(Call it a hunch, but something tells us that Kalib isn’t going to be the fan favorite in this one.)
Some people are either just too proud, too embarrassed or too pigheaded to ever admit when they’re wrong.
Although we’re not sure which category Kalib Starnes belongs in, we figured that three years after his career-changing marathon running performance against Nate Quarry at UFC 83, the Surrey, British Columbia-born fighter would finally be able to admit that he should have fought differently that night.
Apparently we were wrong, except we can admit it.
Starnes spoke with Neil Davidson from the Canadian Press ahead of his Ringside middleweight bout with Patrick Cote this weekend at the same arena he was booed out of April 19, 2008 and the former American Top Team fighter said that he wouldn’t change anything about the fight with Quarry even if he could in spite of a deluge of hate mail and threats he has received as a result of his baffling performance.
“I’ve learned a lot from that experience. I think I’ve grown a lot personally and as an athlete. I feel very good. If I could go back and change it, I don’t think I would, you know. I think it’s something that in the end will make me a better, stronger person.”
“This is a real test for me, this one. Because it’s going into a place where I’ve had a dramatic failure in the past. And to be able to go back to that same venue and to fight somebody there, I’m going to be under a lot of pressure. I’ll be the underdog and hated really by the crowd coming in. He’s the Quebecer, he’s from Montreal, he’s going to be the favourite … I’ll be booed all the way to the ring probably. Being able to deal with that pressure and stress and to come out of it and perform up to my ability, that’s what I’m looking forward to doing. I have no thoughts about victory or losing or anything. I just feel like going in there and dealing with that pressure. And I want to put myself back in that situation and I want to kind of grow from it. [I don't look at the fight this weekend as being closure] but it may be. I can’t think of myself being put under more pressure than I will be this weekend and that’s something I look forward to.”
Kalib still doesn’t get why fans and the MMA media vilified him for that infamous fight, in spite of the fact that thousands of fighters work their whole lives and never make it to the UFC and would fight with broken limbs and no skin on their feet for the opportunity to compete for 15 minutes in the Octagon.
He blames the media for amplifying the situation.
[It's] just the culture we live in,” he explained.”It’s just a world where people’s priorities are maybe not where they should be.”
Editor’s Note: The day following UFC 83, Starnes spoke with me exclusively while I was with The Fight Network about why he fought like he did. The BJJ black belt revealed that he broke his foot in the opening round and said that he didn’t want to risk getting brain damage by wading in and engaging in a slugfest with a heavy-handed brawler like Quarry. He went on to explain that he wasn’t fired by the UFC as Dana White had proclaimed. Instead, he claimed that he had contacted UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to request his release after being publicly ridiculed by White in the press. After the story came out, Starnes regretted badmouthing his former employer and tried to say that the disparaging quotes we printed were meant to be off the record in spite of the fact that he did not indicate as much at the time of the interview. When contacted and informed that his claims were untrue and that we had the tapes of our conversation to prove it if he wanted them released, Starnes declined the offer.