Friday, February 10, 2017

Raymond Watts interview

Interview with Raymond Watts of PIG
October 2016
by Evan South

Me:  Do you feel you have to do a lot more yourself these days as opposed to when you could just let the label/publicist do everything?

Raymond: I think yes you probably do, but it makes a much more direct relationship between you and the people who buy the stuff.  I mean what kind of asshole would say that’s not a good thing?  I really enjoy doing meet and greets and meeting people who say “I saw you then…” and you ask “How did you get into it?” The less shit there is between the people who do this stuff… Some people may not like it like that.  I like it.  The fact you do more stuff yourself.  I wish I could just do more of it.  On another side of that whole thing of being, not more humble, but just being in touch with the process.  Years ago when I used to come around the states we’d go around in a fuck all great tour bus, and I was miserable as fucking sin.  I never saw any of the states.  I was in the back lounge getting fucked out of my skull, unhappy as fuck, with a pretty weird, not very cohesive situation going on.  It was kind of nice going around in a big bus and it was the glory days you could say.  We’ve been traveling around in a van.  A couple of people I said to “what’s it like going around in a van”? A few people said it’s much nicer and I said how could that be? Well it’s really simple.  When you’re in a bus, the windows are always behind you and the blinds are down so you never see anything out of the window. When you’re in a van, the window is here or there, and so I’ve seen the countryside of New Jersey, I thought NJ looked like the credits of the Sopranos, just refineries, it’s actually quite beautiful.  I’ve seen all over Florida, and Georgia, and Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and even Nebraska.  And of course you don’t sleep in a bed that’s bumbling down the highway at 70 miles per hour.  It’s not like a fucking morgue where you have one bed there, another there, another there, etc.  We sleep in hotels and motels, you can take a shit in the fucking toilet, you can’t shit in the tour bus loo.  It’s just all this stuff you think is going to be… and it’s actually much better.  So what I’m saying is, it’s often quite nice not having a label do everything for you.

Me:  Back in May I interviewed Tim Skold, and he was touring in a van as well.

Raymond: I would much rather go in a van.  I prefer sleeping in a bed that’s not moving, I prefer taking a shower every morning, being able to spread my shit out on the floor, not getting changed in a fucking corridor, and sleeping in a bloody mortuary with a bunch of smelly musicians.
Me: I’m getting you at the tail end of your tour, how has the tour been so far?

Raymond: It’s been an absolute joy, and the first one I’ve really enjoyed, ever.  Like I alluded to before I was always really fucking unhappy on the other ones, and it’s nice to be with really nice people.  They’ve got to be people with a strong moral compass and really nice people, and its great to be working with Z. Marr, who was really instrumental in making this album, The Gospel, happen.  He co-produced it with me, wrote some of the stuff on it, and has a brilliantly kind of “can do” attitude. And that’s really great for me.  And it’s great to be working with my old cohort Nick/En Esch, we were writing stuff together in 1985.  It’s kind of quite weird. And Gunter, who I first worked with in 1994, and did lots of touring and recording with him as well.  So there’s one leg in that camp and then there’s Z. Marr, who I just started working with, although we did some work together 3 years ago but it never came to fruition.  It’s great working with him, and Galen, who is just completely kind of new to me.  It’s a really nice balance, makes the whole thing really enjoyable!

Me:  Do you find it odd after all this time that you and KMFDM have switched your live bands?

Raymond: I’m completely unaware of what goes on in the world.  I know the guys play with them…When I was speaking with Steve White earlier this year, I think we were talking about drummers actually, stuff, catching up… I was asking how are you doing, are you touring?  I don’t even know when they go on tour.  I have no idea what’s going on or what records are being released.  To tell you the truth, I’ve never been very aware of you might call this “scene”. I toured once with Ohgr, I never listened to a Skinny Puppy album in my life, or Front 242. I remember they (242) opened for Neubauten when I was doing sound for them.  I heard them then, that was probably 1986. So if the guys enjoy playing for them (KMFDM), I’m happy for them. I’ve been doing lots of other weird things.  And the reason I’m doing this now, is for 10 or 11 years I didn’t do any PIG because the time wasn’t right for it.  I was doing other things, dealing with other issues, looking after kids, looking after myself, doing music for fashion installations, the Met in New York for a couple of their huge shows they have there, doing all the audio design, lots of music for runway shows, fashion couture shows, little films, films of backstage at shows.  I was really fucking wrung out with the whole thing. I was bored with it.  What’s the point of doing it when your hearts not in it?  If the spirits not upon you, it’s not upon you. So I was done with the whole do a tour, make a record, go to Japan, do Schaft, do Schwein, tour Schaft, come back, record this, tour Schwein, record some KMFDM, do PIG, do a PIG for Metropolis, all these things… Wrung out!  So I stopped doing it.   And the dominoes start falling…And that’s how I’m here.  And there’s an enormous amount of chance in the way things happen.  It’s kind of good at the moment.

Me:  Along the lines of you mentioning about tiring of the routine.  How has PIG been affected since it is such an irregular project?  Maybe an album every 8 years, a tour every ten…

Raymond: Coming out here for the first time in God knows how many years, has been really extraordinary, that there are people who still remember us. They come out, and know all this old material.  The back catalog of PIG, for many, many years, was willfully obscure.  I wanted it to be obscure. So I had a really lovely relationship with my A+R guy and the various labels I worked with in Japan like Alpha, Victor, BMG and all these people.  It was great.  And the fact that stuff got licensed over here eventually… Sinsation, Wrecked… I was kind of pleased about, but pleased that it was licensed because, for example, when Nothing licensed Sinsation, Interscope did the day to day running of it, they didn’t know what the fuck it was, what to do with it, and they didn’t know how to deal with it.  So I was pleased it wasn’t pushed, it was very difficult to get a hold of, and that was fine.  Same with Wrecked when I went back to TVT, all the old Wax Trax stuff…  So when I come out here on this one, not having done anything recently, I find it stabbing that people even have these cd’s or even heard of us, or even know some of these songs!  I haven’t even got a lot of the stuff in the cd collections they bring to me to sign!  I go “Fuck, you’ve got a Japanese version of Wrecked”.

Me:  Talking about your older material, do you have plans to re-release it?

Raymond: My publisher came to see us in San Francisco last night and I think I might… People would like to get a hold of it, it’s that simple.

Me:  How was the Cold Waves concert experience?

Raymond:  It’s great to see some of the old gang, so to speak.  It’s nice to see Connelly, and people you haven’t seen for a while.  It’s a kind of a small community in that scene and people like to see each other and be supportive.  There’s a lot of goodwill there.  I like that.  It’s a nice vibe, nice support, goodwill. 

Me: And you don’t feel as old, because everyone around you is as old or older!

Raymond: Exactly!  I’ve never seen so many head to toe dressed in black.  That’s what turned me on to using a tambourine in my set.  They’ve never seen a tambourine, these people, it’s all synths.  

Me:  On the tambourine thing, people used to see you with guitar playing in KMFDM, and with PIG you did vocals only.  Why don’t we see you with guitar in PIG?

Raymond: Well, I’ll tell you very simply!  When you have Gunter Schultz with a guitar on one side, and En Esch with a guitar on the other side, who is the most fucking incredibly talented musician, I mean Nick really has the gift… He’s not like Gunter, Gunter has a different gift.  Gunter is pure German engineering; he’s absolutely the Audi engineering of guitar playing, whereas Nick is the Volkswagen with a little bit of Mozart on top.  So that’s why I don’t need to pick up a guitar with these 2 guys, because they’re really on point.  I might pick some guitar up in the future just to fuck them up a bit, I like that idea of German engineering with a bit of chaotic, anarchic thing.  Nick has the anarchic thing down.  German engineering and German anarchism, one on one side of the stage, one on the other side, and there in the middle they meet.  So if I feel it’s getting out of control I shuffle to Gunter’s side of the stage.  And if it’s getting too stiff and German I shuffle to the other side and get a bit of Nick’s anarchy. It’s a perfect balance!

Me: So a keyboard solo is out of the question?

Raymond: Well, for me certainly!  I’ve never been really great on the keyboard solo, but we have let Gunter off the leash with the guitar every now and then, because it’s such a gas, it’s such fun!

Me: Related to Cold Waves, another great character, Marc Heal (Cubanate, C-Tec)!

Raymond: Marc Heal, love him!  It was great seeing Marc in Chicago; we had such a laugh on the phone. When I spoke to him a few months ago, I was like “So I see you’re going to Chicago, so how do you feel about this?”  And Marc says “Well Raymond, I’ve got to tell you something.  I haven’t been on the stage this century!” We fell about laughing!  Even I’ve been on stage this century. I was like “It’s like riding a bike, you’ll never forget”.  We used to do shows with Cubanate back in 1991, 1992 back in Camden.  I didn’t get a chance to see him, I saw a bit of it, because they have really fast turn arounds there (Cold Waves).  On, off, on, off… By all accounts it was absolutely blinding.  I’m looking forward to hearing Marc’s new album.  I think Cold Waves is a gateway drug as well.  I think it will be the beginning of him slipping down the long dirty slide back to being on tour again. I think it is a gateway drug for all these bands who haven’t done anything... It’s like, just a taste, have a taste, first ones on me.  And the next thing it’s like “Fuck, let’s go on a 40 date tour of North America.”  I was asking Chris Connelly “Are you going back out?” and he says” No, no, no...”  We’ll see.

Me:  What are your plans coming off tour?

Raymond: First thing I’m going to do is get myself back to Europe.  I’m going to go do some personal shit and then I’m going to think about the next release.  The thing about doing this (tour) is, it’s been really interesting and really great, but in no way has it felt like “Oh he’s going to have one more whirl, you haven’t done it in a while”.  It very much feels like… Working with Z. Marr and hooking up with the guys again, there’s some stuff on the back burner that needs to be developed, plans made with labels and booking agents.  We’ve been offered 3 tours of the UK in the last week and a half, there are things afoot I should really… I’ve done lots of work for fashion; I did a music piece for Italian Vogue just in the week before I came out here. I did a little film for Jude Law, just a soundtrack thing, an old piece of music I put on. So I’ll maybe carry on doing that stuff, because it’s great and it’s fun.  I haven’t gone out on tour just to play old material; we play stuff off the new album.  Sometimes I think people want more of the old stuff, but we do new material, because new shit becomes old shit very quickly!  And there is more new shit I’d like to put in the set but that would be too much.  I don’t think there’s much point of getting in the pool and treading water.  It’s fucking boring for the people watching you, listening to you, and really boring for you.  And I think people really stagnate.  Once you tread water you have to tread water.  Treading water becomes the act of in itself becomes a means to an end.  “Oh, we’re doing another album, dial up our generic guitar sound, dial up our generic distorted vocals, dial up our bullshit we’ve been traipsing up for years.  I find that incredibly soul destroying.  It’s only interesting if you’re moving forward and you’re doing shit you haven’t done before. The new album, everyone says it sounds really different, I didn’t expect it to be like this.  Well that’s fine for me!  That’s great.  If they like it they like it, if they don’t they don’t, most people like it.  The ball has to keep moving.  If it’s a ball and it’s stationary, it doesn’t need to be a ball, it could be a 50 ton rock, but the ball is moving, and that’s the way this is going.

Me:  Do you feel re-invigorated; do you feel there will be more consistency with the project?

Raymond: I would say, yeah. I think so. I definitely have more stuff to do.  We’re not just going to release remix cd’s.  I mean we have one remix cd in the pipeline because loads of people have done remixes.

Me: Touching on what you said earlier about a stale routine of record, tour, record, tour, now that you’re motivated again, how do you prevent that staleness from happening?

Raymond:  That is a very, very good question!  One of the things that I did, which was a major thing that happened, is that I decided to stop drinking and drugging, which was an extraordinary experience in itself!  That had been going on for such a long, long time.  Nearly three decades of non-stop, multiple addictions.  I didn’t want to be sober.  I didn’t want to be with those boring sober fucks.  That must just be hell on earth. It’s not brilliant all the time but it’s certainly different.  I don’t know if I’d not get jaded doing album, tour, album, tour. I don’t want to do that. I want to tour, see my kids… I started going to the theatre again in the last year or so. Going out and re-engaging with people I haven’t seen in 20 years.  Before, it was just me sitting in my recording studio shoveling 8 balls of coke up my fucking nostrils, doing bags and bags of smack and every other thing you can possibly imagine, with copious amounts of alcohol.  That’s a pretty boring existence.  The only exciting thing for me back in the day was how would I take a bag of morphine on tour with me around the states for 2 and a half months and not lose it and keep it together or get left high and dry, or Japan, or wherever.  It was just really boring plowing along that long lonely miserable furrow.  So I just do other things nowadays.  Not being involved with stupid toxic co-dependent fucking idiotic relationships with really toxic people. And also toxic awful people I used to do music with, I just work with people I like.  I worked with Steve White in the studio but it was still very much me in my studio, locked in, for days and days, like “It’s my vision…”  I’m still doing it just as intensely, probably more so, but much more heads up, collaborating more.  Did some great work with Mark Thwaite writing this album, had some great input from Z. Marr on the production front, and Nick and Gunter!  It’s much more heads up and collaborative, which make it more enjoyable.  Maybe if it’s more enjoyable I might do it some more, which I’d like to do.  If people buy it, want to listen to it.  If they don’t, we won’t go out and do it, but I’ll go on doing the music.  I’ll keep writing it, don’t know if we’ll come out and play it but I’d like to.

Me:  Were you met with a lot of cynicism for this tour considering what happened with the “All Hamerican” tour back in 2006?

Raymond:  That was just kind of a perfect storm with some illness, bad organization, and some bad luck.  Shit happens to tours. I was talking with Andy Selway, my old drummer, and he said “Make sure you sort out your Visa.” I’ve had work visas to the USA since 1986 when I first came out on tour with Neubauten and all the way through no problems.  And he said so many bands, particularly from the UK, have not been able to tour because their visas got fucked up, got refused, from Homeland Security and all that. It’s a different climate.  He named all these people.  Things happen sometimes. Tours don’t work.  Sometimes things conspire against you.  Also, we didn’t have a new record. I wasn’t involved in organizing it; I just left it up to other people.  People have said we hope it works out this time.  And we have 4 more dates to do now and the whole thing will be over and I’ll think about something else.

Me:  What are your thoughts about being in the right place at the right time in this business?

Raymond:  I kind of see it more like I count my hits, not my misses.  I think it’s great that the people I’ve met have enabled me to do the things I’ve done.  I really appreciate the people who listen to our music.  I do appreciate the shit that I have.  I appreciate the stuff I’ve been able to do and the people who facilitated that.  I don’t begrudge the things that haven’t happened because I don’t know what would have happened!  Much worse things could have happened.  I think the good things that have happened have been genuinely fabulous.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mario Sperry Interview

Interview with Mario Sperry
September 2016
by Evan South

Me: What did you think of the Olympics being in Brazil this year?

Mario:  Everyone would like to have the Olympics, as the biggest sport meeting in the world.  To be honest, I don’t think it was the right move to be done concerning the problems we have over there, we have economic problems going on for a while now and now we have the impeachment of the President, the downhill that we’re going, is going to stop and things will get better in the future, but concerning the Olympics I think we spent too much money.  Was it nice? Yeah, it was nice, I saw it on tv.  But at what cost?

Me: What do you think about either BJJ or MMA becoming an Olympic sport?

Mario:  I don’t know about MMA, but I truly think BJJ is going towards becoming an Olympic sport.  If you think about which sport has grown so much.  BJJ is growing so fast, even in Brazil!  Every corner has people training, not just BJJ, but the BJJ lifestyle.  People want to train BJJ, they want to work out, do Yoga, stretching, weights, CrossFit, because of the fighting business, because of BJJ.  They want to enhance their physical qualities to be a better fighter.  So I’ve seen BJJ bring all types of people.  Sometimes they stop doing BJJ but keep going doing other healthy things like CrossFit.  So I think that’s the legacy of BJJ today is bring people to this healthy environment.  People are looking for more healthy foods, avoiding smoking and drinking.  And I see this in many parts of the world because I travel around.  Some countries like the UAE, the BJJ federation is working very hard to put BJJ in the world games.  As a matter of fact, BJJ is already in the Asian games.  They’re going to do a presentation in the Asian games.  So I think in the next decade most likely we’ll have BJJ in the Olympics.

Me: Along the same lines as BJJ, there are a number of submission grappling tournaments, like Eddie Bravo’s Invitational and Chael Sonnens Submission Underground.  What do you think about the success of these types of events?

Mario: It’s a very interesting phenomenon. I was in the Worlds Master JJ tournament, there were 2600 students/players.  I was impressed!  With much more people interested in BJJ/grappling, you’re going to see many more tournaments.  I believe it’s very important to have different tournaments with different rules to increase the fighters quality, not to just stick with one rule.  If you are a complete fighter you are able to compete in any environment. So I think it’s very interesting with different shows and competitions.  It’s amazing!  And it shows how BJJ is growing!

Me: Do you split your time between living in Brazil and the USA?

Mario:  I did that a while ago, but now I am living in Miami.  I just moved in January, I’ve been here for 9 months.  I’m doing my work Visa now and I’m going to stay here for good!

Me:  Why Miami?

Mario:  That’s a good question.  First of all because Miami is very nice, I love it.  The weather is good; it’s 8 hours from Brazil.  My parents are in Brazil so it’s easier to get in contact with them. I came here in America back in 2012 to work with the Blackzilians.  I always liked Miami but I didn’t have a relationship with Miami.  I always liked California and the California way of life.  In 2012 the management of Blackzilians invited me to be a coach, and I fell in love with Florida.  I stayed in Boca Raton, every weekend I was in Miami with my family having fun, and there was Orlando, the weather, the people.  So after 8 months of going back and forth to Brazil and living in Florida, I created a relationship with this place.  Then in 2015-2016 I said I was going to try to move to America.  So I thought where was I going to go? To Miami!  It’s right here on the corner, I have a lot of friends there, and the opportunities are there.  So that’s what I did and I’m still there, I’m living there, I’m very happy, it’s a nice life there, very safe.

Me:  Do you have a school?  What are your long term plans?

Mario: This past 9 months I’ve been doing seminars to understand the American market, try to find out what kind of gym or kind of concept of gym I would have.  Pretty much I’ve been all over the USA.  For sure next semester I’m going to have my gym in Miami.  I want to start teaching in a conditioning gym of a friend of mine in Miami.  I’m going to put some mats down; we’re going to see how the market behaves.  I don’t want to spend 1-2 hundred thousand dollars on a gym without any clients. So economically thinking it’s better to have something easy done, like put some mats down in a gym and see what happens and create my clients, spread the word that I’m around and make my students.  And then when I have like 60-70 students or so I’ll open up  my gym so I can break even easier. So instead of paying 5-6 thousand dollars rent I’d rather pay 1000 and get a cash flow and then open up my gym.

Me:  That’s where that degree in economics comes in handy!

Mario: Exactly! (laughs)

Me:  Are you looking to do BJJ or MMA (for the gym)?

Mario:  You know, that’s a good problem that I have.  I have 3 UFC fighters that have already contacted me to work with them for future fights. I am divided. For sure I’m going to have my BBJ gym.  The concept I want to do is exactly this: If some pro fighters want to work with me, we will set up a model, set up packages.  For instance, you have a fight, but you want me to just take care of your ground game, that’s a package.  Maybe they want me to set up a strategy, but they don’t need me to be at the fight.  Or they want a full commitment, they want me to take care of training, to build up my strategy and be in their corner.  It really depends on what they want and I’ll be there.  I love BJJ and MMA, I pretty much love fighting.  But definitely my goal now is to build up my gym and my students and from there we have to go with the flow.

Me: What makes a good fighter and what makes a good coach?  Not all good fighters can be coaches and vice versa?  You’ve been both.

Mario: At the beginning of my career as a BJJ fighter I opened up a gym in 1993.  But why open up a gym? I had to make money to survive.  But I always love to fight. I opened up a gym to be near my training.  My goal was not to make money to have a nice car or apartment; it was to subsidize my training to fight.  I went to South of Brazil, there was no BJJ there. It was a good source of business because there was no one there.  But it was bad for training, so I was at a crossroads.  My mind changed at the time because everything was about secrets.  You can’t show this to this guy… You can’t train with this guy from this other gym.  I’m an open minded person concerning training. I always search for new information. I remember Carlson Gracie, he didn’t want me training boxing. We were the first ones to cross train as MMA.  Back in the day it was BJJ vs Karate, BJJ vs boxing. I realized back in the day it wasn’t martial art vs martial art, it was best athlete vs best athlete.  Who was better prepared?  I realized BJJ was very good, especially if you didn’t know anything about the ground game.  But it wasn’t enough.  The complete fighter would be someone who would be good at one thing? No.  I realized the best fighter was someone who set up a strategy and could follow it. How can you do that?  To avoid a situation where you cannot follow your strategy you have to train in everything. So coming back to the gym, back in the day with the BJJ fighters who are closed…  I remember from my training partners saying “Hey, are you crazy, you showed all your game. “ Of course, I’m going to show what I do.  I won’t lie to these people; show them something that won’t work. I’m going to do the best thing I can do, and the best thing that I can do is something that I do well. So what I did with my students is the same thing. I didn’t have students to train with me, so I said “You know what, I’m going to make them better than I am”. I’m going to show them what I do best. And what happened? After a while, they started giving me a hard time with the things I like to do best.  So I couldn’t do the moves I used to do, so I was forced to develop new things.  That’s why my game opened up. And of course I was training, boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, judo… I was always looking for information.  One thing that I did and I think I did well, I was learning the techniques of other martial arts, and was always paying attention how those guys would pass information to me.  Meaning I was paying attention to the coaches, too.  How they behave, how they talk, how they keep your attention, how they treat the guy who has difficulty, how they treat the well-rounded guy who is a good fighter and had good abilities.  Sometimes I can be a very good coach but I realize also the best coaches don’t know everything but they look at you, your body type, and know what the best techniques, the best ways are. So that’s what I think I do best. I’m good in making up strategies for fighters.  I see the fights, I take a look, and I set up training and strategy.  To enhance the things I think you should do in the fight.  Enhance your qualities and abilities.  I was a BJJ fighter with no skills in boxing or muay thai. Luckily I was very smart in that as a BJJ champion people wanted to treat me differently, but I said I wanted to start from the ground up.  Muay Thai, wrestling.  I started to learn everything from the bottom.  Ground zero.  I don’t believe in short cuts.  When I see a storm, I don’t run away from it, I run towards it.  If I see a problem I go after it.  So if I’m going to get better I know what to do.  I’m going to start as a white belt from the very first class and gain my recognition as I deserve. So in this path, I had the opportunity to train with outstanding coaches and with the best martial artists ever from many different generations because I still train today.  I’m going to be 50 at the end of this month and I still train.  So to answer your question, when I had the opportunity to train in different martial arts I always tried to get better but always trained focusing on how the message was passed to me.  The most important thing of all is that I never, ever kept information to me.  I always passed it.  And I realized after a while, when started doing seminars, that when you pass your information, you’re teaching hundreds and hundreds of people and they come up with different questions. At the end of the day you do the positions so many times for so many different people they ask so many different questions, after 3 or 4 seminars, you became a master of the position.  You became much better than you were before. I truly believe in good energy and whatever God is, whatever energy exists, passing what you learn, you’re going to be paid back.  And being paid back in helping people is exactly this: You grow, you get even better.  Even today, I was teaching those kids and I start to remember things I wasn’t able to do in a long time.  Moves started to come back in my head.  In every seminar in every class there is someone asking a different question.  They were very important because you develop different situations and scenarios that this position or move happens and you become much more complete. That’s why I think I had some success as a coach and as a fighter because I’m always interested in being a good coach and passing everything I knew and trained and was good at. On the other hand, when I was a fighter I had no ego to learn from scratch.  I wanted to start from the very first class.  I wanted to learn how to put the straps on my hand, how to put on the gloves.  That’s what I think I did well.

Me:  I love your analogy of the storm, and it reminds me of your first fight in Pride.  They gave you Igor Vovchanchyn. 

Mario: Exactly!  Why not?  It was a good chance, I was so relaxed.  The guy was second in the world.  I remember I was supposed to fight in Pride and I prepared myself and the fight didn’t happen.  I kept training and training.  Then the second time, the same thing, it didn’t happen. So the third time, I was going to the gym, the guy called me and said, “We got you a fight.  You’re going to fight Igor Vovchanchyn.”  I was like “Oh my god, couldn’t there be an easier thing for me?” So I negotiated a little bit.  I could see the guy on the other line was testing me. It was to see if I really wanted to fight.  “Ok, if I win I want 50% more.”  No problem.  There was nothing for him to lose. And this was one week before, they had me fight Vovchanchyn 1 week before.  But I was ready.  The storm was there.  I was very fortunate to take him down, and I was feeling very good.  I punched him, 3 really good punches on the ground, and he was kind of dizzy and he made a mistake.  We fight ourselves.  I saw the challenge, and it was a good chance to put my name higher.  That’s what I did.

Me:  Your last mma fight was against Lee Hasdell in Cage Rage.  Did you make a decision before or after the fight that it would be your last mma fight?

Mario: I was in a very delicate situation.  I left Brazilian Top Team.  PRIDE was over.  I had my family.  I was 42 already.  I felt very good, strong, and fast.  But I couldn’t be egocentric and think about me, I had to think about my family. So I had to run after all the things to support my family.  To be honest, I got kind of depressed because I couldn’t try to be the best anymore.  I could train with the other guys like Nogueira and Arona, I could see they were getting much better than I was.  I realized I could keep going a little more… Every time I fought, the money was good, but I wasn’t fighting for the money, I was fighting to get better to prove I could be the best guy.  Many times I wasn’t the best guy but I was trying to be, to prove that I could be, but one day I woke up and said I can’t be the best anymore, I can’t even try to be the best anymore. It made me really sad, and I tried to get away from fighting.  It was a stupid thing to do, but I felt that way. So I worked with different things in BJJ and MMA.  I trained regularly with the Nogueira brothers, Anderson Silva, all those guys.  They would invite me to go to the fights, and I was like I don’t want to go to the fights. The fight made me not feel very good.  At the end of the day I wanted to be there, but I had to accept the fact that I couldn’t.  I was at a crossroads in my life.  I kind of laid back 3 years without watching fights.  My wife said I was crazy, I should do it, I should go, this is your life.  But I dedicated my life more to surfing, going to Indonesia to look for new challenges. Always testing my skills and abilities.  I was kind of disappointed with my situation of getting old, but now  I’m feeling good, and I’m teaching and training, spreading the BJJ word around and I’m very happy.  I understand everything has a time. You have to accept that.

Me:  Do you have plans to return to ADCC?

Mario:  If they invite me.

Me:  What are your plans with other BJJ tournaments?

Mario:  It’s a matter of getting an invitation. If I get an invitation and I’m capable of preparing myself, why not? Get someone my age, I’d be cocky to think I could fight someone 30 years old, I don’t have the strength, but I’m not dead.  I’m old, but not dead.  I’m still training with those guys.  I like the challenge.

Me: So right now with the seminars you’re mostly concentrating on setting your gym in Miami?

Mario:  I have my business in Brazil, too, but right now with the economic crisis, they are very slow, but in 2 months I’m there for 10 days.  My focus now is to set up here in America.  Set up my association, my clothing line, and maybe have my website ready,  We can’t predict what happens. My goal is to open up my gym, work with MMA guys if they want, if they invite me.  Maybe if there is a show that has old men fighting, I’ll be here!

Me: Maybe a legends division.  When you do your seminars, what is it you love about your seminars?

Mario: I love to teach.  It’s a great opportunity to make more friends.  Go to different places, different countries.  The people are different, the environment, nature, weather, and the cities.  95% of the time you are welcomed by local people. You travel, you take your holiday to anywhere, and then when you get there, you get the local people to take care of you.  You understand their customs, they take you to eat, and you do extra activities.  They gladly like to please you.  You understand the culture, you make new friends, you do sightseeing, and you do what you love!  You train.  It’s a win-win scenario.  At the end of the day you even get paid to do that!  I’m pretty blessed to go anywhere in the world, naked with no money, and know I will get a place to eat and sleep, and I’m going to be well treated.  I feel very blessed every day I wake up and realize that.

Me:  You find something you love to do and you never work a day in your life!

Mario:  Exactly. It’s kind of weird to say this is a job.  This is a vacation for me.  Feeling healthy, eating healthy, doing healthy activities.  Work with young people, half my age, they treat me equally.  My body is not the same but my spirit is still young.  I feel happy, I feel alive.  What can I say?  Outstanding feeling.

Me:  On a side note, you ever confuse the Nogueira brothers?

Mario: To tell you the truth, I’m pretty bad with twins, but not with them.  They’re totally different.  I never made a mistake.

Me:  Do you miss the “good old days” with the BTT?

Mario: Oh yes, all the trips. Actually, Nogueira, we have a project together, we’ve been talking to each other.  I’m the vice-president of the Brazilian JJ federation in Brazil.  And the president is my partner, longtime partner Walter Mattos.  We represent UAE BJJ.  We organize the Abu Dhabi BJJ tournaments in Brazil.  Nogueira, I brought him in to be the technical director of the business. So we’ve been in contact, pretty much every week we talk, we travel together.  It’s been nice to remember the old days.  So many stories, man, so many stories…

Me: That will be another interview for you and I some day!

Mario: I remember the other day I was checking my old passports.  When Brazilians go to Japan, you need 2 pages.  One they stamp, and then they have to stamp it again.  I have a pile of passports like this.  Do you know how many times I went to Japan in 8 years? I went 52 times! One year, maybe 9 times a year.  So can you imagine traveling with those guys, 30 hour flight to Japan, all the crazy shit?  You have no idea man… Now they are polite, they’ve seen the world but 16 years ago, Nogueira, he could barely speak.  Now he’s a very polite man, he knows how to eat, he couldn’t eat properly… They were animals man!  I had to teach those guys how to talk.  To fight was easy!  But how to behave… Now they are gentlemen.  They always were good people, good energy, they wouldn’t harm anyone, but they were raised in a tough environment.  They were just tough.  They were not used to rough people.  Now they know how to behave everywhere.  Thanks God!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Jason Lambert interview

Interview with Jason "The Punisher" Lambert
May 2014
by Evan South

Me:  How did you get your nickname “The Punisher”?

Jason:  The first instructor I had was Mike Markanson, and he was driving down to Torrance to train with Royce.  We were training in his (Mike’s) garage, I had trained with him for 2 years.  It was all just garage.  He had the Punisher comic book posters in his garage, and some of the training partners, one of my good friends Nick Moritas said “That’s you, you’re the Punisher”.  Because of just the way that I would roll was kind of relentless.  So, that’s what they ended up calling me.  I tried to shake it and it stuck.  That’s how that came about, was just way back in the early, early days of me taking jiu-jitsu in the garage of my first instructor.

Me:  So you had that nickname all along?

Jason:  Yeah, before I even fought, before I had even entertained MMA it was just jiu-jitsu and that was what they would jokingly call me.

Me:  Are you currently with Alliance fight team?

Jason:  No, I am with Blackline.  That is in Carlsbad, we had our old team, which was NCFC, North County Fight Club, and that kind of disbanded, like several other teams have over the history of MMA.  We’re trying to rebuild a new one, and Blackline’s been there for 5 years, but it’s mainly been jiu-jitsu and MMA, but not so much pro guys.  I’ve trained there since they opened but it was never a lot of high caliber guys there, it was more like the public classes and things like that.

Me:  Diving right into the beginning of your pro career, your fifth pro fight was Marco Ruas.
What was the timing like when you’re entering your fifth pro fight and you’re like “Marco Ruas, what the hell, I’ll give it a try.”  To jump into a name like that very, very early, what was the thought process with a name like that that early on?

Jason:  There wasn’t much back then, there were managers that weren’t looking out for the best interests of so called careers in fighting, and it just came up and it was a good opportunity, and obviously every fighter thinks they can beat any other fighter, so of course I took the fight.
It didn’t go well, but it wasn’t about that, it was a great opportunity at the time and so we took it.

Me:  So, much like this interview it was “I’ll probably bomb miserably but I’ll go down swinging”…

Jason: Exactly.


Me:  Something I think was a very pivotal moment in your career which was after you were working your way up in Gladiator Challenge and King of the Cage was Superbrawl.  The big 2 day tournament, all heavyweights.  If you remember that huge heavyweight tournament around 1999 that produced all those big names like Barnett, Rodriguez, Marsh, Hoffman, etc, all these huge names in that tournament and the winner, even the runner-ups, were already in the sky.  So to get, at that point in your career, to Superbrawl…  First I want to ask how did you get involved in that tournament?  Were you invited, did Terry (Trebilcock of KOTC) or someone have connections and say “hey let’s try and get you in this Superbrawl tournament?” How did you get there to begin with?

Jason:  I just remember my manager saying “we got you in, we’re going to Hawaii, 16-man tournament”, and I said “all right, let’s go”.  Tournament format is rough, really rough.

Me:  Especially with 2 days…

Jason: Yeah.

Me:  On a lighter side, it must have been nice to say “First of all, I’m getting an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii”.  Is that one good thing?

Jason:  Yeah, when you’re young, a trip to Hawaii doesn’t sound bad at all, no matter what you’re doing.  We beat each other up in the gym, so why not go to Hawaii for free and get paid to go fight some guys.

Me:  How was the overall experience?  Again, it was 2 days, you came out of it 2-1.  Was it really instrumental at that point for your career, was it a big turning point being part of that tournament?

Jason:  Yeah, it felt good.  It’s a point where, it’s like ok, I fought really tough guys… Like you said, the tournament before, there were tons of names.  The one that I was in had Travis Wiuff, Cabbage, Tim Sylvia who I fought, and there were some other really tough guys, Brian Stromberg who I fought… They didn’t really end up going on with their career so to speak, but they were really tough guys at the time.

Me:  And again you had Rothwell, Whitehead…

Jason: Exactly.  Those guys are monsters.  It was a really tough tournament.  And to go and do, I think from my personal point of view I did pretty well.  Sylvia blew through everybody, and I was the only one… they stopped the fight because my ear was bleeding so bad.  But I would have been the only one that went the distance with Sylvia in the tournament, but they stopped it with like 15 seconds left in the fight or something.  But, like you said, to me it was a good turning point because it was like I can compete with these high level guys and fight 3 fights in a matter of a day and a half and still feel solid about my abilities.

Me:  So you continued on the Gladiator Challenge/King of the Cage circuit and I want to go to the Gladiator Challenge fight with Chael Sonnen.  Did you only find out you were fighting him the same day? (info from old Full Contact Fighter interview with Jason from 2006)

Jason:  It wasn’t that, but it was like a few days, it wasn’t much.  I was supposed to be fighting Allan Goes, which is obviously the complete opposite of a Chael Sonnen.

Me: Pure BJJ versus pure wrestler.

Jason:  Yeah, exactly.  And what I was told was he was a wrestler, but to me a wrestler and an Olympic alternate caliber wrestler is obviously 2 different animals.  To get an opponent change like that, that short notice, it is what it is.

Me:  And it still went to a decision.

Jason:  Yeah.

Me:  Another guy I wanted to bring up, the only gentleman you’ve fought twice, Matt Horwich.
One win, one defeat.  Matt’s a really unorthodox fighter, and being the only guy you fought twice, I don’t know if you were interested in doing a rubber match.  The first fight you won by TKO, second fight was a decision loss.  Tell me about fighting a guy like Matt.

Jason:  Matt is a really cool guy, we’ve hung out several times.  No ill will against him.  When I fought him the second time it was more of I was having a harder time finding fights because of where I was at in my career.  No one really wanted to fight me… Not that no one really wanted to fight me, but it was “where do I go, what’s going to be a good step for me opponent wise”.
They threw that fight my way, and I had no business being at 185.  We fought originally at 205 and then the second fight was my flirting with 185 which was a really foolish move, I actually didn’t even make weight when I fought Horwich, I was a pound over.  I should never have even agreed to that fight.  I thought that I could make a run at 185, but it was not for me.

Me:  When did you originally drop to 205?  Once again, I wonder if the Superbrawl HW tournament was a good gauge…You could clearly hang with some of the big guys, but at the same time they were huge!  There’s big, and then there’s huge, the new breed of heavyweight.

Jason:  Yeah, that was definitely… it was like that was a good run, I fought some monsters, literally monsters, in that tournament.  Build-wise, I was fighting at 235, so I definitely wasn’t the slimmest trimmest, so I could definitely cut back and get down to 205 and we just thought that was a much better move. I don’t remember the year or when that was, but it just felt a lot better to get down, I was a lot faster and a lot meaner.

Me: Style-wise how were your 2 fights with Horwich?

Jason:  The first fight I completely dominated him, he didn’t have any answers, he was trying to take me down and I stuffed them all.

Me:  That was at 205?

Jason:  That was at 205, that was for WEC.  I just felt really dominant in that fight.  The second fight I really struggled to make weight and I gassed.  I dominated him I believe in the first round, the second was a tossup, and the third I was spent, because I didn’t have anything left.

Me:  And it was a split decision, too, so he just eked it out either way.  So you continue on, you have a couple high profile fights, Marvin Eastman in King of the Cage and Travis Wiuff in FFC, and as you probably thought you were getting to the entry point of the UFC and those 2 big names/wins pretty much put you over the top.  What was it like when you got that call from the UFC?  Not necessarily emotion wise, but were you expecting it, were you ready to roll, where were you at (mentally) at that time?

Jason:  I had already had quite a few fights and I was kind of wondering if it ever was going to happen.  And then I finally did get that call and parlaying all those wins I was on a pretty good tear.  I felt the Marvin Eastman fight was a grind, and then I stopped Wiuff early, so I just had a ton of momentum and so it was perfect timing for me to roll right into my first UFC fight.  It just felt right, it felt good, and we just went for it.

Me:  You were probably the most unknown, undefeated fighter in the UFC after your first 3 fights.  Your first 3 UFC fights were pretty straightforward.  Your first fight against Rob Macdonald was total domination, once you got him down…

Jason: Yeah, big tough guy, he obviously posed his own threats, but I think game plan wise we executed well and he didn’t have the answers jiu-jitsu wise.  It was a good night, ended it quick in the first round.

Me: I think a quote you had from that fight was something like you had that Kimura so tight you could have broken it off and taken it home with you, something like that, it was funny…

Jason:  I had never taken anybody’s shoulder that far, I actually thought his shoulder was going to tear, because obviously my first UFC fight so I’m not going to just let him go, but at the same time I kept going, he wasn’t tapping, and I was kind like “is this guy gonna let me rip his shoulder out”?  And then he finally tapped, but it had gone pretty far, and most big guys don’t have too much shoulder flexibility anyway, I had taken it pretty far and I was expecting it to tear.

Me:  On to the second fight with Terry Martin, which you joked you were finally fighting someone shorter than you… Again, once you got past the first round, it was pretty much total domination in the second.

Jason:  Yeah, that’s what we… we just wanted to make the work rate really high, because he does have such heavy hands, just make him work really hard in the first round and see where the fight went.  And obviously in the second round he just didn’t have any answers because I made him work so hard in the first.

Me:  Third fight, next to Chael, possibly the best wrestler you faced with Brandon Lee Hinkle.  Coming out of Hammer House, with training partners like Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman, someone like that is probably going through a pretty rigorous or hard pace.  But again, like the Martin fight, he couldn’t handle the pace again.

Jason:  Yeah.  That is what I like to do is just make people work at a really high rate and see if they could hang.  If they couldn’t hang, then obviously the fight would end.  If they could, then we’d go to the second or possibly the third.  But usually a lot of the guys I would go really heavy on their arms with the cage work, and they couldn’t hang.

Me:  Again you go from 3-0 with somewhat low visibility fights to a high profile fight with Rashad Evans, did that transition affect anything at all or your performance?

Jason:  No, there was some training issues right before the fight, everything went well up until 2 weeks and then I ended up hurting something but I still chose to fight. I’m not a big excuse guy, we chose to fight and the fight went the way it went. 

Me:  I’m wondering another thing that might have contributed, and this isn’t for excuse wise, but those first 4 fights all occurred within 6 months.  That is a furious pace for very high-level fights like that.  Most guys now can get 4 fights in 18 months if they’re lucky.  How was that pace for you?

Jason:  It was good.  That’s how I started, way back.  That’s what we did, we lived in the gym, we fought, we trained, we fought…  There was a lot more work ethic, not that the newer guys don’t work hard, but it was just get your butt in the gym.  Every day isn’t a great stroll in the park, you just get in the gym and work.  It was a perfect fit for me, I was just used to it. So it was just go, go, go, we were on a good run, and of course let’s just keep fighting.

Me:  Referring back to the Superbrawl HW tournament you were fighting 3 times in 2 days…

Jason:  Exactly.

Me:  It would have almost like another day in the gym.  So after the Rashad fight there is a small break and you are then matched up with Babalu, another long time veteran.  He’s hungry like you are because he was coming off that second Liddell loss.  So you have two really hungry guys in there in a fairly high profile fight.  What were your thoughts on that situation of being matched up with Babalu with both of you coming off losses, what was your mindset at that time?

Jason:  I was upset that I had lost to Rashad.  Like you said, I was on a good tear, 3-0, then I lose to Rashad.  I just wanted to get back in there and make a statement that I wasn’t just going to be pushed around.  I was in great shape and I came to fight hard!  Obviously I knew I was a huge underdog because Babalu had just fought for the belt, and so I’m basically a tune up fight for Babalu to get back in the running to go back for another title shot.  So I didn’t obviously like that storyline.  I was training my ass off and I wanted to get back in there and make a statement.

Me:  Which you did in the second round with a left hook.  I couldn’t tell what he (Babalu) was doing, if he was trying a front push kick or…

Jason:  He threw a knee, I think he was expecting me to change levels, which the knee would have been a huge success if I shot, but I didn’t, he just came out with a huge knee and I just hit him with the left hook and he wasn’t ready for it.

Me:  That fight also got you fight of the night and knockout of the night.  Without going into specifics, was that your best one night payday ever?

Jason:  Yeah, it was great.

Me:  Not only do you make a comeback after a loss, but you also get the bonuses.

Jason:  Bonuses, biggest win of my career…

Me:  Another highlight…

Jason:  Huge highlight.  And especially if you look back at the timing of it, like I said he had just fought for the belt, Babalu was on a tear destroying everybody, which got him the title shot.  So he had just destroyed everybody up until he fought Chuck.  He was just pretty much owning everybody that he fought.  He loses to Chuck, then he fights me, and like I said I was basically served up to him to be a tough guy, a tune up fight to get him back in the running and it didn’t work out that way.

Me:  After Babalu, you had a couple more light heavyweight fights, both were losses, what was going on at that point?

Jason:  Like I said, I’m not an excuse guy, Gouveia was a hell of a fight.  I felt like I was owning him and he caught me with a good punch.  Cane, really tough guy, I didn’t press my game plan like I should have.  The light heavyweight class you can’t mess around.  If you make a couple bad movements, whether they’re grappling or striking or whatever they are, a lot of times that’s it, you don’t get a chance to have a do over or come back from those mistakes, so you make a couple adjustment mistakes and that’s it.

Me:  After that you attempted to drop to 185 against Jason Macdonald.

Jason:  It was just… I felt like crap.  I should have known that it was a bad call to even go to 185.  I felt like crap, it was a terrible cut and that fight didn’t go well either.

(Jason later clarified by email that even though his first attempt to cut to 185 went badly, he did it again for the second Horwich fight because there weren’t a lot of offers on the table at that time for decent money.)

Me:  Did you realize that your first and last fights in the UFC were against Macdonalds (Rob and Jason)?  I don’t know if it was a Canadian conspiracy…


Jason:  Yeah, I did know that.

Me:  After the Macdonald loss, you were let go?  You were actually cut at that point?

Jason:  Yes.

Me:  What is the process when the UFC does that?  How formal or informal is it?

Jason:  They just let your manager know that you’ve been released.  Manager comes as the bearer of bad news.  You just pick up and go from there.

Me:  After the 3 losses in the UFC you had 2 more fights outside the UFC, both decision losses to Matyushenko and Horwich.  Together that was 5 losses in a row.  For some fighters, 2, 3, or 4 losses in a row can mean the end.  What was your mindset with a 5 fight skid?

Jason:  It wasn’t good.  To be quite frank, it was pretty devastating.  It was a lot of depression.  It was terrible, because you have super highs and super lows, and then when you have a lot of lows strung all together, it gets really tough to even show up to the gym.  It’s just working through it, and that’s what kind of makes or breaks people.

Me:  You continued in a couple small promotions… Also in later 2009 you attended The Ultimate Fighter 11 tryouts.  What was the experience like of trying out for a job you’d already had?  How was the whole experience and how/when did you know they weren’t going to bring you back?

Jason:  They didn’t really let me know, that kind of process, they just don’t call you.  It was just me trying to ignite a fire, trying to pursue any avenue, obviously I’m looking for work.  I was a pro fighter, you’re trying to find work, which are fights.  So if I could be on a tv show that’s going to let me fight, that’s just more work, so that’s what I was trying to do, just get myself back out there.

Me:  Did it feel odd that you’re auditioning for a position you’d already had?

Jason:  I think that a lot of people wouldn’t do it because they let their pride or their ego get in the way of that, and to me that’s why I just simplify it as work, like I’m just trying to get back out there and work.  If I don’t try, if I don’t ever apply for a job how could I ever get it?
So that’s the way I saw it.  And obviously it was humbling, you got these guys that have fought 4 times, and they’re trying out for this show, and I’ve fought 20 something time… I don’t even know how many times I’ve fought, I don’t even remember…

Me: Did you have an idea why you weren’t selected?

Jason:  Yeah, to me it wasn’t anything personal, they were trying to find new talent, not guys that had been there, done that.  So I was pretty sure that it was a longshot that I’d be picked, but I still wanted to try, what does it hurt to try?

Me:  You had 3 fights in 2010, you went 2-1.  After your last fight in War on the Mainland…

Jason:  Yeah, it was a one-off show.

Me:  At that point after that fight you had about a two and half year break before you went to Bellator.  What was going on in that two and a half year gap?

Jason:  A lot of it was just getting back to being me. It had gotten to a point where the gym wasn’t fun anymore, training wasn’t fun anymore, there was just so much pressure and so much “what are you gonna do with your career”, that I just kind of put it on hold.  More inadvertently, just kind of got back…  It took a while, but it slowly got back to having fun, to where it used to be way back in the early days, when you enjoyed showing up to the gym.
Because it does get to a point where it is work, and just like any job it gets tough.  So it took a long time to get back to where I felt comfortable, I felt motivated and hungry again.

Me:  Was there any particular trigger?  Or do you just think after all those years and all those fights you just needed some physical or mental break?

Jason:  A lot of it was just personal things that I had to work through.  A lot of hurt and a lot of disappointment.  Like you said, you go on a huge skid, that still lingers, it doesn’t just go away.
So those things, when you have such limelight in being in the UFC and having these high profile fights to going back and fighting on smaller shows is very humbling.  So it’s a long time to process that and heal yourself emotionally and physically and just kind of get back to where you have more of a peace about yourself.

Me:  Do you have a mindset between the bigger and smaller shows?  There is always that question of do you want to be the big fish in a small pond or small fish in a big pond?  How has that been over the years with all the different promotions you’ve fought in?

Jason:  The small shows I think are a little bit more dangerous, because some of the small shows some of the guys aren’t as known, so you don’t have a ton of tape or you don’t really know everything that they bring to the table.  So some of those smaller shows, those guys are super hungry, they want to get to where you’ve been, and so they just want to walk all over your name.  So the smaller shows I think are just as dangerous as a big show.
Me:  Feels like you have a big target painted on you…

Jason:  Oh definitely…

Me:  Just like you were when you were young and hungry…

Jason:  Exactly.

Me:  So after this break you get into Bellator.  You had a very impressive debut with a submission you pulled off from your back when you were scrambling with Hector (Ramirez).
Transitioned from a triangle choke to an inverted or straight…not a typical kind of armbar.

Jason:  Yeah, reverse armlock.  It’s a reverse straight armlock.

Me:  Not something we normally see from you, a very rare submission off of your back.  How did that feel?  You have a two and a half year break, you’re fighting another UFC vet, so I’m sure both of you guys are hungry, so what was your mindset?

Jason:  I was just happy to be back in the cage.  I was just happy to be back competing.  To me it was… there was no way I could lose.  Whatever the decision was in the fight… win, loss, draw, I had a completely different mindset that I’m getting back to doing what I love to do.  Obviously somebody has to win and somebody has to lose but the fact that I can actually even get in there and still compete at a high level was a win for me.  I just had a really good mindset and I just came out and had fun.  I just fought hard and obviously it showed that I had been working on my jiu-jitsu in that time and I just got him in a dangerous spot and he didn’t have an answer for it, so he got put in that submission that you normally don’t see.

Me:  Is it because he’s trying to fend off the triangle and he’s not paying attention to that arm being trapped?

Jason:  The minute details of that, I actually had him in a shoulder lock.  And the only way out of that shoulder lock is to straighten your arm.  So when you set up very tightly from that position, you set up that very tight shoulder lock, the only way out is to straighten your arm.  So it’s a bent arm lock, but it’s actually by grabbing the elbow, and as you pull up and attack the shoulder, they have to straighten their arm to get out of it, which puts them in the reverse straight armlock.

Me: Let me back up, did you approach Bellator or did they approach you once you got your name out that you were ready to fight again?

Jason:  A little bit of both.  It was me kind of putting the feelers out there to see if they would even be interested in me fighting for them, and then when I did they said “yes”.  Next thing you know they were going to be throwing some west coast shows and I actually fought not far from the house, it was up in Irvine so it was perfect.

Me:  Then you go into your second Bellator fight, another UFC vet, Tom (Deblass) fought twice in the UFC, he didn’t have a ton of fights.  Again, you could sense it was two hungry guys in there, and it turned into pretty much a standup scrap for the most part, and he had those vicious left hooks.  Tell me about that fight.

Jason:  Just that.  Just two hungry guys.  He’s a black belt, I just recently got my black belt.  We just had a hell of a fight and he just ended up throwing a little bit more, faster than I did, and caught me with that hook.  Just a tough guy.  I was a little too relaxed, I think, and he took advantage of it.

Me:  Did you have a specific game plan for that fight?  Did you want to put pressure on him, did you think maybe I didn’t try to get this guy down enough…?

Jason: No, that’s what we wanted to do, we wanted to stand and bang with him, and that’s what happens, you know?

Me:  You’re 1-1 with Bellator.  It’s been several months, do you have another fight left with Bellator?

Jason:  Yes.  Hopefully…Nothings set. So very soon.

Me:  They’re ending this current season, then they have their summer series…

Jason:  Yeah, so I might be on one of the summer series shows.

Me:  But might fight in the fall, depending…

Jason:  Yeah.

Me:  Do you know if it would be a “regular” fight or if you might be in one of the tournaments?

Jason:  I don’t know what their plans are with the light heavyweight tournament.  It’ll probably be a one-off, not a tournament slot fight is what I’m thinking, just because I’m coming off a loss so I think they usually have their winners go into the tournament format.  So I don’t know if I’m even eligible with their criteria.

Me:  They always have a ton of reserves, people drop out…

Jason: Yeah, exactly.

Me:  Your career, you’ve mostly been pretty healthy and injury free?

Jason:  Yeah, obviously fighting is a lot of abuse on the body, but I have been very fortunate to not have a lot of the surgeries and a lot of the really big injuries that a lot of other people have faced.

Me:  You’re about 36, almost 37.  How are you feeling at this point in your career?

Jason:  I feel good.  Going back to what I said about the Hector fight, at this point I just feel really fortunate to be able to do what I love. From a work standpoint, there’s tons of people that drive themselves to a job that they hate, they have a lifestyle that they hate, just so they can get to the weekends and pretend like they don’t have the life that they hate.  So I’ve really kind of enjoyed the fact that I actually get to do what I love.  And I’ve worked my butt off for so many years that it just feels good to still be able to be in an industry and compete at a pretty high level and do what I love for this long.  I just feel really fortunate.

Me:  How has Bellator been?

Jason:  Bellator’s been great.  And I have no ill will… the UFC treated me great.  I never had one problem with them.  They treated me great, and it’s a business.  I wasn’t winning fights so they had to let me go.  They treated me great, and Bellator’s treated me like a Prince.

Me:  Do you have an idea what will happen after your third fight?  Do you start over with a brand new contract and look at your options at that point?

Jason:  If I entered the tournament there were tons of options for them to re-sign.  Obviously I want to win, and if they’re looking to re-sign me that would be great.

Me:  Over the years, any generally funny, weird, crazy stories?

Jason:  I was in Newcastle (England), and I’ve never seen that many drunk people in my life.  There were soccer games going on, and we come outside, and the streets were just littered with stumbly drunk people… That was the scene that’s just stuck in my head.  I’ve never seen that many drunk people that could barely even walk, there were women holding their shoes, and we’re talking 50 or 45 degree weather, and these girls in dresses walking around barefoot just drunk!  Yeah, Newcastle was a trip.