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Picture this: a 28-year-old pro MMA fighter with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His record stands at 11-0, with eight wins via submission, one via KO, one via TKO and one via majority decision. Nine of these fights he finished his opponent in the first round. Next up for this athlete is a title fight against current World Series of Fighting lightweight champ, Justin Gaethje, who is currently one of the most dangerous 155-pound prospects outside the UFC.

 

Do you have a vision of this fighter in your head yet?

 

What if I were to tell you that this particular athlete accomplished all of the above with just one arm?

 

WSOF breakout star, Nick Newell, is no stranger to combat; he’s been fighting the odds since the day he was born. A condition called congenital amputation has left him without a left forearm and hand.

 

Did Newell mope around, waiting to get picked last for a game of dodge ball? Not quite.

 

Newell took up wrestling in high school, and soon found his way to MMA.

 

“I saw [MMA] for the first time on [The Ultimate Fighter] season one and I was like, ‘Wow, I really want to try that!’ So I got in contact with some people and started training. My senior year, when I finished wrestling, I went to a fight and I was like, ‘I could definitely beat these guys up.’ My coach said he thought so, too. I took a fight off that. I fell in love with it and it escalated from there.”

 

Newell has overcome many obstacles along the way in his MMA career, the most recent of which was the termination of his relationship with Xtreme Fighting Championships, or XFC. XFC president, John Prisco, claimed that Newell “ducked” opponent Scott Holtzman. Newell tells it differently.

 

“Why would I be scared of a guy that’s 4-0 when I’m fighting a guy that’s 11-0 now? It comes down to growth and development, and this is a career. XFC didn’t treat their fighters well; I’m going to be honest with you. It was a hostile environment.”

 

Newell continued, “I basically cleared out the division. Any fight I took would have been a lateral move or a move down. I got more money to fight for WSOF. John [Prisco] will say that he matched it, but that was after he had trashed me online and said that I was scared to fight. I wasn’t going to stay with someone that does that.”

 

“John got mad at me because I said I had wanted to move up and fight for a bigger promotion,” explained Newell. “So he put me against Eric Reynolds. He thought I was going to get killed and I won, and that pissed [Prisco] off even more.”

 

NN4“I forgive John for saying that,” Newell said. “I know he’s a very emotional person, but there was no room for me to grow in the organization. I wanted to make a name for myself and that wasn’t going to happen at XFC.”

 

Newell is entirely satisfied with his move to WSOF.

 

“They pretty much give me anything I want and take care of me. I’ve won two bonuses from my fights and I’m getting a good media push and tough fights, which is what I wanted all along.”

 

There has been some speculation on why Newell was not made an offer by the UFC. In summer 2013, Dana White was quoted as saying, “It’s tough with TWO hands in the UFC,” as well as, “I don’t want to see [Newell] get hurt; nobody does.” Nick gave his reaction to that footage.

 

“He acted like he didn’t know who I was. I had tried out for TUF and I was pretty much ready to go in the house. A week before, they said no. I feel like I deserve a chance to fight and to get my ass kicked, just like anyone else.”

 

NN3“I have proven that I can compete with the best guys in the world,” Newell stated. “I would say 70 percent of the guys that get into the UFC don’t have as impressive of a resume as I do. It’s just stupid f*cking politics.”

 

I pressed Nick to tell me more about the politics.

 

“They don’t want to see a guy with one hand lose; they think it will look bad. They can say, ‘This guy’s not good enough,’ but that’s bullsh*t because I am good enough. WSOF took a chance on me and didn’t give a sh*t about the politics. They looked at me as a fighter. I want to fight for someone that appreciates me.”

 

WSOF has given Newell his most challenging task yet: to take the lightweight title away from its current owner, Justin Gaethje. “He’s my toughest opponent yet,” said Newell. “He’s an All-American wrestler and he’s got a bunch of knockouts. Mostly, he loves to fight; that’s what makes him dangerous. He’s not afraid to get hit. He loves coming forward and swinging bombs. He’s pretty explosive. He’s a good athlete and a good wrestler, so that makes him a pretty dangerous opponent. If I expect anything less than his best, then I am not fully prepared.”

 

Does Newell believe a first round win is necessary for the win over Gaethje?

 

“I think the longer the fight goes, the more it favors me,” Newell explained. “My coach is coming up with such great ways to fight these guys that I am finishing them early, but the plan is always to get ready to go the distance, but if you see an opening, to capitalize on that.”

 

With all the media exposure that Nick is receiving, including a highlight feature on ESPN’s SportsCenter, some fans have ventured to say that the fame has gone to his head.

 

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Newell inspires even the smallest of fans.

“I don’t know who would say that except for someone who has never met me or talked to me,” Nick admonished. “I’ve always had a crazy belief in myself and my abilities, considering where I came from. I started off 2-22 wrestling. I worked hard and I realized that if I believed in myself, great things could happen. I will always appreciate the value of hard work. I know what it’s like to be a loser and I know what it’s like to be counted out.”

 

He added, “I do think I can fight and compete against anyone in the world, but as far as me being cocky or full of myself, that’s just something that someone made up that has never met me. I’m always open to make new friends and I talk to the fans. I’ve never been a dick and I never will be.”

 

When Newell has time off from training and fighting, the plethora of his activities and hobbies abound.

 

“When I’m not training, I don’t like to do sh*t; that’s my hobby [laughs].”

 

“I like to go out to the beach and relax,” Newell expanded. “I have a great group of friends that I like to chill with and tell jokes. I like to play board games and eat food. I like to sit in my very comfortable bed and watch my awesome TV. I like to laugh a lot. When I train, it’s so serious, so it’s nice to unwind and have a laugh.”

 

NN1Before the interview with Newell came to a close, he answered a couple of questions from my Twitter followers.

 

SJ: Who is your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?

NN: Michelangelo, without a doubt. He’s a party dude. He can kick ass and he’s a funny, laid back guy… kind of like me, and we both love pizza.

SJ: What qualities do you look for in a woman?

NN: It’s hard to meet girls when you’re a fighter. I want someone that has her own thing going on. Someone that is motivated; I find ambition very attractive. I want someone that takes care of herself and has a good sense of humor. I can’t have someone that needs me to be there all the time, because my career is first right now. There are a lot of things I am looking for [laughs]. What I need to do is loosen up a little bit! I need to not expect everyone to be perfect.

***

Nick would like to thank: “My head coach Jeremy Libiszewski and everybody at Fighting Arts Academy, Team Marcelo Garcia New Haven, Ramos Athletic Conditioning Center, Top Secret Nutrition, Napoli Deli, QuikClot, Noble Iron and Vanguard MMA. It’s Limb Difference Awareness Month. Check out The Lucky Fin Project.”

 

Follow Nick on Twitter

 

Catch WSOF 11 on July 5th to watch Nick and Justin battle for the lightweight title. 

 

Photo Credits: Nick Newell   WSOF   Fighter 411 Magazine

Well, Houston fans…the Texans season has come to its bitter end. It’s been an incredibly tough couple of months for our city and the team’s loyal fan base. After many heated debates over social media, I often found myself turning my phone on silent every Sunday to avoid all the negative tweets and texts about my beloved Texans.

 

Houston Texans Introduce Bill O'BrienBut despite all the injuries, the bad decisions and the unavoidable loss of Gary Kubiak after seven seasons, Texans owner Bob McNair has an ace up his sleeve. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that is the acquisition of new head coach, Bill O’Brien. Needless to say, O’Brien has swiftly axed several coaches from the old guard, including offensive coordinator, Rick Dennison, and defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips. It has yet to be determined who O’Brien will bring on in the DC position, but all bets are on his former New England Patriots colleague, Romeo Crennel.

 

Now, the real quandary that remains, of course, is the matter of the franchise quarterback. With the eminent departure of “Bearded Schaub,” do we exchange our first round pick in favor of a potential trade? Or should we take our chances with Aggie superstar, Johnny Manziel, and attempt to build around him? Could he stay healthy as an NFL QB? What about Blake Bortles, who just entered the draft a few days ago? O’Brien is still tight-lipped on the matter.

 

What we do know are the three qualities that O’Brien will require above all else in his new quarterback:

 

One. Throw the ball accurately.

 

Two. Make good decisions, both on and off the field.

 

Three. Be intelligent and have a great football IQ. O’Brien says, “If he can’t learn it, he needs to play another position.”

 

In addition, we know that Coach O’Brien is all about those two buzzwords: “adaptability and accountability.” He will adjust his game plan and plays to fit the mold of the team’s opponents precisely, and not forge on with an original game plan that may no longer be relevant.

 

Overall, the addition of Coach O’Brien is an A+ decision by Mr. McNair and Rick Smith. O’Brien is no stranger to adversity, and already possesses the attribute Houstonians are best known for… resiliency, even during the worst of times.

 

 

Photo Credits: CBS Houston

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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…

 

***

 

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.

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 3.26.10 PM

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.

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 3.26.39 PM

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?!

 

photo

#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.

King Mo Lawal“It’s good to be the king.”

 

Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal is as well known and highly acclaimed in combat sports today as this famed and equally classic Mel Brooks’ one-liner. Currently, the Bellator warrior and Strikeforce veteran stands 11-2-1, with Roger Gracie, Gegard Mousasi and Seth Petruzelli representing only a handful of the peers he has slain in his path.

 

The best thing about Mo? You never know what’s coming next. Whether it’s a vicious knockout blow in the Bellator cage, an insightful look into MMA politics, shedding light on steroid use, or the fact that he recently signed with TNA Impact Wrestling, Lawal never fails to keep his fans on their toes.

 

With an arsenal of talent, a sharp wit and a game plan like Mo’s, how can one fail when they are already destined for greatness?

 

***

 

BullLawal

Abdullah “Bull” Lawal before his Victory at Legacy FC 19.

SJ Sports: What was your experience like cornering your brother, Bull, in the Legacy FC cage, being that this was his MMA debut?

 

King Mo: Personally, I hated it because he’s so young. There’s a lot that I was saying for him to do but he couldn’t do it because he had no idea what it was. So, I was getting frustrated. I was proud of him, but at the same time, he only trained five months for this. He’s a basketball player, so he had no contact experience whatsoever. Most people that wrestle, they’ve been wrestling for a while so you kind of know what to do, but hell, he’d only been wrestling five months. So every time I yelled something for him to do, he said, “What’s that? I don’t know what that is.” I’m like, “Keep on; just take him down!” It was just frustrating and nerve wracking because he’s my little brother. It was good to see him win and fight through, push through to get that W.

 

1374371822SJ Sports: Do you think Bellator trying to compete directly with UFC (for example, PPV) is a good idea? Or should they try to evolve and become their own complimentary brand?

 

King Mo: Here’s the thing: they’re not trying to directly compete. It’s just like when Strikeforce was around; years ago, Dana White said, “Hey, Strikeforce is doing a great job; they have a reasonable promotion.” As soon as Strikeforce started saying, “Hey, we’re going to go nation wide,” and just have shows nationally, UFC was like, “’F’ Strikeforce; they’re wrong; they’re our enemy.” The thing is, UFC wants to be the only show; the only big show. With Bellator, you don’t ever hear Bjorn Rebney talk about UFC. He doesn’t say anything about the UFC. You hear Dana White talk about Bellator all day, every day. Bellator does things different: we have a tournament system to determine who gets a title shot. The UFC, all you have to do is just look good and say the right things and you’ll get a title shot. Bellator’s more ‘sport’ and the UFC is more ‘spectacle.’

 

SJ Sports: Is mixing a “real” sport like MMA together with pro-wrestling dangerous for integrity or are some people overreacting?

 

King Mo: I think people are overreacting. For one, pro-wrestling, the objective is to pin somebody, one, two three, or make him tap out with a move. You don’t ever see anyone jump to the top rope in MMA. You don’t see anyone poking people in the eye in MMA, because it’s against the rules. The organization I fight in, we fight in a cage. In pro-wrestling, it’s usually a ring and if it’s a cage, the rules are to climb up the cage to get out the cage. In MMA, if you grab the cage, you could be disqualified or lose a point. There are big differences. There’s no way to get them mixed up unless you’re new to both sports. If you watch pro-wrestling and you watch MMA, you can see the difference right there. Big-time difference.

 

mobull

Brothers at Legacy FC 19.

SJ Sports: There has been a lot of talk lately in sports media regarding PEDs and suspensions. Seeing as you have also been recently suspended for steroid use after your fight with [Lorenz] Larkin, what is your stance now on using them?

 

King Mo: When I fought Larkin, I wasn’t, like, injecting anything; it was over the counter. It’s like a pro-hormone. It’s like if you go to Wal-mart and buy something called ‘DHEA.’ That’s illegal; you couldn’t use that. It’s illegal in sports all across the board. I’m hoping to do year-round drug tests; I’m open to it. I’ll be drug-tested by Bellator and TNA. I’m cool do to whatever.

 

SJ Sports:When people think of PEDs, they think of athletes sticking big needles in their necks. Is that a huge misconception?

 

King Mo: Yeah, it’s a big misconception! You could get nasal sprays that have performance-enhancing drugs [in them.] Too much caffeine and you could fail a test. Alcohol. Marijuana. People say marijuana is a performance-enhancing drug because it calms your nerves and gives you a steady hand. It’s pills, it’s injections, it’s nasal sprays. Even IVs. When I used to wrestle, last year, IVs got banned because they were considered performance enhancing. You have to be careful what you buy. I don’t take anything in pill form besides Iron, Vitamin C and B-Complex. Everything else is powder or oil. Omega-3s and Fish Oils. I don’t take any type of pre-workout pills. None of that stuff. I don’t mess with no crazy supplement companies. Things pop up here and there. I saw something on Twitter; this company was sponsoring the Olympics, or the governing body for the Olympics, or a sport like USA Wrestling, or something like that. I don’t know which governing body, but the supplements they had had some type of pro-hormone in it, so they had to can the whole supplement because it had an illegal substance in it. It happens all the time.  BodyBuilding.com had stuff they were shipping out that had traces of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in it. There’s no regulation for it. It’s not FDA-approved. There is no governing body that oversees the way supplements are made or if they even work. Now, I’m thinking they don’t really even work because if they did work, they’d be banned.

 

SJ Sports: So you obviously disagree with the fact that the commission overturned your win into a no-contest?

 

Mo LawalKing Mo: Well, yeah. You’ve got to decide: what did I do? The dude had no ground game, but it’s the rules. At the same time, I’m not going to go out there and use some kind of steroids to defeat somebody that had no ground game. I could have taken him down anytime, at will. It is what it is. I’m passed that, but at the same time it’s just bitter; it’s bitter in my heart.

 

SJ Sports: Speaking of the Olympics, do you think a lack of Olympic wrestling will affect MMA?

 

King Mo: Yeah, I think so. You’ll get more sub-par wrestling. How can you determine what world-class is if you don’t have the Olympics or world championships? There are four or five world-class wrestlers in wrestling: me, Joe Warren, Ben Askren, Daniel Cormier, Yoel Romero, Alexis Vila…and that’s about it. No one else there competes at the world-level in amateur wrestling. There’s college wrestling. College wrestling is tough, but it’s not world-class wrestling, in my opinion.

 

SJ Sports: Who, in your opinion, is the most “overrated” fighter?

 

King Mo: I think we all are. It’s true; everybody talks about fighting like it’s the biggest and baddest thing, but it’s just fighting. It takes a lot of training and work, but it’s just fighting. So, in this instance, we are all overrated. It’s just entertainment. It’s nothing earth shattering.

 

SJ Sports: More important for a fighter’s career: winning or being an entertainer?

 

King Mo: I think winning. You could be a good entertainer, but if you you’re losing, you’re a loser. In real sports, how many football games you been to where you’re like, “Man, that was a boring game.” Or you see the commissioner saying, “Hey, you know what? Buffalo Bills, you guys win, but you’re boring, so this year you’re not going to be playing football.” Let’s be real; let’s be honest. In true sports…MMA is not a true sport, really…it’s more of a spectacle, but in true sports, people don’t care about ‘boring.’ They care about winning. If the game goes to overtime, all they care about is the result. “Oh man, it went into overtime. It was a great game, even though no one scored. It was all defense.”

 

SJ Sports: Then again, football is a team sport; MMA is not.

 

momc

Cornering Brother, “Bull” at Legacy FC 19.

King Mo: No, but at the same time, it’s a sport.  It’s like tennis. The result is winning. To me, tennis is boring. Same with golf, but people watch it for the result. Tennis and golf are bigger sports than MMA.

 

SJ Sports: So you would say MMA isn’t really considered “mainstream” yet?

 

King Mo: I think it’s real mainstream, but I don’t think it’s a true sport just yet. There are a lot of things lacking. There’s no true ranking system…true media. It’s controlled by certain people in the sport. Say you were in the UFC and you put me on the cover of your magazine, they might be like, “Guess what? Just because you did that, you’re not going to get your credentials anymore.”

 

SJ Sports: Has MMA reached its money-earning potential for fighters, or will it get better?

 

King Mo: I have no idea. I think it’s oversaturating right now if you look at it. The clothing companies are falling by the wayside. They’re doing too much. The Ultimate Fighter and all the reality shows have fallen off. The reason football never gets oversaturated is because you have seasons. When football season’s over, you got a long break. That’s why everybody’s like, “Man, I can’t wait till football season.” Same thing with basketball. Same thing with baseball. The seasons keep it fresh.

 

SJ Sports: Who were you most impressed with and what shocked you about your experience calling Invicta FC?

 

Invicta FC Commentary

“King Mo” Lawal, Julie Kedzie & Mauro Ranallo at Invicta FC

King Mo: It’s not the fighters that shocked me, because I knew they’d be good. The women always bring it. It was how much momentum Invicta has garnered within a year. The first show had a little hype. The second show had a little bit more. By the third show? I was like, “Damn, we got something going here.” After that, it just got bigger and better.

 

SJ Sports: Cris Cyborg is ‘The Terminator.’ She’s amazing.

 

King Mo: Not many women are going to beat her. There are not many women that can match her skill and athleticism and wrestling.

 

SJ Sports: Have you heard a timetable of when you are getting your title shot?

 

King Mo: I’m hoping it’s November. We’ll see what’s up. I’m open to fight whenever; I’m always in shape.

 

SJ Sports: What’s the dumbest rule in MMA?

 

King Mo: You can’t knee a down opponent. That’s it.

 

SJ Sports: Does Silva win the rematch over Weideman?

 

King Mo LawalKing Mo: I don’t know. You never know what’s going to happen. Anything could happen in MMA. Silva could win and Silva could lose. We all have opinions until something happens. I could believe what happened. To me, the biggest upset in all sports, to this day, was when Mike Tyson got knocked out. Mike Tyson was a 30-1 favorite. Anderson Silva was only like a 2 or 3-1 favorite. MMA is such a new sport that everyone’s trying to figure out, “Oh, he’s the greatest-of-all-time!” The sport’s only been around for 20 years. They do that for marketing purposes so people will go and watch. When I first started watching MMA, the greatest of all time was Royce Gracie. Then, after that was [Kazushi] Sakuraba, then after that it was Wanderlei Silva, after that it was Chuck Liddell, then after that it was GSP, Matt Hughes, Randy Couture. The first one came out was NHB, No Holds Barred. So, since I’ve been watching the sport, or the entertainment, we’ve had like eight greatest-of-all-times. There’s Fedor [Emelianenko]: greatest-of-all-time. Then it’s Anderson Silva. Jose Aldo. Jon Jones. Nope! Cain Velasquez. Nope! Brock Lesnar. Every three years, we have a greatest-of-all-time. People try to say that the greatest woman fighter of all time is Ronda Rousey. She’s good, but then you’ve got Megumi Fuji smashing girls with submissions, all sorts of submissions for years, but she’s got no recognition because she’s Japanese. Megumi Fuji’s been fighting for a long time. Thing is, greatest-of-all-time in women’s MMA…women’s MMA has only been around for about 15 years, if that. Megumi Fuji is revolutionary because she was doing what Ronda Rousey is doing now, back then.  She fights a different weight class, but people don’t know that. People have forgotten about her, but she’s an all-time great. People didn’t grow up fighting. They probably saw MMA for the first time on TV, so they will believe whatever people tell them. They’ll say, “Okay, he’s the greatest-of-all-time because Joe Rogan said so on TV.”

 

SJ Sports: Who do you think is the best promoter in MMA?

 

King Mo: I don’t know. People say boxing is a dead sport. Boxing is not dead and boxing will always be a bigger sport than MMA because of the way it’s run. There’s more money and more match-ups. A guy like Shane Mosley could lose four fights and still make big fights and make big money. In MMA, you lose two fights? You’re done. That’s what’s kind of stupid. In MMA, the promoter is the organization, so they just promote their fighters. Let’s say all the fighters in the world fight for Bellator. They could take a bum from the street, clean him up, get him the right match-ups and people would think he was a great fighter. Anybody could turn pro. Bull turned pro after five months! The right promoter could make you into a star.

 

SJ Sports: Let’s talk about wrestling. We know you’re signed with TNA. When can we expect to see you get in the ring?

 

TNA

Lawal’s Introduction at TNA Impact Wrestling

King MoWell, I’m hoping this year. I’ve been doing this pro-wrestling school in Ohio Valley and people don’t understand how hard pro-wrestling and pro-wrestling school is. One practice would be anywhere between three to five hours getting slammed with hitting the ropes or something like that. The typical guy that’s a pro-wrestler in TNA or the WWE will spend six to ten years at the pro-wrestling school before you make it big. I’m on the accelerated route. I’m in wrestling matches for OBW and I’ll go back and wrestle more matches within the next few weeks.

 

SJ Sports: What is more physically demanding? Training for pro-wrestling or training pro-MMA?

 

King MoThat type of training [pro-wrestling.] MMA, I can take people down; I can block stuff. In pro-wrestling, you’re doing stuff for the sake of entertainment. You’re like a stuntman. You get body-slammed. You get thrown over the ropes. You fall. You’re taking chair shots. You’re getting power-bombed. If you look at the average wrestler, at 40-years-old and you look at an average MMA fighter of the same age, the MMA fighter looks much younger and much fresher than the pro-wrestler. An MMA fighter fights three to four times a year. A pro-wrestler is kept on the road doing wrestling matches four days a week. You put on a show; it’s brutal. I see Hulk Hogan. Hulk Hogan can barely walk. Pro-wrestling is like a soap opera. It’s drama-filled. You’ve got a bigger stage. You’re still using talent and skill like in MMA, but you take it over the top.

 

SJ Sports: Did you get support from your MMA fans when you announced your deal with TNA?

 

IMG950134King Mo: Yeah! The ones that didn’t like it were the fans that were one-type minded. They didn’t understand that I could get paid from many areas instead of one area. Many MMA fans think this is ‘life’ when it’s just a job. To me, [MMA] is a job in my style. It’s cool to watch. I like to watch more boxing. I’ll go watch the guys I know, but I can’t just go to a UFC fight or Bellator and just sit down and watch a card. I do it every damn day. I need a break from it.

 

SJ Sports: I know, in the past, you’ve expressed interest in teaming up with Rampage. Has there been any talk of you joining the Main Event Mafia?

 

King Mo: What! Nah, I’m going to do my whole thing. Maybe I’ll tag team partner with Rampage, eventually, but I’ll do my own thing.

 

SJ Sports: That being said, who wins? Tito or Rampage?

 

King Mo: If Rampage is hurt, I give the match to Tito. If Tito is hurt, I give the match to Rampage. The training camp is what counts. You can go into a training camp feeling good and leave beat up. Depends, though. Eventually I think maybe Rampage has the advantage, but as far as them two? They trained together, so somebody knows what’s up or the secrets. Somebody knows more than the other guy. I just don’t know who. That’s all.

 

SJ Sports: Do TNA obligations ever interfere with MMA obligations or training?

 

King Mo: Nah, not right now. TNA knows that MMA comes first and they allow me to let that come first. In between camps, and here and there during camp, I’ll go to pro-wrestling school to do a few matches here and there.

 

SJ Sports: Do you think you will continue with both or eventually choose one sport over the other?

 

King Mo LawalKing Mo: My goal is when I’m done fighting to keep on doing pro-wrestling and having fun. After a while, I’d probably pick that.

 

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

 

King Mo: First, I’d like to give a shout out to my boy, Frankie. That’s my dawg. Lana’s Egg Whites, Nutrition Zone, MMA Elite, Ohio Valley Wrestling, FightHype.com and TNA Impact Wrestling.

 

SJ Sports: Who would you want to play you in a movie?

 

King Mo: I’d like my little bro to play me.

 

SJ Sports: Biggest pet peeve?

 

King Mo: Keyboard warriors.

 

SJ Sports: Movie that if it comes on you have to watch it, no matter what?

 

King Mo: Black Dynamite, I’m Gonna Git U Sucka, Troop Beverly Hills and IP Man.

 

***

Follow King Mo on Twitter.

 

Photo Credits:  Special thanks to King Mo

www.mmaopinion.co.uk    Mike Calimbas Photography    www.mixfight.ru

For Marcus Sursa’s version of the story, click here.

 

Part I: Rebuttal interview with Nate James:

 

Nate James

Nate James

SJ Sports: I don’t know if you got a chance to read the article. I know Paul [Buentello] wanted me to talk with you and get your side of the story. I would be really grateful if you could tell us what you would like to say about the situation.

 

Nate James: I had the fight offered to me. Paul’s not my manager, by the way. He’s just my friend and teammate. I think Marcus probably met Paul earlier in time than I did, but I doubt he’s spent as much time as I have with Paul. I got zero coaching about how to fight Marcus from Paul.  In fact, everybody I talked to out here was telling me not to take the fight with Marcus, because he’s bigger than I am. I was coming off of a loss in Bellator and was released. I kind of had this hope for myself; a little bit of a kamikaze mindset, like, “I know this guy’s bigger than me, but you know what? I don’t care. I just want to start fighting.” So, I took the fight with Marcus and I won and that got me into Strikeforce.

 

So, we get out there, we go to weigh-ins. We’re fighting at a catch-weight; it’s been so long now, that I don’t even remember what the catch-weight was, but Marcus was overweight. So, we had a big fiasco at the weigh-ins. The Boxing Commission asked me, “Hey, what do you want to do about that? Do you still want to fight?” I said, “Yes, I still want to fight, but if you’re able to negotiate a penalty. $200 a pound.” But then [Marcus] was like, “Woah, wait! $200 a pound? I’ve got a baby on the way,” and all this stuff. I said, “I don’t care about the $200 a pound, I just want you to make weight!”

 

For about an hour, we went back and forth negotiating. This is something that I’ve told very few people. Marcus brought my coach, Andy Fong, and me into the back room where we had the weigh-ins and for about a half hour, pleaded with us not to take the fight. I really could not believe what I was hearing from him. He was confessing that it wasn’t a good fight for me, that it wasn’t a good fight for him because he doesn’t do well against little guys. He also asked us if we would just take the show money and leave. I didn’t come all the way to Texas from California, make weight and not fight. I love fighting and I love the sport. So, after about a half-hour, I told him that I needed to take some time to talk with my coach to figure out what to do. At that moment when he stepped back out the door, I took one look at my coach, like, “What the f**k? What the hell just happened?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Basically we were like, “There’s no way we’re not going to take the fight now; he was basically groveling.” We decided to take the fight, so we said, “Okay, $100 a pound; let’s do it.” So I got $100 for every pound that he was over. I think it was like four or six pounds or something.

 

So, we had the fight. In the article it said, “split decision.” I guess it was? What sticks out to me was in that third round, he was really trying to rally: a lot of moving around, a lot of head movement, but it became really predictable for me. It was like child’s play. He was almost running his head into my chest and things like that. So, he was coming forward and I was able to maneuver around it. It made it easy in that third round.

 

James in the Bellator Cage

After the fight, we are in the back room and I was about to do a radio interview. Marcus was walking right next to my coach and my coach said, “Good job; good fight,” and Marcus said, “F**k you!” So, Andy says, “F**k me? F**k you!”  Marcus and Andy go into the other room and I’m giving this interview. All of a sudden, I hear tables flying. I think to myself, “Oh, it’s just a bunch of huffing and puffing; it will blow over; nothing’s going to come out of it. Marcus is just a theatrical kind of guy.” But, it continued so I stopped the interview and go into the back room; all I see is my coach, his back foot planted, ready to drill him. As far as the altercation, I didn’t see it because I was in the other room, but the way I understand it is that Marcus was trying to fight my coach and as he went to other room, Paul got in the middle to separate them and Marcus took a swing at Paul, telling him, “You set me up!” So then Marcus threw a punch at him and Paul slipped it and hit him and then they got in a wrestling match after that. The fight was really between Andy and Marcus. Paul did probably hit him, but it was in retaliation of Marcus throwing a punch at Paul. Paul went in to be a mediator, trying to say, “Hey, fight’s over, let’s pull back,” and Marcus felt like he was set up on the fight. After the scuffle, there wasn’t a scratch on Paul, though. He was right as rain. He looked like he didn’t fight at all.

 

SJ Sports: Have you talked to or seen Marcus since that time?

 

Nate James: No. I’m not really trying to paint him in a bad light, but I’ve never heard anything positive about him. Even that negotiation in the back at the weigh-ins, I told my coach that I would be embarrassed using my son as an excuse to get out of a fight that you had already agreed to. A lot of people applauded me after the weigh-ins and said, “You really handled yourself professionally.” Undisputed MMA was probably very disputed [laughs]; there were a lot of rubber checks that they gave us; mine included.  But, everyone complimented me on my professionalism. I’d heard this is how [Marcus] does; he has the “lowest common denominator of the sport” type of mentality.

 

SJ Sports: What is your opinion on why the TDLR wouldn’t grant Sursa this fight against Paul?

 

Nate James: I don’t know all the legalities; for one, I’m not the type of person to have to worry about that kind of stuff. I think he’s proven to be a bad element; more of a hassle than anything and maybe that’s why they don’t want to deal with him.

 

Part II: Rebuttal interview with Leon Aragon (Witness to Sursa’s scuffle with both Paul and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.)

 

Legacy FC 22’s Paul Buentello

SJ Sports: Sorry that we have been playing phone tag! Definitely wanted to get your side of the story as a witness to what happened with regards to Sursa’s altercations with Paul and Donald.

 

Leon Aragon: It’s nothing like the way I read it. I was there when the incident with “Cowboy” happened and I was there for the incident with Paul. Me and Paul go back a long ways, so it’s not that I’m sticking up for either one of them, but I know the way Sursa is and how it’s laid out.

 

SJ Sports: Yes, absolutely. Go ahead. Let’s start with Paul first.

 

Leon Aragon: It didn’t start at the fight; it started at the weigh-ins. Me and Sursa go back a ways. Every weigh-in, he’s going to cause some kind of problem. Always. We were at Shark Fights and we were at the weigh-ins and he had words with his opponent.  He wound up head-butting the guy and kicking him.  Doing a favor for Sursa, I was cornering him at the time; I almost got a one-year ban because of it.

 

SJ Sports: You were cornering Sursa?

 

Leon Aragon: Yes; we used to be friends. All the stuff that he’s done, I threw him out of my gym. He ended up saying a bunch of nasty stuff on Facebook about me and my gym and I lost a lot of customers. This is what kind of character he is. As far as the Paul fight goes, he was mad at Nate James over the not-making-weight situation. Well, Paul and Nate James go back because they both train out of AKA out in California. So, that’s where that came from. It wasn’t that Paul was trying to do Sursa in or anything like that.

 

Anyhow, going into the fight…Sursa was actually yelling at Andy [Fong,] who was another cornerman for Nate James. Excuse my language, but I am going to tell you exactly how it went down: Marcus came out and said, “F**k you!” and I was like, “Who the hell is he talking to?” because he’s coming out of his locker room and Nate was giving an interview. Andy says it back to him and Paul comes up and is like, “Hey, hey; what’s going on?” Sursa was like, “F**k you, Paul! You did this to me!” Paul’s like, “I didn’t do anything to you. You need to calm down.” He grabs Paul by the shirt and pulls him back into the locker room. That’s when Sursa took a swing at him, Paul hits him back and it turned into a big brawl. That’s when Sursa head-butts him and so Paul says, “Oh, you want to head-butt me?” and head-butts him back. It just kind of escalated. Sursa’s dad had to pay a fine for Sursa because he was overweight of $700.

 

With Sursa, I think the kid has so much talent; believe me, he has a lot of talent, but his head is just not there. I’ve seen him pull a lot of stuff at weigh-ins, where he causes fights and he will take his show money and not the fight money. That’s what he tried to pull with Nate James. Nate was like, “I did not travel all the way from California to Amarillo, Texas, just to take some pocket money. I came here to fight.” So, the fight almost didn’t happen because of the way Sursa acted.

 

Donald Cerrone

The Texas Commission afterwards kept calling me and I wouldn’t answer them. They said they needed to talk to me about the incident with Paul Buentello and Marcus Sursa. So I called Paul and I said, “Hey bro, what do you want me to do?” Paul told me to drop it and just not to answer them.  One of the questions that was posed to me was that by pulling Paul into the locker room and holding him there, Marcus would have been looking at up to two years in jail for false imprisonment. Even though Sursa had done me so wrong and lost me a bunch of customers, I never said anything.

 

SJ Sports: What happened with Cerrone?

 

Leon Aragon: [Laughs] Okay. So, we were in Clovis, New Mexico. Sursa had been dating the girl that “Cowboy” is dating now. Sursa came down to where we were at; he was the main event. It was kind of like a “rodeo” arena. There was a big room, but there was a curtain between us: red corner, blue corner. The main event guys actually had their own rooms. Sursa comes out of his room, clear across the rodeo arena and walks up to “Cowboy.” I was standing right there. He’s like, “What’s up? What’s up?!” starts cussing and “Cowboy” never said a word to him. Sursa throws a swing, hits him in the mouth. “Cowboy” gets up to defend himself, but Sursa got the short end of it. That’s how that brawl broke out. So, “Cowboy” walks away and he was supposed to help me corner one of my guys that night. He said, “Forget this; I’m going to go sit down. Come and get me and I will walk out with y’all.” Marcus comes up to him again and keeps talking crap and keeps stirring it up. “Cowboy” never said a word to him; totally ignoring it. Finally, the guy that was running the fights came up to them and said, “Both of you guys, get the hell out. Y’all are both done.” They both got kicked out of the building. I know for a fact that “Cowboy” did absolutely nothing to start that fight. It got out and he had to explain to Dana White what had happened.

 

***

A few notes:

1) At this time, still no official response has been received from the TDLR.

2) You can find Paul’s personal rebuttal HERE.

Again, for Marcus Sursa’s version of the story, click here.

 

Photo Credits:    Paul Buentello   Nate James   MMACarnivale.com

 

By: Mark Carrillo

calimbas1 MMA fighters are a sexy species. Am I right? With their chiseled bodies, ass kicking ability and sweet tattoos, one must admit: they are modern day gladiators and chicks dig that sh*t. Trust me, I know. I have my first MMA fight coming up in a couple weeks and the amount of attention I have been getting from girls is crazy. Just the other day I had to get a physical for my fight. As soon as I get to the doctor’s, I see a girl and she wants to check my blood pressure and temperature. Then, I go to the store and I walk in and this older lady is all, “Welcome! Have a nice day!” Then, I’m standing in line and this other girl screams out, “I can check you out down here!” She totally crossed the line, but you see what I mean. So how do you tame one of these tigers and make him your boyfriend? I got all the answers ladies, so read on and take notes and get ready to bag yourself an MMA fighter.

 

First off, if you are not a fan of violence to some degree don’t even try. Dating an MMA fighter will only cause a rise in blood pressure and the risk for a heart attack. That being said, you don’t have to be crazy into violence, so don’t go joining a fight club. You just can’t mind seeing a little blood and people getting knocked out. No fighter wants a girlfriend that’s going to have some kind of meltdown in the crowd if he gets knocked out; tough skin is a must.
Secondly, you have to be patient and ready to deal with the mood swings that come with cutting weight. This is where a man can become a boy; you can easily make him mad enjoying a cookie in front of him. Next thing you know, he’s telling you how you don’t care and that you never say, “I love you” first. It’s horrible, taking away a man’s food and water.

 

Third, you should be good at doing laundry. This is not a must, just a plus because when your boyfriend works out twice a day he goes through a lot of underwear. It’s ridiculous I mean I’m doing laundry four times a week now; this could also be because I don’t own many pairs of underwear but should still be considered.

 

Fourthly and lastly of all, you have to know how to be supportive. Your boyfriend will get his ass kicked some days and needs a strong woman by his side. Ready to get his pain meds when he can’t walk, ready to eat like a rabbit in front of him while he cuts weight, and ready to refrain from any funny business leading up to a fight: and by funny business I mean sex.

 

It’s a tough job being an MMA fighter’s girlfriend, but it is worth it, because they all make love like Picasso. It’s a fact, I saw it somewhere online once a few years ago… scientist said so.

 

***

Follow Mark on Twitter 

Buy tickets to Mark’s upcoming ammy MMA fight HERE.

He will face Ramon Nanes on August 31st at EAC 6 – Lonestar Showdown II in Bryan, Texas.

Special thanks to Mike Calimbas Photography.

Marcus Holding Pads for One of his Students

In preparation for my interview with Legacy FC 22’s Paul Buentello, I stumbled across another story that piqued my interest.

 

On July 22nd, MMAJunkie.com broke the news that James McSweeney was to replace Buentello’s original opponent, Marcus Sursa [12-8], citing only that he had been “forced out” of the light heavyweight main event.

 

What does that even mean, “forced out?” Was Sursa injured in training? Did he ultimately decide a fight on August 23rd just wasn’t feasible for him at this time? More importantly, how do we go about finding out why Amarillo-born Sursa hasn’t fought in his home state of Texas since 2011?

 

Shark Fights Face-Off

I soon discovered that Sursa did not vacate the card on his own accord: the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration [TDLR] had not approved the fight with Buentello. Speculation as to why this happened can often get a bit carried away, so I decided to educate myself further on the regulations handed down by the TDLR [found here].  Under Chapter 61.20, it states that, “Professional combative sports contestants… who… participate in a regulated professional event authorized by the Code must be licensed or registered by the executive director.” Chapter 61.19 discusses sanctions and penalties.  It reads, “If a person violates Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 2052, or a rule, or order of the Executive Director or Commission relating to the Code, proceedings may be instituted to impose administrative sanctions and/or recommend administrative penalties…”

 

Upon further research, I came across this 29-page chart provided by the TDLR dated March 5, 2010. Sursa is the only fighter listed as “suspended indefinitely” with an otherwise blank entry, besides a note that curiously reads “CONTACT TX.”

 

Was Sursa’s problem a valid license? Not according to his manager, Train, who informed me that Marcus’ paperwork was, to his knowledge, up-to-date. What I did find out, however, is that the TDLR did give a reason to Sursa’s camp regarding his dismissal from the Legacy card…but not one Train could find on the regulations.  “[The TDLR] said he was ‘too volatile’ for weigh-ins,” Train explained. “That’s a matter of opinion. You’ve seen weigh-ins where guys punch each other all the time and yell at each other. It’s a combat sport. He’s never done anything at weigh-ins that I’m aware of. He’s got in some verbal arguments or some pushing matches, but so have a lot of guys.”

Buentello training at Bastos BJJ in Midland, Texas.

 

“We have requested to know what the basis for suspension is, legally, so we can appeal it by the book,” says Train in earnest. “We have contacted Greg [Alvarez, Assistant Combative Sports Program Manager] and the Regional Director of the ABC [Association of Boxing Commissions] Josef Mason, but have not received a response from either.”

 

I did confirm a suspension levied by the commission, one that Train insists Sursa completed after an incident with none other than would-be opponent, Paul Buentello, in 2011.  “There is no existing suspension or code that cited for him not getting a license in Texas that I’m aware of,” he says. When I asked, Buentello confirmed that the two fighters were, indeed, in a fistfight on June 18, 2011. Upon receipt of this information, I noted that Sursa had fought that night for now defunct Undisputed MMA promotion out of Amarillo. Finally, I begin to connect the dots.

 

I wanted to wait a few days to see if I could get in touch with Marcus and get his side of the story. After a few tries, I was able to get several details, including what incited the blowout between him and Buentello in 2011.

 

“It’s complicated,” Sursa begins. “All I know is that the commission won’t accept or give me my license to fight. I’ve already done my 90-day suspension and Paul’s already done his 90-day suspension. They cleared Paul to fight, but they won’t clear me to fight. I think Paul doesn’t want to fight me.”

 

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone

Are these simply the musings of a downtrodden opponent? Sursa has a different story. “[Paul] used to be my first boxing coach. I know all about him; I’ve trained with him a bunch. [That night] I was fighting Nate James out of American Kickboxing Academy.  I saw Paul was in James’ corner, which pissed me off because Paul’s from my hometown; we’re both from Amarillo. You don’t corner against someone that’s your friend or someone that you’ve coached. I would never corner against Paul. NEVER.”

 

Sursa continues, “After the fight was over, I ended up losing a split decision. I felt like Paul was a lot responsible since he was in my opponent’s corner. I told Paul when we were going back to the locker room that I thought they hadn’t beat me and they were all, ‘Ha-ha! We beat Marcus Sursa!’ and laughing about it. So I walked over and I was like, ‘Screw you guys; you won a s****y decision and you didn’t beat me.’ Paul got in my face and was like, ‘Well, I’ll beat your ass,’ and I was like, ‘I bet you don’t.’ I told him to get out of my face and he goes, ‘Make me get out of your face!’ so I head-butted him. I split his head open and I split mine open. He knocked my dad down…knocks two of my coaches down. So I threw him in the corner and started beating on him and some people pulled me off him.”

 

“I did some investigation on why Paul was in his corner,” Sursa admits. “Come to find out, Paul was managing Nate James. I thought he was my buddy, my friend. He was asking me how training was going and how my weight loss was going…questions about my camp.  I gave him the answers because I didn’t know he was a part of Nate James’ camp.”

 

“He knows I beat his ass in that locker room,” Sursa says with confidence. “He’s looking for a fight that’s going to make him look good and get him back in the show [UFC]. He doesn’t want to lose. James McSweeney is an easy win for him. If James does take Paul down, I think he could win the fight; but I think he will try and stand with Paul.

Marcus and his Glowing Girlfriend, Carah Christensen.

 

Perhaps contributing (and ultimately unhelpful to his cause) was Sursa’s previous altercation with UFC 155er, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in October 2010. According to several reports, including one from MiddleEasy.com, the brawl took place backstage at an Evolution Combat Sports card in Clovis, New Mexico, where Sursa was to fight in the main event that evening. Sadly, the bout never came to fruition. Cerrone showed up with Sursa’s ex-girlfriend and both got heated after several choice words were exchanged. Sursa ended up with a cut above his eye and “Cowboy” with a busted lip.

 

“I was in my locker room, where it was supposed to only be people on the team and people that had corner passes. No family members, no friends could be back there,” Sursa tells me. “I have my phone, my wraps, and all my stuff in my hands. Then Donald Cerrone is standing inside the locker room where no one was supposed to be. I see him and I see my ex-girlfriend and they look all mad. So, I take my headphones off and I’m like, ‘What’s up man?’”


Sursa explains further, “My girl broke up with me and started going out with Donald. She broke up with Donald, came back and started dating me again and told me a bunch of stuff. So, I told him, ‘This girl was cheating on you when she was with you.’ So he’s like, ‘You talking s***t?’ and I was like, ‘What’s up?’ and he pushes me. So we got into a pushing contest. I go to push him again and he sticks me right in the eye with his right hand and it cuts my eyeball. I went crazy and I pushed him kicked him and knocked him down. I went to kick him again and knock his head off, but my dad came through the curtains and pulled me off. So that’s how that went down…Donald initiated it. He came into the locker room to look for trouble.”

 

I ask Marcus if he thinks this incident is being held over his head, in addition to the scuffle with Buentello. “Definitely,” he laments. “There’s another thing that gets on my nerves. They talk about how I’m aggressive at weigh-ins. Well, Jim Larsen [now deceased] and Brent Medley, the two presidents of Shark Fights…they used to tell us, ‘Get in each other’s faces; go crazy and yell at each other. It will pump the fights up for us so everyone will want to come out and watch.’ So, that’s what I would do. I would get up in the opponent’s face and build the fights up so there was some drama. I mean, we’re going to fight each other, not playing dominos. Now, I’m reaping the consequences off of all of that.”

 

Proud Father, Marcus & Son, Orion Hunter Sursa.

Train recounts that Marcus has had a hard road and was very much looking forward to this fight. “He just had a kid,” he tells me. “We received the contract [for Legacy FC 22] and we were fighting in it. He had a warrant in Amarillo for some child support payments and basically, to show how responsible he is, he drove 18 hours to Amarillo and spent nine days in jail, so he wouldn’t get picked up at the fight. So, he spent everything he had to go down there and take care of that, so he would legally be okay for that date to fight. All of this happened when he was in jail, so he didn’t even know that they denied his license. When he got out, he was expecting to have a main event fight and a nice payday and he hears that they’re not going to license him. [Marcus’] position is if he’s too volatile to fight, the guy that he got into it with is still fighting,” says Train. “If they were worried about volatility or someone doing something in the back room, that’s a contradiction in itself.”

 

With that, the question still remains: what code did Sursa violate that prevents him from fighting under the Legacy banner, or in Texas at all, for that matter? What would have happened if Sursa had attempted to fight someone other than Paul Buentello? All questions that, for now, go unanswered.

 

A request to the TDLR for more information has been submitted, but no response has been received as of yet.

 

***

LEGACY FC 22 will take place in Lubbock, Texas, on August 23, 2013.

LEGACY

 

Catch Sursa next at Shogun Fights in Maryland on October 10th and follow him on Facebook.



Marcus would like to thank: “All my family, Premier Combat Center here in Omaha, Nebraska, Jason Brilz, Houston Alexander, Anthony Smith, my coach, Kurt Podany, for helping me not only training, but getting my life back together and back to winning again!”

 

Photo credits: Special thanks to the Marcus and the Sursa family. Paul Buentello photo credit to Bastos BJJ – Midland. Donald Cerrone photo credit to mmaggregate.wordpress.com.

 

…Thoughts expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer….

BUBBA3

The Legacy Middleweight Champ, a.k.a. “Captain America”

“Whoever has the best wrestling in the fight gets to pick where the fight happens.”

 

Many fans might have scoffed at such a statement, but Bubba Bush [6-2] knew exactly what he was doing when he spoke these words over a month ago during our Legacy FC 21 interview. Those who would criticize such a statement are now silenced…at least for a little while.

 

On July 19th, Bush was crowned the new Legacy FC Middleweight Champion over contender, Larry Crowe. What is that experience like, to have over six years of competition, time and dedication all culminate in one ultimate goal? Where do you go from the top?

 

Read on as Bubba takes us through it all, including his experience at weigh-ins, the day of the fight, the hard weight cut, thoughts on his opponent and, without fail, the one constant he always finds in his corner: his resilient and unwavering Faith.

 

***

 

SJ Sports: Now that it’s been a little over a month since we last spoke, how is the transition going from having a full-time job and training to strictly MMA full-time?

 

Bubba Bush: It’s amazing and it’s everything I hoped it would be. I got worried how much of a difference it would make and if it would be worth it and it turns out it was. Just having the mental energy to train harder and more often is amazing and being able to get things done with the two and three-a-days is something that I have never been able to do. Going into this fight was the first time my legs didn’t feel like jelly coming out of the locker room. I was just so confident in my cardio and that I was prepared for the fight and actually had done everything I could do, as opposed to coming into the fight wondering, “What if I were full time? What if I had trained harder?”

 

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Larry Crowe vs. Bubba at Legacy FC 21 Weigh-Ins. Photo by Mike Calimbas

SJ Sports: Take me through your entire Legacy FC 21 experience. Let’s start with the weigh-ins.

 

Bubba Bush: Leading up to this fight was actually really hard on me, weight-wise. I’ve never had to cut so hard. It was good that I came in big; I weighed more for the fight, but it was hard because I had to do a two or three week hard dietary cut and had some diabetic complications and things to deal with there. That was a little tough on all of us, but coming in to the day of the fight, the actual morning of the weigh-in, I woke up pretty light and had an easy eight or nine pound cut. Kidneys didn’t hurt. Felt really good about it.

 

SJ Sports: What kind of energy did you feel from Larry at that point?

 

Bubba Bush: It was subdued, but respectful. We respect each other. We’re not the big “talkers” outside the ring and there’s a mutual respect there, so that was consistent. I got to shake his hand before the fight. He was really big; wasn’t surprised there. I wasn’t worried…all that training and a good camp leading up to it.

 

SJ Sports: Did you feel that Larry was confident? Or was he nervous in any way?

 

BUBBA5

Legacy FC 21 Middleweight Championship Fight. Photo by Mike Calimbas

Bubba Bush: Yeah. You know, you always wonder because your corner is going to say, “Oh, he’s scared…” and they’re going to build you up, but you never know. He seemed fine. I don’t think he was cocky or over-confident by any means, but I think he came in thinking he was going to win. He wasn’t defeated ahead of time.

 

SJ Sports: The day of the fight, walk me through it all. What did you do to prepare?

 

Bubba Bush: I ate a lot. Usually, I’m nervous. The day of the fight, my stomach is in knots and I have a hard time making it back up to 200 pounds. I have a hard time eating before the fight; I’m sitting there forcing myself to eat just so I don’t run out of energy. This time, I got down two or three meals, no problem. No twisted stomach. I was just hungry all day and loving it. I rested, went to lunch with my parents and my girlfriend; they came into town so I got to see them for the first time since I’d been here. I got with my cornermen and ate again [before heading to the arena]. It was a long wait because we had to be there so early; five o’clock and we didn’t fight until 11. I knew I was going to have six hours, so I ate again twice in the arena and then took a nap.  That’s what I have to do, or else I get so mentally drained just sitting there.

 

 

SJ Sports: You finally arrive at 11 o’clock…it’s time for your fight; what goes on through your mind as you’re walking out?

 

Bubba Bush: Well, I’m a little nervous up until the point of the weigh-in; the whole game is trying to subdue that and keep that bottled up. Not let that come out and let that affect you because the longer it affects you, the more tired you’re going to be. I try to put that out of my mind. Just visualize the fight until I fall asleep…visualize it until I fall asleep…and I do that until I get up at nine o’clock to warm up. Honestly, I have to warm up mentally and I just decided not to lose. I decided that there was no way he could beat me. I won’t quit. I won’t stop. There’s a lot of prayer involved and that’s mostly that “His will be done.” “Give me the strength for what I need to do.” You have to make peace with it, but I decided, mentally, not to lose. That really helps me control; I let it come over me, that nervous energy, because you’re using that to warm up, to get amped up. I’m just hungry for it. I was so confident. I was just excited and for the first time in a couple fights to get in the cage…I really felt like they were locking him in there with me. It helps cut a lot of the nervousness, because instead of creating the moment where it can go wrong, you’re just excited about getting in there and making it happen.

 

Bubba8

Bubba with the Legacy FC Middleweight belt and new Bantamweight Champ, Matthew Hobar. Photo by Warhorse Fightwear.

SJ Sports: When the fight began and the cage door closed, did Larry have the “feel” that you were expecting him to have? You mentioned he looked huge; was his strength a difficult aspect to overcome? What surprised you?

 

Bubba Bush: One thing I should have expected, but he still caught me off guard with, was I have seen him in fights before smile at his opponent and interact during the fight and talk between rounds. At one point, I threw a jab out there and I think I actually caught him off-guard. He was expecting me to be a little slower, perhaps, when I was engaging on the feet. I caught him in range and jabbed him in the nose a little bit and he smiled and nodded at me. I almost got caught by that and nodded back and right when he did that he exploded out and threw a three-punch combo. It almost froze me up. I should have been expecting it, but it was a weird dynamic and it caught me a little off-guard. As far as his strength, you can tell he’s a very strong guy, but I expected him to feel stronger than he did. As soon as I got him up on the cage, he’s strong, but he didn’t have the wrestling to transfer it into something meaningful. When he first pushed me off, it was effective. He got that, but most of the time he didn’t get to really utilize his strength in a meaningful way. It was not as big a factor as I expected it to be.

 

SJ Sports: That leads into my next question. In the second round, it appeared that once you assumed full mount, it “sealed the deal.” Was it difficult for you to maintain that position and land strikes?

 

Bubba Bush: No, it felt good. In fact, every time I got my hands on him, I really felt like I could do what I wanted. I wasn’t pressing the action that much against the fence. There were some times when I think someone said he “stuffed a couple takedowns,” but really I felt like I could do what I wanted when I wanted. I just knew I wanted him out…racking up riding time. There was no hurry to go to the ground, but it felt like when I needed to, I could do what I needed to do.

 

BUBBA2

Photo by Mike Calimbas

SJ Sports: Do you think the stoppage was timed correctly?

 

Bubba Bush: It definitely could have been stopped earlier, but I think it was just right. I think it was a great reffing job there, because it’s a title fight. I actually talked to [the ref] before the fight and he said, “I’m not going to determine this fight; I’m going to let you guys settle it.” That’s exactly what you want from a referee in a title fight. There doesn’t need to be any doubt or uncertainty or early stoppages. If I were in Larry’s position, I would say, “Let it go; let me take a few more punches.” He’s fine now; no one’s worse off. No arms are getting broken. Let it go a little further and let’s not have any doubts.

 

SJ Sports: There were a couple times when it looked close to being stopped.

 

Bubba Bush: Definitely. There were a few times where the ref stepped in to stop it and Larry did a great job. He would take four or five punches and then as the ref stepped in to stop it, he would change position. That’s exactly what they say in the rules: if you change your hips, that’s intelligently defending yourself, so he wanted to keep going. The other thing is, if I punch myself out, if I get too tired to do anything to damage him anymore and I just stop punching him, well, then he gets a chance to recover. He can push me off and that can be an entirely different fight.

 

SJ Sports: How did it feel to finally have that strap put around your waist? Was it a blur or were you able to relish the moment?

 

Bubba Bush: Oh, absolutely relish it. I was there; it was as clear as could be. You think and dream about it a lot, but that was just the most amazing moment. It’s a long-term goal you fulfill; I’ve never had that. I’ve never had a long-term dream come to fruition like that. It’s everything it should be.

 

SJ Sports: Tell me about that little “thing” that you did…that leg and arm thing…

 

Bubba Bush: Right before I shook Larry’s hand? It was supposed to be “The Dinosaur Walk.” I’ve got two guys I train with: Matt Steward and Ellis Boyd. They’re just giant meatheads. They’re 205 and heavyweight; just big balls of muscle. Every time they win, they just tense up every muscle in their body and start stomping their feet around the cage. It’s kind of BVMMA tradition.

 

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Beauty and the Bubba. Girlfriend, Chloe Turner.

SJ Sports: I meant that thing you did right when Mick [Maynard] put the belt around your waist!

 

Bubba Bush: Was it a “Whoop?”

 

SJ Sports: I don’t know what that is… [Laughs]

 

Bubba Bush: Okay [laughs]. It was probably when I put my right leg behind my knee and point my finger into the sky? Yeah, that’s an Aggie tradition. All the Aggies out there will get that one.

 

SJ Sports: I noticed a special lady got a kiss at the end of the fight; I assume she does not play basketball? [See our previous interview!]

 


Bubba Bush
: [Laughs] Oh no. No. No sports with her before the fight! She was amazing; it’s a very hard thing to be a fighter’s girlfriend. You get very distant and in “kill mode” the month before the fight, so she was extremely patient with me and helping me out and a good manager and everything else. She was very supportive during the whole thing.

 

SJ Sports: What’s her name?

 

Bubba Bush: Chloe Turner.

 

SJ Sports: Why do you think there was some criticism of your statement in your post-fight interview that you wanted to take on a competitor in the UFC?

 

Bubba Bush: I have no idea. When you’re in any national social media, there are enough people to argue any point you want. I confirmed with Mick and basically just said, “I hope I didn’t ruffle any feathers; I didn’t mean any disrespect.” Mick has been amazing to all of us and I’m going to keep fighting for him as long as I can, but he’s trying to put as many people in the UFC as he can and put on good shows until then. So, I think all of our goals are the same, to take it to the next level. He’s been supportive of Andrew Craig, Daniel Pineda and Brian [Melancon] and even me. He put me in touch with my current management [First Round Management] and that’s what’s going to get me in the UFC. I think he wants to see that as much as I do. As long as I wasn’t insulting anybody or stepping on any toes, then I don’t care what Twitter thinks. We’re all trying to get there.

 

SJ Sports: Have you received any phone calls or emails we should know about yet?

 

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Bubba’s Sister, Jackie, with her Handsome Son, Benen.

Bubba Bush: I’ve talked to my management and he was working on it. We’re probably going to do a title defense with Legacy.

 

SJ Sports: Is there anyone that you can think of right now that would be a good opponent for you?

 

Bubba Bush: I’m going to leave that one up to them for now.

 

SJ Sports: Tell your fans what you have been up to the past week and what special person you got to meet for the first time.

 

Bubba Bush: I’ve been in Boston with my sister [Jackie] and just met my nephew. He was born two days before my birthday, so a bit prematurely. [Laughs] He’s here; he’s healthy. Seven-something pounds and his name is Benen. [After St. Benigne, St. Patrick’s disciple. Their other son is named “Patrick!”]

 

SJ Sports: Is there anything you need to focus on when you get back more than you did previously, or will you continue on the same path?

 

Bubba Bush: Not more so. I think I am focusing on the right things, but I just need to keep at it. So, just getting down with Saul [Solis] more, hanging out with Tim [Kennedy] and Andrew [Craig] and all the right people. We work everything and that’s what I need: to get better in general. Hard work with great people. Just going to keep doing that.

 

Bubba would like to thank: Cellucor Supplements, Warhorse Fightwear, Versa Carry Concealed Carry Holsters, Fox and Hound Restaurant, Fuzzy’s Tacos, First Round Management, BVMMA, and AFC.

 

“…For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. JOHN 3:16

 

***

 

Special Thanks to Bubba Bush & Family, Mike Calimbas Photography and Warhorse Fightwear

Bristol Marunde

Bristol Marunde

Remember that guy you were impressed with during The Ultimate Fighter: 17 Finale that faced Clint Hester on just one week’s notice? You’ll probably want to remember his name.

 

Despite his third round KO loss to a vicious elbow from Hester, Bristol Marunde [12-8] was just selected to take on TUF 2: Brazil’s Viscardi Andrade [13-5] in Rio at UFC 163.

 

In this interview, Bristol and I talk about the upcoming “must-win” situation against Andrade, his training under BJJ master and (now) fellow-UFC fighter, Robert Drysdale, his very own Washington-based fight promotion, Reign FC, and an in-depth look at what it is really like inside that TUF house…

 

 

…All this, PLUS some personal pics, of course. Take a look.

 

***

 

Stephanie: Did you know that your opponent [Viscardi Andrade] just went through the same situation that you did after his season with The Ultimate Fighter? [Marunde was not selected to perform in TUF 16 Finale last year.]

 

Bristol Marunde: Yeah, I never watched any of their show, but that’s what I was picking up. I’m curious what’s behind the UFC’s motive for bringing him back.

 

Stephanie: I know, me too. I was going to ask you if you knew anything…

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Marunde vs. Andrade (Poster via CageWall.com)

 

Bristol Marunde: From what I gather is that he kind of stuck his foot in his mouth and openly talked badly against the Nogueira brothers.

 

Stephanie: Had you heard much about him before recently?

 

Bristol Marunde: No, I’d never heard of the guy. I had to look him up to find out who he was; took me about three, four days to figure out what his name is.

 

Stephanie: He’s coming off a six-fight win streak, two of those by TKO and then the two prior by RNC, do you feel confident with both your striking and your ground game?

 

Bristol Marunde: Yeah. As long as I have time to train, I’ll be perfectly fine. I need to spend the time in the gym that I need to. What does that really mean? That means that I need to be in good grappling shape and, really, to be in good shape [all-around]. I have the technique and the experience; I just need to get in better shape. I grappled really hard today at Drysdale’s with Robert [Drysdale]; he’s huge and it’s tiring. I just need to come home, eat and chill. It’s just a lot. I know how important this fight is. I will put everything on hold for this fight. I might be obligated to my promotion, though; I can’t just put that aside.

 

Stephanie: With just one week’s notice and an entire weight class up from your normal fighting weight, what are your thoughts on your bout with Clint Hester at TUF: 17 Finale? Was it just was one of those things where you get caught or do you think there was something you could do to prevent it had you had a full camp?

 

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TUF 17 Finale: Hester vs. Marunde

Bristol Marunde: Getting hit with an elbow? Is that what you mean? [Laughs]. Yeah, I can look at the fight, but to me it’s hard to critique much because I was so exhausted in that third round. I was just really tired and I could barely pull my hands up. I was really faking it pretty good as I watched the fight. Coming off my stool, I was just really tired and I wasn’t in any kind of MMA shape or grappling shape; I wasn’t training leading up to that fight. It’s tough to say; there are things I could have done differently, but if you don’t have any gas in the tank, you just can’t even really use technique. That really opened my eyes that I really need to be in good shape for this fight and come ready to fight. Really take it to him. This is Brazil and I can’t let this go to a decision; the judges are not very conducive to giving the win to a non-Brazilian. We know that going in to this, so I have to really be offensive and hungry for this fight. I can’t just go out there and compete. In the past, I’ve fought and only given it a minimum of what it required in training, effort and mindset and it has showed in my performances. I know there are tough critics out there on me; I’ve seen it. I don’t take it personally because I’m a critic too of myself. Let’s be honest, I had my back against a wall and I really need to pull out a huge win in an impressive fashion. Otherwise, where does that leave me in the sport? Fortunately, I have this second chance, maybe it’s a third or fourth chance; it doesn’t really matter to me, but what is important that I really go out there and win impressively. I don’t even want to think about the alternative of where my career would go. Let’s just say this is one of those moments where in an athlete’s career that will be defining, I mean, to win impressively; otherwise, I don’t know what lies ahead.

 

The situation is that I’ve been somewhat mediocre in my last couple fights for the last two years. Yeah, I can make excuses and say, “Well, if you look at my record, I took these last two fights on a week’s notice. I did good for no training, stepping in…”  That doesn’t matter to me; I need to go out and do it. I want to do big things and I want to do it right. This sport is not something where you go fight in the UFC just for fun. I’d like to say it’s fun; there are parts of this that I enjoy and I thrive for the energy and the hard work, but if you don’t get it 100 percent, then it’s going to eat you up and you’re going to get beat up in the Octagon. I think that’s kind of what’s happened to me is that I gave it 90 percent, or maybe 85, because I have had other things in life that have distracted me. MMA has been sort of a savior for me; it’s kept me on the straight and narrow and it’s been something that has been in my life for the seven years. Not till recently have I really come to understand what the sport had done for me, personally. I think that’s a good thing, but at the end of the day, you have to want to fight; you have to want to get in that cage. You need to want to go out there any want to destroy your opponent. You can’t just be there going through the motions.

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Bristol and his son, Kale

I just want to get in the gym and train because I want to erase the poor performances of the past. I just want to get in there and work my ass off. I’ve already trained more in the last week than I did for the past couple months. Before the Clint Hester fight, I didn’t know where my career was going; thank God that Joe Silva called me. Thank God for second chances. I get to do what I love to do. All I need is a training camp and I have that now, so I’m taking all what I have learned and I am motivated to [live up to] my potential. That is what I am striving for is to show my potential, prove it to myself and really silence the critics; show that I belong in the UFC.

 

Stephanie: No one got to see much of your grappling or wrestling at the last fight.

 

Bristol Marunde: Yeah, I really would like to mix it up a little better. That last fight, [Hester] was so big that when I shot in, I could just feel that weight. I have a deep wrestling background and I would really like to show that a little bit more…maybe some big takedowns. Fighting at 170, I’ll be big and healthy for it, so I’m excited to be in good enough to know I’ll be able to shoot takedowns and it won’t tire me out.

 

Stephanie: It’s evident that the grappling of those who train under Robert is far superior; do you think that will help you as well?

 

heavybag

Marunde putting in work on the heavy bag

Bristol Marunde: Yeah, my grappling at Drysdale’s has really forced me to stay on my ground name. If you go in there, it’s funny, with Robert himself…you have to become good or you’re going to get beat up every day. Every time I go to practice, I learn something new and I wish I had known that for my previous fights.

 

 

Stephanie: You’re from Alaska originally?

 

Bristol Marunde: Yeah, I was born there, but grew up in Washington most of my life.

 

Stephanie: How did you end up in Vegas?

 

Bristol Marunde: I was in Seattle and I was working [as a sales exec for a construction company] and I had an opportunity to transfer to Vegas. It was Vegas or a couple of other cities. I chose Las Vegas because of the training.

 

Stephanie: You were already fighting professionally at that time?

 

Bristol Marunde: Yes; I moved to Vegas late 2008.

 

Stephanie: Do you remain happy with that decision?

 

IMG_0134

Bristol and his beautiful girlfriend, Aubrey

Bristol Marunde: Yes, I am so happy I moved to Vegas! Since moving here, so many good things have happened to me in my life. The training is phenomenal; I get to train with the best grapplers and MMA fighters in the world.

 

Stephanie: Are you training with [James] McSweeney?

 

Bristol Marunde: Yeah, we grapple together and I do a lot of stand-up with him. He’s looking good and he fights a lot and has good energy in the gym. I feel like in the past I have always worked one or the other [stand-up or ground game], but for this fight I am putting in a lot more time in being better rounded. I am working on very strict boxing; I need to get my hand speed faster. I am not just focusing on one aspect of it like I have done in the past, where I get excited and I go all grappling or all stand-up; I’m actually keeping a really good balance of both. Also, we do wrestling one full day a week.

 

Stephanie: Going back to Vegas and as a former resident, myself, I want to know one thing you LOVE about the city and one thing you HATE.

 

Bristol Marunde: One thing I love about Vegas is good food. I am a huge “food person.” I love going out to eat at good restaurants and Vegas has some of the best food and the best service; that’s huge for me. You can have all kinds of different food here, like sushi, steak…I can just go pick a restaurant every night and they’re so good. So that’s what I love and what I hate about Vegas is…I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so everything was green. I hate that everything is brown in Vegas: the houses, the desert. Everything is so brown and bland. I wish there was more green; I miss trees.

 

Stephanie: You could always go down to Wynn and Encore

 

Bristol Marunde: Yeah and then I would end up at the pool and wake up three days later. Happens all the time. [Laughs]

IMG_1306

Bristol and his little bud

 

Stephanie: You have a son [Kale] with your girlfriend, Aubrey. Do you want him to one day start getting into MMA or wrestling?

 

Bristol Marunde: [Laughs] No! I want him to do football, I want him to enjoy his weekends and not spend every waking moment in the gym. I want him to do something more fun. Here’s the situation: if he wants to fight, I will train him and he will be the best fighter in the world and I will live in the gym for him, but I would rather him get into, like, motor cross or football, so I can go do that with him. Then, when I’m done fighting, I can spend the rest of my time outdoors or at the lake. If he wants to train in the gym, I’m going to have to be in the gym everyday with him. We are going to go knock people out!

 

Stephanie: Tell me about how you got into wrestling and then MMA?

 

Bristol Marunde: I started wrestling when I was ten-years-old and my mom said I just came up to her one day and said that I wanted to start wrestling. We never came from a big sports family, but it was in me from a young age that I wanted to be in combat sports. That kind of got me started. I wrestled forever, through high school and a little bit in college. Wrestling is one of those sports where you put in a lot of work and devote your life to it, but there’s no glory in it. Thank God for MMA, because wrestlers actually have something now that they can look forward to and transition into. Once I was done playing college sports, like I said, I needed something. MMA, for me, gave me the guidance and the drive. I was looking for something to do and my older brother [Jesse] is the one that convinced me to try MMA. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have though I could do it. [Jesse tragically passed away in 2007.] This was back in 2004; he just really pushed me into it. I just never would have thought [this would be a career for me]; I avoid violence, I’m not a violent person. I tried it and started training and had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know if I was going to get beat up or what. I had never even been to a fight. I just signed up and found the right people. I went to my first fight not knowing A THING. I just showed up and knocked the guy out. Right then, I was hooked: I knew this was for me and this is something I can do for a long time.

 

Stephanie: Tell me about TUF: 16 – how you got on the show and your experience.

 

before ufc

Before entering the Octagon at TUF 17 Finale

Bristol Marunde: It started with, for my team, they didn’t do open tryouts. I had no intentions of ever trying out to be on The Ultimate Fighter at that time. I had tried out in the past, several times, and I didn’t want to go away for seven weeks. They called me a month before the show and I didn’t think I’d make it since I had tried out for it before. I really didn’t treat it like it was a big deal at the time; I just went on with my normal life. I had been working and promoting events in Seattle and two weeks before the first fight to get into the show, they called me and said, “Be ready to make 170, but no guarantees you’re going to be on.” I was in Seattle and hadn’t trained for two months, so there was a little bit of apprehension about going into it because, for one, I’d never made 170 before, I’d always fought at 185 and two, I had too much going on and didn’t have time to train. Like a week before, they told me to pack my bags and I started shedding off the pounds, hoping I could make weight. I was nervous because I hadn’t been a 170 since high school, which was ten years before, twelve. The day before, I was like, “Crap, this is real, dude,” as I packed my stuff. Then, you get to the hotel in Las Vegas and say your goodbyes; I said goodbye to Aubrey and Kale and walked in and they took my phone and everything I had that wasn’t in the rulebook. I walked into that hotel room and had a lot of apprehension; it hit home, “Holy crap, if you lose, everybody’s going to see that I lost and didn’t even make the show.” It was very weird; I was completely alone. There was no corner, no support group…it was a whole new experience. Going into the fight, walking in it was completely empty; it was the strangest thing EVER because it was completely silent. There was no noise whatsoever, no music, nothing. I would rather hear people booing me than nothing because it was so strange; I was looking around, there’s Dana [White], Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson. I could hear, like, the cage creak as I walked past it, I could hear somebody cough. This is just weird! My opponent comes out and we’re staying at each other and it’s QUIET. I was like, “Dude, there’s NO way I am going home.” I got [the win], but it was really tough actually; he was huge. He cut a lot of weight. I’m looking at this guy and I’m thinking, “How did this guy make 170?” I ended up choking him out, but it was definitely a whole new experience. Even though I had a lot of fights, you can’t…. NOBODY can prepare for The Ultimate Fighter. They throw you right in there and you’re on. It’s like, “Okay! Show up and fight,” and it’s so weird.

tuf-16-episode-4-bristol-marunde

Marunde fighting on TUF 16

Then you win and I’m like, “YES!” excited, wanting to celebrate, you know, but then they’re just like, “Okay, go stand in line.” Then it hit me that I was going to be gone for seven weeks; holy sh*t! I thought, “I can’t see my two-year-old son for seven weeks?” It was such a trippy feeling.

 

Stephanie: Did you make any friends on the show?

 

Bristol Marunde: Oh yeah, I made a lot of good friends. I still keep in touch with them today, like Colton Smith and Igor [Araujo]. Colton and I were roommates and we had a common bond; even if you didn’t like some of the guys in the house, you still kind of shared that moment together and went through your boot camp together. You’ll always remember those people. They know exactly what it was like and only they know what you experience, so you kind of have that common bond that brings the guys together as a group.

 

Stephanie: Tell me about your experience with your coach.

 

Bristol Marunde: Shane Carwin was very cool. He was so much better than the TV show was able to portray. Him and Roy Nelson didn’t go at it and they didn’t talk a lot of trash to each other or cause a lot of drama. You know, after I watched the show, I could see how it was kind of boring in TV standards. In all reality, Shane was awesome and he brought in a great coaching staff and they were all very cool to us. They took care of us and we all learned a lot. That aspect of real life was cool because they were there. As the show went on and I watched it, you didn’t really see a whole lot of that.

 

bristolcolton

Bristol and fellow TUF 16 vet, Colton Smith

We were told the fights were really boring and we were supposed to push the action and I kind of took that to heart. I really came out walking forward and trying to throw some big punches. For some reason, I thought the judges were going to give us a fair ground, but they gave both rounds to the other guy and I ended up losing my second fight. It was really frustrating; I felt like I deserved another fight because I was ready to fight more and more. It was very frustrating to go back to the house after you lost and to try to wait it out, because I still had five or six days [left]. It seemed like an eternity. We had no distractions; no TV or music, so it was just, like, SLOW. I was like, “What am I doing here? I lost and I’m ready to go home and see my family,” but I had to stay there and go train. I helped my teammates out and helped them get ready for their fights, so I had to suck it up. We were all going stir crazy towards the end. We were close to burning the house down; the crew actually had to come out and tell us to calm down sometimes because we were throwing knives and having giant watermelon fights and basically going nuts. They said they were going to start charging us money, $200 per incident. A lot of guys lost several hundred dollars. They don’t really show it, but we all went so crazy because we were, like, prisoners and you kind of get that prison mentality. Since we didn’t have any power, we were like, “You’re going to treat us like kids, we are going to act like kids.” There are so many things you don’t know about unless you’re there. It’s taking guys with big egos out of their comfort zone and putting them in a house and shaking them up. It’s a pressure cooker; everybody wants to explode. You know what? One interesting fact: every single person in that house cried at least once. Not everybody did it on camera, or some guys would hide and do it, but we would sit around the campfire and guys were like, “Yeah, I cried yesterday,” or, “Yeah, I cried three days ago.” Our buddy, Igor, he was crying right there [laughs], because he cried a lot. I cried, too! It kind of breaks you down, for sure. I feel like it’s harder on the guys with kids. Your mind plays tricks on you and you hope they’re okay. That protective instinct makes you go crazy, too. You feel like if something bad happens and you weren’t there to protect your family, you’d literally go crazy.

 

Stephanie: What do you think about women being thrown in the mix on TUF 18?

 

Bristol Marunde: I think it could go two ways. I feel that it’s going to get a lot of viewers and I’m going to want to watch, because I want to know how it goes. I hope that it comes off as classy and shows the true desire to be a mixed martial artist and doesn’t just focus on the human interaction part. The sport of MMA is such a great and terrible sport. I hope that they portray it as people there are working hard because they want to be martial artists and not just this disgusting house, shoving men and women together. I hope it shows the better side of women’s MMA and doesn’t make them come off crazy. I hope they introduce [WMMA] to the world as a positive and a good thing.

 

Stephanie: Tell me about your fighting promotion.

 

Bristol Marunde: [It’s called] Reign FC: Reign Fighting Championships. I like the name “Reign” because it really resonates with me, “Who’s going to reign supreme that night?” I am the owner, operator, matchmaker…I started it in 2009. My next fight [card] is June 29th at the Clearwater Casino in Poulsbo, Washington.

reign

Promoting, to me, is something that I enjoy doing because I get to give back to the fighters. What that means is that I get to match make fights. I get to promote fighters. One of my biggest things with promoting is that I don’t want fighters to have to go through what I went through as a young fighter; that is, fighting small shows that are unorganized and outside, or one time I won and I had beer bottles flying at me and I had to run out of the building. I never want any fighter to have to do that. I want to run a professional organizationthat builds fighters; I don’t want to build my organization on fighters’ backs. I want everybody to be evenly matched; it’s what separates me from the rest. I want everybody to have an equal chance to win. There are just so many bad promoters that just throw shows together and don’t really take care of their fighters and there are other promoters that CARE about their fighters, but can’t run a business, so they end up falling apart. So far, I’ve been able to be successful and I want to continue building my brand. I want to have a greater reach. I do professional and amateur fights and I have brought up a lot of amateurs, given them ten amateur fights and turn them professional, given them the platform to succeed. I want to provide these guys with sound advice and be somewhat of a mentor to these young fighters. I’m setting this up for my future because I can’t fight forever, but I can promote forever.

 

Stephanie: Are the fights televised at all?

 

Bristol Marunde: No, we record them, though and put them on YouTube. I would love [to have them televised]. I’ve had a couple of offers of people wanting footage, but haven’t worked on the details yet.

 

StephanieWho would you like to thank?

 

Bristol MarundeI would like to thank my dad, Chuck Marunde, for telling me I was a champion…whether it’s true or not, he believes in me.

 

***

 

Go check out ReignFighting.com – sick website and absolutely a promotion to pay attention to in the coming months.

 

You can follow Bristol on Twitter @BristolMarunde.

 

Photos courtesy of:  Bristol Marunde and family   CageWall.com   Sherdog.com

 

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