‘claymore’ asks: Of all your opponents in your fighting career, who smelled the worst?
I can’t say which opponent smelled the worst but I can tell you one thing that really grossed me out. One time, Tom “Big Cat” Erikson (wrestling coach at Purdue University) came to my house to help me train for a fight. Anybody who is a true fan of the sport knows that Tom Erikson was the biggest stud in the Pride heavyweight division for a long time. Since I knew striking and Tom knew wrestling, we became quick friends and training partners.
One day we were training and Tom grabbed me and put me in some kind of a hold. At the time, I had absolutely no wrestling skills so I had to fight the type of fight that Tom Erikson wanted to. The problem was that his chest came together and all of his sweat drained directly off his long chest hairs into my mouth. Tom thought that he had me in a good hold and he had no idea what was happening, so I could only watch the open faucet pour right into my mouth. It was the nastiest thing that I’ve ever experienced in my life. I ended up letting Tom go and throwing up; it felt like two mouthfuls of sweat had drained downed my throat. I know that didn’t answer the “who smelled the worst” question, but it was definitely the grossest thing that has ever happened to me.
‘bgoldstein’ asks: Who was the most intimidating fighter you’ve ever faced? Was it Fedor? It was Fedor, wasn’t it.
No, it wasn’t Fedor, although most people think that. The most intimidating fighter who I have ever faced was the giant named Hong Man Choi. At 7’, 420 lbs, I had a really hard time trying to figure out a game plan to deal with his massive size. As an individual, Hong Man Choi was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. The fight between us was surreal. It was like David and Goliath but I didn’t have a rock or a slingshot. I only had my bare hands trying to slay the beast. It was pretty obvious that it would be very hard to engage with Choi. At the beginning of the fight, I was feeling pretty good; the next minute, I was looking up at the stars, knocked out of my wits. I wasn’t completely KO’d but I don’t remember anything after the fight.
‘RWilsonR’ asks: What’s your opinion on fighters fighting teammates? Should they just get over it? Would you ever fight someone you consider to be your brother?
It’s a sport, and teammates have to get over it. We fight for pride and we fight for honor but most of all, we are prize fighters who fight for money. Of course you don’t want to fight your buddy for peanuts, but at the end of the day it’s only a fight and it’s nothing personal. Maybe the casual fan doesn’t really understand that the sport isn’t personal. There is nothing personal about fighting…it’s business. It’s just two combatants.
To the guys who won’t fight their teammates: Stop being scared. Not wanting to fight a teammate might make you sound honorable but the reality is that one of them has got to be scared. I fought Tom Erikson and I love the man. Tom Erikson was one of my best men at my wedding. My wedding was an entire Pride production at the Tokyo Hotel. Bas Rutten and Rampage Jackson did a hilarious rap. Tom Erikson and I stayed at each other’s houses and I love the guy. We’ve traveled around the world together numerous times. It has nothing to do with fighting. The only thing about competing against a friend is that it forces you to fight clean. Fighting is a dirty sport; you’re supposed to be dirty and make somebody as ugly as possible. When you’re fighting a friend, you fight clean.
‘bgoldstein’ (again…sorry guys) asks: I just watched the video of your win over arm-wrestling legend John Brzenk. What happened there? Did the ref blow the call?
This video was taken at the Braisse, in Paris, France, in 1991. John Breznk is a great guy and a good friend and the best pound-for-pound arm wrestler who has ever competed. As you can see in the video he was always calm, cool and collected and I’m a hothead. In that particular competition, Breznk’s hand doesn’t actually go down. The referee made the incorrect call and indicated that I won. As soon as I saw his call, I started ripping my hand out of the holds to celebrate and then jumped into the arms of my cousin Garvin. You can see Breznk protesting, telling the referee that he hadn’t been flashed.
I’m not a referee; I simply follow the decisions of the referee. If the referee indicates that I lost with my hand straight up, then I lost with my hand straight up. You can dispute the call with the referee until you’re blue in the face but it doesn’t make a difference. I’m sorry, but that’s how it goes. You win some and you lose some. I clearly lost that one but the referee won it for me…so, thank you referee.