Archive for Terry Trebilcock

Verbal Sparring: Chance Williams (King of the Cage)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , , on December 9, 2008 by jaytan716

What’s in a name?  For Chance Williams, aka “King of the Streets,” his origins are.  Because like many MMA fighters, Williams is a former street brawler who saw mixed martial arts as a legitimate use for his natural fighting ability.  And like most of those same fighters, Williams’ goals are simple enough. He wants to earn enough money to provide for his family – for his father to pursue his poker prowess, for his ex-Marine grandfather to retire and watch Ohio football, to support his sister and mother, and for him to train harder.

When I spoke with Chance recently, he was not at a loss for words, especially concerning his upcoming rematch for the King of the Cage Super Heavyweight championship on December 11th.

Where are you training these days?

I got my own personal gym outside of Globe, AZ.  It’s like 40′ by 40′.  I’ve got five or six guys that come and we train together.  And I’ve got my own trainers that come in to help me.  When I’m down in the valley, because I work in Mesa (AZ), I’ll hit LA Fitness and run my ass off on a Friday and Saturday.  Then do shadowboxing and stairs and the bike.  I’ll hit a little bit of the weighs while I’m down here, but while I’m up in Globe, I’m doing the grappling and the mitts and sparring, and the whole nine yards.

Let’s start at the top here.  Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into MMA?

I got into MMA about four or five years ago.  At that time I was hustling on the streets.  I wasn’t no gangster, or no bully or nothing.  I just used to do things that people shouldn’t do.  Or, at least, that I shouldn’t do.  But I don’t want to get into that.  That ain’t me no more.

I was in Globe.  King of the Cage was coming to do a show.  I was playing pool and Sean Ramage walked up to me and he said “I heard you’re a fighter around here.”  Now I’ve been fighting all my life.  Before I fought, I used to fight in backyards in Tucson.  But I try to be as humble as possible, so I’m like “nah, wrong guy.”  A little while later, Ted Williams comes over and says the same thing.  I went “well, kinda fight a little bit.”  He says “would you be interested in a fight?”  I said “hey man, money talks.”

So I showed up out there at the fights, and I was with my family.  He was like “hey, you wanna fight tonight?”  I said “I don’t know.”  He said “well, I’ll give you $800.” I said “shit, money in the bank!  Let’s get down.”

Little did I know that I was fighting Edwin Dewees.  UFC veteran, he’s fought Rich Franklin, he’s had over 50 fights or something.

They were making you earn your money that night.

Yeah.  So I went out and fought.  I flew across the cage, hit him with a couple good shots.  At that time, my wind wasn’t there, I wasn’t training.  I was just a street fighter.  I took him down, gave him my back, and he rear-nakeded me.  I was like “oh, okay.”  Which was fine with me at the time, because I still got paid.  It was something that was just fun.

That answers one of the questions I try to ask – about how somebody’s’ upbringing affected their decision to go into fighting.  It sounds like it was very clear-cut for you.  It’s something for you to focus your energy on and get paid for it.

I was in the hustle game, I was on the grind.  I would sleep three hours and be up for twenty. When I got introduced to fighting, I saw a way out.  So I got paid, I was like “Wow.  I was in there for a minute and a half.   I lost, but I still got $800.”  I thought to myself “What if I won?  What if I could keep winning?  What if I was the baddest man alive?  What if I could do it?” I talked to my dad, a couple of my uncles, my sister.  She’s a big influence in my life.  She said “you need to do something better [than hustling].”

Not only that, but if I can be successful and take care of my family, anybody that needs help, that’s what I want to do.  I’ve made a little money; I haven’t made the big change yet, but I want to.  I’m not an average fighter, man.  I’m still waiting for the world to see that.

I know you probably hear that a lot.  I know everybody says “I’m the best.” I’m not the best, but I’m a freakin’ fighter man.  I get down.  You want to box, you want to throw down, you want to grapple?  Let’s do it.

What school did you go to?

I wrestled in Globe High School, in Arizona.  Then I moved my senior year, but mostly Globe High School.

And then in college and the All-American days?

I played for Pima Community College.  I had rides to ASU, Ohio State, U of A, Kent State, Colorado.  I had these rides, but I just couldn’t get the grades.  When I was in high school, I had the girls take care of my homework.  I remember a distinct time in my senior year when I did my work.  I did the damn report, and the teacher handed it back to me.  She said “this isn’t your handwriting.”  And I really did it!

Because she was used to seeing the girl’s handwriting.

Yeah.  I had to get my girlfriend at the time to rewrite it and hand it back in.  I’m like, you gotta be kidding me.

That shit comes back to bite you dude.

It’s the little things that let us learn.

In high school, my senior year, when I was 17, I found my Grandpa dead.  He was 49 years old.  Changed my life tremendously.

I was at school one day.  I went to lunch.  I had about 4 friends with me.  And my house was right by the school.  I drove by my house, and I saw my grandfather’s truck.  I was gonna pull over, but I don’t want to show up with my homeboys and all that.  So I took off and we got something to eat somewhere else.  I came home at 2:30 after I dropped my girl off, walked in the back door and he was laying there dead.  I’ve never been scared like that in my life.  I tried to do everything I could.  They said he died between 12:30 when I drove by and 2:30 when I found him.  It’s just like “why didn’t I stop?  Why didn’t I just pull over and say “what’s going on?”

Obviously, you couldn’t have known any better.

Oh yeah, of course not.  But for a long time, I lived with regrets.  I fight for him, I fight for my Grandma, I fight for my Mom, I fight for my Dad, my uncles, my sister, who overcame life in general.  And I just want to show them “you know what, I can get you guys something too. ” I want to give them the best life possible.  That’s why I do the things that I do.

My Momma says “life every day like it’s your last.”  It’s the Word of God.  If I could take one thing back in this world, I’d take everything my sister’s been through and put it on myself.  She has a good life now, but she’s been through some things.  She’s the strongest woman in the world.  As strong as I am, I could never walk in her shoes.

Do you go to her for advice a lot?

Oh yeah.  If I need something, if it’s down to the nitty-gritty and stuff, if there’s one person I can talk to, it’s her.  And the cool thing about it, she won’t sugarcoat it.  She won’t tell me what I want to hear, she’ll tell me what I need to hear.  Her name’s Memory.

Has she been to any of your fights?

She’s been to a couple, yeah.  But she won’t go see me fight no more.  She doesn’t want to see me hurt nobody.

Tell us a little about how you feel about your last match with Mike Bourke, and how you’re approaching this match.

First off, I don’t doubt any fighter in the world.  But I see Mike Bourke and I’m like that show on the NFL Channel – “C’mon, man!”

I’ve been hit in the back of the head 50 times.  I hit him once!  If you see the fight, we went out and exchanged.  He hit me good; he hit me with a nice right hook.  And I was gonna clinch him.  So when I started running him towards the cage, he fell down.  He cheesed up, like a cheese puff.  I was like “you gotta be kidding me, bro.”  But I’m like “alright, I’ll take it.”

So I was throwing the elbows, throwing the hammerfists, throwing the regular punches.  I throw an elbow and I throw another backfist, and he was looking right at me when I threw the backfist.  And right when I throw the backfist and he turns his head, and I hit him in the back of his head.  What am I supposed to do?  The dude moved his face!  I can’t tell you what he’s gonna do with his head.  I’m just throwing the damn punch.   “Hey yo, stop the fight”  “Alright, stop the fight and give him a five-minute break, and let’s get down.”  I’m still ready to fight.  It’s like 40 seconds into the fight.

If I’m in Mike Bourke’s position at that point, I get hit in the back of my head, I take my five minutes.  Get ready, get my composure, go win this title.  From my position, I was like “well, hey, I hit him in the back of his head.   You better get ready.  He’s gonna get his wind back, and we’re gonna get down. And I’m gonna do my thing.”  Then they say the fight’s been called.  I’m like “you gotta be shittin’ me.”

That’s a crazy trip, because you’ve got this opportunity to win the title. . .

He didn’t want to fight from the get-go.  I’m telling you the truth.  I took the fight on seven days notice.  They got me out there with three days to get my medicals up.  I’m like “yeah, I’m taking the fight.  Let’s get down.”  At that fight, I was like 332.  I came in heavy.  He was at like 260-something.  He used to be like 315 or something, right?  He gets up there and we’re like “you wanna get the fight, you gotta get over 265.  Drink something, eat something.  You wanna fight, let’s fight.”  He’s like 262.  He’s like “I don’t know if we’re gonna fight man, but if not, maybe next time you can lose the weight or something.”

God bless the guy, but if you’re not there to get down, don’t get down.  Check it out; we train for fighting, right?  It doesn’t matter who we fight, where we fight, how we fight.  Just fight.

That really bummed me out man.  I came home and thought “why was I overzealous?  Why was I overanxious to hit?  ‘Cuz I was really taking my time.  Why did I throw that one punch?   I had dreams about it for a month.  Because its one punch.  You’re one punch away from losing the match; you’re one punch away from winning it.  Anything, you’re one punch away.  It was that one punch that ruined me getting that title that night.  I should have walked out of that darn ring with that title on my waist.  That’s what’s gonna happen on the 11th.  I’m telling you.

Yeah, you’re gonna have another shot coming up soon, so you’re one punch away from getting the title again.

I’m gonna handle business. That’s all that matters, you know that I mean.  I’m gonna do my thing and keep it in God’s hands after that. I’m gonna go in there as a soldier and try to knock his block off.  If he gets me, cool.  God bless you, Mike Bourke.  Don’t let me get you first.

What’s the hardest part of fighting for you?

Finding people that want to fight.  I’m always ready to fight.  My thing is that if I can’t pay my doctor’s bill with it, then I’m not going to do it.  If I break my hand, I’m out for three months or something – out of work and stuff like that, I can’t do it.  As long as you can pay for my doctor’s bill, I’m great.  No matter where you go, you’re not going to see a doctor for under fifteen hundred bucks.  The training?   It’s hard, but just do it.  Just gotta roll with the punches, man.  That’s life, man.

Tell me about your sponsors.  Who are the guys that help Chance Williams and why?

Paul Corso and Mid-State Pipe & Supply.  We call him “Dupper.”  That guy has helped me out so much when it comes to fighting and sponsorships, it’s not even funny.  He’s like three sponsors.  I owe him a lot.  Booyaa Fight Gear, they’re good people man.  Mike Romero’s a great guy.  They’ve given me clothes and stuff like that for the longest time.  Wicked Ways Tattoo.  Darren and Roseanne, they handle all my ink and if I need anything, all I gotta do is ask.  Sacrifice Fight Gear – I’ll be wearing their shorts out there.  I also just got Bloodsport MMA.  They’re based in Mesa, AZ.  The biggest MMA store in the U.S.  They sell all kinds of gear.

As a fan of MMA, who are some of your favorite fighters?

My favorite fighter by far is BJ Penn.  He’s got the swagger, the talk, and the culture.  He’s vocal, and he has the fighting to back it up. And also Mark Hunt, although he don’t fight [MMA] no more.

One of my best friends, his name is Quicc.  He’s 100% Samoan, so BJ and Mark Hunt are a couple of his favorite fighters, so we watch them a lot.  And Junior Assuncao.  He was supposed to fight out of Arizona; he’s out of Georgia now.  I hung out with him for awhile.  He made me feel like he was my own brother.  You know who else, man, is really out here, but nobody talks about him anymore?  Del Hawkins.  He’s got over 200 fights.

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

Worst memory is when I got that diabetes attack [during a match with Adam Padilla].  I hate that.  The worst thing about it was when I got that look on my Dad’s face.  He looked scared.  Him being so scared scared me.

Best memory?  They’re all good memories.  I love fighting.  Every fight is different.   Who doesn’t want to go in there and win another fight?  Who doesn’t want to try something different?  Who doesn’t want to win another title?  Who doesn’t want to fight on PPV, or in front of 10,000 people, or 5,000 people, screaming your name?

Fighting in general is a memory to me.  When I look back ten years from now, when I was an MMA athlete, and I was one of the best, everybody knows who I am, and people are saying “that dude was good.  That dude was one of the best.”  That’s going to be my memory!

What do you do away from fighting?  You play pool a lot, obviously.

I play pool like a muh’; I’m unbelievable.

I like fishing.  I like going out in the outdoors.  I like riding the quad.  I got a YFZ 450 I take out.  I got a nice custom chopper; I like to take that out once in awhile on the harsh.  I like playing poker sometimes.  Spending time with my sister and her husband.  He’s doing an Ironman pretty soon, so I do stuff with him.  I like spending time with my family, long walks on the beach [laughs].

The “King of the Streets” has a chance to become “King of the Cage” on December 11th, when he rematches against Mike “Rhino” Bourke for the KOTC Super Heavyweight championship.

Verbal Sparring: Mike “Joker” Guymon (King of the Cage)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2008 by jaytan716

If you grew up in Southern California, you had the privilege of growing up in one of the three hotbeds of MMA (Brazil and Japan being the other two).  Such is the case with Mike “Joker” Guymon, whose life in MMA offered him the unique chance to watch and observe the sport from several different perspectives as it grew.  Of course, some may write him off as the proverbial “fifth Beatle” of the TapouT crew, but Joker’s involvement with MMA started long before that chapter of his life.  And in the subsequent pages, Joker has reinvented himself – as a fighter, a trainer, and as a businessman.

In this interview, Joker paints the picture of a self-aware man at peace with his choices and happier because of them.  He’s optimistic about his future, self-effacing about his fight career, and very comfortable about having control of his own life.

JT:  Where did you first see MMA?

MG:  I was born in Newport Beach and raised in Irvine, CA.  Went to school all through there.  Woodridge High School is where I graduated from. Then went to Orange Coast.

I saw my first UFC on a PPV when I was in high school, and it was something that struck my fancy.  I was this all-star athlete, supposed to go play baseball and make all my money there.  I was like “man, these are the baddest people on the planet.”  Seeing is believing for me.  I knew that even the guy who lost, just to have the guts and courage to step in front of all those people and do that. . . When it first started out, all the qualifications that they were listing off . . . Taekwondo, “this guy’s a third degree black belt.”  It brought my curiosity up, and I always was competitive.  I finally got enough nuts myself to go in there and train.

And I was a stand-up guy.  My friends brought me into a studio in Southern California.  They said “hey, you’re good on your feet, but let’s see you roll with one of these Jiu-Jitsu guys.”  And I rolled around with one and holy crap, I mean literally, a kid, fifteen, sixteen years old, just rolled me up into a pretzel.  And I was hooked.

JT:  Had you done martial arts previously?  You talked about having a really athletic upbringing.

MG:  I did Taekwondo, and dabbled in a bit of kickboxing.  I was alright.  I wasn’t the best in the world or anything.  You can be as good as you want in Taekwondo, but that’s like getting gold in the Special Olympics.  You’re still retarded.

JT:  Did you start out as a fighter and then get hooked up with TapouT, or what were the early days of your MMA career?

MG:  Shoot, I was just training, loved training, loved doing the Jiu-Jitsu, loved doing the striking and putting it together and trying to improve.  One day, I was over at some fights in Long Beach.  No gloves, no rules kind of fights – how it was when it first started out.  Thugs.  We were just out there street fighting, basically, in a cage with a referee.  One guy dropped out, and they were like “hey man, you’re freaking killing everybody in class. Why don’t you try it?”  I just had something to prove to myself so I went in there and did it.  And I did pretty well, so I stuck with it.

I always said every fight would be my last, and I still say that to this day.  I’m like “oh yeah, one more fight and I’m done.”  And it’s going like that for ten years.  I guess I’ve turned it into something.

JT:  Every time you try to get out, they pull you back in.

MG:  Exactly.  And I keep getting thrown back in the mix.  The money sucked in the early years.  The money’s still not great unless you’re in the top three of an organization.  But, for the guy coming up, it’s definitely going up.  My fight purses are going up, my sponsorship money is going up, so it’s like “how can I step away?  In another year, I’ll be getting paid this much.”  It’s not about the money, but it sure does help.

JT:  And that’s not a bad thing either.  If you can make your living off of it.

MG:  As long as you’re going out there and trying to compete and win, and put on a good show, I think it’s totally okay.  But the guys who go out there just to get a paycheck, and don’t give it their all . . . “Oh, I’m just gonna give up or give up my arm or a choke.”  I don’t accept that.

JT:  Are there a lot of guys out there that still do that?

MG:  There are some guys that I don’t think should be fighting.  I don’t think they’re giving 100% or training 100%.  They’re not giving the fans what they deserve.  I’m not saying all the fighters are like that.  There’s a handful.

I think all the fighters coming up right now are just hungry and want to get in that light and prove themselves.   And I hate those guys.  Those little young bastards – I cannot get them to stop.  I’m like the slow guy in there.  These guys are going 100 miles an hour.  With all reckless abandon.  I’m in there freaking out.

Age doesn’t play a factor there.  It’s just what they’re giving the fans.  It could be a young guy in there, but [if he’s] not giving it his all and just getting a paycheck.  Or just to say “hey, I’m a fighter.”  I don’t like that.

JT:  What do you see as the bigger differences in the MMA world, from when you were a young guy coming up to where it is now?  The good and the bad.

MG:  I think there’s a lot more good now than there is bad.  There’s always going to be good and bad in anything you do.  The good in the early years is the raw aspect of the sport.  I mean, it was limited rules, no gloves.  That was cool, but at the same time, all it attracted was the thuggish side of it, and we got labeled one way, and in not a good way.  That’s the bad part I saw.

Nowadays, I just think it’s really positive.  The rules have made it better for the fans.  It’s increased the level of competition and made it mainstream.  UFC had a huge role in bringing it mainstream.  Some of the bad is that you get a Kimbo Slice situation.  Some of the fighters just fight to say “hey, I fight, and I’m cool because I fight.”

But I absolutely love the sport.  I love the fans. I love fighters.  I love training.  I just hate fighting [laughs] . . . it’s not fighting as a whole, but me fighting?  I’m a pussy.  I hate it.

JT:  That speaks to a question that I normally ask later in the interview, but we’ll just cut to it now:  What’s the toughest part of fighting for you?  It sounds like it’s the part about stepping in the cage.

MG:  I’m scared of my own shadow.  I do not like fighting.  Even now, supposed to be training for so long.  I’m still scared to fight.   But I think it’s more the mental . . . the pressures, the psychological stuff, the anticipation, the training.  A lot of the fighters out there, we all pretty much know what’s out there, as far as the wrestling, the Jiu-Jitsu, the striking.  It’s just a matter of who’s gonna apply it.

Just to give you an example, today, I’m riding before I start my Jiu-Jitsu, strikes, and wrestling workout.  I did a 40-mile bike ride, which took just over two hours, and the whole time I’m riding, the only thing I could think of is the guy I’m about to fight, what’s on the line, what’s gonna happen.  I don’t think about any of the stop lights, the cars, how tired and miserable I am.  I’m just thinking about what’s gonna happen.

JT:  Well, you’d better be thinking about stop lights and cars, because thinking about the match too much when you’re biking could cause a problem for you!

MG:  I hit a bus full of nuns, almost.

JT:  You opened up Joker’s Wild about a year ago.

MG:  About two years ago, my business partner Andre Julian and I opened it up.  I’d been teaching for about three years prior.  I started out at a place called Cardiofit, and then I moved to a place called Bodies in Motion.  The whole time I’m teaching there, a buddy of mine, whom I’ve known since forever, he’s like “man, we gotta open up our own spot.  This is the time to do it.”  So I said “alright, let’s do it.”

He’s a very good businessman and training partner.  We just jumped in and did it.  And I absolutely love it.  I’ve got a great gym to come into.  We teach everything there.  It’s a total pleasure.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d own my own business and be this business guy on the other end of the stick, and here it is.

JT:  Who are your training partners?  Who should be we watching for in the future?

MG:  My training partners are Mark Munoz and Mitch Mellotti.  Those two are perfect for me.  Mitch is a 170-pound southpaw who can strike, can wrestle, got good Jiu-Jitsu.  Mark is a 205’er, who’s just got wrestling out of this world.  Those guys push me to my limits.

James Wilkes actually teaches at another gym, but he’s been fighting with us for awhile now.  He’s been doing well.  He just won the Gladiator Challenge belt.

I’ve got some very good fighters in there that come in and train hard.  I’ve got Babalu and Eric Apple to work with.  Babalu – I wouldn’t fight him with a machete and a flamethrower.

My under guys are like Raja Shippen, who’s one of the instructors there.  That kid, if he would listen a little bit, he’s going to turn heads.  He’s a freak.

JT:  Tell us about your sponsors?  Who should the fans know about and why?

MG:  Randy [Couture], I think, said something about how it’s him in the ring, but there’s this huge network and team behind him, and that’s what’s able to get me in that ring or cage.

My sponsors are Sprawl, Fairtex, Toyo Tires, Lexani RBP, Boneheads – it’s a restaurant out where I live in Southern California.  I have a new clothing company named Labeled Insane, so they’re going to be my main sponsor now.  Legacy Farms, Mike’s Tickets.

All these people have made it possible for me to get in there.  Some of them don’t even give me money.  Some of them, like Boneheads, just take care of my meals and get me ready for my fight.  And that means all the stuff in the world to me.  And when I’m not getting ready for a fight, they take care of my family and different things like that.  I could not do it without those people.

JT:  It seems like in MMA, with sponsors and the sport, a lot of these guys grew up knowing each other as friends and now everybody helps each other mutually as they can.  But yet it’s also grown into this larger industry where the deals are based on business relationships, as opposed to longtime friendships.

MG:  It’s hard to explain, but it’s just a big machine driving everything.  The organizations bring a lot of attention.  Look at how much exposure you get in the UFC.  The fighters, they have their little areas where they live, and people who want to see them do well.  My area, I’ve got all these people just trying to push and help me get my dream.  But at the same time, I’m trying to help them out, get them more marketing and exposure.  It’s just one symbiotic relationship, I guess is the best way I can put it.

I can’t believe I came up with that word.  Where the hell did that come from [laughs]?

JT:  Has maintaining relationships become more difficult, as the sport has grown?

MG:  Some aspects, yeah.  With the TapouT situation, anything that deals with them, I just steer clear of it.  I don’t like being around the guys.  My fighters, if they got sponsored by them, hey, just do it.  I want my fighters, my friends, to make money, take care of their bills, and succeed in life.  If they get sponsored by them, hey, great, man.  At least you made some money from them.

JT:  Was it bad from the get-go?  There must have been warning signs at some point that it wasn’t the right road for you.

MG:  No, I actually love and miss the guys in some respects.  When we were together and in a group, we owned rooms.  We were all good at our particular spot and aspect, and it was just fun.  When we were traveling on the road and talking about stuff and goofing around and all the different antics that would happen and situations that arose – I wouldn’t trade that in for the world, when I think about it.

But the business end of it, putting so much work into someone’s company and not getting anything in return just sucks.  It was right before the TV show was coming out, we were actually filming for it, and I just one day said “I’ve had enough of it. You guys can take this show and have fun with it. I’m going to go my merry little way.”  They’re all “you sure?  The contracts are on my desk.”  I said “I don’t care. I’m gonna go do my thing.”  And that was pretty much the end of it.

JT:  Have you had second thoughts on your decision?

MG:  I had every thought in my head.  I was scared, nervous.  I had anger.  I had all these different feelings in my head.  I’ve definitely come to grips with the whole thing, more so than ever of late.

It’s funny, Steve Moreno from Sprawl called me up out of the blue one day.  He said “I gotta ask you something – do you realize that you could be a millionaire right now?”  I said “Steve, I would be lying through my teeth if I said I couldn’t use that money, or that wouldn’t be the neatest thing in the world.  But I sleep great at night knowing that I did the right thing.  I don’t like being taken advantage of, or putting time into something and not getting rewarded for it.  There were also some other issues at the time in my life when I left.  I said “Steve, I did the right thing, and I sleep well at night knowing that.”

JT:  At that point, I’m sure you were going to have to go through a bit of reinvention.  What was that like?

MG:  Interesting.  I had my haircut before the TapouT thing, and I eventually started to scrap the haircut, because I didn’t want people associating me.  I still get it every now and then if I’m hanging out somewhere.  I’m just Joker, the fighter from Joker’s Wild.  I’m quite happy.  I’ve got the gym.  The clothing line – Labeled Insane – coming out.  I’ve got our fighters in training.

It’s been a cool trip, and I would do it all over exactly the same.  I would still do the TapouT thing; I would go through that crap again, because it’s all led me to where I am now.  And I’m happy at the end of the day.  I’ve got a great wife, I’ve got a good house, good cars, and most importantly, good friends.  And that’s what it all comes down to.

JT:  What is your downtime like?  What do you do for fun / away from training?

MG:  Watch TV; watch movies, music, and people-watch.  I’ll go to the beach, I’ll go to the mall, or I’ll sit on a bench at a restaurant there and watch people. I’m a quiet, have-fun, hang-loose kind of guy.  Even when I’m in at an event, if I’m on the radio station, I’m a pretty big yahoo, so I gotta balance it out.  I gotta hit that off-switch.

JT:  From a fan’s perspective, who are some of your favorite fighters?

MG:  Geez.  I have so many, but a big one for me are Jeremy Horn.  That guy’s my idol. You look at him and you wouldn’t think he’s anything special, but he can roll, he can strike – just a nice guy.  So many of my friends, they’re awesome to watch.  Randy Couture – I saw him last week before he fought, and when he lost to Brock, my heart broke.  He’s such a great guy.  And everybody else sees it too.

Everybody in this sport is somebody I look up to.  It could be the kid that’s just starting out, like he’s 0-0 or 0-1, or 1-3. . . I respect everybody and there’s always something fun to watch.  Like Urijah [Faber], his loss to Mike Brown – it was crazy.  After he loses, he was like “ho-hum, what can I do?  I’m just gonna be me.”  I love fighters like that.  Humble, respectful.

JT:  What is your best / worst memory in your MMA career?

MG:  How about this answer:  TapouT and TapouT.  Like I said, when we were all together, it was so freaking fun.  It was a blast.  Part of the reason why I stuck around without getting paid a dime, literally, was that.  Just the camaraderie and how fun it was to go walking down the street as a group, or go into a room and go talk to a fighter and see Chuck Liddell, Vitor, or Randy, just before he goes into a fight.  And to get in the back door and sit there, easy access into everything, all the fighters, all the camps.  That’s a huge experience.

But the worst is doing all that and still getting screwed.  So it all balances out, I guess.

JT:  What are your goals, within and away from fighting?

MG:  The first goal I had was to actually step in the cage and have a professional fight.  I’ve done that.  The next one – I really never thought I’d go for a world title anywhere or be the best in the world at anything.  And that would be what’s in front of me now.  Just to win the world title in something.  I don’t care if it’s a backyard fight.  I want to win a world title.  That’s something which not a lot of people in the world can say at all.

Outside of fighting, it would be just to be successful in teaching and business and helping fighters out.  Make some money and make a living at it.  Even if I don’t have that, I just want to have the students and train and teach and roll with them.  Help them out, and get them into good shape.  Grow the school and hey, maybe God willing, maybe open up another one and have some guys under me, in a gym, that are employed. I’d be providing work and help out this crappy economy.

Mike “Joker” Guymon challenges Anthony “The Recipe” Lapsley for the King of the Cage Welterweight championship on December 11th at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in San Bernadino, CA.

Verbal Sparring: Abel Cullum (King of the Cage Flyweight Champion)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , on November 24, 2008 by jaytan716

You might say that the family that trains together stays together. That’s absolutely the case in the Cullum household.

Several years ago, Abel Cullum and his dad decided to build him into a fighter. They took Abel’s skills, his brother’s cooperation, his Dad’s experience, and his Grandmother’s fanfare. And soon, they had a champion. At 12-2 in just a three-year period, Abel Cullum stands solid as the King of the Cage Flyweight champion. He’s also the reigning champion in two other regional MMA promotions based near his home of Tucumcari, NM.

But in a sport that loves to brag about million-dollar profits, famous Hollywood attendees, exclusive parties, and pseudo-celebrity glamour, Team Cullum prefers to focus on the name of the game: train, fight, and win.

In this round of Verbal Sparring, I talked with Abel about his humble fight beginnings, the new family business, and the alternative to running in the MMA Fast Lane.

JT: How’s training going?

AC: It’s going pretty good. We’re working on getting in shape and putting on a good show. I hear Ryan’s been training pretty hard for this fight. I know he’s gonna be ready, so I gotta bring it. I haven’t lost at 135, and I don’t plan on starting now.

JT: Let’s talk a little bit about your background and how you got into MMA.

AC: Well, actually I started out as a fan, watching the early fights back in the 90’s. My dad and I would watch it and I’d talk about wanting to do it and he was like “no way you could do it,” because there were no weight classes then. And one night we ordered a King of the Cage PPV and we got to see Charlie Valencia fight for the KOTC title right there at 135. And I was like “oh man, this is something I can do. I don’t have to fight some 250-pounder. I can fight someone in my own weight class and match skill for skill.” I decided that I wanted the King of the Cage title. That was seven years ago, I think.

My dad knew some stuff from when he was younger and did these back-of-the-bar type fights. He did really well. He was 6’4” and 250 lbs. with some submissions in his arsenal. When I expressed an interest, that kinda reignited his own want to learn. He bought me a punching bag, and I got after that. We started working on different things that we thought would work and developed our own style. And so far it’s proven effective.

When we first started, we had to sacrifice a lot of things to try to make it work, and now it’s paying off and coming together quite well. I’m real happy about it. It’s opened a lot of doors.

JT: What kind of things did you have to sacrifice?

AC: Well, we have several family businesses and we kinda put a lot of things on the back burner and focused more on my fighting as the time was coming for my first fight, back in September of ’05. We had a motel – we still own the motel but it’s not functioning anymore, because we couldn’t do that much. Our family is together a lot but we’re always working on our fighting and constantly trying to improve. Y’know, just time and energy, but it’s definitely becoming worth it now.

JT: Did you do martial arts or anything when you were growing up?

AC: Actually, no I didn’t. I did a little bit of wrestling in high school, but all my training is in mixed martial arts. I don’t have a background – I’m not a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt or anything, but I’ve submitted one.

JT: It’s kinda like walking the Joe Calzaghe story – the family just decides to start training the kid for fighting. It sounds like, once you decided to take your life in this direction, your family got behind you.

AC: Oh yeah, my family is really supportive of me. My brother is one of my few training partners, and it’s been great having him on board. My grandmother’s like my biggest fan. At first she was a little skeptical, but when she watched the first one, he’s been hooked ever since. Fighting has brought our family that much closer, I think. It’s good.

JT: From pictures I’ve seen, it looks like you’ve got more than a few belts. What are your other titles?

AC: I’m the five-time Desert Extreme champion at 135. I’m the two-time Southwest Fury champion at 145. And King of the Cage Flyweight (135) champion.

JT: When you look back and consider where your career is now, how do you feel?

AC: It’s kinda crazy. My brother asked me that same question, and especially right before the Wilson Reis fight, I was all over the internet. I was up on a website – it said “Abel Cullum” right below names like Mirko Cro Cop and Quinton Jackson. It’s an indescribable feeling. I know it’s taken a lot of work, and a lot of dedication and a lot of support. It’s nice, because I know it was earned.

JT: Tell us about your new gym and your training.

AC: We also just opened our gym here in Tucumcari. It’s Cullum Ground Fighting. It’s just starting up and it’s been fun. We’ve got some new members and we’re having a good time with it. We teach mixed martial arts. All of our Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing is MMA-based. I’ve always done a lot with a little. We just got into a new building, which is awesome. It’s 100 ft. by 25 ft, so it’s huge for me, because we’re coming from what we call “The Dungeon,” and a lot of places before that which were. . .

JT: Garage training, right?

AC: Actually, a garage would have been really nice [laughs]. When I was training to fight John Chester in Tulsa, OK, a lot of my training was done outside, with the bag hanging of a tree, and we had one yellow pull-out mat that I was working on. And I just wanted it – that’s what kept me going out there. I just did what I could with what I had.

The Dungeon was great because if you were there, it was because you wanted to be a fighter. Because if you were there, you were getting worked. In the summertime, it gets up to 110-115 degrees. Sometimes we’d get some fans going, but usually not. And in the wintertime, you’re lucky if it’s not snowing because if it’s snowing, that roof is leaking on you right in the middle of practice. If you wanted to fight, you were there. It was rough at some points, but it really builds character.

JT: It separated the men from the boys.


JT: Are there any guys in your camp / stable / team that fans should be on the watch for?

AC: Some of our fighters, like Robert, Abel, and Joe Vargas – they really helped me out along the way. They’re three brothers and they have that competitive fighter in them too.

After high school, they didn’t get to go out and do all the other things, like wrestling and football. They wanted something else past that. They were real excited when they heard I was doing it and that they could train with me. They’re all well-rounded, but they all have their better points. Between t he three of them, they’ve really helped build me. I owe a lot of the credit to them for where I’m at today. Robert and Joe have fought for us. Abel is going to be fighting for us soon.

I got some younger guys starting out now at the gym who are getting ready to get in there. It’s kinda awesome to see where they start out and where they end up. We got one kid who started out at 200 pounds and he’s now down to 168 pounds, and he’s confident. The turnaround on this kid is just amazing. And I think that’s a lot of what inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing. It’s great to see.

JT: It puts you in the unique position of being the coach and the mentor while being a student.

AC: Definitely. Being a student of the game is gonna be what keeps you improving. As soon as you think you know it all, that’s when you get caught.

JT: Do you study tape a lot or focus on who’s the competition out there?

AC: I have done that before, but I usually just like to train and try to improve in every aspect, for myself. Work on my wrestling, kickboxing, Jiu-Jitsu. Sometimes I look at my opponent and know what he’s done, but really not. Because a lot of time I’d be training for one person, then at the last minute something happens and [I end up fighting] someone else. I think that can affect you.

JT: What’s the toughest part about fighting? The training? The mental? Rules differences?

AC: Probably the weight. Fighting at 135, you gotta diet a little bit. I love getting in the cage. I’ve never been nervous really. I’ve always risen to the occasion. I’ve always said the more people there are in the seats, the more people there are for me to entertain.

JT: As a fan, who are some of your favorite fighters and / or matches?

AC: My all-time favorite fighter is Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. That guy has more heart than he knows what to do with. He’s an animal. Somebody that big and that good at Jiu-Jitsu, is amazing. I’m really looking forward to his fight coming up [against Frank Mir]. There’s another fight, with Don Frye and [Yoshihiro Takayama], it’s like a hockey fight. It’s not real technical, but it’s really entertaining.

Another one of my favorite fights is Luiz Azeredo vs. Buscape [Luiz Firmino]. I think it was one of the first Bushidos, or it was Azeredo’s debut in PRIDE. The Jiu-jitsu in that fight was unbelievable. In Japan, they’ve always had that appreciation for the ground game, the chess battles and stuff. And that’s where it’s starting to go a lot more in the United States.

JT: Tell us about your sponsors.

AC: My biggest sponsor is Hamilton Auto Group. They’re great. They put me on a two-year deal. I got a 2007 Super Crew Cab. They pay my insurance, my payments, they registered it and everything . . . They even took it to Sign Design, out of Lubbock, and put a huge wrap on it, so I got pictures of me all over the truck and different cage designs and stuff, and it says “King of the Cage Champion” on it and everything. I got pictures of it up on my MySpace page. It’s pretty cool.

Also, Family Vision Care Clinic. The doctors that own it, they’re real supportive. They’ve helped me out a lot, because they’ve given me the time off to do whatever I needed, if it was training time or seminars or whatever. They’re great with my schedule. That’s here in Tucumcari as well.

JT: What is your best / worst memory in your MMA career?

AC: Best memory would be winning the King of the Cage title. Worst memory at this point . . . it’s hard to pinpoint, because a lot of people would say maybe one of their losses. But my first loss, to Rick Montano, that was a learning experience and that definitely helped me out in my career, so its kinda hard to say that. . . geez. . .

JT: What is your downtime like? What do you do for fun / away from training?

AC: Family time is always fun. We always make time to be together. After training, we get out of here about 8:30 or so. We like to go to my Grandma’s house, just relax, and watch TV. Another hobby we share is that we all like to work on vehicles. And I personally love to fish. That’s one of my favorite pastimes. If I can make time for that, that’s definitely something I enjoy doing. I want to get a boat here pretty soon, but I’m still waiting on that one.

JT: What are your goals, within and away from fighting?

AC: I’d like to continue fighting as long as I can. I love to train people. Like I said earlier about the guy that lost 30 pounds. That’s a really something . It’s great to watch, and then to see him compete. He took gold in a grappling tournament in Rio Rancho the day after my fight with Wilson. And then two more of my students competed at that show. One of them took gold, one of them took silver. That was a huge show. A lot of big names in grappling were there and it was a great feeling.

JT: I noticed on your MySpace page that you’re a fan of Nicholas Sparks novels. Which was the best novel to be adapted to film?

AC: Yeah, that catches a lot of people by surprise. A lot of people that I grew up with in school, they thought I was too nice to be a fighter. Different values and morals and stuff.

“A Walk to Remember” is my favorite. It’s just a great story and it was the first novel of his that I read. From there, I’ve been hooked. He’s a really good writer and I suppose that one sticks in my mind the most because, like I said, it was my first time reading one of his novels.

JT: Does it help with dating to be into Nicholas Sparks books?

AC: Nah actually I think that’s another reason why I’m a decent fighter. I’m single. With all the training I do, a lot of my time is taken up. I don’t need an extra distraction. A lot of the guys training, they have that distraction, and it’s like “ah man, why do you put up with that?” It’s easier for me to just stay in line.

JT: Who would you like to fight in the future? What would be the pinnacle fight for your career?

AC: There’s actually two of them. The first would be Charlie Valencia, because that’s who I saw holding the King of the Cage title back when I first started watching this and really wanted to pursue a career in it. That would be amazing. Of course, the all-time top would be Miguel Torres. At this point, anyway.

JT: Last question: what else should people know about Abel Cullum?

AC: A lot of people portray the fighter as fight hard and party hard type mentality, and that’s definitely not me. I’m trying to sway that perception there, and try to be a better role model. Because a lot of these fighters want to make a career out of it and I think if you’re gonna be training and working with people. . . Kids are really into this sport and they look up to a lot of these fighters and if they’re doing shady stuff outside of the cage, even inside the cage, it’s not really good for the sport.

I think a lot of people think sex sells, and I just like to shy away from that. I try to represent a cleaner fighter. I don’t have any tattoos; I don’t smoke, don’t drink, and don’t do drugs. I abstain from sex. I’m just trying to do it the best that I know I can do it.

Abel Cullum defends his King of the Cage Flyweight championship against Ryan Diaz on December 6th at Isleta Casino & Resort in Albuquerque, NM.

Verbal Sparring: Anthony Lapsley (King of the Cage Welterweight Champion)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2008 by jaytan716

The presence of strong male role models is a big ingredient in what makes Anthony “The Recipe” Lapsley.

Lapsley is an Indiana state wrestling champion. He’s a dutiful son that takes joy in sharing his victories with his father, while also being a proud poppa to “a gang of kids” with whom he bonds over sessions of Xbox 360. He recently started coaching the wrestling team at Trine University. He’s also the current King of the Cage Welterweight champion, a title that he takes very seriously.

In this round of Verbal Sparring, I talked with Lapsley about fate, family, and his “recipe for success.”

JT: You’ve had the title now for about three months. How does it feel to be the king?

AL: It feels good, you know. I’m enjoying it. I’m just itching to get back in there to defend it. I want to prove why I’m the champ. Its one thing getting it, but it’s another thing trying to keep it.

JT: What does winning the King of the Cage belt mean to you? Was it the feeling of accomplishment that you wanted it to be?

AL: It means a lot to me. It’s kinda quickened my career. I guess a lot of guys have been training to fight for 10-11 years, but I’ve been training and fighting all at once for three years. It’s where I want to be, but I can always get better and improve and learn more. I want to get championship belts wherever I fight, and wherever I step in the cage. This one’s put smiles on my kids’ faces; that’s what it’s all about.

JT: Let’s talk about the first and second fights with Aaron Wetherspoon. Did you approach things differently for the second match?

AL: The first fight, I was kinda nervous, because I was fighting for a major world title. But when we touched gloves, it all went away. As far as the fight went, it didn’t go my way; that was kinda crazy how the double knockout thing went down. But I felt comfortable with him. I’m never really worried [during a fight], because if I’m worried, he has the advantage. That’s how I look at it.

But going into the second fight, I knew what I had to do, and that was to finish it. Get in there and not play around. We stood up in the first fight, but this time I planned on taking him down and submitting him. Be clean and get it over with. Stay kinda pretty. I didn’t want to get hit too much. Gotta look real good for the ladies.

JT: You had told me that your dad had a dream about you winning the title last time.

AL: You know, he dreamed that I won the title in like 1:30. It ended up being 1:19. He called me right after I’d won. He was like “I dreamed you won the title in a minute thirty.” I said “well, I won in a minute twenty.”

JT: Did the first match prepare you for what to expect in the second?

AL: In a way, but I really didn’t like to look over that fight as far as preparing for the next one. Because I don’t like to pick over a fight and work around mistakes. Because hey, you go out there and perform and make it happen. I just knew what I had to do. And that first fight . . . it happened. I let it be in the past, and I just worked on different things to win that title. And it worked out for me

JT: Did you switch up your strategy so he couldn’t predict you in the second match?

AL: My strategy going in . . . I never like to work around how they fight. I just want to go out and show that my fighting style is the best that day. I’m hard to predict as a fighter anyway. You never know what I’m gonna do. I’m pretty well versed on the ground, standing up, and my submissions also . . . I put a lot in the pot. Whatever meal I come with, I’m gonna serve it. It’s probably gonna be a can of ass-whippin’.

JT: Tell us a little bit about your background – how you got into MMA, your upbringing, and how it influenced you to get into the sport?

AL: I started wrestling in my freshman year of high school and ended up winning States [championship] in my senior year here in Indiana. After that, I basically sat around for a few years, until like 26 years old. I was wheeling in and out of jobs. Getting into a little trouble every now and then. Nothing major, but not focusing on making a positive life for me and my kids.

I met Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes at a bar, and we got to talking. He’s a 16-time world champion arm wrestler, and a good friend of Gary Goodridge. Andrew and I exchanged numbers, but nobody called each other.

Two weeks later, I’m thinking “I’m tired off where my life is. Lemme find a career, do something. I know I have the ability to do it.” I picked up the phone to call him, and as I was dialing the number, he was calling me. At the same time. So I just looked at it like “that’s gotta be my calling.” It was such a coincidence, and that’s exactly how it went down. He said “hey you wanna fight this weekend?” I said “sure.”

JT: I’m sure you’ve seen a night-and-day change in your training since you first started out. What’s your approach and philosophy behind training?

AL: I try to work hard on my cardio. Because I let my fighting ability and natural talent take its toll . . . I’ve been traveling a bit to train. I used to train at Chris Lytle’s gym in Indianapolis to prepare myself for a couple of fights. Or I go with Team Wolf-Pack and Chas Bowling. That’s a good wrestling and ground and pound gym. I’ve also been known to go down to Albuquerque and train at Team FIT, with Carlos Condit and Thomas Schulte. They’ve got higher altitude training there.

JT: Do you prefer to train on your own or is there a team you’re looking to build and join?

AL: As far as different skills and different bodies, I’ll travel for that and do the freelance thing, but my team is The Garage and Team Wolf-Pack. I’m a loyal person; I’m not gonna jump camps. Where I started is where I’m gonna finish.

JT: Tell us about your team / trainers / partners? Are there any guys in your camp / stable / team that fans should be on the watch for?

AL: It has the name Ft. Wayne Jiu-Jitsu, but we just call it “The Garage” on a personal level. We have a little two-car garage that we work out of. It’s me, Brandon Lee, his brothers Chris and Mike Lee, who are twins. They’re all jiu-jitsu experts. They all wrestle in NAGA tournaments. I would love to get [Brandon] back into fighting. He took off to focus on training people from the gym. We got a real strong guy named Logan. His jiu-jitsu is real sick. We got a guy called The Uncle. . . . We got Bobby Petras, who’s an ’85-pounder. He’s an ex-football player. And we’ve got a good named Jason Whitson. He’s a state wrestling champ from Indiana. He’s fought a couple of times and we gave him the name “Lil’ Kimbo.” He’s just a beast like that.

JT: How are you approaching your first title defense?

AL: I got the belt on my shoulder, and I’m trying to keep it, so I’m going to give it all I got, which I always do. But I’m working real hard to make sure I keep it. Like, say, if I get caught in something there’s no way I’m gonna tap, but I’ll make sure I give it the extra oomph to get out of it or survive. But I don’t see myself getting caught. I see myself controlling the fight, dominating, and walking out of the cage with that same belt on my shoulders.

JT: What are your thoughts about Joker as an opponent? Do you know much about him?

AL: No, I don’t know too much about him. I know he’s strong, and he’s a pretty good wrestler. I’ve seen a couple of his fights, but I’m not the one to study fights. He cuts a lot of weight because he’s bigger in size. He’s a good dude. We spoke at the last fight, he’s a nice guy. But we’re putting that all to the side when we’re in the cage. I’m sure we’ll hang out and chill afterward. You know how fighters are. We’re not mad at each other.

JT: Whatever happens in the ring happens, huh?

AL: That’s how it’s going to go down. It’s already written, so I just gotta make sure I got my bookmark where it’s supposed to be.

JT: For you, what’s the toughest part about fighting?

AL: The last couple pounds you gotta cut. Those last few pounds are the toughest part. I’m a pussy when it comes to being in the sauna. I hate being hot. I love all the training, I love to spar. I don’t cut that much weight, but you know. You got a day before the fight and you’re 4-5 pounds over. I hate that.

JT: What is your downtime like? What do you do for fun / away from training?

AL: I’m a video game fanatic. And that’s issuing a challenge to anyone that wants to play Madden or NBA Live. I love video games and spending time with my kids. I do the father thing. I got a gang of kids, so I gotta take care of ‘em. We’re deep. we got 2 girls and 4 boys.

JT: What are you playing now?

AL: Call of Duty: World at War just came out, so I’m playing that. I like Madden of course, and NBA live. I like Guitar Hero too. Kinda different for a brother, but I fuck with it.

JT: You’re coaching at Trine University. What’s it like going from being the student to being the master?

It’s my first year ever coaching, but it’s been good. We’re 3-1. We lost one match, but we beat our team rivals. We won two more big matches, and we’ve got one big one coming up.

I’m one of those hands-on coaches. A lot of coaches – they coach from the sidelines. I get down and dirty with ‘em. I keep my gear on every day. I give blood sweat and tears with them.

I think it helps them learn more. That’s how I was. You show me something, I would pick it up like a sponge. I think there’s no better way than to show them how to put it on me so they know how to do it and also how to defend it.

How’s you get hooked up with that?

Coach Ester, my high school wrestling coach who took me to my state championship – we’ve been in touch ever since high school. He asked if I wanted to help out with his kids. We’re division three, but he and Coach Callaham are really good coaches, and we’ve got a bunch of good wrestlers.

It’s probably a little early to be talking about recruiting guys to cross over into MMA, huh?

No, not really. We’ve got one guy who’s actually fought a couple of times. His name is Nick Kraus.

Obviously, they know you’re a champion.

Yep, they love to talk shit and beat me down to help me get ready for my next fight. I work with them all, but [for training], I focus on the 200-pounds and up guys.

JT: What is your best / worst memory in your MMA career?

AL: Best memory is winning that title. That’s the biggest step I’ve taken thus far in MMA. My worst memory was probably how I looked after winning the title. I hate to see myself on TV. I don’t know why. I’ve always been a shy person. Mild-mannered, kinda bashful in a way, but I guess I’ll get over it.

JT: As a fan, who are your favorite fighters?

AL: I like Genki Sudo. I like his performance, when he comes out to the cage and performs. He sells himself. He fights that way too. He’s a funny dude. I like Rampage, of course . . . Kimbo, until he got beat up [Laughs]. Nah, I like Kimbo; I think it was a lucky punch [that knocked him out]. But a fight’s a fight. Like Cobra Rhodes always tells me – it takes one drop of water on the mat; you can slip and fall and he can jump on top of you and he can finish it.

JT: Do you think Kimbo is gonna come back stronger when he gets in the cage or ring again

AL: Yep. As far as his mentality, after the fight, he didn’t make any excuses, he gave props to Seth, and he said he’ll be back. And I’m sure he’ll come back and not put on a terrible showing again. Once you lose, it gives you something to prove. Especially to have so much hype behind him and he went out there and lost. I feel bad for the next person that‘s going to fight him.

JT: Tell us about your sponsors and how they come through for you.

AL: I got sponsored by TapouT for my last fight, for ShoXC. Locally, I have Sports Massage One. They’re an orthopedic place in town. Dr. Berghoff – he’s one of the top orthopedic surgeons in America. They’ve advanced me some sponsorship money which helped me out a lot. And Roland Trudell out of Lexani RBP, they do rims. They put me down in Vegas at the SEMA car show. Dr. Burns made my mouthpieces in Ft. Wayne IN. Foss Development – they helped me out on my last fight too. All with the money they give, it helps me with my bills and it helps me get where I need to fly to do some high-end training. Biomet, they manufacture prosthetic knees and hips that Dr. Berghoff invented and patented– they’re like a worldwide, multi-million dollar company.

I appreciate all of them, and anybody that wants to come and step on board, I got plenty of room on my shorts, t-shirt, and banner.

JT: Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the mask. Where did you come up with that idea?

AL: I got the mask from my homeboy. He’s a local rapper named Vigilante. When he showed it to me, I thought “I’ll go to the cage with that.” It’s kinda branching off of Genki Sudo. I use it for all my professional fights and it’s just something that stuck with me. I like seeing myself walk out with the mask on, on TV. I transform into that killer instinct. If you see a guy pop out your bushes, you know what time it is. So when I’m coming out to the cage, you know what time it is.

And I’d like to say rest in peace to my boy “Killa” Mike C. He’s a fighter who passed. He was on my team and we were like best friends. He died in April and I just gotta give some props out to him and his family. I should add that to my name: ”The Killer Recipe.” Yeah.

JT: What should fans know about “The Recipe?”

AL: No matter what you heard, just believe what you see. I’m a good dude. I train hard, I work hard. Everything that I’ve got, I think I deserve because I’ve worked for it. I’m not one of those asshole fighters that think they’re above everybody. I like to have fun. I sit around and play video games and chill. Don’t ever be afraid to approach me. I like to smile and put smiles on people’s faces.

Also, I’m dedicating this fight to my dad. It’s my dad’s birthday on December 11th. He didn’t have a chance to come out for my last fight, but I’m definitely gonna make sure he’s out there for this one. I’m gonna give him the biggest birthday present, and that’s defending m y title for the first time.

Anthony “The Recipe” Lapsley defends his King of the Cage Welterweight championship against Mike “Joker” Guymon on December 11th at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, CA.

Verbal Sparring: Brad Burrick (King of the Cage)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , on November 17, 2008 by jaytan716

When Brad Burrick steps into the cage on November 26th and fights for the King of the Cage Middleweight title, he’ll realize a dream that has been a long time coming.  Burrick is a decorated San Da / San Shou kickboxer who competed in MMA long before America learned the names Silva, Lawler, or Franklin.  In fact, this is his second MMA tour-of-duty.  After walking away from the sport in 2002, Burrick returned to caged competition last year at “King of the Cage: Explosion,” proudly fighting in his home state of Michigan.

In this interview, we sat down and discussed the roots of Burrick’s fighting and military career, garage training, leading a fight career worth living, and who the better James Bond is.

JT:  What is your background?  How did you get involved in Mixed Martial Arts?

BB:  I started martial arts when I was nine, taking traditional Karate.  I remember seeing the first UFC in Black Belt Magazine when I was in high school, and I got kinda excited about it.  After I got out of the army, I started competing [in MMA].  After four years, I actually left the sport and went to San Da / San Shou kickboxing, where I won several titles and world championships.  But [San Da] has a really small community, and I didn’t want to keep fighting the same guys, so I decided to go back into MMA.  When I first got back, I thought only one match would settle my competitive spirit.  It’s been two years now and I’m fighting for the King of the Cage title.

JT:  Did you continue karate throughout high school?  Did you do other sports?

BB:  The only time I would say that I stopped doing any martial arts training was when I was in the army.  Then, as soon as I got out, I started training again.  I was a Ranger, and they keep you so busy, you really don’t have the freedom to [train martial arts] in that kind of unit.  You’re usually in the field for 40 days or a month.  I was the radio operator for my team.  My rucksack weighed 120 pounds, so after you walk around with that for a day, you’re pretty worn out.

JT:  It looks like you left MMA around 2003.

BB:   MMA wasn’t as organized then as it is now, and I was frustrated.  A lot of that was because I didn’t have the proper training for it at the time.  So I walked away and did San Da.  I was a really good stand up striker and I had a judo background for throwing.  But after four years, I didn’t have anything left to do, so I went back to MMA and I think I’m more into it now than I was.

My thing is I take on a fight, I train for it, and after I’m done competing, then I’ll decide if I want to fight again.  I just really enjoy the training.  Training is one of the most enjoyable things for me.

JT:  That’s interesting.  I think most people think that’s the hardest and the worst part of the job.

BB:  I think it’s hard, but I have a real small group of guys that I train with, and we help each other out.  I used to run a bigger program out of a local gym here.  About a year and a half ago, I closed that down and I went into my garage and fixed it up.  I got nice mats and insulated it and everything.  And I got about five other guys, and there are a couple other people that come.  We’re a small, tight group.  We’re like a little family.

JT:  Do you have a name to your team?  Tell us about your training partners.

BB:  Yeah, we’re the Ronin Fight Team.  Most of the guys I train with now are my students.  I have a guy, Steve Colegio, whom I’ve been training with since forever.  He was a former kickboxer that got into MMA.  I also have Keith Frattarelli, who’s a 205-pounder.  I used to train with Jason Ireland.  He’s kinda the one that gave me the kick in the ass to get back in [to MMA].  A couple of his guys, like Dennis Vogt, come up to help me sometimes..  One of my students, Dennis Brohl, just started competing last year, so it’s been cool, because we can help each other out.  And he’s about my size.

JT:  Do you find yourself utilizing a lot of your San Da in MMA, like Cung Le does?

BB:  Yeah, but I’m a bit of a different fighter than Cung Le.   The thing that helped me the most from San Da is how to transition fast from stand up in the clinch and the throw.  I think I’ve benefitted from that a lot.   And I’ve fought some very good  stand up guys, so I’m not so worried about when I’m standing up with someone because I have the confidence that I’ve already done it with someone else, where that’s all they did .  That helps a lot.

JT:  Is your approach to this match, because it’s a title fight, different than the other ones?

BB:  Yeah. I was given about two month’s notice, so it helped a lot.  In some of my last fights, I would know I’m fighting, but I wouldn’t know the opponent until the week of [the match].  So this time, I’m able to mentally focus on one specific game plan and one specific person.  We’ve been able to look at footage to create a strategy for fighting him and orientate the training based off that strategy.  So that would be the big difference.

JT:  What is it like to anticipate winning the King of the Cage middleweight title belt?

BB:  It’s something I’ve wanted for awhile, so I take a lot of value in it.  That’s my main goal, right now – to win that belt.  I got my other [San Da] belts, but I’d consider this just as high or higher.

JT:  Tell us a bit more about your San Da championships and titles that you’ve had.

BB:  The Arnold Classic holds an annual San Da tournament and I won that from 2000 to 2005.  In 2004, the USKBA (United States Kickboxing Association) held the World Championships out in New Jersey, where I fought guy from the Russian Draka team who was two- or three-time world champion at that point.  Everybody is telling me “oh, the Russian Draka team is really good.  They’re one of the most prestigious teams.”  It would be like coming from Xtreme Couture in MMA.  Now going into the fight, I didn’t know his credentials.  I went in there and fought, and I was able to win, which earned me the world / gold medal.  Later, I found out his credentials, and I’m kinda glad they didn’t tell me until after.

In 2005, I fought the Brazilian national champion who was silver to the Russian that I fought in 2004.  And I was able to TKO him in the third round.  So at that point, I started to look at going back to MMA

JT:  Have you ever fought internationally?

BB:  Nope, I’ve only fought in the US.  In San Da, I had to pay my own way.  I work 40-some hour work weeks and pay bills and taxes just like everyone else out there.  It gets hard, but I’d rather not look back later on my life and regret.  No matter what happens with this next fight, I want to know that I at least trained my butt off and went out there and did it.  To me, it would be more hurtful if, ten year s from now, I looked back and said “well, I could have,” but didn’t.  If you have the dream to be an artist, why not try for it.  My dream is to be a fighter, and whether I’ll be the best or mediocre or whatever, at least I tried.

JT:  What is your downtime like?  What do you do for fun / away from training?

BB:  I’m a big movie freak.  I watch a lot of movies.  We just saw “Quantum of Solace” last night

JT:  Who’s the best Bond?

BB:  Sean Connery.  I like Daniel Craig a lot, and I liked the direction of the movie, but Sean Connery’s the man.

JT:  As a fan, what are some of your favorite fights?  Who are some of your favorite fighters?

BB:  The first match between Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell.  I probably watched that fight ten times.  I’m a Randy Couture fan in general, but just seeing the underdog winning . . . especially as a guy who, at the time, we thought was over the hill.  I like Anderson Silva and Chuck Liddell, but right off the top of my head, that would have to be my favorite fight.

JT:  Tell us about your sponsors?  Who should the fans know about and why?

BB:  I just recently got my first sponsor,  After my last fight, one of my guys, Dennis Brohl, said “I want to get you a sponsor.”  A week or two later he called me and said “hey, we got these guys.  Check out this website.”  Basically I just made a list of stuff that I’d need for the fight.  They sent me that plus some stuff, so that really helped.  It’s nice, because they don’t even really know me, and they’re willing to help.

JT:  What is your best / worst memory in your MMA career?

BB:  The best memory was recently after my last fight, when I beat Kyle Gibbons, and they told me I would be able to fight for the [King of the Cage middleweight] belt.  Because I’d been trying to get [a title shot].

The worst memory was probably when I fought Luke Zachrich and he caught me in an armbar.  I had just come back to MMA and that really sucked because I just wasn’t quite on par yet with my grappling.  I had all these people come out, and that was the first time I fought in Michigan.  It’s hard to go out and face those people, especially after they’ve spent their hard-earned money to come see you and everything.  They look up to you, they’re proud of you and everything, but to face them still is a hard thing.  You want to be the person that wins all the time, but unfortunately, that’s not life.

JT:  It looks like you had a bit of a feud going with Eddie Sanchez.  What’s the legacy behind that?

BB:  There really wasn’t a feud or anything like that. I just talked to Eddie not too long ago, actually.  The Fight Zone [who got shut down in Michigan], who did a couple of shows in Indiana and Ohio, was run by Dave Gomez.  Well, Dave Gomez is Eddie Sanchez’ instructor.  I went into the thing and I beat him the first time.  After that, I don’t know if they just wanted their student to win or if they liked the match up and thought we were entertaining, but they rematched us and he won.  Then they wanted us to fight again.

JT:  It looks like Eddie took some time off from the sport as well and also came back.  So maybe there’s a fourth go-round in the books for you guys.

BB:  It’s possible. I believe he’s at 170 now.  But I could actually probably make 170 [laughs].

JT:  What else should the fans know about Brad Burrick?

BB:  I think I’m an exciting fighter.  Of course, probably every fighter says that, but I try to stay up.  I have a kickboxing background, so I think people find that exciting.  I’m also not the kind of person that takes the easy road for a win.  Unfortunately, it’s kind of cost me some matches, but I usually keep trying to fight through and do different things.

Verbal Sparring: Tony Lopez (King of the Cage Double Champion)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , on October 31, 2008 by jaytan716

JT:  You’ve had quite a year.  You won the KOTC Heavyweight title in July in Wisconsin, and now the Light Heavyweight title three months later.  How does it feel to be a double champion?

TL:  It’s kinda weird, because I don’t feel it until I talk to people.  Or when they find out I got the [Light Heavyweight title], they’re like “you got two belts?”  So then I have to tell everybody about the fight and I start feeling it the more I say it – “I got two belts.”  And it feels good.  Every time I say something or talk about it, it starts kicking in more and more.  But it’s a good feeling.

JT:  You join a very select group.  You and Dan Henderson are the only people to win two titles in larger, more recognized organizations?  It says something about you and King of the Cage.

TL:  Yeah, it’s awesome.  I was hoping Terry would give me this opportunity, to try and get both, and I’m just so grateful that he did.  So now it’s time to show my face by giving better shows and upping my performance.  [To] go out there and make it more brutal and bang hard.

JT:  More brutal than your match with Joey Beltran?

TL:  A lot more!  Because it was good way to finish it, but there wasn’t enough action before that.  I was disappointed in that.  Not enough exchanges of blows and blood.  I want more of that.

JT:  Do you feel added pressure to perform as a fighter?

TL:  I’ve always put the same pressure on myself, whether I have a belt or not.  I gotta go out there and bang.  Now that I have the belt, I want to put on matches that reflect the prestige [the belt] deserves.  I gotta make my wins a lot cleaner and smoother.  I’ve got to make it look effortless.  I gotta show what a champ’s all about.  A double champ!

JT:  How will making weight for two different weight classes affect your training & diet?  Will you monitor your walk around weight differently?

TL:  My normal weight is about 214 lbs.  That’s normal for a light heavyweight because you normally drop about ten pounds or so [prior to weigh-ins].  I drop weight to 205; its nothing.  Now for a heavyweight, I just do what I normally do, weigh in at 214, and take care of business [laughs].

JT:  Would you bulk up if you faced guys closer to the super heavyweight range?

TL:  No, because normally, the guys that I fight are anywhere from 240 to 265.  I always weigh the same.  I think it’s going to make it easier for me when I go down to 205 because I’m used to bigger guys with 30-40 pounds on me.

JT:  Which weight class do you think is going to give you a tougher roster of opponents?

TL:  I don’t really look at the guys in my weight class because I don’t like to know about them.  Because it messes with my mind and my training.  As a matter of fact, with this last fight with Fernando [Gonzalez], I knew he had cornered Jon Brock, whom I fought in January, but I didn’t really know who he was.   I’d seen a few pictures of him, but in my head, I built him up to be this six foot tall . . . just a monstrous body on him, everything I could think of.  So that way, when I saw him and he was nothing like what I saw in my head, it made it a lot easier for me.

JT:  How do you want your defense schedule to play out?

TL:  I’d like to go back and forth.  It doesn’t matter which one comes first.

JT:  Over the past few matches, we’ve seen you bring your “Kryptonite” character to life.  Tell us a bit more what that’s about.

TL:  I want to create a character that people can see and think “he’s not from here; he just goes out there and whoops ass.  I don’t know how he does it or what he’s gonna do, but he does it.”  I’m trying to say Kryptonite is here – he’s gonna whip on anybody.  He’s like the monster from another planet . . . When he gets hit, he gets mad, stronger, and more vicious.  That’s when you don’t want to be in the cage with [Kryptonite].  There ain’t nobody you can put in there who’s gonna defeat him. 

JT:  Do you know when you’re fighting next?

TL:  Hopefully by mid-November, I’ll have an idea of what weight I’m fighting and with whom.

One more thing I wanted to say is that for this last fight, I was fit about five weeks out prior to it.  From that point up until the fight, I think I trained maybe only five or six times;  I was moving to a new area, a lot of things just came up, and didn’t have a place to go [to train].  The night before the fight, I got a fever and my voice was just sapped.  So that night, the fans all saw Kryptonite at his weakest point.

JT:  And he still came away with the gold.

TL:  The next time I come in [and defend the title], you’re gonna see a different fighter.  You’re going to see more quickness, more movement.

Verbal Sparring: Fernando Gonzales (King of the Cage)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2008 by jaytan716

On October 16th, Middleweight contender Fernando Gonzalez and Heavyweight champion Tony Lopez rendezvous at 205 pounds to square off for the vacant King of the Cage Light Heavyweight championship.  We sat down with Gonzalez to discuss his impending fight and the path leading up to it.

JT:  Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.  I know this is eating into your rest and relaxation time.  First, tell us about your background.  How did you get involved with mixed martial arts?

FG:  I grew up in Menisee.  It’s between Riverside and Temecula.  I started boxing when I was about five years old.  When I was in high school, I was really interested in the UFC, hearing about Tito and all those guys.  When I graduated, I was looking for something to help keep me out of trouble.

JT:  Was yours a rough neighborhood?

It wasn’t so much a rough neighborhood.  But it was more that . . . when there’s not much to do, you get yourself into shit, you know what I mean?  So this just kept me busy and not involved in all the other dumb shit.

I was lifting [weights] at a gym and one of the guys there was passing out flyers for a King of the Cage event.   So I asked him about it.  He said “I sponsor fighters . . . we got this studio where guys train.”  So I went and checked it out and I got sponsored that day.

JT:  What was the name of the studio?

It was Canyon Lake Martial Arts, [run by] Steve and Joey Harriman.  It was a karate studio, but they had a jiu-jitsu guy, Chris Brennan, who was also fighting at King of the Cage.  Chris started teaching me and a few other guys.  About a year and a half after training, I started fighting.  I trained with Chris for about three years.  From there I was training at the Fight Lab with Cory Cass.  Then I started going over to [Team] Quest, and I’ve been training with them since.

JT:  Who’s some of your regular training partners over there?

My main training partners are Jesse Taylor, Thierry Sokoudjou, and Isaias Alvarado.  Isaias is a really good kickboxer who will be coming out pretty soon.  Obviously, we’ve got Dan [Henderson]; we’re around the same weight class.  Vinicius Magalhaes, Dave Gardner, Brian Harper, he’s another King of the Cage fighter.

JT:  Do you have a certain approach or philosophy behind your training?

Train hard, you know?  Beat yourself up in the gym so you don’t get beat up in the fight.  That’s basically how we do it.  I work a lot with Master Bob Chaney also.  He’s my Muay Thai instructor, and he pushes me really hard.  Obviously training with Quest . . . some of the toughest fighters in the world are in our gym.  I got the best of both worlds on my stand up and my ground.

JT:  You’ve got a very even balance of wins, between knockouts, submissions, and decisions.  Do you lean towards one side, as a striker or a ground guy, or a bit of both?

I’m more all-around.  When I first started training with Chris, I worked almost a year and a half of nothing but ground.  I already had the boxing down.  I think that’s what threw people off.  Because I could strike and they think they’d beat me on the ground and then I’d be submitting them or ground and pound . . . but I’m real comfortable with both positions.

JT: What do you know about your opponent Tony Lopez?  Have you studied tape on him?  What do you think will be the toughest part of fighting him?

I didn’t really study too much tape on the guy, but I cornered against him when he fought John Brock.  [Tony’s] real durable; I think, the best thing he’s got going for him is that he’s so damn tough and he’s got a good chin.

JT:  Do you think that that’s going to be the toughest part of the fight for you?

Yes and no . . . I’m actually training my butt off really hard for this fight.  Honestly, I’m expecting a war with this guy. I’m not gonna say I’m knocking him out or submitting him. I hope that happens, but I really trained for the five rounds.  I have a pretty good idea of how he fights and my game plan is to just go out there and see what he gives me, really.

JT:  You normally fight at 185 lbs.  What are your thoughts on fighting up in weight?

I’ve fought at 205 pounds.  Like I said, I go with Thierry Sokoudjou and Krzysztof [Soszynski]. . Strength and weight-wise, I’m comfortable.  My best fight was at 205, when I fought Alex Stiebling, and I beat him at that weight, so I don’t think it’s going to make much difference.

JT:  After your fight with Lopez, who would you like to square off against next?  Would you want to come down to 185, or stay there and defend?

I wouldn’t mind defending once or twice, but I’m an 85’er, really.  And I’m still the #1 contender for that weight class, and I feel that I need to get that one too.  So hopefully I’ll get this one, then drop down and fight for the [185 pound title] as well.  I think that would be cool.  It’d keep me busy, defending both.

JT:  You took some time off from your last fight in April.  What have you been up to during that time?

I work at Pro-Am Kickboxing, where I instruct boxing and kickboxing.  I’d like to fight more frequently, honestly.  But if I don’t have a fight, I’m still training my butt off and trying to get better.

Sometimes it’s good to have time in between because when you’re getting ready for a fight really you’re not going to learn much more.  Because you’re preparing for the fight, like conditioning, and you’re really not going to learn anything else that’s going to help you to fight.  So I like to have a little off time so I can work some new techniques into my game and grow as a fighter.

JT:  Who are some of your sponsors?

I’ve got Combat Clothing, Skin [Industries], Dr. Toy Rancho Chiropractics in Temecula, Tribal Gear out of San Diego. . . I’ve got Siggy’s.  They’re one of my favorites.  It’s a restaurant and they’ve got a whole diet section, so I don’t have to buy food and stuff.  I got a good group of guys helping me out right now.  And Pro-Am has its own clothing line, Sanctioned Violence.

JT:  What has been your best and worst memory in your MMA career so far?

My best memory is probably when I beat Alex [Stiebling].  I fought him in WEC, and I think that was my best moment because when I was little I grew up watching boxing and watching Jimmy Lennon, Jr.  announce all these fights, and he announced my fight, so I was pretty stoked.  I got to take pictures of him and stuff.

I’d say my worst moment was when I fought Jay Martinez.  I went to fight him in Mexico City and I didn’t know there was elevation.  We’re out there fighting and after the first round I wanted to give up, but I was winning so I was like “I can’t do that.”  I ended up gassing out in the second and lost, but it was a good fight.  My hat’s off to [Jay].  I prepared for the fight; I just didn’t prepare for the elevation.  That’s the one that pisses me off the most.

JT:  Going into this week before your fight, do you have any last thoughts?

Not really.  I’m just keeping my head clear.  I’m just chilling out and relaxing before my fight.  Going through my routine like it’s just another fight.  It is for a title, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.  I’m just going to go out there and perform like I normally do and . . . I think I’ll beat him and I’ll come out victorious.