My Time in the Poconos with Renan Barao

Saturday, 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

Saturday, 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.

My Time at The 7th Annual World MMA Awards and UFC 183 In Las Vegas

Friday, February 20th, 2015 by Tony Reid

After my radio show Tuesday evening I headed home to put the finishing touches on our travel plans (mostly luggage) and got ready for the following morning. We left cold and snowy Central Pennsylvania Wednesday morning and drove to Baltimore for a direct flight out of BWI to Sin City to partake in a five day stretch of awesomeness of red carpets and face punching. We got to the airport and bumped into a few friends that were also heading out to Las Vegas for the big fight weekend. Tim Boetsch’s wife Jade and the crew of our good friends were flying on the same flight as we were. Of course Jade was making the trip to see her husband compete at UFC 183.

After the cross country flight we touched down in Sin City shortly after 4pm Wednesday afternoon Pacific Time. After flying all day we just grabbed our bags, a rental car and headed to the time share we were staying at for the duration of our trip. We chose to stay off the strip this time around. It was a great choice because they place was beautiful. We ate some bad food and I tried to connect with everyone I planned on catching up with while in town. From scheduling meeting and interview times with trainers, coaches and fighters to securing tickets for the same people for the World MMA Awards, Wednesday evening was just about firming up plans. With one exception…

The UFC 183 Silva vs. Diaz card was going down at the MGM. There is nothing like being in Las Vegas during a big fight week. The excitement in the air, the ridiculous level of elite fighters mulling around and the lights and sounds of normal Vegas just add to the fun. I could do without the cigarette smoke and five year old kids being dragged through the casinos though.

We hit the MGM to get our schedule in motion late Wednesday night and as we were hanging out with the Octagon caged MGM lion my wife spotted UFC Flyweight Champion and possibly the best pound for pound fighter on the planet Demetrious Johnson and his wife Destiny. We had planned on meeting up at some point over the weekend so there was no better time than now. DJ and Destiny were literally just getting to the hotel, bags in tow. DJ went to grab the hotel key and invited us up to the room to talk right there on the spot. We initially struggled to find the room and eventually headed up to the cardio wing of the MGM, an interesting and ironic name that was not lost on us. We had a great interview and more so a conversation in which Demetrious Johnson showed he is as exciting outside the cage as he is inside it. I know that’s really saying something but its 100% true. I hope to show that side of him in the material I gathered that day. His wife even went so far to say that people think he has the personality of a coffee mug and that the thought couldn’t be further from the truth. Some of those mugs have pretty funny sayings on them. I digress. We wrapped it up with the UFC Flyweight Champion of the world, saying our thank yous and goodbyes and made it back to the casino floor of the MGM.

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For those of you that are unaware, the hub, and the hot spot for fighter spotting for the hardcore fan is the fountain area by the hotel elevators in the MGM. Clearly the fighters all must walk by that area to get to the elevators at some point throughout the day. In our comings and goings we saw a few autograph seekers hanging out there, pretty much, the entre five day stretch we were in town. I hope they at least stopped to eat and sleep at some point.

Thursday began with an in room tux fitting for the follow days Fighters Only World MMA Awards. We hit the MGM for an “Ultimate Media Day” open to media and MMA fans alike. On the way we made a must stop pit stop at The Las Vegas Fight Shop in Planet Hollywood on the strip. I love the place because there is so much, almost too much MMA goodness per square foot. For the record I didn’t not purchase an $80 t-shirt, for anyone that is curious.

The Ultimate Media day might have been ultimate for media and the fans in the front row of the hall but for anyone else it was elbows to assholes. I was on the fan side of the fence and decided I would be better suited to reach out to the fighters I had planned on talking to instead of wading through hundreds of people. I reached out to Jimy Hettes who was lounging up in his room with his team playing cards. He invited us to come up and hang out. We did an impromptu interview in the middle of Jimy’s card game. The whole crew of guys were fun and great to talk to and it was good to talk to a guy who could understand our struggle of cold and snow back in PA.

Although it looks like we are going a mile a minute and its non-stop action when we are on a trip like this, truth be told there is a lot of downtime, a lot of hits and just as many misses as far as meeting up, scheduling interviews and even something as simple as stopping to talk for a few minutes.

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Friday was a day that was all about getting ready for the evenings red carpet, pre party, awards ceremony and after party for the 7th Annual World MMA Awards. My wife went to great lengths to prepare for a walk on the red carpet and she did not disappoint. She was the most beautiful person in the building that night. We picked up our tickets earlier in the day and prepared for a great night. We got dressed to the nines and headed over to the Venetian, where the event was being held. We were actually the first to hit the red carpet that night. As you can imagine it was a star studded affair from MMA luminaries to celebrities striking a pose on the carpet from Randy Couture to TV stars such as Joe Fatone and MMA personalities. We met up with Mike Beltran immediately after exiting the red carpet. He was nominated for Referee of the Year. He was one of the nicest and most genuine people I have met in the sport. We introduced each other to our wives and talked for a few minutes.

We hang around and took it all in for a few minutes, running into Fighters Only President and CEO Rob Hewitt, among others as we made our way back toward the theatre and the VIP cocktail pre show party. There were two levels to the pre party festivities. The top level was VIP but the lower level was VVIP. Before I was told that I didn’t know something like that existed. For what’s its worth we were in the real VIP party last year and had the time of our lives. We were told there were a few minor glitches in the ticket making and organizing process this year. We were not in the VVIP. The horror! We went to the regular old VIP party and struck up conversation with a number of awesome people, including again, Mike Beltran and another referee of the year nominee Jason Herzog. We chatted it up with them for a good while. I decided to head back down toward the lobby and in doing so I bumped in to Ryan Kiser who was an absolute pleasure to deal with all weekend. He was handling a good bit of the event coordination, if you will. Michelle approached him on a few occasions and he was more than helpful and great to talk to. I saw Ryan as I was heading down the steps as I passed the aforementioned VVIP section. He asked me why we weren’t in there and I said I wasn’t sure. He led us by hand into the VVIP party.

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The first person I saw when I got in the room standing to my right was none other than Jose Canseco. Are you kidding me? I knew this was where I needed to be! I politely asked for a picture (contrary to popular belief I don’t ask for many, if any pictures.) He obliged and we began to make our way around the room. It was a who’s who of MMA luminaries. One right after the next. The best part about it was finally seeing people I talk to all year in person. It’s like seeing a long lost friend. From talking to the Askrens (Ben and Amy) to meeting Michael Chandler and his wife and more than I can mention here. We spoke to Chris Beal, who was up for Knockout of the Year at the awards show.  I met Michael Bisping for the first time after all these years. I finally ran into Emanuel Newton after all of our conversations and interactions this year. Bruce Buffer was chilling at the bar with Arianny Celeste. My wife had to go meet Joey Fatone who was at the bar. I met Mr. Fatone but as a grown ass man didn’t want to ask for a picture with him. I did tell him how much I enjoyed his bit on a recent episode of Impractical Jokers, which I think got the biggest reaction out of him all night. He was genuinely excited to talk about the show and his appearance. She also had a nice conversation with former Bellator ring card girl Jade Bryce. Kevin Randleman and crew were in the house. We spoke to all-time great and MMA icon Randy Couture for a minute. It was just a great, great time. It was one of those kinds of parties.

 

 

10961801_10152999529335586_851800836_nSo after enjoying ourselves immensely we made our way to the beautiful Venetian Theatre for the actual awards show. We entered and as I handed my ticket to the usher we made our way down, down, down to our seats. We were seated fourth row from the stage, center stage. I had to ask Ariel Helwani to stand up so I could get to my seat. I actually sat right next to him. We were surrounded by the who’s who in the MMA and entertainment industry. It was an amazing and humbling experience. The show was fantastic. Like I have said many times before it’s like the Oscars of MMA. Black tie, red carpet all class all the way. There is nothing else remotely close to it in our industry and I was happy to be a small part of it.

After the awards show all of these amazing people are filing out of the building at the same time. I congratulated Duane Bang Ludwig on his second consecutive award for Coach of the Year. I also congratulated T.J. Dillashaw on an amazing year. I bumped into UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler just a few moments after he won Fighter of the Year. We agreed to meet the next morning for a quick interview for the magazine.

Saturday morning I met up with Robbie Lawler in the food court of the Venetian for a quick interview. Later in the morning we took the rental car out to Xtreme Couture to meet up with Ryan Couture and the rest of the team. I had a great conversation with Ryan, make that an interview that will be in print in the near future. He is such a fun person to talk to, interview or otherwise. He said to make sure I stop back and take a private lesson as he would turn me into a bunch of knots. I’m sure I will be back and I’m as equally sure he will tie me into a knot.

Saturday night, of course was the actual face punching night of UFC 183. You didn’t read this to hear the results of the fight card. We had a great time watching the fights even if they didn’t play out like many of us had hoped. After the event we met PRIDE icon and MMA Legend Mauricio Shogun Rua and Anthony Johnson, among others.

That pretty much wraps up my little blog of my time in Las Vegas. I hope to get back soon and have another blog as fun and entertaining for everyone to read.

My Time on Set with Daniel Cormier and the CF Athletic Team Commercial Shoot

Saturday, November 15th, 2014 by Tony Reid

It was a late start for us as we hit the road headed for Columbus, OH Wednesday afternoon. We made it to our lovely room at the Red Roof Inn and got settled. A few hours later we went to Yogi’s a favorite spot of the man behind Cage Fighter, CF Athletic and the founder of MMA Elite, Michael DiSabato. We had great conversation there for a few hours, talking about the sport of wrestling, the pimps and prostitutes of the NCAA, some of the down and dirty secrets of the wrestling world and so much more. Mike D. is a whirling dervish, a ball of excitement, energy and attitude. If he is one thing it’s passionate about wrestling and changing the sport for the better. If you talk to him for more than five minutes that enthusiasm and passion has to rub off on you. You may not agree with his delivery but it is nearly impossible to argue with the message.

 

Thursday morning we met in the parking lot of Hilliard Davidson High School in Dublin. It is a very nice town outside of Columbus. There was an early morning session with Angelo DiSabato, Michael’s nephew as the star of the show, wrestling and grappling with another unnamed wrestler for specific shots for the upcoming commercial. The production level was first class, top notch all the way. I felt like I was on the set of a Nike or Under Armour commercial. There was a large crew filming as well as a few separate photographers capturing images as well. The day went great and a lot of powerful images were captured for the commercial for the upcoming release of CF Athletic’s first wrestling shoe.

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We were invited to dinner at Michael’s beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood later that evening. The dinner, baked ziti, was cooked by a friend of the family and probably the best I have ever had. I had a great time meeting and getting to know Michael’s family. We came to find out that DC’s flight was delayed and now he wouldn’t be in town until Friday morning and we would begin shooting bright and early.

After flying cross country on a plane held together by tape, after numerous delays and a late baby sitter. Cormier and his fiancé made it to Columbus, (more specifically the suburb of Dublin) Ohio for the CF Athletic photo and commercial shoot for the launch of the new wrestling shoe and clothing line again at Hilliard Davidson High School.

He was there bright and early, shortly after 7am on a very chilly day, with little to no sleep. We were outside near the track and field area and he was carrying logs, flipping tires, shadow boxing, doing dips, running and everything else you could imagine in nearly freezing weather with numerous videographers and cameramen making request after request and wardrobe change after wardrobe change, which he did all with a smile on his face and a quick witted joke or aside, even joking to the photographer to hurry up and take the picture because he had to suck in his gut and could only do it for so long. Mike D. joked that we were doing an interview for a cover story for FO and DC in all seriousness said “I was just on the cover last month, right?” He said that it wouldn’t be necessary to have another cover that a feature would do just fine. He also made it known that he saw the issue the following month and that Jon Jones was the cover boy of that particular issue.

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He was wearing his brand new orange and black signature CF Athletic wrestling shoe. He joked that the shoes need to be redesigned because his actual signature on the shoe was too small. Mike D. assured him the signature was not too small…and also that the shoes would not be redesigned. As he was repeatedly pulling compression shirts and windbreakers over his head and switching out board shorts, track suits and all kinds of other great CF gear DC made note at one point during the wardrobe change that so many guys at light heavyweight, including Jon Jones, are skinny. DC will never be confused with a skinny guy. He is thick, he looks like a throwback to an old 1970’s fullback in the NFL. I stood next to him for most of the day and on a good day I’m 5’10”. DC is no taller than me. He’s an absolute tank of a man. And every ounce of that tank is utilized and used to demolish whoever is standing across from him in an Octagon or on a wrestling mat.

As we walked back indoors for the next session of the commercial shoot DC’s wife showed us all her very nice engagement ring. She mentioned that recently she lost a diamond out of the ring as she was cleaning and doing laundry. She told her soon to be husband the bad news but he took it in stride, knowing the issue would be covered by insurance. A tell that story to tell this one…As we made it indoors we had some down time and I had a nice conversation with DC and I was struck by how mindful he is that this ride doesn’t last forever. “This thing (MMA) will end for me as fast as it stared and I will be back to my regular life and no one will care (about me).” When speaking about Jon Jones he states “I think Jon got too much too soon, he was too young. He was a college dropout. All of a sudden you have everyone telling you that you are the greatest thing since sliced bread… and I’m sure he never dreamed he would be in the position he is in today. Look at guys like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. They have been groomed from a very young age on how to handle success and attention as they grow and mature. Jon didn’t have anything like that. On top of that I think he is just a weird individual. If you talk to him outside of an interview setting for a few minutes you see how weird he can be. I have known him to go to nice, high end clubs in gym shorts and people let him in! He’s Jon Jones!” I gathered that with all Daniel has been through in his life he feels like he is more mature and much more-well positioned to take the belt and the responsibilities that come with it early next year. He is taking this ride in stride as well.

I showed him pictures of the recent interviews we have done with him for FO and the Latin American version of the magazine. He was very excited to get copies of each, which I promised him. “There was a time when we would try to keep all of the magazines I was on or in. It got to the point where it was too much and too fast to keep up.”

It was great watching him interact will all of the CF guys in attendance. He was goofing around like the guys were all back in high school or college locker room again. He made sure to tell Mike D. that he had gained a lot of weight since he saw him last and he was cracking jokes with all of the filming crew in attendance.

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Once the on the mat filming stared DC flat out put on a show. He was shadow wrestling to start to the point if working up a sweat. A wrestler near his size was brought in to go live with him to film segments of the commercial. DC was executing takedowns and throws at will and right on cue, in the direction of the cameras just as he was directed. On the set we would stop every so often to check out the recently captured footage, at one point DC’s wife caught a glimpse and her reaction to the slow-mo shots was great. She mentioned how Cormier wants to show their son exactly what daddy does and also how Daniel is already teaching him certain wrestling techniques.

As there was a short break in the action when the guys went to get lunch, we were sitting by the set and DC began talking about his children and raising them in sunny California and how tough and hard kids can be in Louisiana. He said he would much rather raise his kids in California and give them a better upbringing than he had rather than raise them in the more rough area and neighborhoods he grew up in, saying that the kids down south are pretty hard. He mentioned details of his ambitions to further his media career after his fighting career is over. He is one of the few mixed martial artists that realize this ride of being an active fighter is extremely short and he is getting his ducks in a row for his post-fight life.

DC headed into the weight room for the next round of the photo shoot but more importantly, maybe, he was hoping to get a legit workout in. He went hard and again didn’t disappoint. He was doing some bench press work, curls, 21’s, squats, medicine ball pushups and anything else that he could manage with the space allotted and with so many people in attendance in the weight room. He was literally dripping with sweat by the time the workout was over. He made sure to make it a point that he wanted a rematch with Mike D.’s son in a previous football video game that DC lost. He wanted to guys to go buy the new UFC game so he could play with the kids and get his revenge later that day.

We broke for lunch and the man himself the Godfather of Ground and Pound, UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman made an appearance for a later scheduled interview with me. Mark was very talkative and even went so far to pose with the kids that approached him for pictures and he made sure to show them how to properly do the all-important post weigh in stare down.

Then we headed upstairs to the mat room for another round of the photo shoot. After spending most of the day with DC I could see he was dragging. He said that last Red Bull didn’t do the trick. He was running on fumes. He swung ropes, ran at a camera as if he was executing a takedown and a number of other shots and poses. Toward the end of the shoot Mark Coleman began yelling words of encouragement to DC, and make no mistake about it, he was the only person in the room that had the right to do so.

After the session Coleman and Cormier sat with me for more than 30 minutes to talk about a wide array of topics. Even after that interview DC sat with me for another 20 minutes to do a follow up of sorts. I couldn’t help but be impressed with how professional he was in every way throughout the entire day. I must have tanked him ten times and hugged him a few more as we parted ways for the day.

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From there we went indoors and he spent at least an hour (probably two) wrestling hard while putting on a great show for all in attendance. He was just as entertaining off the mats while interacting the friends, crew members and fans. I think it was about this time when he first stopped for as much as a drink of water all morning.

Then we went into the weight room where he got a legitimate workout in all while being photographed and recorded for the commercial. His workout was inspiring and left the adults and especially the young men in the room in awe.

We stopped for a quick bite to eat and then right back at it. We went upstairs to the wrestling room and DC proceeded to run, jump, swing ropes and do everything else that was asked of him. It was clear after spending most of the day with him that he was running on empty but he didn’t show it or slow down for a minute.

After that session, by then he was going on, I don’t know how long with no sleep, he sat down for an interview with Mark Coleman and myself. After that 30 minute session he sat with me as long as I needed him to for another interview.

I must have thanked him ten times because I could see how much he needed food and sleep but he fulfilled his obligations and carried himself in a manner that calling him a professional would be an understatement.

So often we hear all the negative stories and the negative side of athletes and sports so I feel like I needed to share this positive story of a guy who deserves your applause. Nothing but respect for DC.

tarted bright and early in nearly freezing weather throwing logs, flipping tires, running, shadowboxing, doing dips and anything else a number of cameramen and photographers asked him to do all while doing a number of wardrobe changes.I’m pretty sure he would never share this story or say this himself so I will. After a few delays and a baby sitter back out, Daniel Cormier flew cross country on a plane that was basically held together with masking tape, arrived a day later than expected and with little to no sleep got out to an early morning photo shoot and grinded through an entire days work with a smile on his face, great stories, quick wit and a level of professionalism that you had to appreciate.

He started bright and early in nearly freezing weather throwing logs, flipping tires, running, shadowboxing, doing dips and anything else a number of cameramen and photographers asked him to do all while doing a number of wardrobe changes.

From there we went indoors and he spent at least an hour (probably two) wrestling hard while putting on a great show for all in attendance. He was just as entertaining off the mats while interacting the friends, crew members and fans. I think it was about this time when he first stopped for as much as a drink of water all morning.

Then we went into the weight room where he got a legitimate workout in all while being photographed and recorded for the commercial. His workout was inspiring and left the adults and especially the young men in the room in awe.

We stopped for a quick bite to eat and then right back at it. We went upstairs to the wrestling room and DC proceeded to run, jump, swing ropes and do everything else that was asked of him. It was clear after spending most of the day with him that he was running on empty but he didn’t show it or slow down for a minute.

After that session, by then he was going on, I don’t know how long with no sleep, he sat down for an interview with Mark Coleman and myself. After that 30 minute session he sat with me as long as I needed him to for another interview.

I must have thanked him ten times because I could see how much he needed food and sleep but he fulfilled his obligations and carried himself in a manner that calling him a professional would be an understatement.

So often we hear all the negative stories and the negative side of athletes and sports so I feel like I needed to share this positive story of a guy who deserves your applause. Nothing but respect for DC.

Rattling the Cage Book Review: “Is This Legal? The Inside Story of the First UFC from the Man Who Created It”

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 by Tony Reid

untitled (18)As a huge fan of the early days of NHB, (pre) MMA and the UFC I was very much looking forward to reading “Is This Legal? The Inside Story of the First UFC from the Man Who Created It” by one of the founders of the UFC himself, Mr. Art Davie.

The book is a great nuts and bolts, blow by blow of the day to day trials and tribulations leading up to the historical night of November 12, 1993 when the world changed forever as UFC 1 was held in the McNichols Area in Denver Colorado. Davie shares in great detail the contract snafus, the back and forth with Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG) and of course his ever growing relationships with Campbell McLaren, Rorion Grace and other members of the Gracie Family.

The story Davie tells is as much of an idea coming to fruition (one that just may have started when the young boxer Davie was first in a scrap and taken down by a thick necked wrestler so many years ago) through hard work, dedication and a never say die attitude.

As with any great idea comes great pushback from those with short sight and other hang-ups and many of these oppositions are detailed in the book as well, including the great pushback from members of the traditional martial arts community as they were quick to shoot down the idea of mixed fights, generally for business related reasons and egotistical concerns.

Davie takes us behind the scenes and behind closed doors as he touches on the Gracie Family beef between the eldest son Rorion and the brother who was seemingly in line to take the reins of the Gracie Family into the next generation, Rickson.  Davie sheds some light on just how much Rorion wanted to please his father and family patriarch Helio as well as honor the Gracie name, Gracie Jiu Jitsu and the Gracie Diet.

Dave also details the fighter’s colorful personalities, their actions and mindset leading up to the event. Great insights about just how batshit crazy Pat Smith really was (not surprising), how guarded the Gracie Family was of Royce leading up to the event (again not a shocker) and how much an out of shape and overweight Kevin Rosier enjoyed Snickers washed down with a Dr. Pepper as staples of his diet leading up to UFC 1.

Another great story shared in the book (and one Art had shared with me on my radio show) was that of Royce breaking down in the hours leading up to the event, right there in the center of the Octagon as Rickson cradled him and helped him through that impossible moment.

Davie details how he went from an advertising professional and a low level Gracie Jiu Jitsu student under Rorion to becoming one of his trusted partners, a confidant and co-creator of an entirely new sport, the sport of mixed martial arts in general and specifically the Ultimate Fighting Championship brand.

I may be a bit partial, as I am one who can’t get enough information on the early days of the sport but I feel that this is a great (and quick) read for the hardcore fan (as some juicy information is shared about the Gracie Family and the early pioneers of UFC 1) to the casual observer that may not be aware of much of the information Davie shares in the pages of the book. Go out and pick this book up and get schooled on the early days and origin of the sport you watch today.

My Day in Columbus with The Immortal One

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 by Tony Reid

Our trip started in eastern Pennsylvania Sunday night as we headed west slicing through West Virginia and finally to Ohio, specifically Columbus, Ohio. We made it just in time to crash for the night at the local Red Roof Inn before preparing for our full day with the Immortal one himself, Matt Brown.

We were up and out the door by 8am headed to Galloway, Ohio which is about 5 miles outside Columbus and where Matt, Colleen, Hunter and Connor Brown reside. We were greeted at the door by the kids, who informed Colleen that “Tony and a lady in a pink shirt were here.”

We were greeted by the Brown’s German Shepard Harley. It is well known that Matt is a Harley Davidson guy, even recently receiving a motorcycle of his own, and I joked that the dog Harley was big enough for the kids to have a Harley to ride around the house. Matt isn’t the only one on the house in training mode, the ten month old dog Harley is still being trained and is a big fan of sharing his enthusiasm (and fluids) with anyone that comes to visit.

As Colleen made breakfast for the kids and Matt pounded protein shakes I noticed a number of computer printouts hanging around the downstairs of the house intended to keep Matt in the right mindset and constantly focused on the task at hand. From “Fight Smart” to “Eat Clean” hanging on the cabinets in the kitchen to the picture of Robbie Lawler hanging on the back of the Brown’s front door that states “I Will Defeat Robbie Lawler on July 26th”.

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Matt also has an interesting and unique way of getting the ever elusive goal of a perfectly clean blender. He simply adds dish soap and hot water and literally blends it. I joked that we could do a special technique section in the magazine for blender cleaning with Matt Brown.

As we hopped in Matt’s big black Jeep Wrangler to get in his first workout of the day, a 9am strength and conditioning session at the legendary Westside Barbell, Matt told me that those little notes hanging around the house keep him focused and that they act as motivational tools, whether it’s consciously or even subconsciously. Colleen joked earlier that Matt is getting tired of seeing the same old played out phrases and is tempted to change them up a bit.

Matt had been a bit under the weather and had to pull back a bit as far as training was concerned. He was in the process of bringing his trusted coaches and allies in for the camp for the biggest fight of his professional life, the five round main event of the UFC Fight Night card on July 26th in San Jose California televised live on FOX against Robbie Lawler set as a title eliminator in the welterweight division.

We hit Westside Barbell at 9am and Matt wasted very little time in getting down to business. He began with some band resisted running on a treadmill, he added a number of intense ab work, and throw in some weighted walking around the parking lot of the entire facility, and a few special techniques and an hour and a half later the Immortal’s morning session is complete.

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Westside Barbell is the mecca for lifting heavy things and putting them down. They are the standard by which all others are measured in the field of power lifting. They hold countless national titles and world records, as well as housing and honing a number of high performance athletes in other sports. MMA legend Kevin Randleman spent time there and is still revered by many at the gym.

Westside Barbell is to power lifting what the UFC is to MMA, Westside is a private “Invitation Only” elite training facility in Columbus, Ohio. It was created by world-renowned power lifter Louie Simmons. Louie is one of only five power lifters to total Elite in five different powerlifting weight classes. He has been a top 10 lifter for over 30 years. For the last 37 years Simmons has totalled Elite in various power-lifting organizations. He is one of two lifters over 50 years of age to squat 920 pounds, bench 600 pounds and dead lift 722 pounds and total 2100 pounds, and was ranked 4th nationally in 2000 in the open. In other words he is a total beast. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to speak with the icon that is Simmons, and as he stood there post workout with fresh blood on his sneakers, he raved about Brown and what he is capable of currently and in future potential.

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As Matt’s training session was winding down I decided to hop in and get a crash course and some firsthand experience of what his training is all about. After a few ab exercises, a run on what Matt called a torture device and lastly a few go rounds on a device that was invented by Louie himself I found myself in the parking lot praying to all that is holy that I wouldn’t pass out in front of one of the toughest SOBs on the planet. My prayers were answered and after a cup or two of water I was good to go.

We left the gym and met up with Colleen and the boys for a much needed lunch at the local Applebee’s. It was great seeing Matt go from beast mode to daddy mode and interacting with the kids. Brown plays a fun little game with his son in which he asks the obviously cheery, happy, playful young Brown if he’s mad until well, the little one gets mad. Colleen jokes that Matt finds great pleasure in instigating the kids in this fashion and that it should be noted in the piece.

We finished lunch and Matt and I made a quick run to Lowe’s to in the attempt to find an outlet or cord that would do the trick and help to finish installing the recently purchased sauna in his basement. On the way to Lowe’s Matt made it a point to inform me that he enjoys making trips to the local Wal-Mart, which he calls the trashiest Wal-Mart on the planet, to people watch. The odds of seeing mullets and worse are very high at the Georgesville Wal-Mart in South Columbus according to the Immortal. Even during the trip to Lowe’s Matt was no nonsense. I doubt that any of the Lowe’s associates knew how close they were to greatness, or possibly death, if the part in question was not found. Luckily we got assistance from a friendly associate and headed back to the house to finish the job. This was the first time in a long time that Brown was unable to finish the job. Even the Immortal was not comfortable working with electricity, at least not outside the cage.

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I did inadvertently uncover the one weakness of the seemingly weakness-free Immortal. Matt is a complete impulse shopper. He jokingly said had I not been with him for the ride to the home improvement store he could have easily spent hours and hours looking around and eventually picking up unneeded goods. The need to shop applies not only to hardware but to speakers, headphones and anything else Brown feels the need to pick up in the moment.

Speaking of finances we visited on the day that Matt opened the mail to find his bonus check from his Fight of the Year performance against Erick Silva. We were all sitting around the table as he opened it and it became obvious what was inside the envelope. I purposely looked away until he put it in my hand, and in that moment I held in my hand the biggest check I had ever seen in my life. It was still a moment of joy yet reflection and introspection, the Browns were very happy to have the money but just as quickly to note that the next check is never promised and that God forbid, this could be a check that needs to last an extended period of time if an injury or unforeseen obstacle was to present itself.

Matt has had his eye on an RV type of luxury vehicle, (somewhat) joking that he might be able to finally make that purchase a reality. It was clear that a number of ideas, thoughts and concerns were running through his mind in the hours after opening the mail that day. Brown is a very well read, introspective, thoughtful man. We talked at length about politics, religion and finances. He is a deep thinker and it was obvious that he wanted to weigh all his options, do the right thing and make the most of this money and opportunity.

As our day with the family wound down we all sat in the living room and Matt proceeded to instigate his son into one more “Are you mad?” game. This time around the younger Brown go the last word, asking in an increasingly agitated voice “Do you think you are tough?” That great comeback wasn’t lost on anyone in the room as we all broke out in laughter. Connor and Hunter Brown are probably the only two people in the world that could get away with asking that question while being in the same room as Matt Brown.

My Time at The 6th Annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards

Sunday, February 9th, 2014 by Tony Reid

awards6-631x500-featuredAs it has many times before our attempt to get out of Pennsylvania during the winter season was interesting. I followed the weather forecast more in the days leading up to my trip than in the previous 10 years combined. I felt like I was in training to take over for Jim Cantore. But I digress, we were flying out of lovely Harrisburg, PA with Sin City being our final destination for the 6th Annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards.

We knew going in that weather was going to be an issue. We just didn’t know how much of an issue. We woke up at 2am Wednesday morning to about 5 to 6 inches of snow already falling with no end in sight. I shoveled and shoveled some more while my wife got ready and (finally) finished packing. I white knuckled the one hour drive that turned in to a two hour drive as we drove through sleet, snow and freezing rain. We rushed through the check in, rushed through security and as I ran over to the gate with no shoes on I sadly learned that the flight was delayed. I should have figured that much!

We sat in Harrisburg for a few hours until we took flight headed toward Chicago. We finally got to the Windy City and it lived up to its moniker. There were 25 to 35 mile an hour gusting winds, so as you can imagine, we were once again delayed.

The next leg of our trip was scheduled for San Francisco. As you might imagine our flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas had already departed before we even hit the ground in Cali. We were lucky enough to get booked for the very next flight out and were only delayed another hour or so. If you are keeping track at home we were scheduled to land in Las Vegas at 10am and touched down around 10pm…but hey, we made it!

As we were idling in Chicago I received a text from Dave Farra, the host of the World MMA Awards pre show, who spoke to the President, CEO and Owner of Fighters Only Rob Hewitt, asking if I would like to join the expert panel for the red carpet pre show. Of course I happily accepted and immediately got the wheels turning.

We finally got out of the last plane for a few days and started to enjoy the city. We stayed on the cheap and went with Harrah’s which is right next to the Venetian, where everything was taking place for us this week. We were like the kids coming from the other side of the tracks.

One of, if not the, first order of business was to get me cleaned up and in a tux for this black tie affair. We reached out to a local shop that actually came right to my room, took my measurements, made alterations back at the shop and dropped the tux off at my room the next morning. It was easier than ordering a pizza! Not only was it easy but this dude had stories! He was telling us about actors, entertainers and athletes that he has worked with over the past 30 plus years. He also gave us some “insight” into how Las Vegas operates.

Through Fighters Only I had an interview with Ben Askren scheduled for Thursday. We were to meet at the Café Presse in the Venetian. We met there and quickly realized it was way too loud to hear ourselves think let alone record an interview. Ben was accompanied by his wife Amy and their young daughter. We decided to find a new location to sit down and we eventually made our way to a lovely waterfall and plant filled wonderland.

It was great to catch up with the Askren’s as Michelle and Amy chatted Ben and I started our interview. Ben was accompanied by Loren Mack, the PR Director for ONEFC. The interview went well. Loren even came bearing gifts of t-shirts, key chains and other items, which is always a good thing. As we were doing our interview Brian Stann came rolling by and we exchanged pleasantries. I have never met Brian before so I said hello in hopes he would recognize my ugly mug the next day in preparation for the show.

After we left the interview we went over to the venue to pick up our golden tickets for the following night’s show. I was extremely excited as we were on the VIP list, which included great seats for the event, access to the VIP pre party, access to the red carpet and all kinds of other cool stuff. We snagged the tickets after being helped by a few of the great staff members on hand.

After interviews and random stuff Thursday we went out and strolled around that night. As we were shopping at the Venetian we bumped into Brian Stann and his wife. We talked for a few minutes about the upcoming show, Pennsylvania and gym ownership cautionary tales. Brian and his wife Teressa are awesome, awesome people and it was great to finally get to meet them in person.

Friday was a big day for me to say the least. I had a number of things on the schedule including a rehearsal at 4pm for the red carpet pre show that I was a panelist on, the red carpet opened at 4pm, the actual pre show went live at 5pm, the cocktail reception was from 5pm to 7pm, the show seating started at 7pm, the show itself went live at 7:30pm and the after party at TAO started after the show. Trust me, I’m not complaining.

I prepped for the show most of the morning while Michelle got her hair did. We went over to the venue about an hour early so I could get my bearings and get ready to roll. When I got to the Venetian Theatre pre show host Dave Farra was already rehearsing. I grabbed a seat in the audience and waited my turn. I was actually the only panelist that showed up for the rehearsal. When I first hit the stage I was a bit out of my element. The bright lights, the audience, the material, the teleprompters, even the little stuff like getting mic’d up was new to me. The very first segment of rehearsal I was a bit off but after that everything was gravy. I was comfortable and ready to go. I don’t know if anyone knew but this was the first time I was on a live television feed, so it took a second to acclimate but after that it was on like Donkey Kong.

The rehearsal went well and we mingled for a few minutes before the show was to start. I spoke with Travis Browne for a few minutes about his love and my dislike for country music. That is a topic he and I have gone back and forth on a few times recently. It’s a running joke that my wife is trying to get me into country but I just can’t commit to it. About 30 minutes prior to going live I had to head down to the production area to get my makeup…yes, to get my makeup done. This was definitely a first as well. I sat down in front of the bright lights and let a very talented lady do my lips, my eyebrows and airbrush my ugly grill. The other panelists came through and did the same. I felt as if I got a bit of masculinity back when Brian Stann came in and got his makeup done, too.

We, the panelists and Stann were just talking in the hallway waiting to head back upstairs and for the show to start. Some of the nest moments in this sport and with my job are moments like this, off the record stuff that guys talk about when we are just standing around. Let’s just say we had great conversation.

I made my way upstairs and back stage as the show went live. My first on air segment was with Greg Savage of Sherdog. We sat with Dave on stage and talked about a number of the categories. And then later in the show we did the same thing again. As a grand finale all panelists were on stage for the final segment to discuss Fighter of the Year category and a few other topics. If you haven’t seen the show yet you can check it out here… http://streaming.bodybuilding.com/2014-world-mma-awards/

Overall it was an extremely fun and valuable experience, especially if I am going to consider taking steps toward a career in that area of the sport. I was honored that the people at Fighters Only thought enough of me to include me in this amazing night for the entire sport of mixed martial arts. In between one of our segments I had the opportunity to meet Rob Hewitt in person for the first time. I thanked him for the opportunity he has given me and promised that I would continue to do everything I can to keep the work coming.

After the pre-show Michelle and I made our way to the red carpet. This again, was a first for both of us. We rubbed elbows with Jens Pulver, Tracy Lee, and numerous other MMA celebrities. Walking the red carpet was pretty crazy. There were handlers, people leading you around and numerous photographers (think 30 plus) snapping multiple pictures (think 10 each). It was a cool thing to be able to cross off the bucket list. I know my wife put a ton of time into her wardrobe and looking like a fabulous superstar and she deserved to be on the red carpet. I’m glad we could do that for her. And for the record she was the hottest person there.

After the red carpet we made our way up to the VIP pre party. Man, it was packed. We tried to make our way through all the humanity, past the Kenny Florians and such. We ran into the Akrens again and stopped and had a drink and chatted it up. We also ran into the unmistakable Chumlee from Pawn Stars fame. I asked if he was a big fan of the sport and he said he follows it and likes it but his only obsession are Air Jordan kicks.

I also bumped in to my good buddy Stitch Duran. It’s always great to see him. He is such a legend and icon in the sport and the fact that we talk and interact on such a friendly basis is something that really means a great deal to me. He said when he saw my name on the list that he knew this was going to be a big event, which I take as a huge compliment. We crossed paths once we got into the venue as well and talked for a few minutes. Always, always great seeing Stitch.

After a drink (literally one) we made our way down to the entrance and to our seats for the awards show. The venue was so beautiful and the show Fighters Only put on was amazing. It offered everything you would want or expect in an awards show on the highest level. We had great seats ran into a number of great people and enjoyed the award presentations and the entertainment of the evening. Brain Stann did a fantastic job as the host as did comedian Adam Hunter as a main writer of the show. There were a few skits that played throughout the night that were hilarious. A parody of “What Does the Fox Say?” called “What Does the Wand Say?” was flat out hilarious. Another parody featuring Mark Munoz as the (Filipino) Wrecking Ball was equally as funny. In other entertainment we got to see a sneak peek of Rock of Ages, one of the hottest shows in Vegas right now. They were fantastic. Also we watched the amazing artist from Panda!, a martial arts performing act here in Vegas, perform. There were a number of celebrities in attendance and presenting including Gene Simmons, Mario Lopez, and Terrell Owens among others. The show went off without a hitch and we left extremely happy. It was such an honor to get an invite and be present for such a great night in MMA.

After the show I met Bryan Callen and we talked about working on a few things in the near future. None of which I am going to share with you now though. We briefly hit the after party at TAO in the Venetian until I realized how damn old I am and decided to call it a day and go get some much needed shut eye. We spent the rest of our time in Vegas just shopping, taking in the sights and sounds. (Sounds other than that of people on the street whistling and flicking the paper of naked chicks and strip clubs attempting to get your attention and business at said strip club) We took in a few shows and kept the rest of the trip non MMA…somehow. After all, this trip was all about the celebration of the amazing year our sport had not about working. Wow, did I just say that? I guess there is a first time for everything.

On Blast! Tim Brando, J.R. Smith and Anderson Silva

Friday, January 3rd, 2014 by Tony Reid

Tim Brando-I’m not sure if you guys know who Tim Brando is or even care for that matter, he is a talking head covering football for CBS and other networks for the better part of the last 30 years. What he tweeted after the Chris Weidman Anderson Silva fight at UFC 168 a few weeks ago is still sticking in my craw. After all the response and the fallout of Anderson Silva’s leg break the longtime announcer and broadcaster opened his uneducated mouth on the topic. He tweeted QUOTE “Reading about this UFC injury reminds me why I’ve never discussed it, watched it, or promoted it. Under no circumstances would I work it.” UNQUOTE I am so sick and tired of older main stream sportscasters, reporters and media types not giving mixed martial arts any respect. The problem is that most of the people disrespecting the sport wouldn’t know an arm bar from the candy bar they jam in their big fat mouths. Much of the time it’s this underlying contempt for the sport, a sport of which they have NO knowledge. So he openly states he has never watched it yet refuses to cover it and says it in such a disgusted way. No worries Tim I don’t think anyone will be banging down your door to get you to cover the UFC or MMA in any way, shape or for any time soon. The thing that really kills me is the hypocrisy of his attitude and his position. He is looking down his nose at MMA in general and the results of a fight that he didn’t watch a single second of in a sport he refuses to watch altogether. That begs the question..How do you even have an opinion on the topic? Yet he has covered college football for the better part of 30 years. Yes, folks tackle football, the sport where men are dying younger and younger and the ones that live into their golden years are accumulating life altering physical problems at an alarming rate. Concussions, suicides, and a laundry list of other mental and physical problems a mile long. Not only that but the VERY SAME INJURY he was so disgusted by has happened NUMEROUS times in football, sometimes right under his very own nose! Marcus Lattimore, Tim Krumrie, Joe Theismann, the list, unfortunately, goes on and on and on.

I have no issues with one man’s opinion because, you are obviously getting mine, but don’t open your mouth on topics of which you have absolutely no experience or understanding. There are few things more moronic than a member of the football media trashing mixed martial arts based on the level of violence involved in the sport.

J.R. Smith-Let me take a quick moment and sound like the old guy but this guy is the perfect example of what turns me off from watching basketball these days. He was fined $50,000 by the NBA last week for his attempts to untie two opponents’ shoelaces in recent games. That led to his coach benching him in the Knicks’ next game — a nationally televised win over the Miami Heat.

Smith also was suspended for the first five games of the regular season for violating the league’s anti-drug policy over the summer. In November, he was fined $25,000 for sending a threatening message to Detroit’s Brandon Jennings on Twitter (really bright) after Jennings questioned the NBA credentials of Smith’s brother, Chris.

The Knicks released Chris Smith in late December. Multiple sources say Smith is angry over the team’s decision to cut his brother. He hinted at his displeasure with the situation at the time with a post on social media. (again a brilliant move)

Let’s quickly recap his rap sheet. JR Smith’s suspensions in his career: 5 games for drugs, 1 for an elbow, 7 for reckless driving, 10 for fighting, 3 for conduct detrimental to the team.

J.R. Smith has been fined for: Twitter comments, twitter photos, yelling at Mark Cuban, flagrant fouls, flopping and, now, untying shoes.

From the run ins with his boss, the Twitter beef, drug suspensions, fines and a horrifically low shooting percentage (about 30%) and the classic basketball fake tough guy act J.R. Smith is lucky that a team is giving him, yes giving him millions of dollars a year to play a kids game. If he played any worse they would have to arrest him for stealing his check.

Anderson Silva-I feel like I have to start any rant directed at Silva by stating that he is possibly the greatest fighter in UFC history and one of the greatest martial artists in general that the world has ever seen. Also like the boys in Talladega Nights said “As long as you start by saying With All Due Respect you can then say anything you want.” OK, so with all due respect, Anderson Silva needs to shut up. He recently said that Chris Weidman shouldn’t consider the most recent win as a win.

So Anderson, you got knocked out in the first fight after disrespecting and clowning your opponent. You gotta give Weidman credit for taking advantage of your disrespect. On the other hand, same on your for throwing your winning streak, the title, and in part your legacy away in that fashion. In the send fight you got rocked and nearly stopped in the first round only to survive into the second and snap your leg throwing a kick at Weidman by all accounts a technique he and his coach Ray Longo drilled over and over and over just for this scenario. Silva’s documentary “Like Water” is an obvisou reference to the skill and ability to just react and not have to think in the cage in and in combat in general yet he calls into question the validity of Weidman’s victory over him into question after saying that Weidman was just reacting. It just doesn’t add up.

I’m really tired of people not giving Weidman credit for his victories over Silva. I’m not ready to completely bow to the new champ but even his biggest critics and worst detractors must admit that at the very least the G.O.A.T Anderson Silva has looked far more human against the New Yorker than anyone else has ever, ever made him look. At this point Anderson is further tarnishing his reputation by refusing to come to terms with the outcome of the Weidman fights and continuing to be a tad delusional in his reasoning for the outcomes. I would like to see the former champ take his losses as classy as he did all of his victories.

Bellator 109 Review Rattling the Cage Style

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 by Tony Reid

bellator-109-posterWe hit the old PA turnpike and headed south to Bethlehem, PA for Bellator 109 on Friday night. It had been too long since I last witnessed some high level face punching in person. I was eagerly looking forward to it. It was a special trip, as it was the first time I have covered an event as a member of the media for Fighters Only. It was the second Bellator event I covered as a member of the press, the first, as none of you will remember, was a few years back for The Fight Nerd.

I dropped the lovely lady that was accompanying me off at the door, parked the whip (and by whip I mean an eight year old Volvo) and headed to the ticket window to pick up the press pass. As soon as we entered the venue you could see the party atmosphere in full effect. Hell, I thought we were in a club for a minute. We made our way past the party goers and said our goodbyes as my wife purchased a ticket and therefore, her seat was not nearly as good as mine.

I hit press row, fired up the trusty, dusty laptop (and phone) and prepared for a great night of fights. It just so happened that I was seated right next to a colleague of my good buddy Duane Finley at Bleacher Report. Hunter Homistek would have the bad break of being stuck next to me all night.  We tweeted, Facebooked, Instagrammed it up throughout the event. He is a really good kid with a bright future in the industry.

The prelims where streaming live on SPIKE.com and anyone watching those fights could not have been disappointed. Every single undercard fight ended before the final bell. Not one single fight went to the judges’ scorecards. In the first bout

Lester Caslow def. Jay Haas via submission (guillotine choke) in Round 3 at the 2:44 mark. Haas was a hometown-ish guy with a good bit of crowd support but it wasn’t enough.

Brent Primus put it on. Brett Glass and stopped him via submission (rear-naked choke) in Round 1 at the 3:20 mark. “The Unbreakable” Glass was quickly shattered in this one, as Primus looked like a kid with a really bright future. He also had a very supportive fan who hopped down on press row and cheered him on for most of the fight…right next to me…in my ear…the whole fight.

Next up was highly touted prospect and wrestling machine Bubba Jenkins who defeated his opponent Ian Rammel via TKO (punches) in Round 3 at 2:38. For most of the first two rounds it was Bubba being Bubba. He secured takedowns rather easily but did little to try to advance position or finish the fight. That all changed toward the end of the second round and then into the third. Jenkins started to pour it on from top position and eventually got the stoppage.

The next victor impressed almost as much as anybody on the card that evening as Goiti Yamauchi defeated Saul Almeida via knockout (punches) just over the two minute mark in Round 1. Those two minutes were two of the most exciting minutes of the entire night as these two exchanged in a hail of punches until Almeida dropped. When he got back to his feet he had a cut above his eye that would have made Marvin Eastman wince. Yamauchi moved to 16-1 and looks like a real prospect at this weight and with this organization.

The heavies were up next as undefeated Blagoi Ivanov bested Keith Bell via submission (rear-naked choke) with just over a minute left in Round 1. There were a few heavy exchanges and in one of those exchanges Ivanov was rocked but he fought through to get a stoppage in his own right and keep his record unblemished.

The final prelim of the night pitted fan favorite and local product Mike Bannon against Ahsan Abdullah. Bannon stopped Abdullah via technical submission (arm-triangle choke) in Round 1 at the 1:51 mark. In an interesting side note Abdullah gave the old thumbs up a mere four or five seconds before referee Bill Bookwalter had to pull Bannon off of him as he went to sleep.

It was cruel irony that the first fight televised on SPIKE TV was one of the more lackluster fights of the night, after so many exciting stoppages on the undercard. In this one Terry Etim defeated Patrick Cenoble via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-26). Etim controlled most of the fight but it was control from top position on the ground, in full or half guard with no sign of advancement or attempts to finish the fight outside of a body triangle, taking of the back and rear naked choke attempt in the first round. Etim completely controlled the action but not in an overly exciting fashion. The crowd showed its displeasure through most of the fight with rounds of boos to go along with the rounds of lay and pray.

Next up was Will Brooks vs. Alexander Sarnavskiy in the Season 9 lightweight tourney final.
Brooks def. Alexander Sarnavskiy via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27). Going into the fight these two fighters had a combined record of 37-2. The underdog Brooks used his wrestling to completely control and dominate a seemingly increasingly overwhelmed Sarnavskiy. The first round showed a bit of a standup exchange but Brooks took the fight to the floor and slowly wore out Tiger. Brooks pushed the pace in the second and third rounds and a visibly fading and bloodied Sarnavskiy barely made it to the final bell.

The co main event of the evening pitted Rick Hawn against Ron Keslar for the Season 9 welterweight tournament championship.  Hawn defeated Keslar via knockout (punches) just under a minute into the third round. The opening of round one had Keslar looking like an animal as he hit Hwan with a solid knee, followed him to the ground and opened up on him with a barrage of punches. After surviving the first round Hawn pushed the pace in the second as a visibly slower Keslar ate punches and more punches when Hawn’s right hand found a home. By the third round Hawn was in complete control, continuing to find  a home for the jab and overhand right, eventually rocking Keslar, Hawn unleashed numerous uppercuts from hell and finished Keslar with an overhand right that partially starched Keslar as he fell to the ground as Dan Miragliotta mercifully stopped the action. Now a tourney champ at 170 pounds, Hawn will face Douglas Lima in what is sure to be a barnburner.

In the main event Alexander Shlemenko faced Doug Marshall for the Bellator middleweight title. Shlemenko defeated Marshall via TKO (punches) in Round 1 at the 4:28 mark. The Storm Shlemenko used improved wrestling skills to land two big takedowns early in the first. Marshall go back to his feet but ultimately took a number of vicious body shots that visibly hurt him, no matter how hard he was trying to play it off. The final one, a left hook to the body put Marshall away. As Shlemenko did a little dance and retained his Middleweight title.

As the camera panned to Shlemenko’s wife and baby daughter (right in front of me on press row) I made sure to give her my face that makes all babies smile (it has a 100% success rate). It worked and I’m sure I looked like a complete goof. Hopefully that moment didn’t make national television.

The bright lights were on at the post fight press conference. Before it got stared I had a great moment with Rick Hawn. I made sure to bring a copy of the issue of Fighters Only Magazine that had our recent interview in it to give to him. He thought that it was cool, thanked me and handed it to his fiancé, who read through it as well. Bjorn Rebney had an opening thought for each fighter and each fight and then each fighter commented on their particular fight. The highlight (or lowlight depending on your perspective) as you can imagine was Doug Marshall and his not so flattering comments toward Shlemenko, the man who just stopped him. Every third word was fuck or fucking but in between Marshall spoke about how much harder he hits than Shlemenko, how he will fight his way back through the tournament and take the belt next time. Shortly thereafter another equally meat headed moment happened when Brennan Ward, Shlemenko’s next opponent, came in to interrupt the press conference, decked out in his wife beater and pants hanging off his ass, and asked if the champ was shining the belt for him and that he was going to bring it back to the States, bro, and other equally awesome statements. The crowd erupted in applause when Shlemenko turned to his translator, seemingly to ask him a how to say something and then he turned back to Ward and simply said “Anytime.” As the conference wound to a close most people were hanging around and slowly leaving the room. I made a point to say hello to Terry Etim, who my editor in chief at Fighters Only, Nick Peet know well. I introduced myself to Terry and told him Nick said hello and that put a huge smile on his face. He seemed a little down and dejected at the press conference based on his performance (a win nonetheless) but he was in great spirits when I spoke to him.

After the post-fight press conference I met Thiago Alves. After all my time in the game there are still a handful of fighters that I want to meet or interview that  I haven’t met for one reason or another and he was one of them. I introduced myself and we spoke for a few minutes and agreed to catch up next week to do an interview.

Shortly after that Michelle and I headed back to the car, hit the road for some Burger King and a 5 Hour Energy to keep me awake as I was ready to complete my 24 hour work day and head home to get an hour or two of sleep before this very morning got started.

On Blast!

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013 by Tony Reid

imagesCAS7WEBZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wide Receivers were being bad, bad boys this past weekend. Golden Tate acted like an amateur and Dez Bryant acted like, well a wide receiver, I guess, with his diva like wild and crazy gestures and actions on the sidelines of the Cowboys Lions game. Lets dig in a bit because as we all know the numbers never lie.

Tate, what on earth are you doing? Your team was playing an absolutely horrendous offensive football game and you choose that moment to wave and show boat and draw attention to yourself? People are shouting the old “Act like you’ve been there before” adage. Well, honestly Tate hasn’t been there all that much. Looking at his career stats he has been quite a little Golden disappointment to this point. In a weird way I feel like you have to earn your way up to being able (or having it socially acceptable) to act like a complete idiot on the field. The better you are as a player the more acceptable it is. The same line of thinking goes for problem players on a roster. If you are the 50th guy on the roster and happen to be a head case the team is much less likely to get you a babysitter than they are for a top flight cat like Dez Bryant. For a 10 time Pro Bowler or a top 5 player in the league it might be easier to stomach than from a dude who has done virtually nothing over the course of his four seasons in the league. Its like the “D” student in school cheering and patting himself on the back after finally getting a decent score on a test. (Trust me, I’ve been there, kids). But I digress, so let’s just take a look see at Golden’s less than shining career line below…

SEASON TEAM

GP

REC

TGTS

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

FD

FUM

LST

2010 SEA

11

21

38

227

10.8

52

0

8

0

0

2011 SEA

16

35

58

382

10.9

33

3

16

1

0

2012 SEA

15

45

68

688

15.3

51

7

29

1

1

2013 SEA

8

32

53

439

13.7

80

3

19

0

0

Career

50

133

217

1,736

13.1

80

13

72

2

1

 

He has 1,700 yards in his career, 13 TDs. Calvin Johnson has had over 1,700 yards and 17 TDs by accident over the past four seasons. I was actually hoping the DB giving chase would have deposited him into the third row. After all he has to stop running at some point right? Well, that’s what I would have done and that’s probably why I’m complaining about it from my recliner.

Dez Bryant was in the news for diva-ish behavior. Imagine that right? At least in Dez’s case he is a legit top 5 WR in the game. And in his defense, from the audio that came out he was trying to do something in a somewhat positive manner. But with his rich history of being an idiot he has to understand the situation and that anything he does will be taken to the extreme. He’s earned that reputation. He exhibited such ridiculous behavior that Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones actually assigned him a few babysitters awhile back. There was or is a rotating three-man security team that leaves one man with Bryant at all times in addition to driving him to games and practices. And this is a guy that Cris Carter has said even as recently as today on ESPN Radio is “a grown man” Really? If so handle each situation like a grown man would.

Don’t even get me started on Cris Carter. This dude would excuse a murder committed by a wide receiver on the sidelines of a game. I know Carter has had his own issues in the past and during his career. He is a mentor to many of the young WRs in the game today and that is by all accounts a great thing but… COME ON MAN!

My Newest Installment of “On Blast!”

Friday, October 18th, 2013 by Tony Reid

imagesCAS7WEBZHere is my latest rant on a leg shredding crazy man and a dusty, tattered, outdated invisible rulebook.

Rousimar Palhares-After submitting Mike Pierce at UFN 29 last week Palhares was cut by the UFC. Why would he be cut after a victory you ask? Paul Harris held the submission for seconds after Pierce’s tap. It was so blatant that the referee literally dove in to try to remove Palhares from Pierces limbs. Pierce tapped repeatedly. The biggest problem for Palhares is that this isn’t the first time this has happened. This isn’t even the second time this has happened. This isn’t ever the…well you see where I’m going here. He has already been suspended by athletic commissions twice for this behavior. (He is well known in the jiu jitsu community and there have been instances like this in competition there as well) Outside of the cage he is one of the quietest, nicest, most well-mannered guys you would want to meet. His manager Alex Davis would have you believe it is some type of temporary insanity thing or that he “loses time” or “blacks out” or something similar to what a serial killer without a good defense would say. Davis would also have you believe that Paul Harris is unfairly being labeled and criticized. Really? In fairness, Palhares has acted strangely in past fights, including twice were he literally stopped fighting mid round, against Nate Marquardt and once again against Dan Miller, when he literally had to be pulled off the top of the cage in mid celebration to be told the fight wasn’t over.

So you say hey maybe this cat is just a bit off and does really lose time. Well, in his own post fight video interview follow up, he recalls in detail the moments leading up to the submission, the submission and the like, recounting facts that an otherwise zoning out or temporary insanity wouldn’t allow for.

So ladies and gentlemen of the jury I say he did it! He knew he did it! He will continue to do it until he’s put in check. Either alternative we conclude here ain’t good. Either A. He did and he knows he did it or B. He can’t control himself in a fight.

Palhares had an incredibly tough upbringing, one I wrote about some time ago now (find it on my site) but that is absolutely no excuse for what he does in competition today.

 

Baseball’s Unwritten Rules- Maybe, just maybe its time to write all of these unwritten rules down somewhere. Write them on a notepad, loose leaf in a three ring binder, type them up on old school computer paper and put them in one of those sweet see through colorful plastic cover thingies, because there seems to be a lot of confusion these days. When is it appropriate to jog as opposed to run? When is it Ok to raise your arms and celebrate? How about laugh, smile or speak? One thing is certain the team on the short end of the stick, the losers if you will, is always the team to pull the “unwritten rules” card. Its never the winning team. Its the team that just got beat 20-0 or gave up a game ending homerun, or something like that. It sounds more like sour grapes and spoiled sports than unwritten rule violations.

May I add that you are PLAYING A GAME. Playing with a bat, a ball and running around bases like a child in the back yard. You are grown men playing a kid’s game. Get over yourselves already. Additionally, why is there a seemingly long running “no fun rule” in baseball?

Newsflash, the game of baseball is slowly dying. It needs the younger generation to follow the sport, to be drawn to it. You need the next generation to think baseball is fun. Of course there is a time and place for everything and some characters do step over the line of good taste or more often stupidity and I would be the first to point that out but lets play ball and have some fun doing it. Respect the game but keep in mind that it is still a GAME.

My Newest Installment of “On Blast!”

Saturday, October 5th, 2013 by Tony Reid

imagesCAS7WEBZHey folks, here is my latest rant. Just a quick one about Dom Cruz, Interim Titles and MMA in NY or a lack thereof…

Dominick Cruz’s Title Reign-It’s not a reign it’s more of a drought. He hasn’t defended the title in over two years. Two years! October 1st 2011. If a baby was born the last time he defended the title that baby would be walking now. We can’t have it get to the point where that baby will be driving before he defends the title again. I understand, it really sucks for him but that’s part of the fight game. Everybody gets worked up when someone says “strip” him of the title. It sounds so harsh, so cold, so uncaring. Maybe ask him nicely to pretend the whole thing never happened? (Hey, I don’t have all the answers)

Look what Renan Barao has done in Cruz’s absence. He beat up Uriah to win the interim title. He subbed Michael McDonald. He highlight reeled Eddie Wineland. That guy is your champion! Give Cruz first dibs when he’s healthy but Renan Barao is your UFC Bantamweight Champion.

Interim Titles- I absolutely hate interim titles. What’s the point? There is still another fighter, who is on the shelf holding the actual championship. The poor fighter that wins the interim title is really never considered the champ. Well, you are the interim champ so you kinda-sorta-are somewhat of a champion. Ridiculous. It’s in place to pacify the fighters in question and the fans but serves no real purpose.

MMA In NY (UFC wins key ruling in lawsuit against New York)- Oh New York, New York. The ban on MMA in the state is based on a vague law written in 1997. New York is the only state with an athletic commission that still has a ban on the sport. Like all forms and branches of government the law has been followed in a very inconsistent and illogical manner. It has cost the people trying to make something of themselves (the UFC) a ton of time and money. Most importantly this lame, out of date law is prohibiting the great athletes and fans the opportunity to see the sport in the media capital of the world. Keep in mind that two of the UFC’s champions are New York natives in Jon Jones and Chris Weidman. For a state that is as bankrupt as any, it would be a nice financial bump for the people of New York, not that the government cares about that though.

Peyton Manning-Let me start by saying I am a huge Peyton Manning fan. He has always done things the right way on and off the field. He has been the model of consistency and put up numbers that are starting to make even Brett Favre jealous. He’s a flat out grinder, which I personally love. In recent years we have started to see his great personality on SNL, in 1,001 commercials and other platforms. He has gotten off to the best start for a QB in the history of the world. No doubt. But let’s be honest. Manning is being sent into a fistfight with an armored tank and rocket launchers. It ain’t a fair fight ladies and gents! Look at the NFL rulebook now. This league is turning into the CFL. It’s all offense all the time, and that’s great, I get it. But the defenses are the ones left defenseless. We are one step away from playing flag football in the NFL. I would be the first to admit how much I like Peyton and have nothing but respect for everything he has accomplished but let’s keep a little perspective here. The rules he’s playing under in the league right now would be like not allowing anyone from the opposing team to defend Michael Jordan. What would he have done?