I heard that you’ve been ill recently… are you ok?
It’s just one of those things in life that you don’t see coming. The jury is still out on how I got it, but I got a serious infection – I was in Brazil for two years… off and on… they say I could have got it there because that’s where it originates, but you can also get it in Vegas, where I’m at now. It got between my ribs and it just grew like a fungus. I had a fight like 8 or 9 months ago, I fought Nakamura and I got kneed in the ribs. It broke my ribs and punctured my lung, blood started flowing into my chest cavity, got in my lungs and my lungs collapsed… [before that] I didn’t even know I had a problem with it really. I just thought I wasn’t in shape, so I’d train harder. Then I had a fever for 6 weeks, real bad. I couldn’t tell what it was. I had shoulder surgery – I just assumed it was complications from that. I come to find out, they put me on he table, give me an MRI scan and they realised that my lung collapsed.
It was attacking my right lung, making that one collapse, so we had to have surgery right then and there. We as fighters have injuries. A lot of times, as fighters, we can fight through that injury – and train and fight and win. That’s what I did for like 3 years, I had injuries, I broke my neck…
You broke you neck?
I broke my neck three years ago, I still fought, but I let I heal and I didn’t heal right, but I’ve got everything fixed now – my shoulder, my knee, because when I had my surgery, they had to go in through my back. They parted my ribs and literally grabbed my lung and scraped, think of a scab on you elbow from when you fall. One entire area, they had to peel off my lungs – get your hand and put your fingers together, that’s how big the pieces of meat that they took off my lungs were. I had internal bleeding for two months; I was bed-ridden for two months
That must have been so frustrating, how did you cope?
I didn’t [pause] I mean… I leaned to deal with it, but I never coped with it. [It’s] about the best thing that ever happened to me… the fact that made me stop. Instead of wanting to go and train with people... I was always busy, too busy to take a break and enjoy a win.
I leant more about myself in the last 8 months than I did fighting in the last 7 years. This might sound stupid, it’s not stupid, it’s just what we do - I’ve learnt to deal with pain all my life. And when I feel a pain, I don’t accept that anything is going to defeat me.
I learn how to deal with it and make it work for me. While I sat back, I watched fights with the guys I like… Cro Cop, Fedor, Randy, Chuck, Mark Coleman – I learned. In 8 months, I got better. I haven’t been able to be on the mat or nothing, but as soon as they take this pick out of my arm… I’ve had an I.V. in my arm for the last 6 weeks. I can’t swim, I can’t really do anything like that.
Once it’s out, what’s the first thing you’re going to do?
One month. I’m taking one month and doing nothing but hardcore training. Running 4 or 5 miles in the morning… in the gym, doing all the cardio to get it back to where it was. I need to get my body ready for punches and kicks, you know, you’ve got to condition your body for that long haul. When I get back, I’ve got Mark Coleman, I’ve got Marc Laimon out of Cobra-Kai, I train with the fight club. The trainers there teach the guys on the show ‘The Contenders’, Winky Wright trained at the gym for his last fight. ‘I like being around steel, because I want to be like steel’ – quoting ppPat Miletich]], we’re sharpened steel…
Who will you be fighting for when you come back?
I’m fighting for Pride. I’m not fighting for anyone else.
Have you spoken to the guys at Pride recently?
Oh yeah. They called me in the week… they even came to see me to make sure I was ok.
Ah wicked! That was nice of them…
It’s a great company, man. They take care of their fighters.
Have they spoken to you about a possible opponent – or is it too early at this stage?
At this stage… you know, if you’ve ever been in a fight, that your body has to get used to being kicked and punched. Seeing as I haven’t been punched in the face for 8 months, longer than that because in my last fight the guy didn’t even hit me once… I’ve got to condition that body. My joints, I’ve been doing yoga and stretching because I really haven’t been doing much for 8 months. So you want me to go back in there and squat 400lbs? – I’m going to go in there and do 225 for reps.
When I get back, I’m going to fight at 205lb, then I want to put weight on. I don’t want to put bad weight on, I want to put good weight on. When I get to the point where I weigh 225 again, I’m going to be fighting everyone! But until then, I’m going to stay at 205. I can still manhandle these guys at 205, but if I’m weighing 210 or 215, I’m not going to fight Fedor at 245lb. You know… one of the greats, like Mr Hunt. I’m not touching him if I weigh 210… end of the week, you know? (chuckles)
When you cut to 205lbs, how much weight do you drop in the last few days?
I cut about 15lbs. Weight cutting is a science and everybody’s different. It’s funny because some friends who are trying to cut weight and get down, they come to me and say, ‘Well, how do you do it?’
It’s like anything – if you’re in the Military, a Police officer, you’re trained to be able to take everything that’s thrown at you… in the fight industry, you learn stand up so you can understand that when a guy kicks you in the leg, I got a perfect punch to knock him out with – unless we do that a lot, we’re not going to learn how to do it right.
When it comes to cutting weight, I condition my body to cut weight whenever I want it to cut weight. So, on the spur of the moment, if I wake up at 3 in the morning I go to the gym. I’ll put my sweats on and I’ll just cut. I’ll work out for an hour and a half with my plastics on and I’ll usually cut 10-15lbs in that time. This is when I’m walking around at 220lb. The last 3 or 4 pounds are always the most difficult to take off, but I’ll be able to take it.
My body is not going to feel drained because 4 weeks before I had to make 205, I was conditioning my body to cut down – and the next day I’d put my weight back on and have a hard day of sparring, so my body is used to fighting through being tired, getting all the toxins out of my body, you know. A lot of times if someone really wants to cut weight and lose weight, the best thing for them to do is to get a dietician, get your fat tested… it’s a science.
Talking of dieticians, have you always followed a strict diet?
No, because I wanted to be big all the time, my diet consisted of eating anything and everything I could eat! I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been because I still go to the gym and I train right now… the difference is, I don’t have anyone wrestling me, I don’t have anyone slamming me. Right now, my cardio is better than it’s ever been, in the fact that they just did my lungs – I never realised how bad it was. I’m running 4 miles in 23 minutes. I’m running like a Kenyan runner!
You sound very motivated…
I’m feeling motivated because the last time my boys fought – we’ve got a team, and yeah, everyone thinks we’re crazy because we live our lives day to day… Everything is geared for me to be able to take care of my wife, my kids – my son just graduated High School, he’s going to college, so I need to make sure I can keep up with him. I live every day to be the best thing for tomorrow. Even today, I went out and got me a book: ‘Mental Power’ because right now, the physical part of my life is always going to be there, but mentally, you’ve always got to fight through and I’ve had 8 surgeries in 9 months.
That’s a lot of surgery, it must have taken a lot out of you.
Yeah, it took a lot out of me, but it sure did give me a lot back, because right now I’m pissed [off]. I’m always pissed. Not pissed at the world, but just pissed that this has happened and in order for me to get back to where I want to be… I’ve got to train and be a lot more disciplined. No sugar – and I love my Kool-Aid! The only good thing that came out of this is that I’m in better shape, so when it comes to doing the booty, getting love, I can go for hours! (laughs)
I’d like to ask you about your early career fighting Vale Tudo in Brazil; that must have been a crazy time, with very limited rules, the sport wasn’t developed, what was that experience like?
It made me realise how easy it is! When I fought Vale Tudo, we didn’t wear gloves, I didn’t wear cups. It was like a street fight to me. I’m getting away from my thuggish, Neanderthal ways because this is a business. There’s great fighters everywhere, all over the world. I’ve been watching my fights from Vale Tudo. I used to be such a mean son of a bitch when I fought.
I wanted to hurt everyone. I can remember ripping off eyelids and –if I had your finger in my hand – I’d break your finger. Break my finger if you can get it, but go for it and I’m gonna fuck you up. I’ve been looking back at that. If I could do my career again, I’d do even more Vale Tudos. I’d fight more. The only way to get any better is to get in there with the best.
Do you still feel that way about your opponents? – like it’s a street fight?
No. That’s one thing I wish I could get back, that volatile mentality I had, because I didn’t care. I’m a mean son of a bitch. Vale Tudo, with the Brazilians, look at the way they train – everyday is a fight. If you ain’t ready to fight, don’t come to the gym because we might need you today to train with someone who’s fighting [soon]. If Mark’s got a fight and I don’t, it’s my job to get beat up every day by him.
That can’t be much fun.
No. It’s not fun.
Talking about your team and the recent problems they have had with Chute Boxe [there were ugly scenes of confrontation between the teams, following Shogun's loss to Mark Coleman at Pride 31] – What do you think about that?
All I know is that if I had been in that ring when Mark fought – I was sitting here with a fuckin big-ass hole in my shoulder and my back - If I had been in that ring, I guarantee you they wouldn’t have got the f*ck in the ring. If they had f*cking got in the ring, I guarantee you I would have beaten the F*CK out of anybody who got in that ring. Shogun, Ninja and fucking Wanderlai, it doesn’t matter. They don’t have to like us and we don’t have to like them either (furious)
Which one of those 3 would you like to fight the most?
I’ll fight any one of the motherf*ckers and I will get the chance because Pride want me to either get knocked out or knock them out. It makes for good TV. The Monster! I was reborn over the last 8 months. I love getting punched – I’m not going to stand there and let someone hit me – but if you hit me, I know that you’re close enough to me so that I can slam you on your f*cking head.
I know where I am best – I’m best being inside. I’ve got good stand up. My hands are good – I’m not a kicker – so you don’t have to worry about me kicking, but you do have to worry about me getting in your face and slamming you. My jiu-jitsu is good. I look forward to fighting again. I’m not coming back trying to fight the Heavyweights because there are enough 205lbers for me to fight, especially in Pride. I know that they want me to fight Wanderlai and Shogun and I’m OK with that. But I’m not going to jump into a river full of piranhas if I’m not ready.
So do you think you’re going to fight one of the Chute Boxe lot in your first fight back?
Nah. I’m not going to fight a Chute Boxe guy straight away, but let’s understand – it just depends on how I feel. Because right now, just remember that I’ve been hurt. My knee, my shoulder, now, they’re all healed, they’re both fine. I just need to get rid of this pick in my arm so I can get down and dirty.
Thanks Kevin – have you got anything to add for the MMA Universe readers?
To everybody reading this on MMAU… thanks for giving everyone who’s a hard working man, a blue collar worker, the opportunity and a stage.
Even when the politicians wanted to shut us down there were guys like you in England, and there was people like Pride in Japan, and UFC in America that wouldn’t let it die.
You guys are giving all the people in the world who can’t see it all the time – but have internet access – they can still touch us and we can still touch them and we can open up eyes. What we do is a martial art skill that every trooper, police officer, correctional officer, every bounty hunter needs, this is what we show them.
For the fans that love us – even the ones that hate me, I’d rather you hate me and talk bad about me than not talk about me at all. Any news is good news – as long as I stay in the news.
Let me make this known: I don’t give a f*ck about whoever the f*ck wants to challenge my team – bitches – make sure that when we see you guys in the lobby of some place – don’t walk the other way – stand right where we are and say that shit. They need to get in the ring, where they know a f*cking body guard is going to jump in there and pull us off your ass.
If you ain’t man enough to f*ck with me in the street, then don’t be thinking that you’re man enough to f*ck with me in that ring. I’m sick and tired of everyone having a bad idea about what we do – we’re fighters. I’m not trying to be a f*cking rabbi or a priest. I’m a fighter and I’m a family man and I’m all about myself and my boys.
If Chute Boxe is all about being a team, like the great teams in America like the Miletich camp, the Shark Tank – these guys are all about their team – and with my team behind me, I’m going to accomplish it all.
Interview by Jimmy Boogaloo exclusively for MMA Universe. Thanks to Elizabeth Broglia