Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Curtis Stout interview

Interview with Curtis "Bang 'em Out" Stout
August 2013
by Evan South

Me: Did you ever officially retire, or do you consider yourself an inactive fighter?

Curtis: No, I never officially retired.  I was done, I was kind of bitter at the sport, especially in Kansas City at the time.  Now, it's totally different.
If you had to sum up my career, it would be a fighter with loads of talent but very little resources. Last two fights I had to call people and beg "Hey I need training are you training"…
It was kind of the burst of Kansas City MMA with American jiu-jitsu.
After I retired things TOTALLY changed in the Kansas City area.  You got like five guys from Kansas City that are in the UFC now.
So it's definitely different.  You're only as good as your training partners.  That was always my struggle in my career was finding that training camp that I never really had and basically scraping together what I could find.  There were definitely some good guys, but competing with Anderson Silva and
people on that same level you have to have A-level people to train with and that was just non-existent.

Me: Do you still train, do you stay in shape?

Curtis: Yeah, I still stay in shape.  And actually, I'm gonna start opening up...
I live in a place called Parsons, Kansas now, a small little town like three hours from KC, I'm hooking up with a guy named Nick Phillips who is a pretty popular kick boxer, and we're gonna open up a kickboxing/MMA gym beginning of next year.  But that's it, I train a little bit, help a couple guys out.  For the most part I've been under a rock, because I was kind of bitter at the sport and my situation.

Me: Curtis first thing we're going to do is to put Wikipedia to the test.

Curtis: It was pretty accurate what I read.

Me:  I want to start with some basic background for people who aren't familiar with you and that includes me. Originally from Poughkeepsie, New York?

Curtis: Yeah.

Me: Started training in boxing when you were 15?

Curtis: Yeah, 15.

Me:  In high school what other sports or athletics were you doing?

Curtis: Track.

Me: I loved track.

Curtis: I tried to go out for wrestling one time, But I piledrived the guy, just like flipped him over my shoulder and they're like “you can't do that here” so I just kind of got mad and left.


Curtis: Wish I would have stayed though, you know?

Me: So after high school is that when you did your stint in the military?

Curtis: No, I got out of high school I went to community college film school. Got out of film school and went into the Navy.  And the Navy that's where I went up with Enson Inoue's school, him and Carlos Newton in Japan. Did a little training there, but I had to finish my four years, and when I came back I came to Kansas City.  Met a guy named Chad, who actually, he's one of my Facebook friends, he runs Chad’s cages and rings, he sells rings and cages all over the world.
Started training at American jui-jitsu under Steve Crawford.

Me: Now you have been based out of Kansas City for a long time how did you end up in Kansas City?

Curtis: My family had moved here my dad had moved here.  I was kind of going back and forth between here and New Jersey.  I moved here after high school.

Me: So you were doing college and you mention film?

Curtis: I did a year of film school at the school of visual arts in New York City.  I left film school to be with a girl, but that didn't work out.  So my friend was going into the navy and he's like “Hey man you want to go?” I was like sure, sounds good.

Me: And the military is what led to being in Japan and meeting Carlos and Enson...

Curtis: Yeah

Me: You started out with the Hook n Shoot promotion.  Tell me about starting your fight career with Hook n Shoot.

Curtis: Well, Jeff Osborne, the Hook n Shoot promoter, I went down and fought and they really liked what they saw.  I got to be good friends with Jeff.  I didn't get paid, so technically my first two fights are really amateur.  My third fight, I was in UFC fighting Phil Baroni, which is technically my first professional fight.  That was interesting because me and Baroni were supposed to be the first 185 pound class fight, because at the time it was 199, before they had the 185 pound class, which is funny.  I get there, and they're like the fight's not at 185 it's the regular 199, and with how huge Baroni was at the time...
And early on in my career I was a very small middleweight.
So, I lost the decision to Baroni and it was a 2 round fight.

Me: So then you continued with Hook n Shoot, and that was a good experience for you with that organization as you were starting out?

Curtis: Oh yeah, it was great, other than that freak K.O. kick to my neck from John Renken!  Like I said, if I fought that guy a hundred times he'd probably beat me once and that was the one time!
And it was funny, prior to that, and even most of my career, standing up wise, I always had huge confidence in my hands and my feet.  I can honestly say I've never been out struck on my feet, like ever into life, so when that kick hit me I was like "wow, I didn't even know that was possible.”  But you know, shit happens!

Me: That's the beauty of MMA, anything can happen at any time.

Curtis: Oh yeah.

Me: Anybody can get caught, so many ways to win...
So again after your two initial fights with Hook n Shoot you found yourself at UFC 30.  How did you get approached to be a part of UFC 30?

Curtis: Through Jeff Osborne, the Hook n Shoot promoter.  He knew the UFC guys and he was like “Hey I got this guy who has some real potential.”

Me: You know the old saying, it's not what you know it's who you know...

Curtis: Oh yeah, definitely.

Me: What were your thoughts on the Baroni fight (which was just a 2 round prelim)?

Curtis: How big he was! (Laughs). All the shit talking, you know Phil is a good guy, just all the shit talking, and I figured he'd lay on me for the duration of the fight and that's what he did.  Then a punch, he hit me in the ribs with an elbow, that was definitely the hardest I'd ever been hit in my life.
That's pretty much all I can remember, and just all the trash talking.

Me: So you continued to do Hook n Shoot for a bit and a couple other promotions.  Then you had a shot going over to Russia for M-1.  Was that setup through Hook n Shoot again?

Curtis: Yeah.

Me: That was a cool fight against a big name like Andrei Semenov.  It started off, you had a beautiful slam/takedown on Andrei, but then ended up in a bad position and had to defend the rest of the fight.  What were your thoughts on that fight?

Curtis: At the time, I remember my training partner, was just Steve Crawford, who is late 40's and not a fighter.
I remember the best guys in our school kind of leaving and doing their own thing.  The training wasn't up to par, I hate to keep bringing that up, but that's a common thread in a lot of the story.  But it was a great experience, I knew who Semenov was, I was a fan of Semenov.  I was just like "Wow, I'm fighting in Russia."
I played my Rocky 4 tape, (laughs) I'd be training and playing Rocky 4, motivational tapes, listen to “Eye of the Tiger”.  So it was a great experience.

Me: How about the experience of being in Russia, fighting for M-1, the travel?

Curtis: It was great.  As I look back, early on in that time, I remember a lot of times being in the ring and like wow, kind of being overwhelmed.  Definitely when I went I Russia it was like an out of body experience.  Same for my third fight in the UFC, it was like I was watching myself outside of myself, real weird.  So definitely overwhelming.  You have to understand, I'm a huge, huge MMA fan and to go from being a huge fan to fighter, that transition took me a while. 

Me: After the Semenov loss you returned to Hook n Shoot and a couple other promotions and won 4 fights in a row, and you got another shot at the UFC.  So you find yourself at UFC 48.  And the interesting part is you were originally slated to fight Lee Murray...

Curtis: Oh yeah...

Me: Who unfortunately, I can't remember if it was injury or visa issues...

Curtis: No, he couldn't get over here. Prior to the fight, a guy had cut him off on the road.  How much detail do you want?  He pulled the guy out and beat the shit out of the guy, so he had visa problems.  When that came up, my mouth was watering, I was like finally, perfect opponent.  But I'm sure they brought me in to showcase his skills.  But I was like this is the perfect opportunity for me to show the UFC what I'm capable of, and of course he pulls out, and of course who do they put in?  A fuckin', another wrestler who fuckin’ outweighs me by 25 fucking pounds, (Laughs) from South Africa, so I'm like "OK, here we go!"

Me: Even though with the disappointment of having the last minute replacement, you were training for a striker and you get Trevor Prangley the wrestler, what did you notice between fighting at UFC 30, when it was still banned from cable, and UFC 48, when the sport was coming back strong?

Curtis: Definitely how they ran things, just a bigger production, things ran more smooth.  With UFC 30, things were still new, but 48 was a smooth card, and just how things ran, like the medical stuff, all the stuff other than the actual fight, the preparation of the fight, everything went a lot smoother.

Me: What did you think about the Prangley fight?  You hung in there pretty well until getting caught in the second round with the neck crank/Ray’s squeeze?

Curtis: Again, I was pissed.  It is what it is.
He got me down, basically ground and pounded, and I didn't really get to showcase my striking.  So I was disappointed, I'm not gonna lie… Yeah, I'm not going to bullshit, I was disappointed.

Me: So you went from UFC 48 to fight another up and comer at the time in David Loiseau in Canada in TKO. How was that fight and that experience?  David was a big stand-up guy like yourself...

Curtis: Yeah, well, some people who saw the fight actually thought I won the fight.
I think the fight was extremely close, I think I definitely dominated on the feet.  I think it was a fight that David fought that after the fight he was kind of like "wow".  Him being the stand-up fighter notorious for his elbows and kickboxing, but I totally thought I outclassed him in that.  My weakness would definitely be my ground, so him being a smart fighter he would take me down, and he held me in some areas that I thought if it wasn't in Canada they probably would have stood us up.  I lost a hard fought decision in Canada, and I'm not going to complain.  The crowd didn't like the fight, I don't think they liked David's performance, but I think that had to do a lot with the fact that he was in there with me.  But David was a really cool guy, Canada was nice.
I guess even during that time I got my weight cutting down to a science.  Initially, early in my career I even weighed in at 176 one time.  But at that time (around the time of the Loiseau fight) I had gotten to where I could weigh in at 185 and get in the ring at 205.  It was all a learning process.

Me: So from lovely cold Canada you went to super brawl in Hawaii to fight Rich Franklin.  It must have been terrible to go to Hawaii to fight...(laughs)

Curtis: It was a great experience.  As a fighter... So much of my career has been a learning experience. So going into the Franklin fight I saw it as an opportunity.  It was a very good opportunity.  I gassed in the fight.
Then again, our standup, Franklin definitely a smart guy, he's not going to strike with me.  I just felt in the cage that no one in my weight class could dominate me on my feet...
Another thing with weight, Rich is a huge 185 pounder, but I didn't feel he was bigger than me...

Me: It was at a 190 catch weight.

Curtis: Yeah, I remember.  Yeah, ok.
It was a good experience, Rich was a good guy.  I think we clashed shins early in the fight, and I guess he had to get stitches for his shins and I remember him telling me he had to lie, because he was working for a school at the time and had to say he got it surfing or something for insurance to pay for it.
Me: At that point, although considering the level of competition you faced, you had a 3 fight losing streak. And this is when you go over to Cage Rage.  How did you come about getting into Cage Rage (where Curtis received his nickname “Bang ‘em Out” Stout)?

Curtis: I got a call when the Loiseau fight came up, they had calls me and asked if I wanted to fight Mark Weir in Cage Rage but we turned that down and decided to go to Canada to fight Loiseau.  So after the Loiseau fight the Cage Rage guys still contacted us and said "Hey we got this up and comer guy we want to bring you over to fight, and the guys a really good striker" and I was like "heck yeah, I'll jump at it", so that's how I ended up going over there.

Me: Did you get the feeling that you were brought in to make their local boy look good?

Curtis: Oh hell yeah, I'm sorry I left that out, but heck yeah.  And I was the perfect opponent for him, not really that good on the ground, like to stand up, and here we have Sol Gilbert who is great on his feet, perfect opponent.
I have somewhat of a name, people know me somewhat, perfect opponent for Sol!

Me: So did that give you some extra motivation, piss you off a bit (being brought in to lose), were you just happy to have the opportunity?

Curtis: Yeah, I was happy to have the opportunity, I was like it is what it is.
But I remember at the time in our gym we had a black belt come from Brazil who stayed a couple months, and at this time period we were kind of consistently training.  It was just one of those times when everything was going good, where your training partners are there, and mentally I was there, I was dating a crazy, crazy bitch at the time...
So most things were in order, especially the training.  We had good wrestlers, the bjj black belt from Brazil...
So yeah, actually going to England I was kinda happy because particularly I was working on my ground and kinda working on my wrestling. The idea was to take Sol down and pound on him and then stand up with him and knock him out and that's exactly what happened.

Me: You K.O.'d him in the second round with that club left hook of yours that we would see again. Going back and re-living that moment, what was that feeling like to not only snap that 3 fight losing streak but to do so in such a spectacular fashion overseas?

Curtis: Oh, it was definitely the greatest feeling... Probably ever, for me, coming off those losses...
But then, being such a fan of martial arts and definitely boxing, I'm a huge boxing fan, and the knockout...
To me, having that knockout, it was unbelievable in my eyes, because I still think it had to be one of the top 3 greatest K.O.'s in all of combat sports, but that's my opinion...
It was definitely a dream, definitely amazing.

Me: So after Sol you got your dream opponent with Mark Weir.  At that point mark had built up quite a name and reputation, what did you think about that fight?

Curtis: I thought style wise it was perfect for me, him coming from Tae Kwon Do and me more aggressive Muay Thai, I thought he was the perfect opponent for me, and I thought I could out wrestle him, so I initially took him down and I felt I was too strong for him.  I was definitely happy because that was my biggest win.

Me: Well there's not much to talk to talk about on your next fight with Nilson de Castro, which lasted maybe 15 seconds. It was pretty much you, the left hook, and gimme my check...

Curtis: Yeah, and actually, of all my fights, that is the one fight that I actually felt bad about... Well, I kinda felt bad for Sol but I really felt bad about Nilson.
I've been knocked out, seen people get knocked out, but the brutality of it... They turned his head and a pool of blood poured out of his mouth...
I've never seen. Of all the combat sport fights that I've seen I've never seen someone get knocked out, and tilt their head and blood comes out I've never seen that shit.. But I'm a horror movie fan, so...

Me: Curtis, at that point it's 3 in a row, 3 highlight reel knockouts.  Why was everything coming together in those 3 fights?

Curtis: I think... Training wise things started going downhill after the Sol fight, back to square one, calling people, kind of begging, "hey man", especially after the Weir fight, but I think at that point confidence wise I was on a high...
So I just think the perfect opponent, confidence wise, I just think I was in that zone.  At that point I thought I could beat anybody in my weight class, minus the people that would take me down and lay on me for 3 rounds.

Me: So again it shows how important that mental aspect is...

Curtis: Yeah, and I'll say it again, that is THE most important thing.  People say it all the time but I don't really think they understand what it means when you say that mental part.  It's everything, I have to say it’s everything.  Everything starts with your mentality.  That was always my Achilles heel, always my weakest point in my whole career, and pretty much in life in general.  I'm very good at beating myself, second guessing myself, doubting myself, so that was always a struggle.  But those wins, that confidence was sky high.

Me: What these three fights did is set you up for someone people may have heard of, Anderson Silva…Did Cage Rage come to you and say “Hey, you’ve had three spectacular fights, we’d like to offer you Anderson Silva”, how did that whole thing come about?
Curtis: Well, those three spectacular fights I had, Anderson was the champion…Believe it or not quite a few people thought I was gonna take Anderson out, including Lee Murray.  I talked to him after
a few fights… Remember during this time period I was trying to set up a fight between me and Murray.  But he was having all kinds of problems getting stabbed, shot, head chopped off, all kinds of crazy shit. (laughs)
But I went into the Anderson fight, not like “damn, I’m fighting Anderson”, although I was Anderson’s biggest fan way back in Shooto when he first entered Shooto for Kato and then Sakurai.  I knew who Anderson was and I knew how great a tactician he was.  I felt I was stronger and I actually thought I had a legitimate shot at Anderson. 

Me: So looking back what were your thoughts on the fight?

Curtis: Well, thoughts are I kind of fucked up on the throw and toss, but I thought it was a good fight, he got me on the ground.  One of the little interesting things that I noticed previous to our fight, I remember him at a hotel and he was looking up and they were showing clips of my K.O.’s and he kind of looked up and kind of looked down and then kind of looked over at me, and if anyone knows Anderson, when he gives you eye contact he stares right through you.  I remember even like the weigh-in photos there was no him trying to intimidate me, and I don’t know if he thought he could, but I just thought that was interesting because before and after that fight every fight he’s had, the stare down has been there, the intimidating “I’m the greatest of all time” has been there, I just thought was interesting that he kind of respected me on that sense that he knew I could take his head off.
And remember, unfortunately, I was the first one he K.O.’d.

Me: After that, in Cage Rage there were a couple tough decision losses.  A fight against Matsui that you hated and then Jorge “Macaco” Patino, a tough, tough ground guy.  You got a win in a promotion back in the USA and then back to Cage Rage against Zelg Galesic.  Did you anticipate
a stand up fight with Zelg?

Curtis: I did, I had no idea about his ground but I’m not going to use that as an excuse. But yeah, that definitely shocked me, and I think I should have been done after that Zelg fight.  I think at that time things were going on in my personal life. At that time I didn’t really have a school,
I had like three friends and my trainer at the time Dan and it was basically just us.  After that I remember making calls to Miletich and went down there a couple days, because we finally got a guy in Kansas who was brown belt in BJJ, and I was like “hey man if I pay you such…” And that’s kind of where the bitterness and kinda the downhill slide started going.  I should have been done after Zelg.

Me: That was your seventh fight for Cage Rage, how did you view that entire Cage Rage experience?

Curtis: It was great, those guys are great.  Initially, me coming to fight Sol, but I became a Brit.  They loved me over there.  I thought the promotion was really good.  I kinda wish… You think back, damn, what if initially in the UFC if I fought Leben, or give me good tough strikers to showcase and have a great fight.  I think if that would have happened in the UFC, initially give me good opponents and then you can feed me the Prangleys and the fuckin’ people that are gonna lay on you the whole fight.  But it is what it is.  But Cage Rage was great.

Me: So when we talked about Cage Rage and you being brought in initially as the sacrificial lamb, did you think you were going to be one and done, was it a multi-fight contract, or how did it work?

Curtis: No, I thought it would be one and done but they asked me to come back.  But initially it was just a one fight deal.

Me: Which I assume was how the UFC’s were.  One and done deals.  Even though you took someone on last minute at UFC 48 I figured they would have brought you back…

Me: One thing I always found funny Curtis, on the DVD for Cage Rage 16 for your fight with Macaco, if you remember that pre-fight interview with Stephen Quadros.  About half way through the interview he tells you “You can look at me occasionally, you don’t have to look right at the camera.”  Do you remember that? (laughs)

Curtis: (laughs) Yeah, I remember that.  He’s another great guy, Stephen.

Me: You are currently working at a school?

Curtis:  Yeah, I work at a school in Parsons Kansas.  Through the whole time of my career I had a job and I worked with troubled youth, so I now work at a school with troubled teens.

Me: As an instructor, or physical education?

Curtis:  Yeah I’m a para-professional, like a teacher’s aide, so I help the teachers with the students.

Me:  And besides the work with the school you’re also looking to open a gym?

Curtis: Oh yeah, for sure, it will probably happen in January.  And the guy I’m working with is trying to get me to do some kickboxing, so we’ll see down the line.

Me: During your career, were you ever able to train or fight full time or were you always having to work and be one of those part-time fighters?

Curtis:  To be honest, I’ve always had to work, but as far as training, I think I fought for seven years, and out of seven years, with the exception of my Thai coach, I maybe had a training camp
for a total of 6 months throughout that seven years.  I don’t regret it now, but when I went out to train with Quinton, before he became Rampage and huge, at one point we were kind of friends I was actually going to move out to California, we were going to get an apartment together.  I was gonna kind of start my career.  I think this is maybe after UFC 30, long long time ago.  When Quinton signed to King of the Cage, I declined, said “No, I’m gonna stick it out”, maybe it’s stubbornness. So I just thought that was always funny.  He still owes me $5, I’m sure he has the money to pay me.

Me:  Do you have a particular best accomplishment or high point in your career?

Curtis: Definitely the Sol Gilbert fight, basically my whole experience in Cage Rage.

Me:  Still have all those trophies from Cage Rage?

Curtis:  I keep some of them, but most of them are collecting dust…


Me: Do you have any particularly funny or crazy stories from your travels or experiences?

Curtis:  Definitely the Lee Murray thing. It was hilarious because we’d always heard about Lee Murray, the Tito Ortiz thing… We get over there (England) and my trainer Dan, he’s real comical, and he’s talking to the promoters about Lee Murray, and we’re laughing and joking, and they’re looking at us like, I’m sure they’re thinking “It’s not a fucking joke, Lee Murray is not to be messed with”.  So we’re like “Yeah, ok whatever”, and it’s just funny, knowing down the line him being responsible for that bank robbery.  It’s just hilarious how you think… You just never know.

Me: People didn’t quite understand how deep that bad boy image went…

Curtis: Exactly…

Me:  Thinking he's another cocky Brit who is mouthing off a lot…

Curtis: Yeah, but shit, he was truly a legitimate gangster…