With his fight against Brad Tavares booked for 1/1/11, Phil Baroni has two options in front of him — victory, or possible banishment from the UFC. Our friend Ruben Vera tracked down the New York Bad Ass at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, and grilled him on everything from his brawl-based gameplans to his cardio problems to his fondest MMA memories. Honestly, it’s one of the most revealing interviews with Baroni that we’ve ever seen. Some highlights…
On his gameplan for Tavares: "You know me. I’ve been doing this for ten years, there’s no surprises. I’m gonna do what I do best."
On his conditioning struggles: "It’s genetic, dude. I’ve been training cardio for the last ten years, hard. It’s genetic. You got a guy like Cain Velasquez who just don’t get tired. He can just train all day. Even a guy like Koscheck…I don’t think there’s anything I’m not doing that other guys are doing. I have a lot better punching power than those guys. And I think I’m faster, I have more fast-twitch. I know I can beat them both in a race. But in a longer duration, those guys can keep going, and that’s one of the things that separates us…It seems like a lot of the Mexican guys have real good cardio, throughout history and in the UFC. Diego Sanchez has great cardio, Cain Velasquez, a ton of guys. I don’t know what it is, man, but I do the best with what I got."
On his return to middleweight: "I had almost no muscle at 170 and I still got tired, so that obviously wasn’t the answer. I feel a lot stronger [at 185]. That’s how I fight — I’m an explosive, fast fighter — but if I don’t have that, what do I have? And I didn’t have much going into that fight with Amir. I had a horrible training camp, I had a horrible performance…so I might as well go back up."
On life after MMA: "I don’t know yet. I’m too old for the Jersey Shore. We’ll see, I’m not ready to give it up yet, so hopefully I’ll get a couple wins in the UFC, two or three wins back to back, and change my whole life and change everyone’s outlook on my career. That’s what I’m planning on doing."
On Lesnar vs. Velasquez: "Cain. Not just because I train with him, but because he has an unbelievable gas tank…if you can fight as hard you want for 15 to 25 minutes, without ever thinking about getting tired, I mean I think if I had that gas tank I would easily be the champion. I think that’s the best weapon in the sport — better than jiu-jitsu, better than wrestling, better than standup, is having a gas tank like that. And [Velasquez] is well-rounded, he’s good at everything. He has no glaring weakness, so I have to pick him for the fight."
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