV. I felt a little bit weird the first 30 seconds or so, but once I got in the mix of it, I settled in a little and I felt perfect. I thought I performed very well for my first fight back. I won the first round. I did well on the feet and on the ground. He’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu; I beat him on the ground. So, I was proud of my performance.

 

SJ Sports: Did anything surprise you about Avena once you were in the cage with him?

 

War Machine: I wasn’t surprised. He fought the way I thought he was going to fight. Anything could happen, but I knew I was going to win. You never know if it’s going to be in the first round, the second round, how it’s going to happen. I thought maybe I beat him a little easier than I expected. There were no surprises.

 

SJ Sports: What has been going on since the last fight in terms of training and camp?

 

War Machine: Actually, in that fight, I cracked one of my ribs. He got me with a couple good knees. I couldn’t really train for about a month. I got back into the gym and I have been training hard with my boxing coach, Joe Vargas and my jiu-jitsu coach, Baret Yoshida. I’ve been training, training, training; sharpening up my skills and getting my cardio ready. I feel like I am in great shape and my skills are sharpened. I have been dieting; since I was in jail the first time, I have been on an 80% vegan diet. I’m lean and I’m hard. I’m happy with everything. I am excited to f*cking fight again.

 

SJ Sports: Your opponent, Vaughn Anderson, is relatively unknown in the states, but he is obviously the real deal: 16-1, finishing eight of his past nine fights…have you learned anything about the caliber of opponents that he has faced recently? Were they quality?

 

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Koppenhaver and Teammate, Herman Terrado. Terrado Could Wind Up an Opponent Later on in the Bellator Tournament.

War Machine: No, he sucks. I mean, he’s 16-1 against a bunch of chumps. He basically is going to Taiwan and picking on little Kung Fu dorks that don’t know how to fight. He has a great record. I wasn’t saying anything bad about him. What I was saying was that I was going to win…because I am going to win…and he started talking all this sh*t. Talking about how he’s better than me at everything, that I’m more of a striker and he’s more of the jiu-jitsu guy, that I have no skills, that I suck, that all I do is lift weights and have sex. He’s talking a lot of sh*t because no one will give him a chance, no one knows who he is, he’s a nobody and he wants to make a little bit of noise to get some attention. All it’s doing is making him look dumb. He should have went into this fight humble and gained some fans out of it. Instead, he’s talking like he’s going to smash me. He’s delusional. Unless I slip on a banana peel, they can’t beat me. Realistically, I have better hands, better wrestling, better jiu-jitsu. My jiu-jitsu coach trained with him a year ago in Taiwan, so firsthand I know for a fact that I’m way better than he is. He’s telling people he’s going to submit me in the first round? He’s crazy; there’s no way he beats me. He’s tripping, man. He’s going to see. I can’t wait to go in there and smash him.

 

SJ Sports: Have you seen video of him?

 

War Machine: I watched a couple of fights just to get an idea real quick. From what I saw, he’s one of those guys that thinks he’s a Muay Thai kickboxer, but he’s not. He throws kicks, but he has no hands. When he gets hit in the face, he flinches. He has a crappy single leg [takedown] he shoots. He’s not real athletic. He’s kind of a chubby guy. For me, I’m not impressed at all. I’m going to smash him and move on to the next fight.

 

SJ Sports: How did Anderson get into the tournament?

 

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Koppenhaver and Porn Star Beauty Girlfriend, Christy Mack, with their pups, Pitrick Swayze and Cleopitra.

War Machine: I know Bellator recruits all around the world trying to find new talent because they don’t want to rely on only UFC rejects. They want to find their own talent. On paper, you look at this guy and he’s 16-1; that’s a great record, you know? Fighting overseas, no one’s ever seen him fight before, so [Bellator] said, “Hey! Let’s give him a shot on the big stage and have him show us what he is made of.” It’s unfortunate for him that he drew me first.

 

SJ Sports: Are you doing anything to prepare differently for Anderson than you did for Avena?

 

War Machine: I don’t care what my opponent does. I make my opponent fight me; I don’t fight them. I always train the same. The only small adjustment I made was that he’s a southpaw, so my coach holds the pads [accordingly]. I have several southpaws on my team, so on sparring days I’m trying to go mostly with them just to get used to that stance, but besides that, no other changes.

 

SJ Sports: Do you have difficulty with southpaws?

 

War Machine: Southpaws are always tricky, but the thing is, [Anderson’s] not a good southpaw.  If it was a really, really good southpaw with great boxing, they give you a lot of trouble. Everyone they’ve sparred is always orthodox, you know? But, he doesn’t throw a lot of hands; he throws kicks. These guys, they move to Thailand and they think they’re going to come back and be Muay Thai experts. Roger Huerta moved there for a year; I fought him and he didn’t Muay Thai me. He didn’t do shit to me. Roger Huerta is 10-times the fighter that Vaughn is.

 

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Christy and Jon.

SJ Sports: What do you think about Matt Riddle’s statement about Bellator and not being able to afford to fight anymore?

 

War Machine: It sucks that Matt Riddle hurt his rib; that’s a sh*tty injury. I don’t blame him for pulling out of the fight, but saying he is going to retire? I think that’s weak. As far as him saying he can’t afford to fight anymore because he can’t fight now, fighters don’t make a lot of money. I know he has a kid and maybe he needs a regular job or whatever. I don’t like him; I think he’s a dork. He’s a good fighter though; he’s tough. I don’t think he should be retiring.

 

SJ Sports: Tell me what happened with your former sponsor, Saint Apparel.

 

War Machine: My last fight, they contacted me. I didn’t look for them. They started telling me, “We’re from Canada. We want you to represent us. What would it take for you to wear Saint Apparel at your next fight?” I told them, “If you want me to wear a t-shirt and wear a patch on my shorts, it’s $4,000.” They said, “That’s no problem, we got you. We’re going to give you $4,000 for this fight and then if you win that fight, the next fight we will try and give you more. Every fight you win, we will try and bump it up some more. We want to see you do well.” They made it really sound like they were rich as sh*t and they were just starting a business. I was really excited, so I went ahead and had the shorts made up and wore their tank top for the fight, took pictures and tweeted about them and everything. When the time came to pay, they had a million excuses. They didn’t pay me anything and kept beating around the bush and ignoring me. I finally called them out on Twitter and caused a big stink about it and they finally sent me $800. They promised to make me a payment every month, like, $500 till they pay me off and told me they had gotten over their heads. I said, “Fine, that’s cool, whatever,” and I stopped talking sh*t about them. Then, after the $800 bucks they gave me, they stopped texting me back, they stopped communicating at all and that’s it. They owe me $3,200 bucks. They disappeared; they’re crooks. They deleted their Twitter. They had a Facebook; I don’t know if they have it anymore.

 

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His and Hers Tattoos

SJ Sports: Are you going to make the decision to get payment upfront now, instead?

 

War Machine: I don’t know, man. I’m an easy guy to f*ck over because I’m very honest and I don’t think that people are going to be dishonest in these kind of situations. This fight, Future Legend is sponsoring me. I don’t see the need to get their money upfront. In the future, if I ever get a new company that’s not well-established, then I’ll ask for the money upfront. I don’t think it’s fair for me to do my end of the bargain and not get paid for it.

 

SJ Sports: Let’s talk about you and Christy. Tell me about the tattoos that you both got and how that came about.

 

War Machine: I don’t know how it came up, but we both have a lot of tattoos. We were going to get tattoos for each other and it kept escalating and escalating and I had the idea for the stamp because I have a stamp on my collarbone that says ‘Product of Baret Yoshida.’ So, I said jokingly at first, “Why don’t you get a stamp on you saying, “Property of War Machine?” I was half joking, but she was like, “Alright!” I was like, “No you won’t!” and she said, “Yeah, I will!” So we got to the tattoo shop when we were in Vegas and she was kind of chickening out. She wanted to change it and get some script somewhere else; something less crazy. I was like, “Whaaaat…” She’s like, “Well, you were only going to get a small ‘Mack’ somewhere.” I said, “I don’t give a f*ck! I’ll get f*cking ‘Mack’ on my throat.” Again, I was joking, you know? Or half joking. She was like, “No you won’t.” I said, “Oh, I won’t?! I f*cking will!” So she’s like, “Alright, then do it.” So, I got ‘Mack’ on my throat and she got ‘Property of War Machine’ on her back. We went pretty gangster with it.

 

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The Post on War Machine’s Instagram Account.

SJ Sports: How are you splitting your time between Vegas and San Diego?

 

War Machine: I have my fight coming up, so I have to be in San Diego for training. She’s been here with me a lot. We go to Vegas on the weekends when we can to see her mom and her other dog, but we’ve been in San Diego for the most part.

 

SJ Sports: You posted the other day on Instagram that you are looking for girls that would be interested in hooking up with Christy while you film it for her website.

 

War Machine: She has her own website that pulls in ‘x’ amount of dollars per month. I was just thinking of ways to increase traffic for the site and get more money. The longtime porn thing is always like, they’re driving and you see a girl on the side of the road. “Oh, what’s your name?” and they pick her up and they f*ck them, you know? People always want to see civilian regular girls get f*cked. Everyone knows that that girl is really a porn star; she’s not really a civilian. So I said, “Dude, Christy, you’re popular enough where these f*cking girls, they’ll come and they’ll f*ck you or us or a threesome for free because they’re in love with you.” She’s like, “No they won’t.” I said, “Trust me, they will.” So, we start posting that thing and we’ve been getting tons of emails from girls. We got emails from girls across the country that are willing to fly in and f*ck her for the website or have a threesome with us. We actually have two sisters; one is 18 and one is 19 and they’re going to fly in from way somewhere in the midwest and they’re going to have a foursome with us.

 

SJ Sports: Whaaaaat?!

 

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#PowPow! Christy and War Machine.

War Machine: Yeah. This is going to bring, I think, a lot of extra traffic to her site. People are going to actually watch the evolution from the post on Instagram, the comments on Instagram, to watching us and those girls actually flying in to where we live and watch us f*ck them. Regular, normal girls. Hopefully, we make some money off that. I would rather us make money off her site f*cking girls than have Christy go out there and f*ck dudes in porn and risk getting diseases. There was an HIV scare recently and it’s getting a lot harder to see my girl with any other guy. At the same time, it’s fun for me because I’m a guy. Guys are horny bastards, so if I can f*ck a couple chicks with my girlfriend…and Christy likes girls, too…it’s a win-win.

 

SJ Sports: So, what kind of criteria are you guys looking for exactly?

 

War Machine: We want girls that are pretty, obviously, but not super fake, hot looking girls. We don’t want girls to look like “porn” girls, really. A cute girl that lives next door or a cute girl in the gym, not with giant fake tits or super, super hot. We want more of the super cute girls. All they have to do is come to us, take an STD test (we reimburse them for the test), sign some paperwork and we film it and have a good time.

 

SJ Sports: Is there anyone you would like to thank before this fight?

 

War Machine: I want to thank my coaches, Baret and Joe. I want to thank my teammates. I want to thank Moya, the gi company that sponsors me. I want to thank Future Legend for sponsoring me. I want to thank Garden of Life. I want to thank ChristyMack.com. There’s a reggae artist named Collie Buddz; he’s one of my favorite reggae artists. He’s in the process of making me my own custom song from scratch. For this fight, he did a remix of one of his current songs, so he’s sponsoring me in that form. He’s a great artist and I’m excited for my song.

•••

Watch War Machine take on Vaughn Anderson on September 20, 2013, at Bellator MMA on Spike TV and follow him on Twitter @WarMachine170. Follow Christy Mack on Twitter @ChristyMack.

 

Photo Credits: War Machine & Christy Mack.

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Powerful War Machine

The following interview is not for the faint of heart.

 

It’s not for those with sensitive ears and is certainly, in no way, politically correct. War Machine [born: Jonathan Koppenhaver, 12-4] takes pride in the fact that no matter what the circumstance, he keeps true to himself…and with no apology, either. If this Bellator MMA warrior has an opinion, you’re going to hear about it, rated X or not. His name remains one of the most infamous in MMA today and, love him or hate him, no one can seem to get his name out of their mouths.

 

Read our one-on-one below where Jon opens up to me about everything: his upcoming fight in Bellator, his qualms with MMA sponsorships, the meaning behind his tattoos and his hard knocks as a kid. He even reveals the name of his current girlfriend and shares a few personal photos.

 

Hang on tight… it’s going to be one crazy ride.

 

***

 

Stephanie: Obviously you pay attention to the news and social media and you know that a lot of critics are saying that Bellator made a mistake signing you recently. How do you plan on proving them wrong, both inside and outside the cage?

 

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Navy SEALs BUDS Training Center on the O-Course

War Machine: Well, it doesn’t even make sense what they said. How can they not sign me? There are only so many good MMA fighters that are out there and there’s only so many of those are marketable, you know? I don’t care how much people hate me or whatever, but I’m one of those marketable guys. What did I do so wrong? I f*cking robbed an old lady? I f*cking raped a kid? I’m an arch criminal? I got in a fight. I’m a fighter; that’s what fighters do. Everyone wants to talk shit, but they’re just a bunch of haters. I’m going to go in there and I’m going to fight. That’s what I do and how I make my money and it’s going to be me, you know? It’s their problem if they get sick and tired of seeing me on TV. It’s not my fault.

 

Stephanie: Do you think that you have a temper? Do people set you off easily?

 

War Machine: No. I actually have a great temper. It takes a lot to piss me off…I’ll get mad easy but I won’t get violent unless there’s a really good reason. Those guys that I hit, in real life, they deserved it; they deserved it a lot. They deserved it 100 percent; that’s why I don’t feel bad about it. The Somalian dude that was breaking into my car? I didn’t even touch him, so that shows my temper isn’t even that bad. I think most fighters would have beat him up.

 

Stephanie: Where are you training now?

 

War Machine: I train at a gym called ‘Und1sputed.” My jiu-jitsu coach is Baret Yoshida. He’s been my coach since 2006, so a long time. Then, I have a really good boxing coach named Joe Vargas. My teammates, I have a good bunch of up and coming guys like Herman Terrado and Nick Barnes; a bunch of tough, new guys. We go in there and we train hard. You have everything you need right there.

 

Stephanie: How many hours a day are you at the gym right now?

 

War Machine: You know, guys lie to you and they tell you they train eight hours a day; it’s not even possible, you know? People like to lie a lot. I train about four and a half hours a day: an hour and a half in the morning and an hour and a half at night…maybe 45 minutes in the afternoon. It just depends. I’m training full time; it’s a full time job.

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Baret Yoshida and WM’s trip to Japan, training with Shinya Aoki and Imanari.

Stephanie: Do you have anything you are trying to work on more specifically for your upcoming fight against Blas Avena?

 

War Machine: My boxing. I’m always going to be a ground person at heart. My weakness will always be as a striker, so I focus more on that. I’m trying to get that up to the highest level I can.

 

Stephanie: I was checking out your opponent’s record and I noticed a lot of his fights ended by TKO or knockouts. Is that why are you focusing more on your standup?

 

War Machine: Yeah, him losing that way.

 

Stephanie: I saw he won his last fight by knockout in the first round…

 

War Machine: Yeah, he won his last fight by knockout. He’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu and he’s basically good, but his record kind of sucks. He’s a straight jiu-jitsu guy and he doesn’t stay up on his feet a lot. Now, he’s been training more standup.

 

Stephanie: Will you try and keep it standing and avoid taking it to the ground?

 

War Machine: Besides the black belt, [the fact that he is good at jiu-jitsu] doesn’t mean nothing to me because I train with guys [that are] better than him every single day. I’m not worried about it; I’m a better wrestler, so I’ll be on top. I’m not worried anywhere, on the feet or on the ground, but I know he’s not as good on his feet so I am going to try and exploit that a little bit. That doesn’t mean I won’t take him down, though. I’ll probably take him down, too. Wherever I feel he’s the least comfortable, that’s where I want to have him.

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WM training one of his students, Julian.

 

Stephanie: You don’t see it going a certain way at all?

 

War Machine: Just that I win. I don’t like to have a game plan or try and visualize certain sh*t happening because the first thing that happens when you do that is you go in there and whatever you expect him to do, it’ll go the opposite and it f*cks up your whole game plan and ruins everything you had planned. I go in there and just fight to win. He has to fight me; I don’t care what he’s going to do. That’s his problem. When you’re new, like when I was younger, I was like, “Alright…” I’d sit there all night long and was like, “He comes out and throws a jab, and I’ll do this. He comes out and throws a kick, I’m going to do this…” That’s f*cking bullsh*t. You never really know what’s going to happen. You go in there and you fight and your training takes over and the fight happens, man. That’s it.

 

Stephanie: Iron Man 3 just recently came out and they have a character in the movie named James Rhodes. He calls himself the “Iron Patriot,” but in the comics he was actually “War Machine.” Is that where you got your name from?

 

War Machine: No. My buddy, my old mentor, Phil Baroni, he just named me that one day. I got these two tattoos and they’re, like, biomechanical; it’s like my skin’s tearing off like I’m a robot underneath, like I’m a machine. I don’t know, I was new; I was like 20-years-old, 21 and he was like, “We got to find you a nick name, man.” I said, “F*ck, I don’t know,” and then he came up with “War Machine,” so it stuck. I think that was just a coincidence because that was, like, an obscure comic. I actually didn’t find that out until recently that there was a “War Machine” comic. Plus, that guy is black anyway. I would never name myself after a black guy. If I wanted to be a comic guy, I would pick someone that looked like me.

 

Stephanie: You recently garnered a lot of press talking about MMA sponsorships on social media. What set that off? What was the original situation that made you upset?

 

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WM and his Cousin, UFC vet Jared Papazian

War Machine: What set it off is that these guys that own the clothing companies are millionaires. My agent has a f*cking million dollar house on the beach, do you know what I mean? Everyone’s rich and all the fighters don’t have health insurance. We’re broke, we’re miserable. Right now, I have a torn ACL, I have a hernia, I’m busting my ass every f*cking day training…I’m going to fight on TV in front of a million people, these a**holes have the nerve to try and pay me $500 bucks to wear their shorts? Or $2 or $300 bucks for a t-shirt? It’s chump change. All these stupid fighters that have no balls to negotiate and accept all these bullsh*t, lowball offers. So, because five guys accepted $3 or $400 bucks to wear those shorts, now they have the balls to ask me to wear them for $500. No, it ain’t going to happen. It’s the fighters’ fault, because the fighters are so stupid. They’re so stupid and they’re so eager to get in there and fight and make a penny. They would take anything, you know? Not me, I won’t take anything; I won’t do it. I’ll have ten sponsors for $500 bucks each? I’ll just go out there with nothing on and make no money instead of wearing that sh*t. Everyone says, “Oh, you’re an idiot,” but guess what? Today I get an email and now I have a big ass sponsor at a high-paying amount. I’m going to be the highest paid guy at Bellator with my shirt. All the other guys that are fighting…these guys are fighting, like, title fights for Bellator…and they give them $1500 bucks to wear a t-shirt, you know? I’m getting three, four times that. I want to f*cking slap them in the face. What pisses me off too is that my sports agent is trying to pressure me into accepting that sh*t. You know what I mean? You know why? Because I went on Twitter and I started bashing Sprawl and Sprawl started crying a river…called my agent, “Why was he saying that about us?”, blah blah blah. So now, Sprawl is staring to not sponsor, like, ten of those other guys [fighting in Bellator]. The agent is going to make $400-$500 bucks off the same guys…so he’s trying to pressure me into signing this deal for $500 bucks because for him, it’s not [just] $500 bucks. It’s ten guys at $500 bucks. I got this hernia, I push that shit back in my stomach every day. It’s popping out. I got a torn ACL, I’m fighting my ass off and this guy’s got a million dollar house and he’s trying to tell me to sell me for $500 bucks.

 

Stephanie: At least you got a good sponsor in the end.

 

War Machine: Yeah, because I’ve got balls. They’re a company called Saint Apparel. “Saint” like “a saint,” like me. They’re from Canada.

 

Stephanie: Tell me about your venture into porn and how that happened.

 

War Machine: After I was on The Ultimate Fighter, I started getting kind of popular and all of a sudden porn girls would write me on MySpace. So I started going to L.A. and started boning them [laughs]. So, I knew all these porn girls and then one day I was talking to them and I was in a weird mood…I said, “I’m going to try porn…f*ck fighting. I’m going to take some time off.” So I just went there and did it; it was fun.

 

Stephanie: How much porn did you do?

 

War Machine: I did, like, 20 scenes or so.

 

Stephanie: So, why did you stop?

 

War Machine: I got jumped at a party and I beat up a bunch of guys who were kind of powerful and they blackballed me from the industry. I also got engaged.

 

Stephanie: Did you ever get married?

 

War Machine: Yeah. She got deported when I went to jail. She’s back in Hungary; I’m not married [now], but I have a girlfriend.

 

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WM and his wife, before she was deported back to Hungary

Stephanie: I know that you’re a fan of WMMA; what do you think about Cat Zingano having to pull out of The Ultimate Fighter against Ronda Rousey?

 

War Machine: I don’t know. Did she really get hurt, or is it a lie? I bet you the UFC probably paid her to say she was hurt because they didn’t want her on the show; they wanted to have Miesha Tate instead. I wonder if it’s real or not. I wonder if they were like, “We want the prettier girl on the show, here’s f*cking $20 grand to say you’re hurt.” I’m curious. It’s bullsh*t because the UFC had their hearts set on Ronda Rousey and stupid “Cupcake.” They got screwed over because Cat won and Cat’s not as much of a pretty girl or whatever…I don’t know, man. Rousey is so one-dimensional. The best MMA girls aren’t even in the UFC. I’d rather watch the girls over in Invicta or Bellator.

 

Stephanie: I read on Twitter that you want to tell millions the truth about MMA; is that related to the sponsorships or is this something different?

 

War Machine: The sponsorship thing…just everything, man. It’s how the whole sport is and it’s the UFC’s fault. Bellator is doing the best they can, but they’re limited in the amount of budget and sponsors they get. The UFC is screwing it up so much. If a big company, like Reebok, would step up and sponsor Bellator and give them the money they need to really compete with the UFC, it would be different. It’s all about the sponsors; that’s where all the money is.

 

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WM’s wife, who was deported while he was incarcerated.

Stephanie: So, basically, your whole point is that it’s the fighters who are doing all of the work, but not the ones making the money.

 

War Machine: Yeah, exactly. I saw a statistic of some sh*t…I forget…but it was like the NFL or the NBA, pro-sports. The profits of every pro-sport, like 70 percent or 80 percent, goes to the players. That’s where the profits go, you know? And in f*cking MMA? 17 percent of the profits of the UFC, goes to the f*cking fighters. 17 percent! Compared to, like, 70 everywhere else in the world. They can afford to give all of us good paydays, but instead they want to have eight Lamborghinis instead of three. Why do they want to be so greedy and rich? It’s f*cked up.

 

Stephanie: What’s the story with you and the UFC?

 

War Machine: They kicked me out because when Evan Tanner died…and I still think he killed himself, or I think he went out there because he wanted to die. That’s what I still believe. I said the reason why he did this is because he was a f*cking champ and he never made any money. Now, he’s at the end of his career, he can’t win any more fights, he has no retirement, no savings, he has to start fresh, he can’t fight anymore and so I think he went out there to die. I said, “Mark my words, you’re going to see a lot of fighters in the future, when they can’t fight anymore and they have no money to show for their whole career, killing themselves.” And it’s going to f*cking happen, I promise you. The UFC was like, “Dude, you’re saying that we don’t pay you guys enough so you’re all going to kill yourselves when you get old?” I wasn’t being supportive of the UFC so they fired me; that’s why. [For full story, click here.]

 

Stephanie: Do you believe that after your performance in Bellator that the UFC will reconsider and ask for you to come back?

 

War Machine: If I win a tournament and I win the f*cking belt, of course they are going to want me back. 100 percent guaranteed; they’ll have to come. But Bellator’s not going to let me go; my UFC days are done. Bellator has the last right of refusal; they have the right to match the UFC’s offer. They will never let me go! I’ll be one of their biggest stars after that. You know what? I don’t want to go back to the UFC because I’m not going to sit there and watch every word I say and I’m not going to tolerate that bullsh*t. They’re like a bunch of Nazis, man. I can’t tolerate that, I can’t be there. I’m happy at Bellator; I don’t give a sh*t.

 

Stephanie: Tell me about your tattoos.

 

War Machine: I got a bunch, man. I got some Kanji on my back that says, “Survival of the Fittest,” in Japanese. I have some Kanji on my right foot that says “Yamato Damashii,” which basically means “Samurai spirit.” I got anarchy signs on my hands because I hate the government and I hate rules. I have a circle on my neck; a circle means to me, like, everything that matters to me, like my circle, the few people that I care about, that I trust…I got a bunch of stuff.

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At Und1sputed training with the team and Kid Yamamoto.

Stephanie: I know you have a grenade on your neck, right?

 

War Machine: Yeah, that was just a marketing gimmick. You know, you see a fight on TV and the next day, you don’t know who the f*ck [the fighter] is. There are tons of fighters out there [like that.] You have to have something to stick out; some dudes have a mohawk, Tito Ortiz had his little bleached blond hair; you got to have that something. I’ll walk by people and they won’t recognize me and then they’ll see my neck and they’re like, “Oh! You’re that guy,” you know? It’s probably one of my best ideas.

 

Stephanie: One of the fan questions was, “What’s his knuckle tatt say?”

 

War Machine: It says, “DGAF,” “don’t give a f*ck.”

 

Stephanie: Tell me about your childhood and growing up. Are you still close with your family?

 

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War Machine & girlfriend, porn star Christy Mack.

War Machine: No, my family sucks. My mom’s a f*cking drug-addict loser, my dad died when I was 13, my brother is a piece of sh*t; I hate my brother. I have my sister, that’s all I talk to.

 

Stephanie: Where did y’all grow up?

 

War Machine: We grew up in the L.A. area.

 

Stephanie: Did you do any sports in grade school or high school?

 

War Machine: Yeah, I always played football growing up. I did water polo, swimming and wrestling.

 

Stephanie: So the wrestling led into MMA?

 

War Machine: Me and my dad used to watch these “Gracie In Action” instructional videos when I was in seventh grade, but wrestling was my real first training.

 

Stephanie: How did you decide to make the move to training MMA, then?

 

War Machine: I was in college and I was a biology major. My mom stole all my tuition money and spent it on drugs, so all my credits were frozen and I couldn’t transfer them. My other thing besides going to college and being an officer in the military was being a fighter, so I just moved to San Diego and started training with Ken Shamrock…and then [I’ve been with Und1sputed] since 2005 when it first opened up.

 

 

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At Und1sputed training with his current team, taken last week.

Fan questions:

 

Stephanie: I know in a previous interview you mentioned that you were in the hole the entire time you were in prison, but did anyone ever try and start a fight with you while you were in there?

 

War Machine: No, they’re all a bunch of pussies and a bunch of bullies and they’re all talk. None of them had the balls to ever try anything. That’s a joke.

 

Stephanie: You were incarcerated at the same time and in the same prison as Floyd Mayweather. Do you have a friendship with him?

 

War Machine: No, he was in a different unit; we were just there at the same time.

 

Stephanie: Who is your favorite current UFC champion?

 

War Machine: [Georges] St. Pierre. I look up to him, but then my favorite is Dominick Cruz. He’s a friend of mine; he’s my buddy.

 

Stephanie: These two questions are from Stephie [Daniels]: She wanted me to ask you about “Pow-Pow?”

 

War Machine: [Laughs] “Pow-Pow” is just a funny word I use for sex. If I say, “I need some f*cking Pow-Pow,” it means I need to get laid.

 

Stephanie: …and then she said something about a pizza box?

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War Machine vs. Roger Huerta

War Machine: [Laughs] I did a porno one time in a boxing ring and I had my dick through a pizza. It was stupid, she’d gotten done working out and I was the delivery boy and she knocked me out and I was in a dream and the pizza was on my lap and my dick was sticking through and I f*cked her with it.

 

Stephanie: Oh my! [Laughing] Last fan question: “I want to know how often during the day he wants to punch someone in the face.”

 

War Machine: Uh…I don’t know. I think about punching people in the face less than I think about having sex. I think about having sex every three and a half seconds.

 

Stephanie: Well, hopefully your girlfriend lives near you!

 

War Machine: She doesn’t, she lives in Vegas. Hey, put my girlfriend’s name on there.

 

Stephanie: Oh, okay. What is it?

 

War Machine: It’s Christy Mack.

 

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War Machine with Phoenix Marie and girlfriend, Christy Mack.

Stephanie: [Writing] Christy Mack…

 

War Machine: She’s a porn star. She’s a real popular porn star. Those f*ckers are really going to hate on me when they see that sh*t. Everyone hates on me, you know? When everyone finds out she’s my girlfriend, they are REALLY going to hate on me.

 

Stephanie: Who would you like to thank going into this next fight?

 

War Machine: I would like to thank my sponsor, Garden of Life and I want to thank my new sponsor, Saint Apparel. I’d like to thank my coach Baret Yoshida and my coach Joe Vargas and all my training partners at Und1sputed gym.

 

***

Watch War Machine take on Blas Avena when a new season of Bellator MMA premieres on June 19th on Spike TV and follow him on twitter @WarMachine170.

 

Photo credits: War Machine   MMAsplatter.com   MMA-Fighter.com

"Alpha" Cat Zingano

Alpha” Cat Zingano is one bad woman. And by bad, I mean ridiculously good.

Not only does she have a professional women’s MMA record of 7-0, but she finished six out of those seven fights: three by submission, two by TKO, and one by knockout.

Zingano will face Miesha “Cupcake” Tate [13-3] on April 13, 2013, at The Ultimate Fighter Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she will take part in the second women’s MMA bout in the history of the UFC. On the line if she wins? A shot at the women’s bantamweight championship, and a chance to do battle with the “Queen of the UFC,” Ronda Rousey.

Additionally, at UFC 158, Dana White announced that the winner of the Tate-Zingano matchup will go on to coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter alongside Rousey, which will now consist of both men and women’s MMA hopefuls.

I was fortunate enough to capture a few minutes of time from this phenomenal athlete, who in 2011 was ranked as the number one 125-pound female MMA Fighter in the World. We talk about her background as a wrestler, sex appeal in MMA, training under her husband, Master Mauricio Zingano, and of course, her guiltiest pleasure. Enjoy!

***

Stephanie Joplin: Tell me about how you got into wrestling at such a young age. Obviously an unusual sport for a girl of 12! Any fun anecdotes about beating up tons of boys growing up are welcome.

 

Cat Zingano: I had a mentor in middle school that was always looking out for me.  I was getting into fights and getting in trouble.  He coached the wrestling team and asked me to come check out a practice.  It turned out the boy I had a crush on was one of the top wrestlers on the team and in the region.  I came to practice the next day and got teamed up with him.  I beat him pretty bad and I was hooked on the sport.  Needless to say after that practice I no longer had a crush on the boy!

 

SJ: You were a four-time All American and National Champ wrestler and competed on Team USA. What are your thoughts on the International Olympic Committee removing wrestling from The Games?

 

CZ: I think it’s horrible!  Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the world and founded the Olympics.  Wrestling has given me so much in my life and it’s sad to think other girls and boys aren’t going to get to live their dream because of advertising money.

 

SJ: Training in Colorado, how does one prepare differently to fight at sea level? Do you ever feel a bit off balance and if so, how do you train against that?

 

CZ: Training in Colorado is great.  I definitely feel great and my cardio is increased at sea level for a short amount of time.

 

SJ: You and your husband, Mauricio Zingano, make quite the pair! Is that how you got into BJJ in 2007? Or did you meet him along the way? Was he already a black belt at the time you met?

 

CZ: Yeah, he’s a great man!  Yes, I was looking for something to do and I walked in his academy signed up for a free week, and again I was hooked!  Master Zingano is truly an amazing coach and husband.

 

"Alpha" Cat ZinganoSJ: Was Mauricio your trainer or coach at any point in time? If so, how did that dynamic work for you as an athlete, and as a wife?

 

CZ: Yes he’s coached me from the beginning.  It’s tough sometimes being married to my coach.  But where there’s love, you find a way to work it out and find middle ground.  It’s so important not to bring your work home every day.

 

SJ: How did becoming a mother change your training and competing schedule? How did you manage to work around all the new responsibilities?

 

CZ: It adds an additional level of responsibilities for sure.  I take him to school each morning and train throughout the day (just like any one else that goes to work every day).  Mauricio is a HUGE help at home with our son, he takes on some extra tasks so I can rest and makes sure the home life stays as normal as possible.

 

SJ: How do you think being “attractive” or “pretty” factors in to success and fame as a woman with a career in MMA? Do you think “sex” is an important part of selling women’s MMA?

 

CZ: Well I guess it doesn’t hurt to be sexy!  But when it’s all said and done the fans want great fights.  If we just walked out all sexy and didn’t perform in the cage then it would just be modeling and our fans expect more…a lot more!

 

SJ: Do you feel “left out” of the rivalry between your opponent, Miesha Tate, and current UFC Bantamweight Champ, Ronda Rousey?

 

CZ: Nope, not at all.  Those girls don’t like each other that’s fine with me.  But I’m here to win the UFC Championship belt and plan on doing it in the cage, not on twitter, or jump into any girl drama.

 

SJ: Both you and Miesha are all over the board when it comes to skills in mixed martial arts. Your records speak to that – both strong strikers and grapplers. Do you plan on using that wrestling background to really gain the advantage in this fight?

 

CZ: You know Miesha and I type of fighters for the most part: our game plan is to dominate at ever aspect of the fight.  I’ve shown in the past I can finish anyone, anytime with any technique.

 

SJ: Do you have any pre-fight rituals or superstitions?

 

CZ: Not really.  I like to watch funny movies with my coaches and manager.  We just chill in the hotel room most of the time.

 

SJ: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

 

CZ: Sweets!  Love them; can’t talk about them now and for sure can’t have them during camp.

 

***

Photo Credits: Phenom Management

Picture this: you’re nineteen years old with no direction and a less than perfect past. You’re living in a two-bedroom apartment with twelve other dudes…yes, twelve. It’s Friday night and the fights are on Pay-Per-View, so you order some pizza, crack some beers, and sit down to watch the third matchup between Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz. Just another Friday night to most, but on this night, for Colin, the stars aligned, and a dream was born. As the night dwindled and the main event drew closer, Colin’s pulse was set on fire.  This was “the real deal, a real-life version of the Ninja Turtles” [Colin’s own definition of MMA] that was evidently too hard to pass up. Just one week later, he found himself at the newly opened [Pat] Miletich gym, began work on his craft, and “never looked back.”

But what happens when we dig a little deeper?

Colin’s story simply cannot be communicated in one post, but I need you to know it. Up until now, his story, in its entirety, has not been made public, and it is with extreme reverence and utmost respect that I impart just some of his story to you.

With his father, Kevin, in the oil industry, Colin, together with his sister Lindsay, and his mother, Lisa, moved around quite a bit in his younger years. “I grew up in Sugar Land [Texas] mostly…rich suburbs…I was spoiled early on, but my parents believed that you have to work for everything.” Much to his parents’ dismay, in the first grade, Colin began showing signs of anger issues. “I got in a lot of fights really early on. My parents threw me in therapy…they always thought there was something wrong with me. I was just an angry little kid, I guess.” After a few years of counseling efforts, Colin’s parents were able to pacify him, but it took its toll: “…I would hold in all my anger and get really depressed.” The turmoil with his family ultimately resulted in Colin being sent away to military school at the age of thirteen. He was bullied and picked on, ridiculed and harassed. “My roommate was a junior…his job was to look after me, and make sure that I was always in line. His idea of keeping me in line was beating me up at night in our room. [My schoolmates] got really creative with their hazing. Everyone thought I was a problem child, and I didn’t have any friends. It was a miserable time for me.”

The first summer back from military school, Lisa went into the hospital. “After I was born [my mom] was diagnosed with Hypogammaglobulinanemia [a primary immune deficiency disease]; I always knew there was something wrong with my mom, but she was always the strongest person I’d ever met in my life. I always thought she was going to outlive me.” When it was time for Colin to go back to school, he, to no avail, begged his father not to send him back, at least until his mother was out of the woods. Within two weeks of being back at military school, and just shortly after turning fifteen, Colin received the worst news of his life. “I remember getting this really eerie feeling…it was the weirdest thing ever; I could feel it in the air, and as soon as I felt it, my drill instructor came on the intercom and he was like ‘Wright! Come down to my office.’ I knew something was wrong.” Colin’s mother had passed away, and he hadn’t had the chance to say goodbye.

After a short time back home grieving his mother’s loss and experiencing the outpouring of love from hundreds for his mother, Colin was sent back. “It was one of my mother’s dying wishes that I stay at military school”, he tells me with a heavy heart. “I was sent right back. The beatings got worse, I got more depressed”, and he began experimenting with hallucinogenics and tobacco. Kevin eventually pulled him out and flew him home, but Colin returned to Texas to find more had changed than he would have ever imagined.

On the day of his arrival, and just six months after his mother’s death, Kevin lowered a boom on his fifteen-year old son: he had been seriously dating another woman for the past month. Colin’s first meeting with the new woman in his father’s life did not go to plan: “I got the cold shoulder from her immediately, you could tell that she didn’t want to have anything to do with me.” After their initial meeting, Kevin asked Colin what his thoughts were on the match. He replied, of course, with reservation: that his mother had just passed six months prior, that this woman was ten years his junior, that this woman had four children of her own. Nonetheless, Kevin exclaimed, “Well, I think she’s awesome. I think I’m going to marry her!” A month later, the pair was engaged. “My dad would leave home for days at a time, and leave me at home by myself. He would be over at her house hanging out.” [Keep in mind Colin was just sixteen years old at this point in time.] Colin and Lindsay moved into the city with their father to join their new stepmom, Lori, and her family. The relationship between Colin, his father and stepmom was tumultuous, and he felt trapped. “It infuriated me on the inside.” He became apathetic with regards to his education after changing schools so many times and with all the problems at home. The only bright spot was a budding friendship with his now best friend, Andon. A huge fight ultimately resulted between Colin and his parents, and it got physical. Lori had brought up his mother, Lisa, during the argument, and Colin lost it. After a physical altercation with Kevin, he packed his bags and went to bunk with Andon.

Kevin hired a private investigator to locate his son’s whereabouts, and eventually convinced Colin to come home. More therapy and family counseling were not far behind. “The shrinks always wanted to send me away…I was like, ‘screw this, I don’t want to do this anymore.’” Yet, somehow, Kevin convinced Colin to go for one more session. It was a normal ride to the shrink’s office. “We pull up…no cars in the parking lot…he drives to the back [of the lot]…there’s a black SUV, and my dad puts the car in park.” Colin says his dad got emotional. “He said, ‘I’m so sorry…these men are here to take you’. I totally blocked him out…and got out of the car.” The men in the SUV threaten Colin to ensure his cooperation, and he complies; they take him to the airport, and put him on a plane bound for Utah.

For the next four months, Colin was trapped in the middle of the wilderness with a handful of other kids. Think “Hunger Games” without the creepy child slaying. Essentially, Kevin had arranged for “Wilderness Therapy”. Basic survival lessons, no showers, no electricity, no utensils, no nothing until you finish your tasks and “graduate.” Talk about a paleo-lifestyle. “They give you a tarp and wool clothes, blindfold you, put you in the back of this SUV, and drop you 60 miles into the middle of the wilderness.” Surprisingly enough, Colin calls this “the coolest experience” of his life. “I’ve made over 100 bow-drill fires…we would eat lizards, they taste like dry steak.” Check out the sweet knife that Colin forged by hand during his time in the wild. [see photo]

After Colin’s cameo on “Survivor: Utah” was complete, Kevin had another delight in mind for his son: “you’re going to boarding school.” “Literally, I graduate, we go to some burger joint, we get on a plane, and we go to Iowa”, he explained. An extremely strict and uniformed school, as you might guess, was not where Colin was to excel. After two years of near torture for the seventeen year old, Colin was kicked out of school after being picked on and goaded by one of his instructors.  He had only half a credit missing to earn his high school diploma. Despite his best efforts to complete his education, he discovered that the boarding school credits did not transfer, and he was forced to drop out out of school completely.

After a short stint living with his grandmother and saving up money doing odd jobs, Colin returned to Houston and moved in again with his friend, Andon. Slowly but surely, ten others moved in to the small apartment. “It’s been a struggle to get back on my feet ever since then. I’m really thankful that I got into mixed martial arts because it really focused my energies. I’d felt so disconnected from everything, all these shrinks told me I was screwed up; I didn’t have a high school diploma, all the jobs I got sucked…I got into training. I work at a bar; I work at the gym, but [fighting] is what I’m focused on.” Currently, Kevin is willing to help his son finish his education, but Colin is finding it difficult to hit the ground running: “I’m trying to go back to school…education means everything in my family. It’s frustrating…I’m struggling to find that balance between trying to train, study, and work. It’s too much.  It really is.”

We talk briefly about Colin’s sister, Lindsay, who was able to escape the problems with her schooling and parents that Colin could not. I ask what his father thinks about his MMA career choice. “He thought I was crazy! He was so pissed off. He was like ‘This is so stupid, you can’t do this and expect to make any money’.” But Colin says after his last couple of wins in the cage, Kevin is coming around slowly but surely. I ask if Kevin will be in attendance for Colin’s fight this coming Saturday. “I don’t know,” he hesitates. “Probably not.” The disappointment in his voice is evident, so I switch topics. What of his relationship with his stepmother, Lori? “[Our relationship is] a lot better. She and I are civil…I feel like there’s a big gap. My dad made me apologize to her after that big fight when she was calling my mom names and telling me I’m a horrible person. I feel like even though we’re okay now, until she sits down and says I’m sorry for treating you the way I did, until that day comes, I’ll always hold something against her. But we’re civil, I hug her when I see her.”

Despite the pitfalls, Colin sets a positive spin on things. He pulls down the collar of his Paradigm sweatshirt, and shows me his most prized tattoo. “My grandma was super eccentric. She lived in Cambodia…[and] had an Indonesian furniture shop in a flea market. She called it “A Road Less Traveled.” After she passed away, I got that tattooed across my chest.” He goes on, “It’s so indicative of my life, you know? It really is. Nobody can say they’ve gone through the crazy shit that I’ve gone through. It’s the road less traveled.”

***

For Part One of Colin’s #DreamShakeBarbie Double Feature, “The Wright Way”, Click HERE.

Follow Colin on Twitter! 

Buy tickets HERE to LEGACY FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS: AMATEUR SERIES this Saturday, October 6th, to see Colin take on URIEL FIGUEROA.

SPECIAL THANKS TO MIKE CALIMBAS PHOTOGRAPHY.

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