By Elias Cepeda
Bellator’s Spike TV reality fight competition show, Fight Master, debuts tonight (10 PM / 9 PM Central). On the show, fighters compete for $100,000 and a Bellator contract as a part of a team led by one of four coaches. Looking towards tonight’s premiere, we sat down with one of those coaches — Greg Jackson — to discuss the unique challenges the show posed to him as a coach and more.
CagePotato: Why did you decide to take part in Fight Master?
Greg Jackson: I think it’s because I do MMA all the time. It was just something different. There are different rules. Not so much the rules in the cage but in terms of the whole structure of the tournament and this amount of time to prepare fighters. I look at it as a challenge — can I still do well with all these new parameters and this new structure? You give me a new challenge and I’m the type of guy who likes to figure it out, like a puzzle.
CP: There are four of you main coaches on Fight Master (Jackson, Joe Warren, Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock) but each of you brought assistants along. Who did you bring with you as assistant coaches for the show?
GJ: I brought two coaches — Joey Villasenor and Damacio Page. They are two guys with lots of experience. Not only are they excellent coaches but they come from Albuquerque like I do. They come from the same neighborhoods and they can help give it an Albuquerque feel.
CP: By virtue of doing Fight Master, you are becoming a major figure for Bellator and Spike — competitors of the UFC and Fox. Obviously, you still have lots of guys fighting in the UFC. Do you worry that your involvement in Fight Master will hurt your guys under contract with the UFC or hurt prospects in your gym in terms of their chances of getting into the UFC?
GJ: No. I don’t think that just because I do Fight Master that suddenly the UFC is going to go bankrupt. I don’t work for anybody except for the fighters. That’s limiting in some ways but freeing in others. I like to do things the way I like to do them. I’ve never been under contract with the UFC and never worked for them.
I even like Dana a lot. Dana has been very vocal about things I’ve done but I consider Dana a friend. I’m not enemies with anybody, I’m just doing what I do which is train fighters. I was training in MMA long before I got to the UFC. For me, I’m just a coach. Maybe if I was a bigger deal it would be a problem, but I’m not.
CP: Was it at all intimidating coaching against all these other guys — Couture, Warren, Shamrock — who have all actually fought and won titles, or did you still feel confident?
GJ: I don’t get intimidated. And, they are my friends. I’m not really intimidated by people. It’s not that I’m a big tough guy. I’m not toughest guy I know. It just isn’t in my nature to get intimidated. I train with elite world champions every day.
CP: What was the most fun part about the process of taping Fight Master?
GJ: For me it was making new friends. I really enjoy meeting different people from different cultures. Getting to know them was an enriching experience. That was the funnest part. Watching the guys develop and get new skills, as well. And unexpected friendships forming as well as seeing people you hadn’t in a long time.
CP: What was the most surprising part of coaching on the show, and what was the most challenging part?
GJ: I’m always surprised by the potential of fighters. A lot of them have some good potential. If they continue to improve and keep their heads, some of these guys could potentially be good fighters.
I think the most challenging part was the rules. These guys have to fight every week so the way you normally peak a fighter and dispense information changes completely.