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Legere claims KOTC gold; Joker, Kryptonite retain at “Distorted”

Posted in King of the Cage, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2009 by jaytan716

With three high-profile, incredibly competitive title matches and several exciting finishes in the undercard matches, “KOTC: Distorted” proved to be very much on point.

The event, which took place at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, also featured an all-star “Bully Beatdown” cast of fighters from the first and second season, such as Rick Legere, Ben Lagman, Quinn Mulhern, Nick Gaston, and KOTC double champion Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez, whose episode, ironically enough, premiered that very same night.

“The title fights – the main event, were exactly what we wanted.  Exactly what we expected.  Both rematches, for the title fight – one got to redeem himself. . . Rick Legere came out victorious.  It was a great night of fights,” beamed matchmaker Shingo Kashiwagi.

“Especially here at San Manuel Casino, we like to make it a big show, so we do real big main events.  Big names. . . And then we try to stick with the younger, up-and-coming guys.  It’s good exposure for the hungry guys who have wanted to fight for us,” he explained.

Equally as noteworthy was the return of Mike “The Joker” Guymon, in his first title defense since his highly-publicized suicide attempt almost two months back.  Joker, who defended against fast-rising Jiu-Jitsu star Quinn Mulhern, was hospitalized for observation in August after an incident in which the reigning champion tried to coax police officers into shooting him.

“I’m really proud of that fight, moreso than any of the other ones that I’ve done.  Just because of all the adversities that I went through.  Seven weeks prior to that. . . I wanted to end everything.  The world was too hard for me, and I was too stressed out.  And it made [me] mentally tougher.  All the therapy and all the stuff I’ve gone through . . .” Joker reflected.

The following is a match-by-match report on the night’s fights:

Heavyweight (265 lbs.) – Mike “Rhino” Bourke (Mollenkramer Fight Academy / C-Quence Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Liron “The Icon” Wilson (Millennia)

Despite towering height difference in Wilson’s favor, Bourke outweighed his opponent by 36 pounds.  This was Bourke’s first KOTC appearance since May 2008, a Super Heavyweight title fight against Chance “King of the Streets” Williams, which itself ended in a no contest after Bourke could not continue after taking strikes to the back of the head.

Wilson threw jabs and an array of kicks, while Bourke, feeling his opponent out, did not engage for the first 30 seconds.  Bourke finally tied up, but fell to the ground, pulling Wilson into half guard.  Wilson threw some body shots and worked a keylock.  Bourke was initially composed, but finally tapped out at 2:12 of the first round.

Middleweight (185 lbs.) – Uber “Bulletproof” Gallegos (Training Zone) vs. Ben “Bad News” Lagman (MASH Fight Team / Martial Arts Unlimited)

Both men actively engaged from the get-go.  Gallegos shot for a single, but left his head hanging.  Lagman was quick to sink in a guillotine choke, bringing it to the ground.  Seconds later, Gallegos tapped out, giving Lagman the win at 0:28 of the first round.

Even Lagman was surprised at his brief work shift, noting “I was in condition to go the whole time.  I thought it was gonna go a lot longer.  [Uber’s] fights usually go for awhile. . . He gave me the neck, so I took it.”

The night featured several Detroit imports representing Team MASH, including teammate Brandon Hunt.  On being the outsider, Lagman commented “we get excited to come out here and get these opportunities.  There’s no show in Michigan like this.  Terry’s cool enough to fly us out across the damn country to come . . . we come out here, we come to fight.”

Middleweight (185 lbs.) – Brandon Hunt (MASH Fight Team) vs. Joe Crilly (United Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)

Crilly brought Lake Elsinore out with him, as he received one of the bigger crowd pops of the night.  Flying in from Detroit, MI, Hunt was the outsider, and as a former KOTC middleweight champion, he was working on climbing back up the ladder to a title shot.  The winner of this match would become the new #1 contender for Brad Burrick’s KOTC middleweight championship.

Crilly & Hunt clearly came to drop bombs, as both men fired hard jabs early.  Crilly attacked with a flurry which Hunt muted by clinching him against the cage and changing levels for a double-leg takedown that Crilly shoved off with confidence.  At one point, Crilly had Hunt on all fours and was looking for the KO shot, but couldn’t draw a bead on it before Hunt rolled away and escaped.  Once on his feet, Hunt dropped Crilly with a stiff headshot, but Crilly was able to recover.  Hunt circled the cage, as Crilly patiently followed, throwing combos to Hunt’s head.  Crilly looked in control and landed more, but Hunt likely scored with that knockdown.

Crilly continued to stalk Hunt in round two, coming in straight with combos to the head.  It went to the ground, where Crilly proceeded to pound on Hunt’s head, but failed to capitalize on being in control.  Hunt pushed in with a flurry, but to no avail.  As Crilly pushed straight in with headshots, Hunt clichéd up and tried to drop levels for a takedown, but Crilly caught him.  As they broke apart, Hunt tagged Crilly with a sharp combo to the head.  Hunt threw a high kick as the round ended.  Crilly had Hunt on the ground briefly, but Hunt looked better in the ensuing aftermath.

Early in the third round, Crilly walked into a jab and went down.  To his credit, he rallied to stay in the game, escaping to his feet and bouncing off the cage, but Hunt caught him again with a jab and right straight, the latter of which dropped Crilly for good.  Hunt kept going until referee Herb Dean pulled him away.  Hunt was awarded the KO victory at 0:24 of the third round.

Crilly’s reputation as a balls-to-the-wall juggernaut brawler, did not escape Hunt, who said “I was aware of it. . . I let him get off first a little bit, but I knew that if I just stayed there like that all night, he was gonna win.  Just had to use my speed and my power and my angles and just defeat him.  But I did know about the reputation.”

After the event, matchmaker Kashiwagi noted how strong both men fought, saying “he looked like the best ever.  Joe came in there, he showed some tremendous heart.  He was never gonna back down until he gets knocked out.  That’s his fighting style, and I respect the heck out of him.”

Hunt will next challenge fellow statesman Brad Burrick for his KOTC middleweight title.

Heavyweight (265 lbs.) – Nick “Afrozilla” Gaston (8 + 8 Striking Systems) vs. Boban Simic (Flo MMA.com)

Gaston vs. Simic was a battle of young out-of-towners, as Gaston comes from Columbus, OH, while Simic is a former heavyweight champion in the Chicago-based XFO.  It’s also the scrap of the scalps, as Gaston (aka “Gorillas in the Mist”) sports an afro that would make Angela Davis jealous.  Simic is tied up in cornrows that would make Allan Iverson jealous.

Like the Bourke-Wilson fight, the extreme size and shape difference was the story to this match.  Gaston, who is 6’4”, towered over the 5’10” Simic.  That said, Simic kept the pressure on Gaston throughout the match.  Gaston opened with a left kick before they clinched up and jockeyed against the cage for position.  Gaston fired a few Muay Thai knees, which, given the size difference between them, risked landing in the groin, which would have caused a foul against him.  They traded leather furiously, and Gaston kept using the knees, but Simic no-sold any damage they might have done.  As the round ended, Gaston attempted a hip toss, but Simic kept his balance and let Gaston hit the ground first before falling into top position.

Simic set round two off by charging from afar twice; the second time, Gaston dropped him with a front kick, and followed up with a flying knee.  Gaston trapped Simic with a modified overhook whizzer clinch and was able to fire off some lefts before Simic muted the shots with a clinch.  Gaston slipped in an elbow, which may have cut Simic open.

Simic was swinging more wildly in the third round, Gaston caught him and spun him into the cage the first time, but upon second attack, Gaston tagged him with the flying knee.  None of this stopped Simic from continuing the assault.  Gaston’s bread and butter was the whizzer, but he didn’t pound much with the free hand.  Gaston landed another vocal front kick and low kick before the match ended.

Judges awarded Gaston the win by unanimous decision with scores of 30-27

In his post-fight interview, Gaston commended Simic, who he knew was going to be no easy test: “He took the fight on two weeks’ notice.  He’s a bad motherfucker, man.  He got my eye swollen up a little bit. . . If you watch the fight, the first round, I almost had him gone. . . I was like ‘ooo, I’ma knock him out.’  He’s so fuckin’ tough, I couldn’t take him out.  Every round, I was hittin’ him, hittin’ him.  Elbows, knees.  And he wouldn’t drop,” said the self-proclaimed “Big Floppy Donkey Dick.”

KOTC Junior Welterweight (160 lbs.) Championship – Waachiim “The Native Warrior” Spiritwolf (Spiritwolf MMA) vs. Rick “The I.E. Bad Boy” Legere (Team Wildman)

This was a rematch from their December 2008 meeting, when Spiritwolf KO’ed Legere early in the second round, ending the I.E. Bad Boy’s unblemished six–fight win streak.  With Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela recently deciding to drop down to 145 lbs., Legere and Spiritwolf were the perfect match to fill the championship slot.   Spiritwolf is a WFC and Cage of Fire welterweight champion.

Legere took the center of the ring while Spiritwolf circled the perimeter, landing a hard low kick.  Legere looked like he might have been playing mind games, as he unconventionally threw no more than three or four jabs in the air in the first 30 seconds, when the fans started to get rowdy.  Spiritwolf charged in with a jab, but Legere deftly tripped him up, sending Spiritwolf sliding to the ground across the cage.  Back to circling again, fans were really starting to get restless here.  Finally, Spiritwolf charged Legere, who fell to the ground, but trapped a leg and worked to set up a heel hook.  Eventually, he took Spiritwolf’s back standing, but couldn’t capitalize before breaking apart.  Both men looked to be loading up, but neither pulled the trigger on their strikes.  Spiritwolf tried shooting in again from afar, but Legere sidestepped him with matador-like grace, and then clinched Spiritwolf up against the cage for a few body shots before the round ended.

Round two saw a bit more engaging.  Legere took Spiritwolf to the ground and pounded on him, blocking his escape attempts with a full-nelson, of all things.  He worked for a rear naked choke from the back, but it was continued ground-and-pound that caused referee Herb Dean to stop the match at 2:25 of the second round.

Rick Legere wins by TKO at 2:25 of R2, making him the new KOTC Junior Welterweight champion.

KOTC Welterweight (170 lbs.) Championship – Quinn Mulhern (Santa Fe BJJ) vs. Mike “The Joker” Guymon (Joker’s Wild Fighting Academy)

This was Guymon’s second title defense after capturing the belt from Anthony “The Recipe” Lapsley in December of 2008.  Mulhern was coming off a first round submission upset over MMA pioneer and Jiu-Jitsu black belt Chris “The Westside Strangler” Brennan.

The story of this match was Joker’s superior wrestling as the advantage in keeping top position, while Mulhern used everything in his jiu-jitsu arsenal to escape, transition, or catch the champ in a compromising position.  However, Joker kept the pressure on Mulhern with body shots, hooks, and elbows from above.  Within seconds of the round one bell, Mulhern shot in for a single-leg, clinching Joker against the cage. But Joker switched positions and tripped Mulhern to the ground, where most of the match took place.  Mulhern did get to his feet, but Joker swept the leg and took it to the ground again just as the round ended.  Mulhern tried to keep it standing in the second, circling on the outside and throwing combos to the face, but Joker pushed in, clinched, and returned the fight to the ground.  Round three’s intro saw the two trade headshots before Mulhern threw several kicks to set up for a double-leg takedown attempt.  Joker stuffed the shot and spun around to get back control, but Mulhern rolled through to end up with joker in his guard.  Mulhern went for an armbar, but to no avail, and then was on his feet again before Joker took him down again.  Early in the fourth round, Joker caught Mulhern’s leg off a high kick and threw him to the ground with authority.  Another takedown later, Joker had Mulhern on the ground and continued with hard rights to the body.  Finally, Joker got full mount, then, receiving Mulhern’s back, pounded away until Mulhern tapped out at 4:32 due to strikes.

“I’ve been really open about everything, because my whole life, I’ve been an open book. . . And I just thank everybody that supported me. . . Fighters, friends, family.  Even people that were in my weight class, that are contending, were like ‘hey, man, talk to me.  Here’s my number.’  I’ve been talking to Rick Legere, Spiritwolf.  Just all those guys.  I can’t say enough about everybody in general. . . Jim Amormino and my wife were there.  Those two, if it wasn’t for her and Jim, I wouldn’t be here, man. . . Zach Smith.  He’s a personal friend of mine, and just he hated seeing me go through such a bad thing, and he just wanted to be there for me. . . He’s passionate about his beliefs and his friends and I love him to death.”

“The match itself – I went in and I played my game plan like I wanted to. . . First of all, I didn’t think he was gonna shoot in on me right off the bat.  I thought he was gonna try and stand. . . I was intending to dirty box him up against the fence, and he actually played into my game, where I felt his shot, I got him in clinch, and then I just started wearing him out up against the fence. . .”

Of Joker and Mulhern’s performances, Kashiwagi reflected “Quinn did phenomenal.   Joker was on top throughout the whole fight, but that’s how jiu-jitsu guys are. . . First two rounds, even though Joker was on top the whole time, from my point of view, it was a chess match.  Because a simple mistake. . A little bit of space that Joker gives, Quinn was getting ready.”

“Everything’s all clicking now, and I just can’t believe that I went from seven weeks ago, wanting to not be here anymore, to just absolutely wanting to hug life.  It’s been an interesting ride,” said Joker.  “I just thank everybody that supported me. . . Fighters, friends, family.  Even people that were in my weight class, that are contending, were like ‘hey, man, talk to me.  Here’s my number.’  I’ve been talking to Rick Legere, Spiritwolf. . . Jim Amormino and my wife were there.  Those two, if it wasn’t for her and Jim, I wouldn’t be here, man. . . Zach Smith.  He’s a personal friend of mine, and just he hated seeing me go through such a bad thing. . . He’s passionate about his beliefs and his friends and I love him to death.”

KOTC Heavyweight (265 lbs.) Championship – Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran (Alliance MMA) vs. Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez (Team Oyama)

This was the second of two rematches from 2008.  In their previous outing, Lopez successfully defended his heavyweight crown against Beltran with a highlight reel kimura armlock that many thought would end Beltran’s career.  However, the Mexicutioner was back in the cage less than five months later, and rode a five-match win streak into this match, including a regional heavyweight title win in Oklahoma.

Beltran engaged from the onset, and Lopez was quick to mute the attack with overhooks.  They jockeyed for position, with Beltran throwing headshots on occasion.  Lopez remained composed, forcing his own switch and putting Beltran against the cage.  The crowd was surprisingly quiet for this start, aside from the occasional call for action and “fuck him up.”  Beltran dropped Lopez and tried to follow up, but Lopez escaped to his feet.  Beltran caught a leg from one of Lopez’ high kicks, but couldn’t trip him down.  It was here where Lopez started to employ his signature kicks and Muay Thai clinch and knees, which apparently woke the fans up.  Beltran replied with wilder shots to the body and head, and even went forward with a Muay Thai clinch of his own.  Lopez had a bad habit of turning away when breaking apart, which gave Beltran a blinded moment to chase and push him against the fence.  Beltran found his second wind just before the round ended.

Beltran continued with the wild style striking in round two.  They traded clinch positions against the cage, then kicks for headshots, respectively, for several minutes.  Every time Lopez came close to a Muay Thai clinch, Beltran woke up and retaliated with wild headshots.  Lopez was busted open from either the mouth or nose.  Beltran got Lopez to the ground briefly in the third round, but Lopez immediately got up almost as fast.  The battle for position and dirty boxing went on for the rest of the third and fourth round, as both men slipped knees and punches to the legs and body until referee Herb Dean finally broke them apart.  Beltran turned up the pressure with furious lefts and rights on Lopez, who grabbed his left leg and scooped Beltran to the floor.  Lopez got Beltran’s back and sat back for a rear naked choke, but Beltran fought to side control.  After another stand-up, Beltran was noticeably opened over the left eye or side of his cheek.  This round likely went to Lopez for ground punishment.  The final round saw Lopez switch up and try to take Beltran down several times, but the challenger stayed on his feet and circled away from the cage.  Both men were pounding on each other from the collar-and-arm tie-up.  Lopez’ long limbs allowed him to whizzer Beltran, but Beltran got the better of the situation, tagging Lopez in the face several times.  Lopez tried for another takedown, to no avail.  Whenever there was a break in the action, Beltran dug deep and came up with a barrage of shots to the head, to which Lopez would turn away and defend with side and back kicks.

Lopez was awarded the win by unanimous decision (scores unannounced), which the crowd vociferously booed.  It appeared like they saw Beltran as the underdog who gave it his all, and Lopez, as champion, doing enough to win the fight.  Each round was very close, which made the final verdict contestable among fans.

King of the Cage returns to the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino on December 17th, 2009, for its final show of the year.

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Balboa wins Pro Muay Thai Debut

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2009 by jaytan716
'Yo Adrian!' - Balboa triumphs in her pro debut.

'Yo Adrian!' - Balboa triumphs in her pro debut.

Seven years ago, Roxy Richardson could barely do a push-up.  Fighting was the last thing on her mind. But this past weekend, the reinvented Legends fighter Roxy “Balboa” realized a milestone that was long in the making, emerging victorious in her pro Muay Thai debut.  Based on scores of 49-46, 50-45, and 49-46, Richardson beat Sarah McCarthy (Bad Company, Leeds, UK) via unanimous decision at the 2009 Ultimate Warriors Muay Thai-Kickboxing World Championship, held at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“It feels great.  The nerves were there, but mentally, I was strong. . . It’s been a long road.  This’ll be my 13th sanctioned fight, my 20th or 21st fight total, including smokers,” Richardson reflected later that night.

“To be honest with you, there wasn’t a round that I was concerned about at all. . . She didn’t get winded, she wasn’t breathing heavy in the corners. . . She just let her hands go. . . Other than that, I was very, very impressed with her and very, very proud of her,” said Legends MMA team trainer Jimmie Romero after the match.

Richardson, a staple in the regional Muay Thai scene, was the International Amateur Muay Thai Federation (IAMTF) champion from 2008 and 2009.

“I was terrified of fighting, when I first started.  Honestly, someone would ask me if I wanted to fight two months from now and I would get this horrible pain in the pit of my stomach, and just want to throw up.  And now I am excited and I look forward to it.  I think of it as a test of everything that I worked really hard for all the time.  it was never like that in the beginning.  I wasn’t a natural fighter, but I saw it as a challenge and it made me want to do better each time.”

Ironically enough, it was only recently that Richardson, whose connection with Legends MMA dates back to its days at the Bomb Squad, started working with Legends trainer Jimmie Romero.

Jimmie Romero spearheaded the "Reinvention of Roxy," leading to the night's victory.

Jimmie Romero spearheaded the "Reinvention of Roxy," leading to the night's victory.

“When she came to me, last fight, I think I had her, like five weeks out within her fight. . . I just worked with what she had, and tweeked a little here and there, until I could get her after,” commented Romero.

But once they were past that match, the team went back to basics: “we broke her down, and built her right back up. . . I changed everything, and made it make sense with her footwork.  I made it sync up to where every punch counts. . . Where it’s not just random shit being thrown. . . It flows, like water,” he added.

Of the partnership, Richardson was enthusiastic about going back to the drawing board: “this is the second time I’ve been working with [Romero], and we make a real good team.  I’m learning some new things.  It’s tough, because I’ve been fighting for awhile and he’s got to make adjustments for me, and that’s always been difficult.  But I’ve trusted him and he’s brought me in a good direction.  The results speak for themselves.  I’m pretty happy with that, and I’m happy with how this training went.”

The story of the match itself largely spoke to the changes and improvements in Richardson’s arsenal and team, as Richardson consistently circled out of McCarthy’s charging line-of-fire, countering with jabs, right straights, steady combinations , and body kicks.  McCarthy, who is known for controlling her matches by imposing her will, fought a chasing game, throwing low kicks to make contact.

“We used that jab to utilize space, because Roxy is a lot longer. . . And that’s why Roxy circled a lot, and she moved.  Sarah likes to press and close in you, and make you feel claustrophobic.  And the thing that stops that is ‘hey, you’ve got to follow me’.  . . And while she’s eating punches at the same time,” explained Romero.

135 lbs. / Full Muay Thai Rules – Roxy Balboa Richardson (Roxy Fit) vs. Sarah McCarthy (Bad Company)

The first round saw McCarthy utilize low kicks to breach the distance, while Richardson answered back with a body kick and a Superwoman punch.  Richardson looked comfortable with her hands, landing a lot of punches to the face, especially at round’s end.

In round two, McCarthy kept with the combos and low kicks, while Richardson circled out and brought the action to the middle of the ring.  Richardson fired a triple jab, checked a kick, and volleyed one back.  She swung a kick and tried some elbows in the corner, but it was an overhand right that nailed McCarthy square in the face.

By the third round, McCarthy’s charge-and-attack M.O. was clear and constant.  She pushed Richardson towards her corner, but Richardson clinched up and tried throwing elbows.  McCarthy got in some jabs and an overhand right, but Richardson was on fire, ending the round with a flurry of punches standing and from the clinch.

Richardson lands a left body kick.

Richardson lands a left body kick.

Perhaps sensing the need to turn on the steam, McCarthy quickly started round four in the middle of the ring, pushing Richardson into the corner.  But Richardson circled her way out, firing an overhand right and body kick.  McCarthy swiftly replied with her own attack.  Clinching against the ropes, McCarthy tried for a trip, but couldn’t make it happen before the referee called for a clean break.  Richardson landed another stiff combo to the face and attempted a spinning back elbow to end the round.

The fifth round opened with a brief clinch early on, but the two quickly broke apart, with McCarthy going after Richardson, who landed several kicks.  McCarthy overextended on a punch, but Richardson didn’t capitalize.  She did, however, land several body shots.  The referee stopped the action to check McCarthy for blood, but the doctor allowed the match to continue.  By this point, the once intensely-silent crowd was vocally cheering both fighters.  With ten seconds left, Richardson went into overdrive and shot jabs and combos to end the match.

In the end, judges awarded the match to Roxy “Balboa” Richardson by unanimous decision with scores of 49-46, 50-49, and 49-46.

When asked her thoughts on the fight, Richardson said “I always have it in my mind that if I give two good rounds, then at least [it’s] a good show, but I felt I was on from the very first round.  Which is unusual because I’m normally kind of a slow starter.  So I was really happy that I was able to throw multiple things.  And I felt like my timing was a lot better than I have been.  I could hear both corners, which was cool.  I actually would hear her corner, and then wait for her to do what her corner said . . .I’ve never been that clear before.”

Teammate Jordan Wright added “I really think she looked amazing . . . she was popping her jabs, rather than pushing. . .and her footwork was great too.”

Romero added “her next fight will be even better.  We gave her a whole new set of tools to work with.  And changed the arsenal up a little bit.  And now that she’s actually used it in battle, she’s now more confident, like ‘yeah, I can use these new tools, and they work damn well.’”

Other Muay Thai action that night went as follows:

112 lbs. – Janet Coakley (Budo Ryu) TKO Victoria “The Prodigy” Beltran (Boxing Zone) in R2, 0:53.

135 lbs. – Rubin Ekyotin (World Muay Thai Gym) TKO Hien Nguyen (Pacific Ring Sport) in R2, 0:16.

155 lbs. – Yilen Pan (Sit Rama Soon Muay Thai) TKO Caesar Pimentel  (Guizar Martial Arts) in R1, 1:50.

160 lbs. – Edgar Islas (Team Oyama) def. Greg “The Leg” Spellman (Millennia MMA) in R1, 1:16 via referee stoppage (after two knockdowns).

155 lbs. – Olavi Naar (Muay Thai School USA) KO Daniel Eyi (Dobler’s Muay Thai) in R1, approximately 1:00.

175 lbs. – Steve Kuo (The Yard Muay Thai) def. Michael Ellison (Boxing Work) via unanimous decision off scores of 29-28, 28-29, and 29-28.

170 lbs. – Laban Spicer (Sit Yod Tong Pasadena) def. Sean Delfossey (Budo Ryu) via unanimous decision off scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 29-28.

150 lbs. – Sheldon Gain (MTA) def. Patrick Channita (Team Oyama) via unanimous decision off scores 29-27, 29-27, and 29-27.

145 lbs. – Sean Ueda (Pro AM) TKO Hector Ekyotin (World Muay Thai Gym) in R3, 1:32.

130 lbs. – Jessie Magusen (Dobler’s Muay Thai) def. Felipe Andalla (KR Muay Thai) via unanimous decision off scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 30-27.

155 lbs. – Cooper Gibson (Team Toby Grear) TKO Andrew Santee Santhivong (MTA) in R2, 1:20.

185 lbs. – Jason Rezepka (KR Muay Thai) def. Salah Azzazi (Red Scorpion Martial Arts) via unanimous decision off scores of 30-26, 30-26, and 30-26.  This match was for the UKKA Light Heavyweight championship.

155 lbs. (Full Pro Muay Thai rules) – Ryan Roy (Fairtex) TKO Koji Iijima (KR Muay Thai) after the referee stopped the match in the fourth round, due to numerous knockdowns.

135 lbs. – Tetsuya Yamato (Yamato Kickboxing) KO Kaensak Sor Pleonjit in R5, 2:59.  This match was for the WMC Muay Thai Lightweight championship.

Richardson was cornered by Romero and Victor Henry, and sponsored for this fight by Revgear, Toe 2 Toe, Ed Hardy Watches, and United Front Productions.

Crilly returns, Lopez retains title as KOTC sails into Lake Elsinore

Posted in King of the Cage, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2009 by jaytan716

Redemption was the theme for the three headlining matches at King of the Cage’s debut show, “Storm,” which took place on Saturday the 16th at The Diamond, home to minor league baseball team the Lake Elsinore Storm.

“After the first fight, I didn’t like how he ended off with the tapping of his face, showboating, basically.  I think it was real disrespectful, so I wanted this fight, and more just to earn his respect.  And I think I did that in this fight. I earned a lot of people’s respect,” explained Gonzalez in a post-match interview.

Lopez acknowledged the threat that Gonzalez posed in this rematch, noting “it was pretty close. . . [Gonzalez} was landing some heavy hits at the beginning of the fight. Towards the end, I had to finish.  I couldn’t let it go to decision, because it could have gone either way.”

Fan favorites Rick Legere and Joe Crilly returned to their winning ways with decisive finishes that both needed to turn their career momentum around.  Legere, having lost his past two matches, the only losses of his pro MMA career, emerged victorious after a second round knockout.  His excitement level was so high that, immediately following the referee’s stoppage, Legere leaped over the cage fence and ran into the crowd to his girlfriend.  Legere quickly returned to the cage for the victory announcement, and then made his girlfriend his fiancée, proposing to her in his post-fight interview.

“She’s got my little girl, so I was hoping she would say yes,” Legere joked, referring to their newborn daughter.

Not one to be outdone, hometown hero Joe Crilly had the shortest, but perhaps the most electrifying, match on the card, scoring a KO over Ruben Tagle in 11 seconds of the first round.  Crilly, who had the most fan support of any fighter that night, has been hampered with injuries and personal complications since his last fight, in 2004.  For Crilly, this match represented not just a highlight reel victory in front of friends and family, but also a long-overdue rebirth into the fight game.

“Five years in the waiting. . . I’m 27 and it feels like tonight was the first time I’ve ever fought.  Those other fights feel like they never happened.  Tonight was my first fight, and I’m gonna build off that,” he declared at the afterparty.

The card, originally slated for 11 matches, lost two bouts the previous day at weigh-ins.  Bantamweight Chad Walters was forced to withdraw from his match against Reuben Duran due to injury, while weight complications sabotaged a lightweight fight between George Sanchez and David Gomez.  According to matchmaker Shingo Kashiwagi, after Gomez weighed in almost three pounds over the 156-pound limit (155 pounds with one pound leeway), it was proposed that Gomez weigh-in at noon the next day at 163 pounds, Sanchez’ typical walkaround weight.  Sanchez would accept a second weigh-in, but Gomez, wanting to rehydrate and replenish, declined it, at which point negotiations fell apart and the match was scrapped.

Other KOTC action that night included:

Lightweight (155 lbs.) – Bryan “The Badger” Colebrook (Griffin MMA / Real Deal Boxing with Ed Mendiville) vs. Victor “El Valiente” Rodarte (The Jungle)

Judges award Victor Rodarte the match by unanimous decision.

Welterweight (170 lbs.) – Nikko Medina (San Jacinto Grappling) vs. Marcos “The Reaper” Gonzalez (The Shark Tank)

Both men started out slow and very cautious to strike.  Medina, who somewhat resembles WWE’s Batista, looks explosive.  Medina attacked, but got caught in a front headlock, taking it to the ground briefly.  Gonzalez kept his sprawl until being forced against the cage, at which point referee Herb Dean broke them apart.  Gonzalez connected with a nice combination, but Medina also rocked himwith an overhand right.  Medina had Gonzalez up against the cage as the round ended.  In round two, Gonzalez charged on Medina with combos, getting another front headlock.  Medina tried to take Gonzalez down, but was blocked for his efforts.  Gonzalez later scored another takedown, trapping Medina’s hand in half-guard.  After some ground-and-pound, Gonzalez dropped back for an ankle lock.  Medina briefly claimed a front headlock, but Gonzalez eventually regained side mount and top position, dropping bombs from half mount.  The third round opened up with very cautious footwork, which then exploded into a heavy trade of leather.  Gonzalez once again took Medina down, transitioning positions and dropping big bombs on him.  The two hugged and spoke at length at the end of the match.

Judges awarded the match to Marcos Gonzalez via unanimous decision.

Bantamweight (135 lbs.) – “Smooth” Greg Guzman (San Jacinto Grappling) vs. Kiko Lopez (Team Quest / Bob Chaney Muay Thai)

Guzman and Lopez wasted no time, trading fast shots.  Guzman quickly claimed a takedown, eventually getting Lopez’ back, where he would stay for most of the rest of the match.  Lopez got to his feet, but couldn’t shake Guzman, who kept his hooks in and fired shots from behind for the next several minutes.  To his credit, Lopez fired back.  He finally fell to all fours by the end of the round, but staved off the choke in an ongoing theme for the match.  Lopez shot for a takedown early in round two, but Guzman used his high guard to sweep and take the back, locking in a body triangle.  Lopez continued to roll over to lose Guzman, but to no avail.  Lopez opened the third round by charging and clinching Guzman against the cage, but Guzman took Lopez’ leg and scored a takedown.  After standing, both men traded kicks for combos, with Lopez landing a left hook.  Lopez also landed a solid Muay Thai knee, allowing him to get a front headlock, but Guzman picked Lopez up and slammed him to break the hold.  Lopez kept Guzman in high guard, but Guzman was able to stand up.  Lopez scored a takedown in the waning seconds of the match.

Judges award the match to Greg Guzman by unanimous decision.

“I knew for sure that I was going to go in there and have a war, because he was 4-0.  I’d done all my research on him, and he was dropping everybody in the first minute and thirty seconds.  Three of his fights were unanimous decision. . . I knew that I had to not let him capitalize on any little mistakes and to stay on him,” Guzman reflected.

Flyweight (125 lbs.) – Thomas “El Chihuahua” Casarez (Riverside Submission / Joe Camacho MMA) vs. Javi Alanis (Quence Jiu-Jitsu)

Alanis set things off with a running flying kick, failing to nail it on the button.  Casarez jumped on the opening and slapped on a guillotine choke, but Alanis calmly carried him back to Alanis’ corner and slammed him hard.  Casarez kept the choke, and then transitioned to an armbar, getting the submission at 0:51 of the first round.  Casarez was elated, doing a cartwheel and throwing his T-shirt into the crowd.  Judge Cecil People’s noted Casarez won his previous match, just two weeks prior, in the same fashion.

Featherweight (145 lbs.) – Junior Kling (San Jacinto Grappling) vs. Aaron “The Blood Spiller” Miller (Blood Bank MMA / Sparta MMA / OC Boxing)

Miller and Kling were both chomping at the bit to attack, and the action didn’t belie their demeanors at all.  In the first round, Miller and Kling imposed their will on each other against the cage with knees and combos before Miller slipped in a trip takedown.  Miller threw body shots from the mount until Kling swept him, at which point Miller tried to set up a triangle from bottom.  Back to standing, Kling almost got an armbar off Miller’s clinch, but they went to the ground and traded top position once more before the end of the round.  In the second stanza, Kling slipped on a high kick, but was able to recover and work for an ankle lock.  Miller eventually twisted out of it and the two exchanged sweeps on the ground, scrambling like pit bulls for the upper hand.  At one point, Miller had a body clinch from behind on Kling, who used his momentum and position to slip in a kimura, driving Miller to the ground.  They scrapped more against the cage, tradition positions before the end of the round.  Kling’s face between the second and third round was a crimson mask, reinforcing Miller’s claim as “the Blood Spiller.”  Going into the final round, the two trade kicks for combos.  Kling escaped a first takedown, but Miller forced another, and then dropped elbows from side control.  Miller jumped on Kling standing and slapped on a rear naked choke, but Kling escaped out the back door and tried to work a kimura from side mount.  Standing, Miller landed a high knee to Kling’s face against the cage.  Kling fired a head kick.  Miller invited more, to which Kling responded with several more kicks and a combination as the match ended.

Judges award the match to Aaron Miller by unanimous decision.

Miller was another victorious fighter who echoed the redemption theme, commenting “my last King of the Cage showing was pretty poor and I just had a really bad attitude since then.  I wanted to change up my habits and be more in attack-mode and keep going.  I train with some of the best guys around and I just said “I’m not gonna stop until this fight’s over.  One of us is going to be knocked out, bloody, tap out.  It doesn’t matter how it’s gonna end. It’s just gonna end with my hand raised.”

But Miller’s road to redemption is not quite over, as he looked to the past for a fight in the future: “I want Casey Olsen back.  That’s Chuck Liddell’s guy.  We fought in Fresno.  Bring him down to King of the Cage. . . because I have some built-up frustration from that fight.  I’d love to see him again.”

Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) – “Tall” Paul Karski (American Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Dave Cryer (Millennia MMA)

Karski weighed-in heavy the day before, and was unable to make weight after a second attempt.  As such, the match was allowed to occur, and Karski had to forfeit 10% of his purse to Cryer.

Most of the match was fought in the clinch against the cage, as both men used knees, including to the face, to gain control.  Cryer pushed Karski to the ground off a knee, proceeding with side mount and an assault off lefts and rights as Karski held on.  Karski trapped Cryer’s left leg, but it was Cryer who continued with rights to Karski’s head and body.  After Cryer steps back, referee Herzog forced Karski to stand up.  Both men fired shots, with Cryer’s left hook dropping Karski.  Cryer pounced and fired off ground-and-pound until referee Herzog called for an end to the match.  Cryer takes the KO victory at 4:17 of the first round.

190 lb. catch weight – Rubin Tagle vs. Joe Crilly (Lake Elsinore Fight Crew / United Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)

Both men typically fight at 185 lbs., but with Crilly coming off a five-year hiatus, both sides agreed to fight at 190 lbs.  Crilly was the clear cut big draw, as the crowd erupted for his walk-out.  Tagle was cornered by KOTC Superheavyweight champion Neil Cooke of Pinnacle Jiu-Jitsu.  Crilly wasted no time in overpowering Tagle with a barrage of lefts and rights.  After several combinations against the cage, Tagle went down.  Crilly fired off several more rights on a prone Tagle before referee Herb Dean could pull him off.  Crilly was awarded the KO at 0:11 of the first round.  The crowd was going nuts for several minutes after the fight.

Looking forward, Crilly said he was hungry for more competition: ““What I want next is to stay in shape.  It’s been five years out of shape. . . I want a fight lined up in the next month, two months.  And then I want another one after that, and then I want a title.”

Welterweight (170 lbs.) – Eric “E-Train” Meaders (Ring of Fire Monrovia) vs. Rick “I.E. Bad Boy” Legere (Team Wildman)

Legere might have been a fan of Bret Hart as a kid, as he sports the Hitman’s trademark pink-and-black colors as his own.  Legere kept the center of the cage and held Meaders at bay with low kicks as Meaders circled around the outside, changing levels sporadically.  Meaders got Legere to the ground with a textbook double-leg takedown, but Legere transitioned to an uma plata.  Meaders escaped to his back as Legere stood up, but Legere eventually passed guard, took the back, and tenderized Meaders with left hooks.  Meaders actually stood up and carried Legere piggyback, using hand control to ward off the rear naked choke, to the end of the round.  Meaders put together more combos in round two, but Legere dropped him with a low kick.  Meaders tried to transition for a takedown, but Legere took side mount, trapping Meaders’ arm.  Meaders freed his arm and worked for a kimura as Legere stood up.  Legere connected with three hard rights, causing Meaders to turn his back.  Legere pounced on Meaders and threw rights until referee Jason Herzog stopped the action at 2:20 of the second round.

When asked about what made the difference tonight from his previous two matches, Legere explained “I learned a lot.  Definitely want to keep your hands up all the time, because it only takes one punch.  And don’t go out there rushing things. Relax, stay calm.  You’ve got three five-minute rounds. . . If you need to use your 15 minutes, use your 15 minutes.”

KOTC Light Heavyweight Championship (205 lbs.) “The Menifee Maniac” Fernando Gonzales (Team Quest) / Bob Chaney’s Muay Thai) vs. Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez (Team Oyama)

While being a former Gladiator Challenge Light Heavyweight champion, Gonzales has more recently fought at middleweight (185 lbs.).  He was also a last-minute replacement for Tony Valarde, who had to bow out due to injury.

Gonzales initiated the offense in the first round, charging Lopez into the cage with a clinch.  From southpaw stance, he dropped Lopez with an overhand left, but wasn’t able to capitalize before the champ recovered.  This seemed to give Gonzales confidence for the rest of the match, because he continued to land the punch throughout.  Lopez mixed up some combos with his trademark head kicks and a back kicks, including firing three head kicks in a row (which Gonzales took with seemingly little effect).  Gonzales forced a takedown and shot lefts to the head as the bell rang.

In round two, Gonzales continued with his stick-and-move circling around the cage, which clearly frustrated the champ.  Lopez continued to switch stances throughout, but Gonzales was able to catch some kicks and land strikes over the top, including a hard left body kick that was audible in the bleachers.  Round three saw Gonzales catch a left low kick and force a trip takedown, pushing Lopez into the cage.  Gonzales had Lopez’ left arm trapped behind his own back, working a kimura, while keeping the clinch from the side.  Lopez climbed to his feet and escaped.  By this point, the crowd was at a fever pitch.  Lopez continued to chase Gonzales around the cage, firing kicks at will.

In the “Holy Shit!” moment of the match, Gonzales had Lopez in a body lock clinch on the cage, and as Lopez tried to break the hold to set up for an armbar, Gonzales actually German-suplexed him over his head, following up by passing guard and throwing a knee to the back (which got a warning from referee Herb Dean).  Lopez was able to escape out the back door to standing position, but Gonzales, perhaps smelling blood, charged with lefts and rights.  Lopez landed a high knee and sunk in a rear naked choke that almost ended the match, but Gonzales managed to survive.  Lopez was in full mount and fired rights on Gonzales’ face as the round ended.  Going into the fourth round, Gonzales was clearly hurt, but he had a big smile on his face.  The two traded kicks and left fists as loud “Fernando” chants emanated from the crowd.  Gonzales continued to charge in with overhand lefts and combinations to Lopez’ body.  Lopez worked to clinch Gonzales up against the cage, and perhaps smelling blood, chased after him with a series of low kicks, but Gonzales fired back with another left body kick.  Both men were visibly spent by this point.  Lopez dropped Gonzales with a harsh right knee and fired shots as the bell ended round four.

By the last round, the crowd was bonkers for these two combatants.  Between rounds, Gonzales had a look on his face that suggested he wasn’t going to come out, but he did, and after the bell rang, his face changed to say “this one’s for all the marbles and I know it.”  He charged with an overhand left and shot in for a single-leg.  Lopez was able to turn it around and mount Gonzales on the ground, setting up a rear naked choke once Gonzales went to all fours.  As Lopez stood up and kneed the ribs, Gonzales actually grabbed Lopez leg and dragged him to the ground again.  But Lopez had the composure to wrap his arms around for the rear naked choke and roll back, until referee Dean finally stopped the fight at 1:48 of the fifth and final round.

Although Lopez retained his Light Heavyweight title, Gonzales spoke positively about his performance, saying “I’m not down on myself at all.  I gave everything I could in that fight.  I just wasn’t ready for a five-round fight yet. . . I got heart, and I just tried to push as much as I could.  I almost didn’t come out that fifth round, I was so done. . . .My stand-up coach told me ‘look, you don’t come out, you’re never gonna let yourself live this down.’  And he’s right.  I would have been down on myself a lot worse if I didn’t come out.  I’m happy that I did.”

As for future prospects, Gonzales announced “I’m going back down to 185.  Trying to work my way down to 170 if I can. . . Everybody knows I should be fighting at a lower weight class.  [But] I wanted this rematch. . . so I stuck around the weight.  I got what I wanted. . . but now it’s time for me to move down and start working at those lower weight classes.”

After the match, Lopez admitted to underestimating his opponent: “Last time that I fought him, I was sick.  And I came out with the win early in the fight.  So this time I came in like ‘okay, you know what?  I’m just gonna have my way with him and stuff and that’s it.’  Well, he didn’t think the same thing. . . I gotta go back to my old way of thinking: that everybody’s a pro, and I can’t take no fight lightly.  That’s where I’m at right now,” said Lopez.

Also worthy of note was the announced return of former KOTC lightweight champion Chris “The Westside Strangler” Brennan, an MMA pioneer who returns to action on June 11th at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, CA.  Brennan’s fight career dates back to 1996, and had already consisted of a 6-3-1 record before the very first KOTC event in 1999.  During the in-ring interview with ring announcer Big Poppa Schnake, Brennan discussed his plans to move up to welterweight and win the KOTC title from reigning champion Mike “Joker” Guymon.   Ironically enough, Guymon is a former student of Brennan’s.

King of the Cage’s next event in the Southern California area will be June 6th, at the Quechan Casino & Resort in Winterhaven, CA, as well as June 11th in Highland.  No official announcement has been made for King of the Cage’s return to Lake Elsinore, but updates and news on events, matches, and fighters can be found at www.KingoftheCage.com.

Verbal Sparring: Dave Cryer (King of the Cage)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2009 by jaytan716

The Dave Cryer story is one we all know well – to never judge a book by its cover.  It’s one that many fans find to be the truth about MMA fighters – that despite tattoos, shaved heads, threatening muscles, and the habit of looking you right in the eye, most fighters are easygoing, approachable, unassuming, friendly guys (and girls).

He’s the fat kid who didn’t like sports, but ended up training to be an MMA fighter.  He has no arrest record, but looks like many guys who do.  And despite standing at a meaty six-foot even and sporting more ink than a Sharpie factory (including where his eyebrows used to be), Dave Cryer is jovial and self-effacing, almost to a fault.  In this interview, we discussed male role models, the meaning of team loyalty, and life as “the tattooed guy.”

JT:  Tell us about where you’re from and how you got into mixed martial arts.

DC:  I’m from all over Southern California. I was born in Anaheim, but I’ve lived everywhere.  I went to high school in Orange County, and then on weekends I hung out in Norwalk.  But I’ve been all over the place.  I’ve been to 30 different schools, just from my mom moving all over the place.

JT:  Did you have brothers and sisters or anything?

DC:  Yeah, it was me, my mom, and my sister.  And my stepdad came around when I was about ten.  That’s when we settled into the one home.

My stepdad showed me a lot of good worth ethic.  I’ve been working with him since I was 10 years old as a diesel mechanic.  Then I stopped working for him when I went into the military for awhile.  I was in the Marine Corps for four years.  Then I came back and worked for him.  He was definitely a father figure.

JT:  Did you go overseas or anything?  What was that like for you?

DC:   September 11th happened, and everyone got motivated after the Twin Towers.  I figured “hey, there’s a reason to go into the military now.”  And I went in on December 11th, hoping to go to war, but it never actually happened.  I just did my time and that was pretty much it.  I can’t say it was the best experience but it was an experience.  I put it on the line.  I just didn’t get to go over there.

JT:  Tell me about your martial arts training.  Did you do anything either in the military or high school?

DC:   I was a big fat loser in high school.  I played football for two years and then I decided I didn’t like sports.  I remember the wrestling coach was like “hey, you wanna wrestle?”  I was like “nah that looks like it’s a lot of work.”

Then there was this old fighter from King of the Cage, Dave Step.  He fought on a very early King of the Cage, he was at 145 pounds.  We were working on the same construction site together.  Someone told me that he was a cage fighter.  And I didn’t really know much about it.  I said “hey, you’re a cage fighter.”  He said “yeah.”  I said “there’s no way you’ll kick my ass.  I’ll whip your ass.”

And thank God he didn’t kick my ass on the job site.  He says “hey, come over to my house.”  And he and his old man beat the shit out of me.  And I remember going “wow, you’ve gotta be kidding me.  Can you teach me some of this stuff?”

I trained with him for five or six times and then I went in the military.  The military martial arts are garbage.  You gotta teach thousands of people, and you can’t really teach them too much.  It doesn’t matter when you have a rifle anyway.

I did some Muay Thai down in San Diego, and then I met John Munoz at Team USA, now Team Pinnacle.  I came to him and said “hey, I want to fight.”  He goes “You should learn first.  We’ll wait until you get blue belt [in jiu-jitsu], then fight.  Do a lot of tournaments.”

And I just started competing.  And I got tired of getting my ass whooped.  Then I started winning.  I won Grappler’s Quest.  Got third in the Pan-Ams, got second the next year, made it to the semis at the World’s, won the Copa-Pacific Open.  Before my first [MMA] fight, I think I competed in like 40 different jiu-jitsu tournaments.  I had never wrestled, so that really helped me out with the ability to compete in front of everybody.  I really thank John for that.

Then John started to teach me some striking.  He called Terry [Trebilcock] and I did my first fight with Uber [Gallegos].  I had so much support, it was amazing.  I think I sold like 250 tickets my first fight.  I was so damn nervous; I don’t remember any of it.   I think that was my first time in a cage, but it went good for me.  That guy was pretty tough.

JT:  Talk about the guys you train with.

I’ve been fortunate.  Now I train at Millennia [MMA].  John still manages me.  I’ve got “Concrete” Chad Davis.  He took me under his wing and put me through the ringer.  I’ve got Ryan Munday, he wrestles.  Then I’ve got Romie [Arum], Betiss [Mansouri], Will [Sriyapai], Reggie Orr.  All those guys help me out a lot.  I still train once in awhile over a Pinnacle.  Those guys helped me out a lot to get me a good solid base, and they still support me and they’re still solid friends of mine.  It’s all about team.  I know it’s an individual sport, but man, without a team, you’re crap.

JT:  Neil Cooke (also a Pinnacle MMA fighter) recently said the same thing.  Even though you’re the one guy that steps into the cage and performs, it’s all about the support network you have around you to get to that point.

DC:   That’s exactly it.  I’ve had so many people help me out, that, if someone didn’t show up, I [had] a big hole in my game.  Because if you’re not getting pushed by your teammates, then you’re gonna lose.  You can’t do this sport on your own.  Some of the guys that are training, they don’t get nothing out of it sometimes.  They just work their ass off every day, for you.  And then you’re the one getting all the money and the glory.  I feel kinda bad for them in that way, but it’s a special breed of person.

JT:  You spoke about it a bit just now, but how would you describe your approach or your philosophy behind your training?

DC:   A lot of people say I abuse my body and overtrain.  I think, just annihilate yourself in the gym, and it comes back to you when you fight.  Because a lot of times, when you’re fighting, you can’t think.  It just comes out of reaction. And if you just murder yourself in the gym, I think it benefits a lot.

I’m a big fan of wrestling.  I never wrestled in high school, but I’m a big fan of Dan Gable, and all those guys just murder themselves in the gym, and they become Olympic champions.  That’s my philosophy.  Not everyone agrees with me.  I don’t think it’s necessarily the right way or wrong way.  It’s just kinda . . . that’s how I train.  But I still think there’s more levels I gotta reach.

JT:  What’s the toughest part for you?  Is it the training?  The mental?

DC:   The hardest fight is all the time away from my family.  I got two kids and an old lady.  I wake up in the morning, I train, I got to work fulltime, I come home, and I train.  So my day starts about six and its ends around eleven o’clock at night.  Sometimes, when I’m leaving, my kids cry because they want to hang out.  And I’m just hoping that it picks up to where I don’t have to work and I can just fight full-time.  But that’s probably the hardest part, being away from all them.  It kinda sucks.

JT:  Tell us about your family life.

DC:   I have an 18-month old and a two and a half-month old.  Both boys.  I can’t handle having no girls. My old lady has five sisters or something like that.  It’s insane!  But my old lady is so supportive, I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.  She’s real responsible, loyal, and good-looking.  Maybe I’ll have three or four more [kids].  I’m pretty good at it, so I might as well stick with it.

JT:  When did you first watching MMA, as a fan?

DC:   Didn’t watch it very much.  I remember the first UFC happened.  I didn’t see it.  One of my stepdad’s friends brought over a tape and I saw 30 seconds of some guy getting elbowed in the head.  I went “oh my gosh, are you kidding me?”  I was young.  Then I just put it to the back burner, never saw fighting again.  I met Dave, still didn’t watch fighting.  Started training jiu-jitsu, still didn’t watch fighting much until about six months before I started fighting.

JT:  So you’ve only been watching it on TV for about two years or so.

DC:   Yeah.  Like when you start talking about the old shows, there’s people that I don’t really know.  Everyone’s bringing people’s names up and I had no idea who they were.  Now I gotta pay close attention because I might be fighting some people some day.

JT:  Let’s switch gears here and talk about your artwork.

DC:   I do plan on covering myself.  No more on the face, because it really hurts the kind of job you can have.  Almost all my work is Celtic and Viking work.  The one on my eyebrows: “Valhalla Bound.”  Valhalla is this belief where the Vikings, when they would die in battle, they would go to Odin’s Valhalla.  And there’s a symbol on each side – one stands for life, one stands for death.

A good friend of mine, Jeremy Huckabee, died in a car accident, and that was his saying.  And I have it tattooed on my face.  A good friend of mine, Mark, had it tattooed on the back of his head, and Jeremy’s wife has it tattooed on the back of her arms.  I think I got it a week after he died.

I got “Hooligan” tattooed across my throat.  Before I had my kid, I was kinda a knucklehead.  Everything else is pretty much all Celtic and Viking. I’m not a big fan of tribal style.  But I wanted to get something meaningful.  Like the big one on my chest is a Thor’s hammer.  And the ones on my shoulders is for Odin the Viking God.  I have Vikings on my arm and Viking boats and stuff.

Tattoos don’t make you tough.  Sure, there’s a lot of guys covered in tattoos who’ll stab you, but tattoos don’t make you tough like people think.  I don’t have tattoos because I want people to think I’m tough.  And most people who are covered in tattoos don’t know how to fight.  They get tattoos because they don’t want to get in fights, and sometimes it intimidates people away.  But if you watch the heavily-tattooed people specifically, most of the time, they’re the ones getting their ass beat.  

JT:  I’m always curious to hear from fighters why they got into the sport.  Do you ever look back and contemplate how far you’ve come and what drove you to fighting?

DC:   When I was a kid, I was always going to punk rock shows, and I really thought I was tough.  But really, I was just big, fat, and dumb.  I had no idea.  And maybe being dumb helped me think I would be tougher, but ever since I really started training, I haven’t been in a street fight.  Which has been about four years.  I haven’t thrown fists with anybody on the street for that long.  And now I never go out anyhow.  Because every drunk guy wants to fight the guy with tattoos.  And I’m not that small of a guy, so everybody wants to fight me.  So I don’t really go out much for that.

But I do look back and I say “man, I’m lucky I never really got hurt too bad.”  Because I did not know how to fight.  And I still have a long way to go now, but back then, I REALLY didn’t know how to fight.  I look back and say “wow, I was an idiot.  I got lucky.  Thank God I never came across anybody who knew what the hell they were doing. ”

JT:  What would you say is your best and worst memory of your career so far?

DC:   The first fight is the most emotional fight ever.  Luckily, I won.  I had people coming up to me, taking my picture, and shaking my hand for the next hour.  That was insane.  I’m so happy I never have to do my first fight again, because I was so nervous.  I just wanted to get it over with.  There was just so much emotion in that.

My worst one was when I fought the guy from Holland [Noufel Amellouk] from last December.  He punched the hell out of me.  Busted my nose in the first round, and I got gassed.  And that is the worst feeling in the world, to get gassed.  I think it had something to do with all the blood going down my throat [after the nose was broken].  We went all the way to a decision, and I ended up winning, but that was one of my tougher fights.

JT:  What’s your downtime like?

DC:   There’s not much of it. I work six days a week.  We (the family) just hang out; take the kids to the park.  My oldest one is walking and somewhat talking.  He’s happy as long as he’s outside and someone’s playing with him.  We’re trying to buy a house, so a lot of times, we’re shopping for a house.  Once in awhile, I go out and see my buddy’s band, Brassic, play.  But really, I have a good time just hanging out with the family.  I don’t need to go to the bars.  I don’t drink.

JT:  Did you never drink, or did you give it up for family or fighting?

DC:   I drank a lot when I was a kid, up until I turned 21.  And since I’ve been training a lot, I’ve had a lot of good influences.  John [Munoz] said “hey man, there’s no point in doing that.”  He was kinda a big role model for me, and John still gives me a lot of good advice.  I look up to him and this old man Jeff, and my buddy Matt.  They gave me a lot of good advice.

Now, I probably drink once a year. I’m getting older now.  I’ve never done a drug in my entire life, and I’ve never been arrested, contrary to what everybody thinks.  I know I look like a convict-tweeker-dopehead, but I’ve never done any of them.

JT:  How do you deal with that dichotomy?  With all the tattoos, you throw a certain image that everyone stereotypes when they see you walking down the street.  But you’ve got this otherwise clean family life. You’ve [gotten tattoos] voluntarily, so did you just accept that this is the price you’ve paid for it?  Or is there anything more to it?

DC:   Well, the cops love me.  Man, they’ll pull me over.  Luckily, it hasn’t happened with my family in the car, because that’s real embarrassing.  Once, they pulled me over and had me half-naked, taking pictures of all my tattoos.

And I know a lot of people decide “man, this guy looks just like some prison white supremacy prick.”  I know some people think that and I’m like “whoa, that’s not how it is. I just have a bunch of tattoos.”  I’ve got a Mexican manager; I’ve got an Afghan trainer.  I just ended up being covered with tattoos.  And once people get to meet me, they’re like “oh, shit, this guys pretty funny.  Not just funny-looking, he’s actually funny.”

That’s why a lot of people support me.  People are really nice to me, but I do get the “man, this guy looks like a dickhead.  He thinks he’s a badass.”  No, I don’t think I’m badass.  There’s a lot of people out there I know who would kick my ass, but I’m working on getting better [laughs].

JT:  Tell us about your sponsors.  Who are they and why should the fans know them?

DC:  I just picked up by Toe-To-Toe clothing.  My good friend Jeremy from Focus Victory hooked me up.  Jeremy’s been with me since my very first fight.  Focus Victory has helped me out with tournaments and everything.  309 helps me out.  Shameless Ink out of Riverside – they help me out a lot.  C&D Pumping, JTS Insurance.  There’s so many; Nutrishop Norco, Sub Q tattoo, my family, everyone at Pinnacle Jiu-Jitsu –  Matt Curl, Jeff Stiller, Ken Knapp, Ryan Mundy, Chad Davis, John Munoz, and the Millennia Fight Team.

I also want to thank San Manuel for letting me fight, because they almost cancelled my fight last time.  They got me confused with Melvin Costa. [Editor’s Note:  At a King of the Cage event on October, 7th, 2007, at Soboba Casino, Dave Cryer lost to Roch Worthy.  After the match, fans that were mistakenly identified as Dave Cryer’s fans racially harassed Worthy as he walked backstage.  They were later identified as fans of Melvin Costa, who was scheduled immediately after the Cryer-Worthy fight.] When I went to San Manuel, I explained the situation [that Dave’s ringside seat fans got in a bar fight the night before and missed the event altogether].  She said “well, if any of your fans say anything racial, we’re gonna pull the fight.”  I said “yeah, that’s not a problem.”

But I understand where they’re coming from, because you don’t want a bunch of fights [in the crowd].  Then nobody’s gonna show back up.  You don’t want a rough crowd.  The sport’s evolved for that too much anyway.  At least they weren’t there to see me get knocked out [laughs].

JT:  What are your long-term goals, with fighting or without fighting?

DC:  I think I’ve got about 10 to 12 years left.  I love fighting.  As much as I can.  I’ve got a good manager, a good team.  John takes care of me.  If I’m ever doing something wrong, he’ll let me know.  Same with my team.  If I start getting 35 and I’m getting my ass kicked all the time, they’re going to let me know “this is a good time to retire.”

My main dream is that I’d love to fight in a King of the Cage event in Japan.  I wish someday King of the Cage would go to Japan, and I’d love to fight over there.  The Japanese are the greatest fans.  They love martial arts, and I think they’d get a kick out of me.

Terry’s helped me out.  He’s been loyal to me and I’m not going anywhere.  King of the Cage is my home.

Dave Cryer steps in the cage against Lucas Taber at King of the Cage: Immortal, on February 26th, at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highlands, CA.

Verbal Sparring: Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela (King of the Cage Junior Welterweight Champion)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , , , on January 26, 2009 by jaytan716

Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela is a paradox of a fighter.  He doesn’t like his nickname, despite that 1) he’s known by that name almost as much as his own name and 2) it describes a style of fighting he’s trained in all his life.  His team, Millennia MMA, is particularly recognized for their jiu-jitsu game, and he’s won at least half of his victories by submission, but he’ll be the first to acknowledge that he prefers a stand-up slugfest.  And he’s the champion of a weight class above the one he’s fought at throughout his career.

But few names are more synonymous with King of the Cage than “Joe Boxer.”  After a stuttered MMA start in 2003, Valenzuela went undefeated from 2006 to mid-2007.  His feud with Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett was already KOTC’s equivalent to the Ortiz-Shamrock legacy, and when both he and “the Horse” were called up to EliteXC, their bitter rivalry continued on a national stage.  In August 2007, Valenzuela beat Krazy Horse by submission from punches, and one year later, he would become the King of the Cage Junior Welterweight championship.

In between training sessions for his upcoming title defense, I caught up with “Joe Boxer” and got his thoughts on his infamous rivalry, what it means to win championship gold, and the key to giving fans a good fight.

JT:  Let’s start with your background and how you got involved with MMA.

VV:  I grew up in Covina, CA.  I’ve been boxing pretty much since I was probably around eight or nine years old, when I started training with my uncles.  They used to box, so they would teach me how to throw a punch and stuff. . . I married my high school sweetheart, had a couple of kids, worked, and stopped fighting for a little bit.  You know how that goes.

I got back into boxing in my early 20’s.  Just amateur stuff, because I liked to fight.  I didn’t think I was going to turn professional or anything.  I just liked training and stuff.

JT:  Did you go pro with boxing?  Win any championships?

VV:  I won a Golden Gloves by a walkover one year.  There were no opponents in my weight for that one.  I was supposed to go to Colorado for the finals, to try to get into the Olympics, but I never made it there, only because of work and stuff.  I had a mortgage payment and I had a family to take care of.  I was a runner-up in another Golden Gloves tournament.  I turned pro when I was 30 years old.  I tried it out and went 0-2 as a professional; only because I couldn’t really train the way a professional boxer has to train in a fight.  I was working 70-80 hours a week and trying to box and it just wasn’t working out for me.  So I retired.

A buddy of mine – my son used to play baseball with his son – said he knew some guys that grappled and did MMA.  And because he knew I boxed, he wanted to know if I was interested in checking that part of fighting out.  I was interested from watching Royce Gracie do his thing.  I said “yeah man, I would love to learn how to grapple.”  So that’s what got me turned on to Millennia MMA.

We were Millennia Jiu-Jitsu, back when it was a straight jiu-jitsu academy then.  I started training there back in 2002.  And everybody there was grapplers and wrestlers.  I was the only boxer coming in there.  That’s how I got my nickname “Joe Boxer.”  Nobody knew my name, but I was the only boxer in the gym. [Some guy said] “I guess his name is Joe” so they just started calling me “Joe Boxer.”

JT:  That’s one of the more unique ways to get a nickname.

VV:  Yeah, they still clown me about it.  ‘Cuz I hate the nickname.  I told them I didn’t like it, so after that, it was over.  They ran with it and that was my name.  I train with a bunch of clowns.

JT:  You should have known that was going to be the final nail in the coffin.  If you could pick a nickname, is there another name you would want?

VV:   I used to be called One-Punch back in the day, in high school, when I did street fighting.  One punch and I would knock people out.  I wouldn’t mind having that nickname now, but “Joe Boxer” has stuck, so I just roll with it.

JT:  You talked a bit about the street fighting.  I always like to ask fighters if there was anything in particular of their upbringing that they think led them to MMA. Obviously, with you, there was the boxing and the adrenaline rush of competing.

VV:  Honestly, I’ve been fighting since kindergarten.  My first fight was in kindergarten, over a girl.  I don’t even know the guy’s name, but I remember that he liked the girl and I was sitting next to her and he wanted my seat or whatever.  One thing led to another, we got into a fight, and I beat him up.

Ever since then, I guess I had a bulls-eye on me, because guys are always trying to pick fights with me.  I’ve never started a fight in my life.  If we had YouTube back in my day, I’d be Kimbo Slice in the 80’s.

I didn’t even plan on fighting.  I just wanted to learn how to grapple, actually.  I was infatuated by that stuff.  The guy at the gym actually talked me into doing a King of the Cage fight when I fought Shad Smith back in 2003.  I was basically just a boxer fighting Shad Smith, and I almost beat the guy.

JT:  What do you remember of that first fight, as you prepared for it and when you were in there?

VV:  At Millennia, we had a downstairs area we called “The Dungeon,” where all the fighters practiced.  Since I was a boxer, all the fighters wanted to get ready for the fight, they wanted me to go down there and spar with them all the time.  So I never really got a chance to grapple for the first six to eight months.  I was always down with the guys, getting them ready for their fights.

I was doing pretty well sparring with the guys, beating everybody up, dropping people with body shots and hurting people with hooks and stuff.  One of the co-owners from Millennia says “Terry Trebilcock is looking for an opponent to fight Shad Smith.”  I said “hell now, I’m not even in this to be a cage fighter.  I’m just a retired boxer who wanted to learn how to grapple.”  I wasn’t even expecting to be a fighter.  I just wanted to learn a little bit of jiu-jitsu.  Just in case I got into a fight on the street or something.  If somebody took me down, I’d know how to ground fight a little bit.  So he hit me up and I told him “no, I’m not a fighter.”  They kept pushing it, saying “we think you can beat this guy.  He’s a pretty well-known name.”  I slept on it a couple of days, came back, and said “let’s do it.”

All I basically did was box for that fight.  I tried to learn how to sprawl a little bit.  And the guy there told me that Shad Smith is a stand-up fighter.  “He’s not gonna take you down or anything.”  And I’m like “cool, we’re gonna fight.”

And even the rules were changed for that fight.  It was a no-submissions match.  He wouldn’t fight me unless submissions were thrown out.  So we fight and the next thing you know, I crack him a few times and hurt him.  I almost knocked him out, and he turns into an Olympic wrestler.  I lost that fight on a decision from a takedown.  If you watch the fight, you hear the commentators saying “we’ve never seen Shad take anybody down.  This is the first time” and blah blah blah.  Well, what’s he doing taking me down in the first place?  It was his idea for no submissions, and the next thing you know, he’s taking me down.  I didn’t really get it.

JT:  So he wanted to prohibit the submission skills that you hadn’t really had a chance to develop at that point?

VV:  I didn’t even have any submission skills yet, but he didn’t know that.  I guess he knew Millennia, so he probably thought that I had some pretty good submissions.  Which I didn’t [laughs].  He probably would have won if it was a submission fight.

JT:  For the fans who don’t know, talk a little bit about Millennia MMA.

It’s awesome, man.  All the coaches, and the fighters, and students – it’s like a big family there.  I can’t say enough about them.  They brought me from being retired and got me a belt around my waist.  They molded me into a champion.  You’ve got Romie Arum, Javier Vasquez, and Betiss Mansouri.  Chad Davis helps me out a lot.  All my training partners.  There are so many people there.  I’m going on seven years with them now.  If it wasn’t for those guys, I don’t know where I would be.  I would be just working and nobody would know who I was.

JT:  And now you’re a champion and at the top of your game.

VV:  And that’s all because of those guys.  They’re the ones that talked me into fighting.  They saw something in me.

I’m looking at this fight to keep my belt.  The guy’s coming into my backyard. He’s from New Mexico.  This is my stomping grounds, bro.  This whole West Coast right here. . . I was knocking people out before the guy was even born; you know what I’m sayin’?  If he thinks he’s gonna come into my backyard and take my belt, then he’s got another thing coming.  It’s gonna be a dogfight.  I’m not gonna lay down for nobody.

Especially in that this is my hometown right here.  And if he thinks [because] he’s from New Mexico, New Mexico this and New Mexico that, he’s got another thing coming.  Because my whole family is from New Mexico, so you’ve got nothin’ on me.

JT:  You pretty much got both sides covered.

VV:  I got both sides covered.  The guy says he’ll stand and bang with anybody and then he fights my guy, Will Sriyapai, and ends up taking him down and ground-and-pounding him.  Don’t tell the world you’ll stand and bang and then go in there and shoot and take the guy down. . . To me, if you shoot and take a guy down and ground-and-pound him, that’s not a fight.  People want to see guys standing up.  They want to see guys punching each other.  They don’t want to see guys shoot, tackle, and watch guys roll around on the ground.  It’s boring.  I mean I’m an MMA fan my damn self, but when I see guys do that, it’s boring to me.  I wanna change the channel.

JT:  What’s the toughest part of fighting for you?  Is it the preparation?  The mental part?  The rules from one state to another?

VV:  It’s just the preparation.  Getting ready for the fight sucks, bro.  That’s where you get injured.  You get up every day and go to the gym, and bust your ass for four, five hours.  It’s tough, but that’s a part of being a fighter, dude.  The day of the fight, I don’t get nervous or nothing.  I just can’t wait to get in there and do my thing.  It’s like going to an amusement park for me.  I love the adrenaline.  Like I said, I came out of the womb to fight.  I’ve been fighting since I was a kid.  My ancestors must have been some great gladiators down the line.  Some good stock, I guess.

JT:  Some Aztec and Inca warrior blood going on there.

VV:  Sometime like that.  I feel like I was born to fight.  I’m almost 40 years old and I’m still hanging with these younger cats, you know what I mean?  I’m fighting a guy 14 years younger than me next month.  And it’s like I said – to me, it’s like a man fighting a child.  To me, a child can’t beat a man; you know what I’m saying?  I’m almost old enough to be his pops.  And I’m old school.  I can’t see a kid whoopin’ me.  Can’t see it.

JT:  Let’s step back in time a bit.  Your first match with Krazy Horse was your second fight.  It led to a scheduled match in EliteXC, which didn’t happen.  You finally got your match and revenge on a ShoXC event in August 2007.  Now that that whole thing is a year and a half in the past, do you have any new thoughts on it?

VV:  Honestly, as soon as he gets out of jail, I’m ready to get back in there with him.   You guys don’t see it, but behind the scenes, the guy has the biggest mouth.  I mean he talks so much crap.   “Hate” is a bad word, I really don’t hate anybody, but I really can’t stand this guy.  He gets under your skin.  He talks a lot of stuff.  If you go on YouTube and you punch in ‘Krazy Horse,’ he’s got a bunch of stuff talking about my kids, talking about how he’s gonna beat my ass.  The guy doesn’t shut up.

When we fought in Mississippi, we stayed at the same hotel, and he had camera crews following him around like he was a big superstar.  When we would pass each other in the lobby, he would just talk so much shit.  You know how ghetto the guy is.  Just imagine him in your ear for two or three days talking about how he was going to whip you, how you’re too old for him, how he was gonna kick the senior citizen’s butt.  I just can’t stand the guy.  Hopefully, when he gets out of jail, I can whip his ass one more time for everybody.

JT:  Seems like you just wanna make that part of your career.  Every time he comes up, knock him down again.

VV:  The guy’s an idiot.  They guy’s got so much potential.  He’s making a lot of money fighting, but . . . the guy’s actually got talent.  If he trained and got into a good school, he’s probably be pretty damn good.

And EliteXC was paying him so much money.  Same thing with Kimbo.  He’s a smaller version of Kimbo Slice, I’d say.  Kimbo was another guy they spent all this money on and he gets knocked out in what, 14 seconds?   I’m over here training my ass off every day doing this and doing that and I’m not making that money.  It’s kinda discouraging.

JT:  Let’s talk about personal triumphs.  You won the King of the Cage Junior Welterweight championship.  You had a big smile on your face.  That must have meant a huge deal to you, to achieve that kind of championship status.

VV:  It’s like going to college and getting your Master’s degree.  I’ve been fighting for so long.  Since I was a kid, I’ve always thought I could be a champion.  I thought it was going to be boxing, but it happened to be MMA.    This sport gave me an outlet, another option to be a champion.  I’m grateful to MMA bro.  I got my Master’s degree finally.  You go to school for so many years, and I’ve finally got it.

JT:  You got that at 160 lbs.  Most of your career, you’ve been fighting at 155 lbs.  Would you feel comfortable going down to 155 lbs. and chasing after that title or would you rather focus on defending?

VV:  That’s another thing I’ve been thinking about.  I just jumped into this 160 lb. weight class because EliteXC didn’t have a 155 lb. weight class.  But no, 155 lbs. is my weight.  That’s the weight I like to fight at.

I just jumped into this King of the Cage 160 lb. weight class because it was made to order for me.  Joe Camacho was the champion.  I’d trained with him a few times and I knew I could beat him.  Terry asked me if I wanted to fight and I’m like “let’s do it.”

Actually, after this defense, I’d most definitely want to jump back into my more comfortable weight class, which is 155 lbs.  Because the guys that are coming down to 160 lbs. now are welterweights that are coming down from 170 lbs. to cut another 10 pounds to come in at 160 lbs.  If I stay at 160 lbs., I’m gonna be fighting guys that are a lot bigger than me still.  I think at 155 lbs., I’ll be fighting guys that are my size, or a little smaller than me, but I’ll have the advantage, you know?  After this defense, I’m definitely coming after the 155 lbs. champ.  That’s my goal.

JT:  The current champ [KOTC Lightweight champion] is Rory McDonald.  Do you know anything about him?

VV:  I don’t know, but I heard he’s like a 19-year old kid.  So it’s like beating up my son.  I got an 18-year old son.

JT:  You’ll use him as a training partner?

VV:  Probably.  He needs to get his ass kicked.  [Laughs].  But that 155 lb. belt, that’s actually another goal of mine.  So let’s just see how this fight turns out, but 155 lb. weight class is a legitimate weight class.  I’m pretty sure they made the 160 lb. weight class for Nick Diaz, because they had all their plans with Nick Diaz and EliteXC.  He couldn’t cut to 155, so I’m pretty sure they made that 160 lb. weight class because they thought Nick Diaz was going to be the next superstar.  And then KJ Noons too.  He couldn’t cut to 155, but he’s their 160 lb. champ.  You know what I mean.

JT:  What would you say is your best and worst memory in your career?

VV:  Losing in 47 seconds to Edson Berto on the Strikeforce card (“Strikeforce / EliteXC:  Shamrock vs. Baroni”) up in San Jose.  That was the first fight of that main event and I got heel hooked in 47 seconds.   That was the worst. . . I felt like retiring right after that fight.

I was supposed to fight Krazy Horse that night and he went to jail again.  [EliteXC] was supposed to bail him out, so the whole time I was out there in San Jose, I would hear every hour, half-hour “oh yeah, Krazy Horse is getting bailed out.  You’re gonna be fighting Krazy Horse . . . oh no, you’re not.  You’re gonna fight such-and-such.”  So I didn’t know who I was going to be fighting until that day.

I’m not making any excuses, but I really didn’t do any grappling for that fight.  It was all just basically stand-up.  Because when you fight Krazy Horse, you’re not gonna really grapple.  It’s just throwing punches as hard as you can and it’s basically a street fight.  So I did a lot of sparring, a lot of boxing for that fight, and I go in and fight a guy that, I guess his best move is an ankle lock.  So I got caught, bro.  Shit happens.  But that was pretty much the worst part of my career.

JT:  At first, I would assume that your best memory is winning the title, but the way I hear you talking, maybe it’s also knocking Krazy Horse out.

VV:  Yeah, they both pretty much running neck-and-neck.  I gotta say winning the belt.  I mean that’s why I got into the sport – to be a champion.  I’ve fulfilled my dream there.

JT:  Who are some of your favorite fighters or the best matches that you’ve ever seen?

VV:  I like the stand-up fighters.  I like the guys that just stand-up and just bang.  I’m a Wanderlei Silva fan.  Just the way he fights; he’s an animal.  He doesn’t take a backward stance.  He comes at you.  He tries to kill you with every shot.  I like BJ Penn.  He’s one of the best, I gotta say.  Anderson Silva’s another one.  Guys like that.

But yeah, in this sport, people are evolving, dude.  You can’t just go out there and think you’re a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and you’re gonna go out there and tap everybody.  Guys that are well-rounded in every aspect of the game. . . It’s tough now.  Like I said, I thought I could just go out there and punch people out, but these guys – they know they’re fighting me, they’re working on their wrestling, their grappling, they’re working on tying my punches up.  I gotta extend my game now.  Next fight, you might see me throw some kicks, bro.  You never know.

JT:  What do you like to do in the downtime, when you’re trying to get away from fighting or training?

VV:  Nothing, really.  If I’m not fighting, I’m working.  I basically just hang out, chill, and watch TV.  I got pretty much a boring life.  I’m basically a loner.  Which ain’t bad; I mean, no stress, man.

JT:  Besides the Horse, is there anybody else you’d like to put your skills to the test with?

VV:  I’d like to fight Nick Diaz before I retire.  Or KJ Noons.  Guys like that.  I think KJ and I would be a good fight, because we’re both boxers.  We both have boxing backgrounds.  I think it would be an exciting fight for the fans.  Nick Diaz the same thing.  He likes to stand and please the crowd too, so I think that would be an exciting fight also.  But actually, before I retire, I would like to fight some of the best of the best.

JT:  You’d go in there with BJ?

VV:  If the money was right, you better believe I would!

JT:  How about if the money was wrong?

VV:  I’d probably fight him just to say I fought him.  When I was older, I could say “hey, I fought that guy.”  It would be an honor to fight that guy.  Probably wouldn’t last a few rounds, but it would be spectacular.

JT:  Who are some of your sponsors and why should the fans know them?

VV:  I got MaxMuscle here in Rancho Cucamonga that helps me out with all my supplements, keeping me young.  I got Warrior Wear taking care of all my fight gear, my shorts and stuff like that.  I got AA Glass & Mirrors.  He’s my uncle, his name is Armando.  He gives me money monthly to help me live and stuff, to train.   I got Chronic Cantina, over in Upland.  It’s a nice little place to go chill.

Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela defends his KOTC Jr. Welterweight title for the first time on February 26th, at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highlands, CA.