New Rattling the Cage with Tony Reid Podcast Launches With Demetrious Johnson and Ben Askren

December 16th, 2018 by Tony Reid

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Check out our very first podcast in our new home! (8daws/Stone State Entertainment Chad Evans)

We wanted to launch the show in style and I think we did just that.

Former UFC flyweight king, pound-for-pound all-time great and new ONE Championship fighter Demetrious Johnson joined us to talk about the historic trade from his perspective, his UFC championship reign and his future with ONE Championship.

Former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight king, the still undefeated Ben Askren joined us to talk about the trade from his perspective, his physical and mental prime and who he has his sights set on in the UFC.

All this and much, much more. You know John Vovakes had to talk about something interesting.

The RTC Pod is available on our YouTube page. Please like, share, subscribe and all that good stuff.

We will be on iTunes, SoundCloud and all other platforms very soon!

A special thanks to the good folks at Gripedo support! Check them out at www.gripedo.com and tell them we sent ya!

https://youtu.be/UNKJMptEqwQ

My Time in the Poconos with Renan Barao

July 23rd, 2016 by Tony Reid

Former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao, a man still considered one of the pound for pound best in the sport, walks the streets of a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania in near anonymity.

He made the long trip from his home in Brazil to the Keystone State to support teammate and lifelong friend Claudia Gadelha in her new business venture in the well-known vacation region of the Pocono Mountains. The Claudia Gadelha MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy opened its doors less than a year ago and has already taken the area by storm, so such so that the owners are in the process of purchasing a second location.

“I am really happy for Claudia. Now she gets to show her hard work to everybody.” Barao said.

13716024_10154261282845586_8987722125902418816_nMany topics arise when speaking to the shy and soft-spoken Barao at AC’s, a 50’s and 60’s themed diner, found in the same complex as the gym itself. Barao seems to be enjoying himself after A.J. Hiller, the owner and operator of the gym and restaurant, hands Renan a cup full of tokens to try his hand at the wide array of games in the diner’s game room.

Barao, speaking just a few short days after Gadelha’s tough loss to bitter rival Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the main event of the TUF 23 Finale, still has the fight on his mind.

It has been said, behind the scenes, that Claudia may have done too much training leading up to the fight, even to the point of over- training the day of the fight. Her fight camp was exceptionally long, nearly twice as long as most fight camps. The challenger sparred for an unusually long period of time in the moments leading up to the title fight that night. All of these factors can easily lead to an over-trained, underperforming fighter, which is what the world saw that night during International Fight Week.

“With Claudia’s fight she was just tired. She was gassed out. It was just way too much training. The first round was hers but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.” Barao said.

Gadelha dropped the champion in the first round and pulled Jedrzejczyk into deep waters early in the contest but by the third round the champion had regained control of the fight from the wavering hands of the exhausted challenger. Joanna Champion used her vicious Muay Thai striking game to bloody and batter the Gadelha and in the end Jedrzejczyk retained the UFC women’s strawweight title, kept her unblemished record intact and moved to 2-0 against her most heated rival.

The former UFC bantamweight king has had his fair share of obstacles to overcome and setbacks inside and outside of the Octagon in recent years. After a nine plus year, 32 fight unbeaten streak, Barao has now dropped three of his last four fights inside the Octagon.

In one of the greatest upsets the sport has ever seen, Barao’s unblemished streak came to a shocking end when he dropped the bantamweight title in just his second defense in devastating fashion to T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 173 via TKO late in the fifth round of the fight. In a surprising development, the world saw the wresting heavy game that T.J. Dillashaw showcases shift gears, change the gameplan and outstrike the champion throughout the fight. Dillashaw eventually finished Barao with a headkick followed by a few well-placed punches.

An immediate rematch was scheduled to take place at UFC 177 in August of that year but it was not meant to be as Barao was hospitalized the day of weigh ins after becoming ill during the weight cutting process. Barao was cutting weight in the hotel room bathtub when he stood up, lost consciousness and fell and hit his head. He was released from the hospital shortly thereafter but the writing was on the wall. This weight cut was becoming too much for the former champion to endure.

“The cut to 135 was breaking me. It was just too much.” Barao said. “That’s why I decided to move up to 145. When it came time to cut the weight. That was the most difficult time, just knowing that I had to cut back down. That weighed on me mentally and affected my mental health.”

13707685_10154261227385586_5802773160148850872_nAfter picking up a much needed win against Mitch Gagnon Barao was awarded a rematch with Dillashaw for a chance to regain the title. The former champion came up short again, getting stopped in the rematch to Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night Dillashaw vs. Barao 2. A decision was made. It was time to move up a weight class and join the UFC’s featherweight division.

He was welcomed to the deep division by perennial contender Jeremey Stephens at UFC Fight Night 88 in May. Stephens has some of the heaviest hands and most vicious striking in the division. After a back and forth “Fight of the Night” scrap, Stephens emerged the victor on the judge’s scorecards. Barao felt he had done enough to win the fight and refuses to be discouraged by the outcome.

“My previous fight against Jeremy Stephens was probably the hardest I have been hit in a fight.” Barao said. “The result is the result but I feel like I won that fight. I am just chasing after it now. I am ready to get back in there.”

Our Weekend at The MMA Classic Fan Expo in Syracuse, NY

October 10th, 2015 by Tony Reid

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My wife and I hit the road in the pouring rain in the early morning hours of Saturday October 3rd and headed north toward the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse New York for the MMA Classic Fan Expo. Being such a huge fan and supporter of the early days of the UFC and MMA I was extremely excited to meet so many legends and pioneers of early NHB.

 

As soon as we hit the parking lot and the building I couldn’t help but notice the size of the venue. It was a very large building with more than 50 vendor tables, a food court, other large rooms for activities and nearly half of it was sectioned off for the big MMA event to be held on Saturday night.

 

I started to make my rounds and I was like a kid in a candy store. I spoke to the show’s coordinator and MMA Signatures founder A.J. Hiller first. We had spoken in the past and he helped me secure a number of legends who appeared on my ESPN Radio show in the weeks leading up to the event. The first pioneer I ran into was none other than UFC co-founder Art Davie himself. We have spoken on the phone for interviews numerous times but finally meeting him in person and showing him our cover story in Fighters Only (of which I brought a few issues along with me) from a few months back was really special. He was really impressed with the quality of the magazine and we paged through it and he seemed to really enjoy the piece and his pictures! We talked about the major motion picture that will be made of his book “Is This Legal?” He also shared with me that just moments prior he spoke to UFC 1 veteran Gerard Gordeau for the first time in TWENTY years.

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As a kid of the 80’s and early 90’s I was really happy to see The King of the Four Rounders retired boxer, kickboxer and MMA fighter Butterbean. We met The King of the Four Rounders and he could not have been any nicer. I sat and chatted with him at his booth (on his bench) about all kinds of good stuff. He shared war stories with me about leg kicks he took during his career, back room bonuses and other great secrets and stories. We actually saw him at dinner later that night. We were waiting for nearly an hour Bean walks in with his wife and gets seated immediately, even though we had been waiting. I joked “Oh I see how it is…” he laughed and said no but he told me but the next day when I saw him he that he did indeed pull the Butterbean string! We was a joy to talk to over the course of the weekend.

 

We happened to bump into the first women’s UFC strawweight champion in history Carla Esparza. She was super sweet and as nice as could be. We tried to hook up for an interview a few times over the course of the weekend but it just didn’t work out.

 

We met and got to spend some time with Big Daddy Gary Goodridge. Watching him compete back in the day he was always one of those guys that seemed larger than life to me. I had him on my radio show in the weeks leading up to the expo which was actually the first time I had ever talked to him. In person he was a super, super nice dude who always had a smile on his face. He saw each other in passing numerous times around the expo and he mentioned all throughout the weekend that the good looking couple was there, meaning Michelle and I…mostly Michelle I assume. At one point we stopped to talk for a few minutes and he even gave us some marriage advice.

 

It was an absolute honor to finally meet and sit down with the man that owns the first win in UFC history Mr. Gerard Gordeau. He told me (among many other things) that this was the first time he has talked to Art Davie since he fought in the UFC over twenty years ago. He has not been stateside since UFC 2 where he trained and cornered Remco Pardoel. We sat outside and spoke for nearly an hour on topics from the UFC not wanting him to be a part of the recent anniversary festivities to how much he hates the current Zuffa brass. I would have to assume that I conducted the first interview with him in the States in the last twenty plus years. He has some stories as he smoked, and smoked and smoked some more. The look in his eyes, even during the interview process is that of an assassin. I mean that in the nicest possible way.

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Another UFC 1 pioneer that I had interviewed and spoke to a number of times but had yet to meet in person was Art Jimmerson. It was great to meet up with him. He actually took pictures of us and posted all over social media, wearing his one big red glove, of course. The glove has really grown in size over the years. In an interesting side note he actually had a copy of the Fighters Only issue in which our interview appeared right there at his table. We caught up, shared some laughs and had a great convo.

 

I spoke to pioneer Pat Smith for my upcoming book and he really shared some crazy stories for the early days, including a few about Tank Abbott (imagine that), hotel fights, blood, guts and more. He is still an active competitor and is fighting for a championship in a smaller organization very soon.

 

I also ran into the largest athlete in the world Emanuel Yarbrough and sat and spoke to him at length. He also shared some great stories about his experience in the UFC, his fight with Keith Hackney and so much more and as an added bonus he used the word loquacious numerous times during our interview, which I enjoyed greatly.

 

Another one of the early NHB and UFC pioneers that looked (at the time) like he would literally eat your face off is Paul Varelans. But I shouldn’t have judged “The Polar Bear” book by its cover. Paul is a great interview and great guy to convesate with. He was very open and honest. He’s been off the grid for years now, just recently coming back on the scene. He said that in coming back he realized that he was missed and that there was even a market for his signature because there were literally none on the market. He suffered from depression after the way his time and end of the run with the UFC shook out. He is getting things back in order and he’s actually working on a standup comedy routine. He shared a few jokes with us and he was pretty funny. I hope it works out for him.

 

The one and only, “The Beast” Dan Severn was the man of the weekend. There was a very cool Dean Martin style roast of the beast. I was lucky enough to attend and watch roast master Jonas Barnes, MMA legends Enson Inoue, Paul Varelans, Brian Ebersole and Don Frye roast some beast. Frye came to the stage carrying a six pack and proceeded to roast the roast master, Severn and anyone else he felt like ripping, all in good Frye fun, of course.

 

As I just mentioned the man of all men Don Frye was in attendance all weekend. Let’s just say Don Frye was being Don Frye all weekend and I enjoyed every second of it.

 

The longest line of the weekend award goes to “The Godfather of Ground and Pound” Mark Coleman. He had a steady line of fans at his table all weekend long. We had the chance to catch up for a few minutes as well.

 

How could I forget to mention UFC/MMA Collectibles? There was a sports cards table set up by Dave Sadler and company. Anyone that know me know how much I was involved in the sports collectibles market for most of my life. I had to buy a few packs. It’s my addiction that I kicked cold turkey but every time I walked by the table that weekend it was like the drug dealer on the corner and I was the crackhead.

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What was quite possibly the highlight of the weekend for me was attending the UFC 1 Viewing Party. The entire inaugural UFC event was shown in a private viewing party in which numerous UFC 1 competitors where there to watch with the rest of us. From co-founder Art Davie to competitors Gerard Gordeau, Zane Frazier, Art Jimmerson and Pat Smith, watching that landmark event with those guys present was something very special. There was loud cheering from the fighters, some acting as cheerleaders for the others and overall a great sense of camaraderie thought out the viewing party and the weekend as a whole. There was so much history and so many memoires were in one place at one time. No matter the financial outcome of the expo to pull off what was pulled off, having so many legends in one place at the same time, in itself, made this a truly a special weekend that I won’t soon forget.