Sunday, October 10, 2010

Eric Pele interview

Interview with Eric "Big E" Pele
by Evan South

Me: I know you quietly retired, it’s been almost two and a half years since your
last fight. When did you officially retire and how did you come to that decision?

Eric: I think after that Chase Gormley fight, it was hard for me because I broke
my hand for the fourth time in my career.  I was reaching 40.  I just felt at that
time I had a pretty good run, my priorities were changing.  I think that’s what it
came down to, it was really hard.  The hand break, actually, took a lot of time
because I broke my left hand, and the tip of my finger on my right side was
cracked, so I could not get back to work for almost 3 months.  It really hurt us in
the pocketbook.  I think all those factors kinda ended up there.  I always had
issues with my weight and a lot of people didn’t think I was serious, even though
I was.  I just had a lot of distractions.  I gave it a good run, and when I fought
Chase with the injuries I thought maybe this time go ahead and step out.

Me: You figured you were pretty satisfied because you had retired on your own terms?

Eric: Sure, I would have loved to have been on the Ultimate Fighter show, that happened a little bit after, but at that time mentally, I think I did great.  You know what’s a trip, people give me a lot of props from my King of the Cage days, those are really wild.  I think it’s great.  I just thought that was probably  the end of the road for me.

Me: Your last two fights were only decision losses, and you seemed to be in the best shape of your life with the dramatic weight loss, but like you pointed out, injuries were piling up. 40 these days, is ALMOST young...

Eric: Yeah, but in sports it’s rough.  There are only special cases like Randy (Couture) and maybe other guys.  I haven’t even been fighting that many fights as the other guys.  For me, I think it just took a toll on me.  To be honest with you, my issue was always mental, my mental capacity.  I always look back at my career, and I always thought, I didn’t have that mental capacity.  Just that grit...  Don’t get me wrong, I fought through some adversities and they’re good fights...when I say that (about the mental capacity) I think of people like Josh Barnett. That dude is just mentally nasty, and on top of that, a really great athlete.  But I just don’t think... if you don’t have the mentality, you’re really cutting yourself short, you really are.  I think in my career that played a big part.  That’s what I come to think about...That’s what it came down to, just really analyzing everything that I had going on.  But I’ll tell you what, my first decision loss, when I was in great shape, I thought I was robbed in Russia, after the Emelianenko fight.

Me:  Against Ahkmed Sultanov...

Eric: I thought maybe I did enough damage.  He got off on me a little bit.  I was tearing his legs up.  I don’t know if you’ve seen that fight, but like I said, like most of my fights, mentally, I never had that “go get ‘em”, I don’t know what I’m trying to say (laughs).  I just thought I might have edged him out on that fight.  Didn’t you see that fight?  What did you think, your honest opinion?

Me: It’s tough, but I would probably, and you said honestly, I’d maybe say 2 rounds to 1, Sultanov.

Eric: Oh, OK.  I haven’t seen it (the fight) afterwards, but I thought I was coming on strong.

Me: That’s probably why I lean towards the third round for you, but still maybe the first couple rounds for him (Sultanov).

Eric: Right, and like I said, mentality wise, I was letting him get off on me.  In my clinches, there were perfect opportunities to go for take downs, I never did.  Like my Chase Gormley fight, there were perfect judo throws, but like I said I didn’t go for it.  I’m just one of those cats I guess I was just too conservative and I never really went for it. It just happens that way..don’t mean to ramble about that (laughs).

Me: No, I understand completely, it makes sense, and that’s how some fighters are.

Eric: Recognizing it is the best thing that made me give myself closure to my game. I definitely think I had the talent to compete, but I just don’t think I had the mentality to compete, if that makes sense.  I had just enough mentality to get me in there and do my thing, but not enough to be as nasty as the upper tier.  I’m good with that, because I could admit that.  I can’t sit there and say “Oh well, fuckin’ this and that, and anybody else...” it’s all me.  It was always me and I always knew that.  As much as I love the sport, that’s why I pushed on. I love the sport so much, that’s why I put myself in those kind of positions where mentally I wasn’t the strongest person competing but I still went through with it.

(At this point I let Eric know of a site that has the Sultanov fight, the site of a promotion that used to co-promote with Bodog)

Eric: Like I said, I appreciate the honesty, because you don’t know when you’re fighting, and I never got to see it, and I just felt like...what I remember when I was in the fight.  But like I said, I just let him get off too much.

Me: Again, I had to watch the fight multiple times, and it’s tough to score, it was pretty close... It was an enjoyable fight too, both you guys were swinging for the fences.

Eric: You know what’s funny, and I forgot the promoter for Bodog, the Russian cat, I forget his name, but he’s like (Eric does his best Russian accent) “C’mon Eric, just hurry up, let’s go home.”  (Laughs) Like there’s not enough pressure, but they’re expecting me to win already.  So I’m like “great”.

Me:  And that was the Russian promoter for Bodogfight?

Eric: I think Vadim...or something like that.

Me: So he’s telling you that during the fight or before...?

Eric: Yeah, in the beginning of the fight he’s like “Oh, c’mon Eric, just hurry...”

Me: (Laughs)

Eric: And a couple of the Russian guys, and this is the funniest shit ever, in the back, like I said my nerves get kind of crazy...In the back this Russian guy, I think it was Amar Suloev.  I’m not sure it was him, but one of the guys walked up and goes “He’s just a farmer from the country” (Sultanov), you know? (Laughs) “Don’t worry, he’s just a farmer from the country, what kind of training can they have out there?”  I was like “OK, whatever”.  And when I got in there I was like, whatever.  But I just thought some funny shit like that was...

Me: That does sound funny, because you were probably talking to the Red Devil fight team and Sultanov was with Legion fight team and they might not have gotten along...

Eric: Right, right.  I don’t know man, those Russian cats... I’ll tell you one thing about my fight there, it was so fun to travel.  It was really nice to take me places.  And I travel a lot for tattooing now, but fighting took me around.  That was great, I loved it.  It introduced me to Canada.  Now I go back there and I tattoo all the time there.  But I wouldn’t have if I didn’t fight there.

Me: Which leads me into the next subject, which was Bodogfight in general.  How did you get recruited from Bodogfight?  Your last fight before Bodog was X-1, and I wondered if they recruited you from there, or if they knew you from your King of the Cage days?

Eric: It’s funny, because I remember what they were doing.  Antonio (Silva) was ripping through everybody.  They just needed somebody (to fight Silva).  I had been out of the game for a little bit, but I was still training, and my weight was getting down.  We’d been hearing rumors about them interested in me fighting Antonio.  I fought X-1, it was a HORRIBLE fight with Vince Lucero.  I could not pull the trigger on that guy!  I just could not pull the trigger, for whatever  reason.  And the saddest thing to boot , they were only 3x3 minute rounds, and I was fucking tired!  And then the call comes (from Bodog), and I’ll tell you what.  To be honest, I was like “Fuck that!  That dude is murdering people!”  After what he did to Tom Erikson... And I was like, I don’t know about that.  And so we were watching his tapes, and Skip (Eric’s trainer)...I swear to God, a lot of people think (I took the fight) because they offered me nice money.  But I’ll tell this right here and now, and I stand by it, Skip was like “Eric, you’re a southpaw, there’s a hole in his game where we can put him down.”  So after a little bit of coercion, we talked about it, watched the fights and Skip’s like “I think a southpaw would give him fits.”  And I just finally said “fuck it”.  And to be honest with you, that solidified my decision, but it did help that was the first time I ever made a good amount of money.  But the main factor was Skip really believing in me.  He said “You have everything to gain and nothing to lose, just imagine if you upset him.”

Me: So again it’s one of those situations of being in the right place at the right time...

Eric: Right, and having have to have everybody believe in you, but he (Skip) was like “I think as a southpaw you can give him fits, we don’t have to worry about his jits or rolling” because I’ve rolled with lots of guys, so that was never the issue.  I’d just seen how he was just murdering people (laughs), and I was like “I don’t know if I want any of that.”

Me: On that note, Eric, and this is not an insult to you, were they (Bodog) reaching out to you because they probably had a lot of people decline fighting Antonio Silva?

Eric: I think so.  He (Silva) pretty much took out Tom Erikson, right?  That really bumped him up and he’s way up there.  To be honest with you, I think I was a stepping stone for him to go to Aleksander (Emelianenko).  And then I changed that.  When you see that fight (with Silva), I was fighting scared.  Which is good, everybody should fight scared.  I was just, like, on my pedals.  But, I shit you not, when he was tagging me, every time we would fight and hit each other, I was like “whoa, he’s not hitting me hard,” It didn’t feel as hard as I thought it would.  So my confidence kind of got a little bit better and better.  And after he started tagging me, I was like OK, he’s not the juggernaut everyone says he is.  A lot of people say it was a lucky punch (the one that put Silva down), but I say it was where it was supposed to be at that time. (Laughs)

Me: (Laughs) Exactly!

Eric: I don’t think Antonio’s stock fell at all, because that dude is living a dream right now, he’s at the top of his game, fighting the studs of the world.  Everybody has a setback, and that setback was my glory.  It was fun, a night to remember.

Me: How did that feel going from King of the Cage and X-1 and all of a sudden you’re featured with Antonio Silva in a superfight on Bodogfight’s first big pay-per-view?

Eric: It was great!  Like I said my nerves were off the hook, and I was like “Aaaaah!”  I really trained hard, like nobody’s business, on that fight.  I tell you what, I really trained hard, and it just happened to go my way.  For the rest of my life, that’s the kind of feeling that... I’ll never have the feeling to win a UFC title, that fight right there I think was my UFC title, that was my glory.  It felt great, it felt awesome.

Me: I remember at the end of the Silva fight, and they announce the winner, they gave you this really beautiful ring...

Eric: Yeah...I ended up pawning it because of the economy...

Me: (Awkward silence)

Eric: (Laughs) No, I’m just kidding.  I have it put up in my little case.  I love it, that’s one thing that every time my nephews and nieces come, and they always ask me about it.  I get a little giggly and tell them about it.

Me: Because I saw that and thought ‘I bet that’s really cool, I’ve got to ask him about that’...

Eric: Yeah, it’s awesome.  I wanted to wear it when I went to Russia, to fight Aleksander, but I didn’t wear it for whatever reason.  I think I just wanted to keep it in a safe place, I didn’t want to lose it.  But after Aleksander beat me, he was wearing his (ring), and I was like “Man, I should have worn mine...” (Laughs)  Not that it made any difference, I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking...but it was really great, that organization treated me great.  And sure, they were over budget, they were over spending, but they asked me, I didn’t ask them.

Me: Tell me about your thoughts and experiences with the Aleksander Emelianenko fight...

Eric: I tell you what, and I’d tell anybody this, I think I had the tools to beat him, but mentally I wasn’t there.  I watched him, and it was so easy to clinch him up and trip him.  I had so many...I don’t know, and he got off on me, and like I said, mentally at that time, you have to be... that’s what I mean about upper tier mentality, either you’re on that level or you’re not there, and it was obvious I wasn’t there.  I was in great shape, my cardio was awesome, I just felt like I gave it to him.  I wanted to hit him so he’d stop hitting me, but I never wanted to hit him to fucking really win.  It’s hard for me to say that, because who doesn’t want to win?  And I put in all that time and effort to win.  But when it came down to it, I kinda came short.

Me: Well, it was one of two trips to Russia for you, so that’s always good.

Eric: Yeah, and you know what, my picture was on a big ass billboard, it was pretty cool.  Yeah, around town, and the guys from the states were like “oh, Mr. bigtime guy...” (Laughs) and I was like “Yeah, you know..”, and everybody knew I was going to get my ass kicked, so they were giving me shit. (Laughs)

Me: How do you look at your entire Bodogfight experience?

Eric: It was great.  And you know the owner (Calvin Ayre), this is the first time I ever talked to a fucking billionaire.  And that dude was so approachable and so nice, a sweetheart of a guy.  Always saying “Hey man, you guys are doing great”.  And after my Aleksander fight he walked up to me, and kind of put his arm around me and goes “Man, I was rooting for you.”  He was just a really nice guy, that’s my impression.  He didn’t pull any punches on treating us good.  Definitely it was a great, great experience.

Me: With the Emelianenko fight, you also fought in front of diplomats like Vladimir Putin, Berlusconi from Italy, and possibly the most powerful man in the world, Jean Claude Van Damme!

Eric: You know what’s the truth man, we were there, and I got a little anxiety the night before so I want to watch movies, and all they had were Jean Claude Van Damme movies to order! And I’m like “What?!” (Laughs) I guess he’s the shit out there.  Oh, this is a funny story.So we go to the embassy to have dinner with Putin, right?  Which is awesome, this is a trip, they gave us a Russian plate, a big ass book about Russia, just pretty amazing stuff.  And I’m just taking it all in, so I’m sitting and there’s Van Damme...and it’s kind of awkward because we’re all in one room with Aleksander, we’re all there, and there’s of course a language barrier.  And what happened, happened, I’m just having fun.  And Van Damme, he was leaning into me pretty hard and he’s like “So how’s it feel to come all this way to get beat like that?” And I’m like, ‘I’ll beat the fucking...’ you know I’m thinking in my head ‘you motherfucker, what an asshole.’  Maybe that’s a European thing.  But he was like “How’s it feel to train like that and come here and lose like that?”  And I was like “It doesn’t feel too good” but in the back of my mind ‘I might not have beat Aleksander but I’ll beat your ass.’ (Laughs)

Me: Maybe that’s the European sense of humor.

Eric: Yeah, they’re pretty direct.  It stung, but if you put yourself out there you got to be willing to take what’s coming.  And I’m sure he meant it in a nice way, he wasn’t saying it sarcastically, but the way he asked... And my feelings are hurt anyways...

Me: You met a billionaire in Calvin, you hung out with Putin and Van Damme.  You got diplomats, billionaires, and movie stars all in one place.

Eric: Yeah, and afterwards we had this INSANE party on this freaking pirate boat-looking thing.  Insane.  I don’t want to get myself in trouble, but I’m telling you, there were some things going on in there...pretty off the hook.  Let’s say with naked chicks and other stuff.  It was pretty wild.

Me: Kind of like what happens in Russia stays in Russia?

Eric: Yeah, pretty wild.  And then when Aleksander and Fedor showed up, it was just unbelievable, the crowd went crazy.  It was awesome.  Everybody was around me, like Peter Aerts, and a lot of other fighters that were there.  And they were all fucked up, everybody was torn up.  It was pretty wild.

Me:  What do you think was one of the most important or pivotal moments in your fight career?

Eric: To be honest with you, my fight with Bobby Hoffman, the second time, always stands out to me, because that’s one of the few fights...inside my head..and a lot of people don’t know this, this is funny, you know I always have issues with nerves.  I was walking by and Quinton “Rampage” gets up and he whispers in my ear “Go out there and do your thing, fuck it.”
Just like that... and I swear to God I was like, I don’t know why he said that, I just went in there, and my head was so on for that fight, my physicalness probably wasn’t, but my head, mentally, was on.  And I think I persevered through that fight. If I had to pick one fight I would say I had to push through and grow from, I would say that second fight with Bobby Hoffman.

Me: That was pretty pivotal, because after that win, you just had that fight in X-1 and then you were in Bodogfight.  So if you hadn’t won that second fight with Hoffman, Bodogfight may never have happened.

Eric: Right, I think it all links up.  Plus, it was pretty cool too with the dramatics because that was the one on the Inked (tv) series.  And it was so funny, Terry Trebilcock comes in to the store, and we’re about to film, and he goes “Oh, you know ‘Big E’ Pele?” to the producers, and they’re saying “Maybe we can get him to fight!”  I didn’t want to fight at all, and they’re like they’ll put it on tv.  They kind of talked me into it for the tv show.  And then they told me it was Bobby Hoffman, and I was like “I don’t know about that, I’m not in shape.”  It was pretty wild.

Me: Didn’t they call you into work the day after the fight?

Eric: Oh yeah, that was one of the reasons why I ended up getting fired, because I threw a bitch about that.  I was like, I’m with my family and friends, I get out and I had a concussion.  I’m with my son and my wife, and just trying to take it slow, and they pull a bitch move on me like that.  And I don’t want to lose my job...And a lot of the arguments that happened, they edited them all out. I came in there and was like “Fuck this and that”, and the manager at the time, even Carey (Hart), they were just really insensitive to what went down, and I represented their shop.  I just felt like...what they showed was nothing compared to what really went down.  I was pissed!  I was like “There’s no reason I should be tattooing on anybody.”  I had it covered, but the person that covered didn’t...All these things.  And I just spoke my mind on that particular thing, it was one part of many parts that ended up with my demise because I spoke up on it.  A lot of people don’t realize what really went down.  I would never work on anybody in that kind of condition.

Me: What was the shop at the time?

Eric: Hart & Huntington.  It’s just Huntington Ink now.  Carey went somewhere else.

Me: Same place, different ownership.

Eric: Half of the owner, the original owner Huntington.  He couldn’t use the name Hart, but he could use his own name of Huntington.

(At this point, Kurt Angle walks by the shop, Eric and crew get distracted.)

Eric: Kurt Angle just walked by.  Oh that’s pretty cool.  Sorry about that...

Me: I’d stop for him too.

Eric: He looks like he’s kinda on the good stuff, a little loopy.  But any ways...  From all his injuries, I’m sure looking at him, he’s all fucked up right now.  Anyway, yeah, he (Huntington) can’t use the Hart & Huntington banner, but he can use Huntington.

Me: So you work for them and yourself at the same time?

Eric: Yup.  I travel a lot.  I have a personal studio too, that I work out of a couple of times a week.  Those guys are really cool, where I work at, and they’re for the bigger pieces, bigger projects, and here is for the novelty tattoos, which is cool, I still do a lot of cool pieces.

Me: People who had seen you at King of the Cage and then seen you at Bodogfight, because of your dramatic weight loss, would almost think you were two different people. At what point did the surgery and weight loss occur?

Eric: It occurred a year before the second fight with Bobby Hoffman.  One of the reasons why I ended up getting lap band surgery, it had nothing to do with be honest with you I kind of let myself go.  Back in the day I used to power lift.  After I stopped power lifting, I always had that extreme appetite, I just loved to eat.  When I first started fighting, that was a good way to help me keep my weight down.  After a while, I just kept ballooning.  I was never a consistent fighter.  As I was fighting, I’d fight here and there, but man, I would eat like crazy, and I started ballooning up really bad.  When I had my son Eric, it was more of an epiphany, where I wanted to be around my son and enjoy being a father.  I don’t want to check out too soon just because I can’t control my eating.  And it’s a battle with a lot of Samoans, that’s our battle.  If you look up obesity rates in races, Samoans are #1.  It’s a bad affliction we have to deal with.  I’m glad I live in a time and day where I can deal with it and I can do something about it.

Me: So you said you’re about 255 lbs. now?

Eric: Yeah, I’m about 255, walking around.

Me: Is that about your lightest weight ever?

Eric: Yeah, since I was a teenager, I guess. (laughs) Let me reiterate, in my 20's I stayed around 255, in my late 20's, by 30 was the first time I hit 300, and it went all downhill from there.

Me: You’re still semi-regularly working out?

Eric: I’m a PX90 guy, but I ended up fucking that off, but I try.  I’m not as committed as I used to be.  I like to go by the gym, but when I do go by the gym it’s mostly just to talk to the guys (laughs).  I wish I could sit here and say that...I would say honestly about one day a week, I give a a little kettle bells and some rubber band work, and I have a nice treadmill at home.
But other than that, if I ever do anything out of the gym, I just go to talk to the boys and watch them spar, that’s about it.

Me: So when you retired you didn’t have any interest in continuing any type of training, or even grappling?

Eric: Yeah, I kind of left it all for art.  I figured art would be my name and pay.  That’s what pays me, that’s what always pays me.  I think as I was getting older, I need to really focus on that and put all my time and effort in to that.  And that’s where I am...  I love the fights, I love watching it, to make a real living I just stayed with the tattoing and all the art stuff I do.

Me: What were your overall impressions and experiences with the older fight organizations like King of the Cage and RINGS USA?

Eric: I’ll tell you what, I started on the low totem pole, and it progressed and it never went back. I got to a show that was a little better than the last show, better than the last show, and then ultimately got to the big show.  And then I went to Maximum fighting (MFC), and it was a good show too.  I never got up to a high place and then started way back down to like Gladiator Challenge, you know what I mean?  I started low and ended on a high...

Me: How was your experience in the original RINGS USA, and most notably that first fight with Bobby Hoffman?

Eric: My (first)fight with Bobby Hoffman, I think was one of the defining moments of my fighting career.  The young, fresh, crazy, just stud that Hoffman was on our first fight when he was coming up.  We got the call to fight Hoffman.  We fly down’s a trip, that dude’s a stud.  I was kind of amazed, he just fought Maurice Smith for 15 minutes, and Maurice split his tongue.  This dude was battle worn.  So I go in there, we start the fight, and he clips me in the first 30 seconds!  He clips me really hard, I just see white and I’m just dizzy as fuck.  The round ends, and I come over...and I think this is the pinnacle part of my career where I wanted to quit.  And John Lewis, God bless him, tells me “You’re not quitting.”  I told John “I’m done”.
And John goes “You know what, if you’re done, you say you’re done, you quit, I’m not going to quit for you.”  And all this time...we’re not arguing, he’s just telling me “You can’t quit...”
And just before I’m debating on it, the bell rings! (Laughs) So I turn around, and take a deep breath, and I’m just like “fuck it!”  And I tell people, that moment right there was really a defining moment, because John was like “If you quit, you will never forgive yourself.  I’d rather have you go out there and get submitted, get knocked out, go out on your honor, than quit!”
The saying is everybody is great when they’re winning, but when they’re losing, that’s when their true heart comes out.  So I just sucked it up.  So I took the second round, we had to go to the third round, so we go in there and we’re battling it out.  In RINGS it’s kind of funky, because when you do a takedown, you can only punch the body, can’t punch the head.  So I took him down a couple times, and he didn’t even care...he got taken down so he could rest.  One time when we were really neck and neck on points, I took his ass down.  And I know Monte Cox will deny this forever, but I have a tape of Monte Cox looking at the ref, and when I got him (Hoffman) down, the ref kind of looked at Monte, and Monte gave him the thumbs up, like stand them up...
So if Monte ever reads this...I still remember!!! (laughs) So afterwards, when we’re done, we’re dog tired, we went at it.  I think that pep talk gave me a second wind, and I gave him everything I had.  I remember going down to the hallway, so we split up, so he goes one direction, I go the next direction, to go to our we come around, I see him (Hoffman) he’s sitting there, the ice pack comes out, he’s throwing up blood.  I think before we started he had 15 stitches in his tongue, because his tongue got ripped from Maurice’s fight.  He looks at me and he’s like “Good fight, Pele.”  And I’m thinking to myself, this mother fucker just threw down with Maurice Smith the week before.  I was just so impressed by that.  Unfortunately, his career kind of went downhill.
There was a time when Bobby Hoffman was pretty nasty.  He was kind of one-dimensional, but by no means no one could ever take him for granted.  And I think that fight was a really defining moment for me, because like I said, John Lewis... if anybody else was in there, it would have been like “OK, whatever”.  John was like “You’ll never forgive yourself”. And I always, always remembered that when I fought.  And it turns on even outside of the ring. It’s really a telling moment when you tell a person that when they’re at their weakest state.  I’ve never been clipped like that before, that was like my first time in competition where I was full-on blasted, but I stayed up.  You know how a boxer holds on to somebody when they get hit?  Honestly I don’t remember the rest of the round, second round I came back strong, third round, I think they...I had the takedown.

Me: Lastly, how did you make your way from where you grew up in San Francisco to having Las Vegas as your home?

Eric: I came out here for work.  To be honest with you I was in a bad relationship and a job opportunity came up.  I was like ‘I gotta get the fuck outta here, this chick is driving me crazy’.  And when I hit Vegas, I hit Vegas running hard.  That was right in the beginning of the boom, and I ended up making it my home.  Even now, even though Vegas is hurting bad, Vegas has been good to me.  It’s really provided me with a good life here, so I always end up staying here.

Eric: I just want to touch on one more thing.  I really don’t talk about my fighting too much in the shop, because I don’t want to be that guy like ‘oh, I used to fight’.  If someone knows that I fight that’s cool, but I would never bring it up.  But the thing that’s really cool, I think that is awesome, I’m working and I’ll see one of the fighters!  Because even though I’m not fighting, but I stayed at a gym...  For example, one of the guys never knew I fought, but Forrest Griffin walks by and says “What’s up, Big E?” and shook my hand, and we laugh for a little bit.  But a lot of  the fighters that I used to see a lot, a lot of people don’t think I know, but I see them all the time in the gym anyway.  I really get a kick when the fighters come by to say hi to me, and the people who don’t know I used to fight say “Wow, how do you know them?”  So it’s pretty cool.  A lot of guys think that they’re just on tv and they’re so far away, but I used to see them
all the time when they were coming up...



Friday, April 16, 2010

Ron Waterman interview

Interview with Ron Waterman
2007/2008, 2010
by Evan South

Part 1 2007/2008

Me: Ron, lets’s start with your last fight at Art of War against Mario
Rinaldi.  I just wanted to get your thoughts on that fight...

Ron: I was actually very impressed with Mario’s wrestling ability, I don’t get taken down very often in a fight.  He came out and took me down right away, and pretty much controlled me for about 3 minutes, and I was in guard the whole time.  He didn’t do a lot of damage from the top position.  He’s a strong guy and has really good balance and I had a hard time improving my position, and then finally after about 3 and a half minutes I was able to get back up to my feet and had a couple of good strikes and just started to build more and more confidence on my feet as I was landing about everything I was throwing on him, and I think he was gassing at that point.  I felt pretty good and just finished the fight.  I think someone said I ended up hitting him 21 times before he finally went down, though.

Me: Luckily I saw the fight online, I wanted to go back with what you originally started with.  Were you pretty surprised that he went for that takedown right off the bat?

Ron: I watched his previous tapes, and he always does the same thing, he rushes in and gets underneath the guy, and picks him up, and most of the guys he’s had some pretty good slams on.
He was able to get underneath me and pick me up a couple times, and then the third time he picked me up he actually took me down to the mat.  So yeah, I was shocked.

Me: (laughs) Because usually it’s the other way around...

Ron: Yeah, exactly, that’s my game plan!

*Me: Going into your fight with Rinaldi, you had back to back losses for the first time in your career.  Did this add any more pressure than usual, seeing how 3 losses in a row could adversely effect a career?

*Ron: Yes, I did have a bit of added pressure to win this fight.  3 losses in a row is not good on anyone's record and losing to a fighter that really had not defeated any big name fighters would have been a definite hit to my career.  I did feel very confident going into this fight, much more so than the last two!  The last year was a difficult one for me personally going through a divorce after 20 years of marriage so it was hard to get my mind where it needed to be.  Not to use that as an excuse for my losses but it definitely took a toll on my ability to perform as I needed to.

Me: I had seen the post-fight press conference interview with you, and you had made a note how well Art of War treated it’s fighters.  Now, you’ve been all over around the world, every organization from the old-school UFC to Pride, to IFC, WEC, etc.  What is it you notice in one organization, as in the treatment of fighters, versus other organizations?  What makes one organization stand out?

Ron: I’m one of those people that likes to know what’s going on when I get into town.  From start to finish, they had someone that was waiting for us at the airport, they gave us an itinerary,
they gave us our meal money right up front. You’re not left guessing about what’s going to happen next and what’s coming up.  It reminded me somewhat of Japan, because Japan is very well organized like that.  When you fight for Pride or Pancrase they are just so efficient, and Art of War was like that.  They brought me to the headquarters, and everyone there knew me by name, and they just treat you first class.  It’s not like that all the time.  It was very professional, they put you up in a nice place, we were paid very well for the fight.  Everything was just very top notch.

Me: I usually save this for the end, as far as what’s coming up, but is your next fight with Art of War, or what’s on the horizon?

Ron: I’m certainly hoping to fight for Art of War again, I don’t have anything on the books with them right now.  I do have another fight with Bodog coming up, so that’s going to be either end of the year or beginning of next year with them.

Me: Ron, I’m going to skip back a little bit.  You’ve had 2 fights with Ricco Rodriguez.  First time you met you beat him in a decision in WEC.  Second time he beat you in WFA.  I know you guys at one point were set up for a rubber match.  How do you feel about those 2 fights you’ve had with Ricco and are you still looking for the rubber match?  Do you think there’s still some unfinished business?

Ron: I would certainly welcome a third match with him, definitely.  My first fight with him was how I picture myself fighting him all the time, and that’s just taking him down and controlling the fight from start to finish.  The second time I fought him, for some reason I thought I was going to be comfortable staying on my feet with him, and it didn’t work out so good.  After you get clocked a couple times your game plan changes drastically.  He hit me once so hard that it completely closed my eye up, and it pretty much put a stop to the fight.  I didn’t get to fight my game plan on that one, but you know, that happens.

Me: Was it a little disappointing not getting that rubber match that was set up?

Ron: Yeah, it’s frustrating when you have a month or two to train for a fight and you’re ready to go and then the day before the fight, I’m still waiting for my airline ticket.  And that’s what I was talking about with the professionalism of the organizations. I was left hanging until the last 6 hours before I was supposed to fight, and they still say “Hey, you might be able to still fight”.
I’m like, give me something here, I don’t know what’s going on.

Me: That’s got to be so painfully frustrating...

Ron: Right, when you train like that, and then your efforts totally gone to waste because you’re not reimbursed for the fight, I wasn’t getting anything for it, so I pretty much trained for him for 2 months for nothing.

Me: I want to get into Bodog.  You fought on their first PPV as one of the featured super fights.
Tell me your thoughts on Bodog in general, and your thoughts on your first fight with them against Roger Gracie...

Ron: Bodog was another very well run organization, especially for just getting kicked off here, like Art of War was.  Very professional, they treated the fighters incredibly well.  Everything was first class.
As far as my fight went, I was a little disappointed with myself.  I’ve never been submitted in my life, so that was kind of an odd thing for me to expect that I was going to be submitted by Roger, although that is his strength, I still had 45 pounds of muscle on the guy.  My cardio was in very good shape at the time, so I just don’t have any excuses as to why that happened.

Me: In watching that fight, you really powered out of that first armbar attempt.  Roger is such a good grappler, does he almost lull you into a false sense of security?

Ron: Yeah, and like I said, I’ve been in that situation so many times before, if someone puts an armbar on me, I catch it and either muscle out or pick them up and slam them.  He was very slick, I give him all the credit in that he was able to get my arm out to the side fast enough in that armbar that there was no way I could get out there to defend it.  I got caught hands down so there was nothing I could do about it.  But I thought I would fare much better on the ground with him.

Me: What do you know about the upcoming fight with Bodog?  Have they mentioned any names for opponents, anything unofficial?

Ron: No, I haven’t heard anything as far as an opponent goes at this point.

Me: You had 3 fights for PrideFC.  You were 2-1.  What were your thoughts overall in fighting for Pride and your Pride experience?

Ron: I really enjoyed fighting for Pride.  They’re top notch.  It’s always a good experience to get to fly over there and fight for them.  For me that was one of my first really big, besides the UFC,
spectacles.  When I fought against Kevin Randleman there were 50000 people up there in the stands, it was pretty overwhelming.  It’s a pretty neat experience, and I’ve fared pretty well for the most part for them.

Me: Again you were 2-1 in Pride.  Is there a reason they didn’t have another fight for you after the Kevin Randleman fight?

Ron: No, I just wasn’t booked for a while after that and my agent, who is Phyllis Lee, was very close with the Japanese promoters, but nothing came up in the last few years with them.

Me: Is it tough getting booked as a super heavyweight?

Ron: I think your options are cut down drastically.  There are some great super heavyweights out there, but certainly not as many as if you were fighting in the heavyweight category.  I’m kind of on the border right now, where I could get down and fight as a heavyweight.  I would have to lose 15 or 20 pounds, but that’s really not that big of a deal for me to get down to 265.  I could certainly do that.  I don’t have as many offers as one would think.

Me: I saw you weigh in light at Art of War at something like 275...

Ron: When you’re training like I am, I walk around at about 285, and when you put that much time into training for a fight there is just no way you can keep the weight on, especially when you are carrying around that much weight.  I usually fight right around that weight of 275.  And another 10 pounds, I could drop that fairly easy.

Me: Is that something you are considering (dropping to heavyweight)?

Ron: Certainly.  If I had the opportunity to fight a top heavyweight contender I would drop to 265, or the opportunity to fight again in the UFC I would certainly think about getting down to 265 as well.

Me: You had fought in the UFC back when the events were still numbered in the low 20's.  What were your thoughts on fighting in the old UFC and your experiences back then?

Ron: It was so overwhelming back then.  My fourth fight of my career was in the UFC.  At the Bas Rutten Invitational, John Perretti, who was the matchmaker (of the UFC) at the time, was there officiating that tournament.  I just walked through it (the tournament).  He invites me to the next UFC.  So here I am at UFC 20, on the card, and I only had 3 professional fights in my whole career.  I didn’t even know how to spell jiu-jitsu, and I’m fighting in the UFC!  It was pretty awesome.

Me: It was kind of baptism by fire, you were in UFC 20, 21, and 22, all three events only a couple months apart...

Ron: Yeah, they were pretty close together...

Me: From there you went to Pancrase, Pride, etc...

Ron: I went into the WWE for a span of about 3 years, and when you’re in the WWE obviously they don’t let you do anything else but wrestle, so there was a short time there I was away (from fighting).  Once that ended, then I went right back in(to fighting) and that’s when I started going overseas to Japan and competing over there.

Me: Was there any attempt after you were let go from your developmental contract with WWE to
get back into wrestling or had the business changed too much, or do you feel there was possibly no future with the pro wrestling?

Ron: Well, I went over and wrestled for New Japan in Japan for about a year, off and on, doing some different tours with them, and then I did some smaller promotions here and there.  As far as going back to the WWE, at the time I had 2 young boys at home, it was just crazy on my home life.  There was no way I could go back into that lifestyle.  It would have been really difficult for me to take that on.

Me: As opposed to fighting, where you can pick and choose where you go...

Ron: Right, you fight 4 or 5 times a year, you can train at home, and you’re not away from your family.  It was very difficult for me to even go to Kentucky, and train with OVW for a year and a half.  It was a tremendous strain on my family.

Me: I want to ask about your training.  You have always been working, whether as a teacher or something else.  Have you ever been able to train full-time and not do anything else?

Ron: I’m closest to that now more than I’ve ever been to being able to do that, because I own my own real estate company now.  I’m basically my own boss.  And no, there’s never a time when I don’t do anything else but just train.  Like for my last fight with Mario, I was able to go out to Las Vegas and train with Randy Couture at Xtreme Couture for a week, and I was able to devote a lot of time to just preparing for this fight.  Whereas before, I was a school teacher for 10 years so my time to train was very limited.  And then I traveled with Team Impact ministries for 5 years, so I’d find myself training on the road, and just pulling guys out of the woodwork to train with wherever I could find them.  That was also very difficult to get into the kind of shape I needed to.  It’s been a struggle for me because I’ve always had to hold down another job at the same time.

Me: So you think right now you’re probably in the best situation?

Ron: Yeah, definitely.  Now when I have a fight coming up I can delegate my time and devote as much time as needed to get in the kind of shape I need to be in.  That’s definitely better for me, especially being 41 years old.  I have to put in the time to get myself there.  But I’ve always been one of those people who trains year round, and I train every day, I do cardio every single day, so when I have a fight come up it’s not like I’m starting from scratch, I’m already in pretty good condition year round, and I just have to get myself fine tuned.

Me: Because you do go to different places to train, what are your pros and cons when you are going all over training with different camps?

Ron: The pros, I get lots of different looks, I get different training styles, I get to see all kinds of new bodies all the time.  I’m always a student of the game, I’m trying to learn as much as I can from everyone.  Especially with me, I’m just a wrestler at heart, it’s all I’ve ever known, it’s all I’ve ever done.  So for me to get in with a group of guys who primarily focus on standup and muay thai, the boxing part of it is great for me to be a sponge and soak up as much of that as I can.  The downfall of that is you never really connect to a group, that you can really feel like this is my team, these are the guys I train with every day.  You don’t really feel like you’re a solid part of a group.  So that’s probably the biggest drawback.

Me: You are actually going to be turning 42 next month, correct?

Ron: Correct! (Laughs)

Me: I never say years old, I always say years young (laughs).  42 is like the new 32...

Ron: That’s right...(laughs)

Me: Now clearly, unlike many others, you can probably attribute some of your longevity to the fact that you probably didn’t abuse your body when you were younger, due to drugs, alcohol ,etc.

Ron: And I still don’t...

Me: Are you looking at your age at all?  Do you see a number, a condition, is it anything that effects you mentally, or do you say “ Hey, I’m still in great shape, I’ll keep fighting until I’m a certain age or for a ceratin number of years”?  How do you view that?

Ron: I’m not one of those people that views it as “Gosh, I’m going to be 42, it’s time for me to call it quits.”   I take it, pretty much at this point, fight by fight.  If I think that I can compete at the level that I need to, then I’m going to continue.  I feel great, and when I train I feel like I’m in as good a shape before a fight as I was when I was 25 years old!  That really has no bearing on me sticking with this or not.  I have to work probably a little bit harder than most people do, being 41 years old.  But like I said, it’s part of my life now anyway, I train every single day, I train extremely hard, I’m always in decent cardio shape, and I spend about 2 hours in the weight room everyday, it’s just part of my regimen.  I’ve stayed healthy for the most part, and injury free, so I just take it a fight at a time.

Me: Ron, as you’re almost entering the “twilight” of your career, do you have a particular goal at this point?  Anything you want to accomplish, because you have fought all over the world.  Are you looking for anything in particular?

Ron: It’s been a long time since I’ve had an opportunity to fight in the UFC., and I think it would be a fun challenge for me to get into that heavyweight class.  I was hoping for a long time the UFC would start a super heavyweight division, get super heavyweights into the UFC so I could start to compete.  That would be a great experience for me.  Now as much as MMA has grown in the USA primarily due to the UFC, I think it would be fun to get back in there and give that another shot.

Me: The HW division for the UFC is a little thin right now, so it would be a good opportunity for you to slip in there...

Ron: Most of the guys that have competed in that HW category, I’ve at least worked out with a lot of those guys, and I know my abilities, so I know I could be a strong competitor in that division.

Me: When you look back, all the way from the Bas Rutten Invitational to now, how do you view your fight career?

Ron: I’m very blessed by what’s happened to me and where it’s gone.  I was extremely blessed to get to the UFC after 3 fights, where you see guys now that have trained their whole life to get a shot, and the highlight of their career is getting into the UFC, and here I got it after 3 fights, I was in there fighting.  I got to travel all over the world and compete against some of the top fighters out there, and it’s been a great experience for me, but I still think that I have more to offer this sport, hopefully I’ll get that opportunity.

Me: You’re one of the more outspoken Christian fighters.  How do you see that role in fighting?

Ron: I think it’s very important.  I think the stereotype of most fighters out there, it’s not as bad as it used to be, but they think “Oh gosh, here’s a bunch of bar room brawlers, bad boys that are out there just trying to prove how tough they are, it’s all about male testosterone, etc.”  I think the more people you get that come from professional careers, that have college degrees... I have a Masters degree, I’m an ordained minister.  It gives a little more prestige to the sport.  There are people out there that take this sport seriously, it’s not just a bunch of bar room brawlers, it’s guys that have trained their whole life. It’s just another sport, no different from football or anything else. The fact that I’m coming in as a Christian, I think it shows people that you can be a good person at heart and still be competitive in this sport.  It’s not about me when I go out there and fight.  It’s just another sport to me, and I’ve trained hard for it and I’m competitive and I want to win just like everybody else.  But being a Christian certainly gives me a sense of calmness, to know that I’m in here for a bigger purpose, it’s not just about me, it’s not about the paycheck that I get from this, it’s not about the recognition I’m getting from this.  It’s just about me going out there and doing something that I enjoy and showing people that I can do this and still be a Christian and still be tough at the same time.

Me: Do you think since you were one of the first, and again so vocal, that it maybe opened the door to allow others to not be so afraid to profess their faith in this sport?

Ron: Yeah, you see it more and more, and that’s really exciting for me.  I like nothing more than to see those guys in the middle of the ring after the fight, and they give credit to the Lord for their victory, and they look up, and maybe some of them fold their hands and say a prayer.  That’s awesome, instead of hearing guys grab the mic and all they can talk about is the after party, and throwing out f-bombs every other word.  It’s just a great feeling to show that those guys have got some class and it’s not all about them.

Me: You’re also one of the very well educated fighters, with your Masters degree.  That’s also one of those misconceptions about fighters...

Ron: I think that’s going to help the sport grow, more than anything else.  There are a lot of people out there that want to see what this sport is like.  They hear these fighters get on there after the fight and they’re cussing, and talking about nothing else but themselves and parties, it just puts that stereotype out there.  When you can have someone stand up and they tell the story before the fight, of who that person really is, and where they’ve come from, and maybe it’s their faith, maybe it’s their family orientation, it just adds credibility to the sport.

Me: How has it been for you as a fighter to see everything change, back from 1999, to all this massive exposure now?  Do you wish your career had started now as opposed to back then?

Ron: I wish this was the start of my career, obviously, because now is when the good money is really going to start to come.  These fighters that are up and comers now, getting into this when it’s exploding, salaries are going to overtake boxing salaries very shortly, I can just see that.  It’s one of those things, even when I started in this career I just saw this sport exploding, I knew it would go through some tough times, but I just saw this overtaking boxing and being a mainstream sport like it’s becoming today.  I think we’re on the tip of the iceberg, I think it’s going to continue to grow and get more popular.

Me: When you look back, do you have regrets on any particular losses, or are you the kind who doesn’t really care and moves on?

Ron: I think I try to move on, but like everyone else you always remember those losses more than you remember the wins.  You always think back to what you should have done differently, what you could have done differently.  I’m certainly no different than anyone else as I think back to all my losses, and think “Well, if I would have just done this, or if I would have just done that”.  I’m one of those people that’s tried to learn from my mistakes and tried to improve those for the next time and just become better and better and become a student of the game.  Even the best fighters out there are going to lose, it’s going to happen.  You just have to learn from it and hope that it doesn’t happen again.

Me: Have you thought of any particular fighters you have wanted to face?

Ron: I’ve really never been one of those people that says “Wow,  I want to go fight this guy or I want go fight that guy.”  I’m always open to whoever they bring to the table, I’ve never turned down a fight.  It really doesn’t matter to me, like I said, I’m not in this about me, and proving myself against this person or that person.   When I’m given the opportunity, if things work out, then I prepare for it as hard as I can, and perform as well as I can.

Me: Are you happy being a hired gun for different organizations, or would you like to do something like UFC where you work towards a title?

Ron: It’s worked really well for me, the schedule that I’ve had with the super fights, because I’m not locked into contracts and I can fight for different organizations, and when things come up I don’t have to turn those down because I’m locked into this contract or that contract.  Unfortunately that’s one of the hard things about the UFC, once you sign with them you pretty much belong to them for a certain period of time, where you don’t have all that freedom.  For me, it’s worked out very well that I can fight for all these different organizations.  And that’s part of my contract usually, always is that if I take this fight that I’m still open to fighting for other organizations.  In then past that’s worked out.

Me: Again, it gives you the flexibility to fight all over and fight the best in different organizations...

Ron: Yeah, that’s certainly been a benefit to me, and obviously if the contract is good enough you can do something like, get locked down for a while.  For me it’s worked out much better for me to take super fights here and there.  As far as financially as well it’s been more beneficial to me to be able to do that.

Me: Again Ron, your next fight is definitely with Bodog?  Or does that depend on their schedule, or if they can find you an opponent, how flexible are they?

Ron: I think it kind of depends on all of those things.  I talked to them just last week and they said that they’re looking at either the end of this year or very beginning of next year. And with Art of War I’m kind of in the same boat, they’ve told me I will fight for them again, but I don’t have a date or a time.

Me: Do you have another (contracted) fight with Art of War or was it just a one fight deal?

Ron: I have one more fight with Art of War and Bodog.

Me: So one more fight with Art of War, one more fight with Bodog...

Ron: Yeah.

Me: How difficult is it for you at this point in your career and at your age to develop new skills?
Like you said, once a wrestler always a wrestler, that’s your base and what you always fall back on.  Your last fight showed you using your hands a bit more.

Ron: I try as hard as I can to get more comfortable on my feet, to build up that confidence in other areas, but I think as most fighters probably do, once you’re in that situation in a fight, you’ll refer back to what you know the best.  You go back to your strengths, and I find myself doing that quite often.  Just like this last fight, that was very out of character for me to stay on my feet, but I just felt something telling me you need to unleash here and battle on your feet.  I had been training quite a bit on my feet and felt comfortable there, so I took advantage of it.  But yeah, it’s definitely harder as you get older and you’re comfortable with one style to want to refer back to that.  Oftentimes that’s the smart thing to do.  I don’t want to stand up with somebody when I’m much better on the ground.  But you have to adapt to everyone, so everything’s different.

Me: I know you’ve toured extensively with Team Impact, as everyone knows.  Are you still doing that, or taking time off, is it difficult to schedule?

Ron: I’m no longer full-time with that ministry as I was for the last 5 years.  I’m hoping to do things with them on just a real limited basis, a couple times, maybe just once a month.  At this point I’ve taken some time off for the last 9 months now.

Me: I know also when I was talking to you a while ago you mentioned one week you were going to Mr. Olympia.

Ron: That’s right, I just got back from Mr. Olympia, it was awesome.

Me: Tell me about that.  Is that a hobby, do you follow bodybuilding?

Ron: I competed in bodybuilding, it’s been a while since I competed last, I was Mr. Colorado back in 1994.  I placed third in Mr. USA, natural USA contest.  Bodybuilding and training has always been a part of my life.  I will never be a competitive bodybuilder because I don’t take the “supplements” necessary to get to that point, you know what I mean?  But I enjoy it, I have lots of friends that are competitors, and it’s just a lot of fun for me to go out there and just see people excel at that level.  It’s like anything else, any other sport, to get to see the top ones out there in the profession is pretty awesome.

Me: Along the same lines, I want to ask since you have one of the standout physiques of the sport, how does that effect your fighting with so much muscle mass?  Things like speed, flexibility, cardio?

Ron: I think it has its’ pros and cons.  There’s not many fighters that I’ve fought out there that have the kind of strength that I do, so that’s definitely a positive.  But like you said, when you’ve got 285 pounds of muscle out there, it takes a lot of oxygen to fuel those muscles, especially for 15 minutes.  So it’s very demanding for me to get into that kind of shape.  It’s a totally different game then when you see these guys out there that weight 140 to 150 pounds that are going like gang busters for the entire 15 minutes.  It’s just totally different when you’ve got someone that weighs 280 pounds.  I can do the same things that they’re doing, train just as hard, it’s just going to be totally different when I get out there in the cage for 15 minutes, because you just go into oxygen deadlock faster.

Me: Is that a situation you looked at over the years, whether to become a little more lean, or did you think that’s where you should be at?

Ron: You have to look at your opponent and you have to lay it out and say “Well, if I go in there and I’m a little bit stronger with this guy I think that I’ve got a great chance to finish him in the first round, I’ll be fine”.  Or this guys going to be hard to submit so I need to go in a little bit leaner and make sure I can fight for a hard 15 minutes.  It’s one of those things that goes opponent by opponent.

Me: Are you looking to do anything in particular as far as a post-fight career?

Ron: I’ve thought a lot about opening a school and a training facility, especially as much as this sports growing and in the area that I live out here in Colorado there’s really not any big name fighters that have a school.  It’s certainly been a thought of mine, but that’s as far as it’s gone really, is just put some thought into it.

Me: Would it allow you to go back and do something like Team impact full time, or continue with ministries in some other fashion?

Ron: That would certainly be an option for me, open up a lot of things.  Right now with me just starting a real estate business and career, I’ve got a lot on the table right now.  One of my downfalls is that I tend to get myself over extended, so I have to be careful (laughs).

Me: (laughs) It’s a really tricky time to enter the real estate market...

Ron: Yes, especially out here in Colorado, we’ve got so many foreclosures it’s just a nightmare to try to sell a house, but a great time to buy if you’re an investor.  It’s a hard time to break into this business, that’s for sure.

Me: Ron, were there any funny fighting memories for you?  Anything pre or post fight that comes to mind?

Ron: You know, nothing really comes to mind when you asked me that (laughs).

Me: (laughs) Never had anything like shorts come down?

Ron: No, never had that...

Me: Do you have a favorite fight, whether it was a win or a loss?

Ron: I think one of the big highlights for me was the Kevin Randleman fight, because it was such a big venue, and there were so many people there.  It was a real rewarding win especially after being down on the bottom for almost 8 minutes and then coming back and submitting Kevin. That was a big win for me and I remember that one more than most.

Me: Kevin at one point was a friend and teammate, how difficult is it to set that aside and concentrate on business?

Ron: It’s weird to even take that fight.  When I was offered that fight, it was like “Gosh, Kevin is a friend of mine, we have totally similar styles”, it was really strange.  Sometimes you just have to say “You know what, this is just another competition, we’re not fighting because we dislike each other, it’s just a competition”.  Definitely a little bit different though when you’re fighting someone out there that you consider a pretty good friend.

Me: Kevin, a lot smaller even than Mario Rinaldi, came out and hoists you up like you were nothing and takes you down...

Ron (laughs) Picks me up off the ground...

Me: That was frightening..

Ron: Yeah, and I just towered over Kevin...gosh.

Me: Your fight with Crocop, you were smart, you got that takedown early, you were really putting your weight on him and working him on top...

Ron: Yeah, when I went down (after the big head kick) I should have just rolled back into guard, instead I just kind of covered up, anticipating that big kick coming... (laughs)  Hindsight again...

Me: Your first Pride fight with Valentijn Overeem, that was just you overpowering him, and he had nowhere to go in the corner, and you slapped on the keylock and that was it.

Ron: Yeah, I’ve had a lot of luck with my keylock (laughs).

Me: And that’s another misconception, most people think you’re ground and pound, but you have a lot of submissions.

Ron: That’s what I would prefer, is to submit someone any day over ground and pound.

Me: Ron, do you get as much press coverage as you think you should, being a veteran and “name” in the sport?

Ron: I get quite a few interviews, actually.  I get people all the time calling and asking for interviews and stories, so I do quite a few of them, as many as I think I need to.  Again, I’m not out there trying to promote myself in that way, but I appreciate people who write articles and get my name out there at the same time.

* This was a follow up question submitted by e-mail.  The rest of the interview was conducted over telephone.

                    Part 2 2010

1.)  You fought Analu Brash in X-1 for their heavyweight belt. At the time Brash was an undefeated up and comer.  What were your thoughts on that fight and your experience with X-1?

I watched Brash's former fights so had a lot of confidence I could win! X1 was a great company to fight for and I hope to defend my belt this year for them.

2.)  You were chosen as an alternate for the Yamma Pit Fighting show.  You were ultimately not needed to fight, but how was it to serve as an alternate, having to be ready at all times to face an unknown opponent?

It was different, especially with the 2 week notice I was given, but again I felt very confident I could have beaten any of the opponents on the card, so felt at ease. It was good to see some of the guys in that show, it had been years since I had spent any time with Oleg, Pat Smith, Mark Kerr, John Peretti.  It was fun even though I didn't get to compete.

3.)  Your next fight was the high profile EliteXC organization.  Again you had a young undefeated up and comer in Dave Herman, which turned out to be a tough fight.  Take me through that bout and your experience with EliteXC.

Another great organization that treated me very well.  I trained very hard for the Herman fight and felt very prepared. Herman surprised me a little with his stand up and ability to scramble on the ground.  Not sure where he has been lately I thought I would see him getting a shot in the UFC? He is a tough kid with a lot of potential if used right.

4.)  Your most recent bout at the end of 2008 was a win against Mark "The Bear" Smith.  In another interview you had said you had trouble with this promotion, an issue of non-payment.  Did things ever get resolved?

Very frustrating as the promoter was a "friend" of mine. I was promised a two fight contract which was signed for a good amount of money. Again I trained very hard and won the main event fight with an Arm triangle early in the 2nd round. Well the check which was issued to me by the Colorado Boxing commission bounced. I was given the run around for a couple months and finally issued a law suit. To this day I haven't been given a dime for the fight.  First time for everything, hope it doesn't happen again to me or anyone. God is faithful and will always provide, I'm not the one who has to have that on my shoulders every day.

5.)  You had gotten busy and taken some time off from Team Impact.  You are currently back with them and touring again?

I am traveling with TI about once a month now. I just got back from India where I spent 8 days. It was an amazing week. Everyone needs to spend time in a 3rd world country to appreciate all we have her at home. It's humbling and eye opening! We had 25 thousand people walk to our program the last night and we saw over 7,000 give there lives to the Lord. Praise God

6.) A fight with Bobby Lashley had been in the works in a couple different promotions but never materialized.  Has anything popped up again as far as an opportunity to finally face him?  I know Strikeforce has him lined up for a fight soon, have you been considered?

I know my name has been in the mix, I'm really not sure what's going on with him. I was offered the fight in Denver with him last December and accepted it. Trained for it but he never signed? It was then moved to Strikeforce but I didn't get notification until 7 days before the fight was supposed to take place. Frustrating. I have heard through the grapevine I will be considered for his next fight but hope I'm given more than a week notice this time. I have several jobs and need time to prepare correctly for big fights.

7.)  How has it been watching long time friend/training partner Shane Carwin advance in the UFC, especially with his 1st round win over Frank Mir this past weekend?

It's been Great Shane has worked hard his whole life to get were he is. He works a full time job has a wife and family and still trains 7 days a week and hour away from home. I don't know how he does it. I am proud of him and wish him all the success in the world. He is a great person and good things happen to good people. His MMA game has improved so much sense we first started training in Greeley West's Wrestling room. He is a well rounded fighter now and doesn't have many weaknesses!

8.)  Any other fights brewing for you?  Anything else new or interesting going on or on the horizon?

I don't currently have any fights booked. At 44 years old I can't take fights like I used to for little paydays. It takes a lot of time training and preparing so I have to make it worth my while. I'm still in great shape and feel confident I can compete with anyone, I never take time off from training. I teach cardio classes and spend a minimum of 2 hours in the gym every day. Age is just a number for me not a deterrent. My Real Estate Company is doing very well and my time with my boys in invaluable. God is so good!

9.) Final thoughts/comments?

I am engaged to be married, probably this summer sometime so I am excited about that and ready to start a new life with a wonderful woman. My boys are growing up fast and it's so neat to see them develop into great young men.
I have been managed by Phyllis Lee since I began this sport 12 years ago and she continues to do a great job for me.  Not too many giving and caring people like her in this business, I owe her so much for doing so much over the years. The great times, travel and experiences we have had are life memories one just doesn't forget! Thanks Evan, Blessings to you my friend!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wynardtage interview

Interview with Kai A. of Wynardtage
by Evan South

1.) Kai, can you give us some basic background on yourself,
and how you came to start Wynardtage?

I started already in 1997 to create my songs and sounds.
In spring 2002 I decided to found Wynardtage and went more
into dark-music. Later I added some well versed musicians
in his network as there are Rico S.(echorausch), Mario F.
and Gunnar B. (both from former davaNtage). i worked for
other bands like Acylum or La Magra as well. In 2008 I
could engage Mel G. of Future Trail as an ambitioned
guest singer for my Grey Line-release to give the title
more emotional depth with her charismatic voice.From the
musical side Wynardtage is situated in the dark-electro area
of course and has developed constantly. Today the press
characterises the style as an independent mixture of
melancholie and dancecore beat.  From the beginning to
this day Wynardtage could gain the national black
dance-clubs in storm and became one of the most famous
electro-acts in the scene. All Wynardtage-releases since
2006 could reach the German alternative charts (DAC) and
Native 25 DJ-charts. Because of private reasons I decided
to set a spell in summer 2009. After months of rumors and
speculations we finally announced to continue with the

2.) Why did you choose dark-electro as your musical outlet
as opposed to making Wynardtage, for example, a rock band?

Because i was influenced with dance-floor music as teenager.
I worked a lot of years as a dj in the underground techno-scene,
before i started with dark music.

3.) Did the fact that there were aready so many other bands
making this type of music intimidate you?  What did you think
you would be able to bring to the scene/genre that would be

Hard to say. I mean as I started there was no real concept.
I'm a natural depressive guy, because I loved the way to show
that the world with my music.  When I started, bands like
wumpscut and hocico was on the top. I liked it, it influenced
me the first years. With the 2nd cd "Evil Mind" I left all the
influences behind me, to find my own way. For me it's cool,
to hear that I influenced other new fresh bands today. I'm not
sure about what Wynardtage means for the scene, I'm nothing
special. The music discribe themes of daily life with all the
hypocritical up's and even more depressive down's. the
people loved my unselfish way of life. I'm no afraid asshole
who wants to keep on top by using all weapons. I think there
are so many talented fresh bands outside which should
become a chance to show what they can.

4.) Kai, you use tv/movie samples quite extensively in your
music.  Also they are not your typical science fiction/horror
samples.  How do samples fit into your music and why are
they used?

It's not a must have, but sometimes a sample make a song
more charismatic. i mean take for example my evergreen
"Sterbehilfe". The song starts with a very unique sample. When
djs are starting do play this song the growd explode by hearing
the sample start;-)

5.) You also use remixes extensively on your cd's, and all your
albums have 2 cd sets.  Why do you like to have so many
remixes of your music?

I think for a dj is it good to have some different versions of
some songs. I know that some people who listen my music
more at home are not so hot for a lot of remix-works, but
other people like to hear how other famous bands construe
my songs. Its interesting for me as well.  For my upcoming
cd (will released in winter 2010/2011) are no remixes planned.
Instead of remixes i will give my fans the very first official
wynardtage (video) clip on the disc.

6.) Speaking of remixes, you recently made available 70 free
mp3's, almost all remixes.  This is 4 or 5 albums worth of
material.  Why did you decide to give these away for free?

It's a pleasure to give my loyal fans which made Wynardtage
to one of the top electro acts in Germany something back. The
other thing is, its just a real good promotion, when every dj
around the world can upload some free stuff.

7.) You have remixed many artists yourself.  How do you
approach remixing other people's music?

Good question. I mean as I started with Wynardtage I
made probably tooooo much remixes. Later I chose
the songs with more accuracy. I mean its no question
about money or whats the bands status - its only a
question of my motivation and if I like the original song.
If I started to make one I try now to make something
different to the original.

8.) Your latest release, Walk With The Shadows,
contains 3 covers of bands like The Cure, U2, and
Calva Y Nada.  How did you come to choose these
particular songs by these artists?

Very simple - because I like these songs.

9.) You also like to use female vocals in your music.
What do you think this adds to your music?

It was always my wish to complement some songs with
female vocals. First Caro and later Melanie gave me the
chance to make this wish come true.  I was a huge
davaNtage-fan in the late nineties and Melanie was the
singer there. In 2006 we decided to try out some things.
2 years later Melanie gave her debut with Wynardtage on
The Grey Line. The rest is history.

10.) Are there upcoming live shows for Wynardtage?
Do you wish Wynardtage played live more often, or are
you satisfied being a primarily studio artist?

We wil try, but I'm very busy now. I mean I have a full time
job and I'm a family man too. If we find the time we will
try out different things to make a live-gig possible, but
for now are dj-gigs the only alternative.

11.) Final thoughts/comments?

 Yes, maybe some people are sad about hearing no
news about live-gigs, but a other reason because there
are no news about is - WE HAD FINISHED A NEW
is really a surprise for some people, but the reason
because we worked so quick on a new cd after
releasing Walk with the Shadow was some critical
comments by the press. they said its not good to say
goodbye with a remixing overdosed-EP. Ok, that was
motivation enough for me and my bandmembers to
produce another fulltime-record. The results can be
listened in late 2010 or 2011. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Din_fiv interview

Interview with Da5id Din of Din_fiv/Informatik
previously unpublished
by Evan South

1.)  How would you describe Escape to Reality
compared to your first solo effort Infinity?

Purely on a technical level, it is much more polished
than Infinity.  Musically, it shows a lot of growth and
maturity.  Thematically, it represents a shift from the
political to the spiritual.

2.)  What have been the events in the last 4 years since
Infinity that led to the new album?

First off, a lot of new and exciting bands have come to
light such as Pulse Legion, Imperative Reaction, and
Gridlock.  These have been a great influence on me.
Secondly, I think I've gone through a lot of personal
development in that time.  I recently moved 3000 miles
from Boston to San Francisco which has had a
overwhelming impact on me.

3.)  What is the status of Informatik?  Will you
continue solo?

Both projects are alive and well.  You'll find a new
Informatik remix on the upcoming Electropolis II
compilation from Metropolis although nothing else
is currently in the works.

4.)  The lyrics on ETR seem much more personal,
emotional, and inspirational.  Comments?

ETR discards all notions of a universal truth in favor
of personal truth.  To provide the audience with a
spiritual center does them a much greater service than
spewing some political philosophy that may have no
relevance to them.  Then and only then, with this
foundation of self-realization can one hope to
recognize the complex simplicity of truth's nature.

I've tried to achieve this in a couple of ways.  In
"Through the Looking Glass" I juxtapose the external
with the internal.  Turning the world inside out gives
one a new perspective and shakes up ones
preconceived notions about the nature of reality.  In
"We Are", my most evocative song to date, I assail
the listener with seemingly opposite terms until the
lines of meaning are blurred.  One becomes two as
two becomes one as the circle of constructed meaning
is shattered.  Many people have contacted me with
having very strong emotional reactions to this track.

Infinity made attempts to do the same but the effort
was not as cohesive and as well thought out.  What
can I say, I am older and wiser now.

5.)  There is a remix of Terminal Condition from the
first album.  Why was this included with the new
material?  Was it remixed around the time of the first
album?  Comments on the Battery remix of We Are?

The Terminal Condition remix is brand new.  I thought
it was important to give one of my seminal works a
coat of fresh paint.  I think A.E.C. did a very good job
of distilling the songs essence and pouring it into
something new and relevant.  Battery's remix of "We
Are" is extremely original in its approach and is vast in
its scope staying true to the Battery sound.

6.)  Can you tell us about Corrosive Studios?  I notice
you did the mastering for the most recent Battery

Corrosive Audio is where I work and live.  I do all my
compositions and recording there as well as mastering
work for numerous bands and labels.  You can find me
on the web at

7.)  Have you ever performed live as Din_fiv or any
plans to do so, or do you consider Din_fiv as a studio
only project?

Not yet although I have some dates coming up.  As for
a full on tour, nothing has been booked as of yet
although I would love to tour if the right opportunity
presented itself.

8.)  What is the future of Din_fiv?  Are you working on
more material or remixes as we speak?  Possible
collaborations with any other artists or more studio

The next two Din_fiv releases are already in the
planning stages.  I have a couple remixes of both my
own work and others in the works as well as a German
lyric version of the track "Cataclysm".  As for
collaboration, I'm rather spread thin at the moment but
be prepared for several surprises coming next year.

9.)  Final thoughts/comments?

Constantly re-evaluate everything.