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Tag: exclusives

Interview: Back on Track, Cole Miller Hopes to Keep the Train Running at UFC Fight Night 26


(Photo via Getty)

By Elias Cepeda

Heading into his featherweight bout against Bart Palaszewski last April, Cole Miller had lost two fights in a row for the first time in his ten-year MMA career. He did not want to lose a third.

A third straight loss would likely mean being cut by the UFC, where he’s made his living for the past six years. “Not losing for a third time wasn’t really motivation, it was just a matter of the fact that if I lost, I’d be out,” he tells CagePotato.

“I had to think about things I’d do outside of fighting to make money if I got cut and had to fight on smaller shows again where the pay isn’t as good as the UFC’s. I thought about things I could do and how I could set myself up other than fighting in order to make a living.”

Miller did not lose for a third consecutive time, however, and he has another UFC bout scheduled at this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston. It wasn’t long after he stopped Palaszewski with a rear naked choke at the TUF 17 Finale that Cole was looking for another fight.

“[The feeling of winning again] was a relief, mostly,” he remembers. “Bart might be the best guy I’ve ever beaten. I turned my attention to fighting again pretty soon, though. I thought I’d be able to get another fight in before now, maybe as a substitute or something, but I wasn’t able to.”

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Invicta FC 6 Video Exclusive: ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas Trains Fancy Kicks, Eats Burrito


(Subscribe to CagePotato on YouTube!)

Oh, we’re throwing spinning sh*t now? CagePotato sponsored strawweight “Thug” Rose Namajunas is returning to the cage against Tecia Torres at Invicta FC 6: Coenen vs. Cyborg (July 13th; Kansas City, MO), and we’ve got exclusive training footage of Rose training some fancy spin-kicks with Grudge Training Center head coach Trevor Wittman, and showing off her version of a fighter’s diet. Where *do* you put it all, Rose?

Follow Rose on Twitter @RoseNamajunas, and the rest of her crew of supporters and sponsors: @HYPEORDIE@SuckerPunchEnt, @AlienwareMMAFeartheFighter, and @TrevorWittman!

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[EXCLUSIVE] Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson Clears the Air on Motivation, Fighting Injured, Pro Wrestling, and Mike Dolce’s Criticism


(“I’ve always considered myself a human being first and a fighter second. Sometimes that isn’t the best thing for my career.” Photo via Getty)

By Elias Cepeda

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson got into a car in New York City one afternoon this week, headed to Connecticut. Shortly after he sat down I asked where, specifically, he was headed to in Connecticut and why.

“I’m going to a little place called, ‘None of your damned business.’”

A standard tongue-in-cheek answer from Jackson, really. He was headed to Connecticut to visit a doctor of his.

The former UFC champion is currently on the mend from a number of injuries. He’s also at the start of what he is optimistic will be a flourishing new career with Bellator and Viacom.

After walking out on the UFC earlier this year, Jackson announced in early June that he had signed with the Viacom-owned Bellator Fighting Championships. He will fight there, wrestle on the TNA pro wrestling circuit, appear in a reality show airing on Spike and, he hopes, star in Paramount Pictures films, also owned by Viacom.

Despite this windfall of opportunity, I was a bit concerned for Jackson as an outside observer. Increasingly, he’s sounded less like the terrorizing, hungry fighter that became a world champion and more like an aging veteran content to show up, take lumps and collect a pay check.

“My main job is to entertain the fans,” he told us a few weeks ago.

“I know that realistically I probably won’t win all my fights in Bellator. But I’ll be damned if I won’t entertain people. I’m going to come over and put on the most exciting fights.”

That sentiment sounded generous, surely, but also a bit unsafe. In response, I wrote that “When a fighter who used to once be driven to be the best now simply hopes to titillate spectators by hitting and being hit, however, it can be a bad sign of damage to come.”

My concern was unfounded, though, Jackson says. Either I wasn’t listening or I didn’t get what he was saying.

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Royler Gracie on Eddie Bravo Rematch: “Some People Like to Talk, Some People Like to Fight” [VIDEO]


(Video via YouTube.com/CagePotato. Subscribe, dammit!)

At the age of 47, BJJ legend (and retired MMA fighter) Royler Gracie is preparing to return to competition later this year at Metamoris 3 (date/venue TBA), in a grappling rematch with Eddie Bravo. In this interview following the match announcement at Metamoris 2 earlier this month, CagePotato reporter Elias Cepeda recaps the first meeting between Royler and Eddie back in 2003 — which made Eddie Bravo’s name overnight and legitimized his forward-thinking approach to jiu-jitsu — and gets Royler’s take on their second meeting ten years later. As Royler puts it, “I’m not trying to make history, I’m already part of history.”

For more behind-the-scenes videos and MMA interviews, please visit CagePotato’s YouTube channel.

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Backstage Interview: Renato Laranja, The Unofficial Rabbi of Metamoris 2 [VIDEO]


(Props: YouTube.com/CagePotato)

While attending the Metamoris 2 pro jiu-jitsu invitational in Los Angeles on Sunday, CagePotato reporter Elias Cepeda had a backstage run-in with 27-time BJJ World Champion Renato Laranja, who gave his thoughts — if you can call them that — about Rickson Gracie, “poonchang,” Eddie Bravo’s facial hair, somebody named Señor Aoki, and how Andre Galvao vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. looked like two guys fighting for the covers in bed. It’s a moral victory for Elias, just for surviving to the end.

Stay tuned for more of Elias’s Metamoris 2 interviews, and subscribe to CagePotato on YouTube for all of our latest vids.

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The Entertainer: Quinton Jackson Heads Into an Uncertain Future

By Elias Cepeda

The past week or so has been an exciting one for fans of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. It’s also been a little bit of a worrisome one as well.

Jackson has gushed about his new deal with Bellator and the TNA Impact professional wrestling organization. He says he’ll only be asked to fight when he wants to, that he’s excited to finally get to try out a long-time love of his — pro wrasslin’ — and that the Viacom family that owns Bellator might create opportunities for him on television and in movies, through their Paramount pictures movie house.

Jackson left the UFC earlier this year, not just on a three-fight losing streak, but also embittered by what he felt was poor treatment from the organization. Likening promoter/fighter relationships to that of personal, romantic ones, Jackson told CagePotato last week, “…me and Bellator, we tongue kissing right now, baby.”

The fan in me has a soft spot for Jackson. Like many of you, I’ve watched him fight for over a decade. He’s always done so with courage and in exciting fashion. Back in the day, “Rampage” may have also been the most accessible top fighter in the world. There was a time where he set up a phone line specifically for fans. He made the number public and waited for calls. When they came in, he’d pick up whenever he was available, and chat with whoever wanted to talk to him.

Not a whole lot to dislike about a guy like that, right? So, if Jackson has found a new, better situation for himself, where he feels happy, no one can begrudge him that.

The thing is, we’ve seen this situation play out before with the fighter. Being enamored with an organization before ultimately souring on them, and feeling rejected and disrespected when it was all over. While with Pride, Jackson often seemed quite happy. He defended the Japanese promotion in public and compared it favorably to its competitor at the time, the UFC.

By the time the UFC signed Jackson, however, he acted as if it was a life-saving event. I remember speaking with Jackson near the end of his Pride tenure and again shortly after he’d signed with the UFC.

At that time, Jackson didn’t only express satisfaction with his new UFC contract, he spoke of Dana White as if he were a personal friend who had saved him and done him a favor. Six or so years later, Jackson and White routinely trash each other publicly.

During a media conference call last week, Jackson said that Bellator promoter Bjorn Rebney is a guy who “gets it,” and is the type of boss he’s been waiting for his entire career. Jackson says that things are different this time around.

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WSOF 3 Interview: Jacob Volkmann Talks Fighter Unions, ‘Fancy Pants’, And Why He’s Done Trashing Obama


(“[Beerbohm's] not even close to being able to stop my takedowns. This is going to be a ground battle and I’m hoping to finish it.” / Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

By Andreas Hale

In case you haven’t heard, Jacob Volkmann is a disgruntled former employee of the UFC who is preparing to start a new chapter in his career when he faces Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm at World Series of Fighting 3 this Friday, June 14th, in Las Vegas. Of course, being a disgruntled ex-UFC fighter doesn’t make Volkmann unique, as everyone from former champions and title contenders like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Jon Fitch to lower-tier fighters like John Cholish have been airing their dirty laundry recently.

Volkmann was recently cut after a loss to Bobby Green at UFC 156 back in February despite having a 6-2 record in the Octagon as a lightweight, after starting his UFC career with an 0-2 run at welterweight. The walking papers came as a shock to Volkmann who couldn’t understand how he could be sent on his merry way. However, Volkmann’s departure came secondary to the shocking announcement that Jon Fitch had also been released despite having had a crack at Georges St-Pierre’s welterweight title and holding a stellar 14-3-1 record in the UFC. If you ask Volkmann, he’ll tell you that it is because the UFC is looking to condition their fans into watching guys who stand and bang instead of crafty ground competitors.

“That was the biggest reason why I was released,” Volkmann says of his fighting strategy, which often sees him bringing fighters to the canvas rather than trading punches. With only one of his UFC victories coming by way of stoppage, Volkmann has often been labeled “boring” by the type of fans who prefer their MMA fights to look like bar brawls. And though Volkmann’s success should speak for itself, he says that the UFC prefers its fans to see mindless clubbing rather than a ground game of chess. “They are making their fans like the stand up fighters. They could put more ground fighters on the card but they are dictating who watches and what is considered [exciting]. The mainstream isn’t promoting the ground game.”

Whether Volkmann’s declaration is true depends on the viewer. But what most fans don’t understand is the disparity in pay between the UFC’s top-tier fighters and the rest of the bunch. Volkmann has fought on his fair share of main cards but says that the perception that the UFC takes care of its fighters financially is completely false.

“They don’t take care of their fighters all that well,” Volkmann says, while citing that he made $50,000 last year while going 3-0. But the money isn’t the entire issue. “I’m talking about benefits. Their health care is a joke. There is no retirement. If you get injured, you don’t get paid. I’d like to see you get paid something when you are injured.”

You may have heard about Volkmann’s idea of starting a fighters’ union as well to ensure that fighters are protected. “I’d like to see a two-year contract with two fights a year minimum, where the minimum pay is $15,000 for the fight and $15,000 to win,” Volkmann explained. “At least you get paid a minimum of $30,000 a year and I think the UFC can afford to pay their fighters that.”

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CagePotato Interview: Cris Cyborg Discusses Invicta FC 6 Title Fight Against Marloes Coenen, Her Relationship With Tito Ortiz, And Why She Isn’t in the UFC


(Video via YouTube.com/CagePotato)

Fresh off her one-round devastation of Fiona Muxlow at Invicta FC 5 in April, former Strikeforce champion Cristiane “Cris Cyborg” Justino Venancio will return to the cage against Marloes Coenen at Invicta FC 6 on July 13th, in a bout that will determine the first Invicta featherweight champion.

CagePotato.com reporter Brian J. D’Souza caught up to Cyborg at The Gym @ 99 Sudbury in Toronto, where they discussed her journey from handball player to dominant mixed martial artist, the contract terms that kept her from signing with the UFC, and her upcoming rematch with Coenen. Plus, Cyborg spoke out about her current relationships with her manager Tito Ortiz and her ex-husband Evangelista Santos, and the differences between sparring with men and women.

Subscribe to CagePotato on YouTube, and please visit BrianDSouza.com for more of Brian’s hard-hitting MMA reporting.

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CagePotato Exclusive Interview: Ryan Hall Looks For a Fight at Metamoris II


(Photo courtesy of Kinya Hashimoto via MMAFighting)

[Ed. note: This is the third in a series of interviews with the fighters and promoters behind Metamoris II: Gracie vs. Aoki, which goes down June 9th in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for more, and follow Metamoris on Facebook and Twitter for important event updates. You can purchase tickets right here.]

By Elias Cepeda

Ryan Hall burst onto the public submission grappling scene much faster than most. As a young blue and purple belt, Hall was thrust into the public eye by a former coach when he starred in for-sale instructional videos, espousing him as already an expert. In competition, which Hall took part in with feverish frequency, the Jiu Jitsu player often used complicated-looking inverted, upside-down techniques.

To be honest, it was difficult for this writer to warm up to Hall as a spectator due to all this. Sure, he was good, real good. But, what is this kid doing selling instructional videos in a world filled with black belt legends trying to make a living? What was all this spinning, upside-down crap he did? Surely he was a BJJ practitioner of the least compelling variety — the ones who focus on parlor trick positions and techniques that would get you in a whole lot of trouble in a real fight.

Of course, Ryan Hall the person and Jiu Jitsu practitioner deserved a more thoughtful look than my initial and judgmental cursory one. Hall separated himself from that former instructor, opened up his own academy, 50/50 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and began to add major international titles to his resume.

Around the time he medaled at the 2009 ADCC (the Olympics of submission wrestling), it became crystal clear even to the most closed-minded, like myself, that Hall was the real deal. He wasn’t some kid winning regional tournaments with inverted triangle chokes, anymore. The techniques Hall used to win world titles were far from gimmicks and interviews showed him to be thoughtful, bright and humble.

“For better or for worse I was put out there in public when I was younger, a lower belt,” Hall tells CagePotato on a recent Saturday afternoon.

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Interview: Urijah Faber Breaks Down His Upcoming MMA Combine, MMADraft.com, Optical Panacea Posters, And Cruz vs. Barao


(An excerpt from Urijah Faber’s Optical Panacea poster. Click the image to see the full-size extended version.)

By Ben Goldstein

From the very beginning of his career, Urijah Faber understood that he could be so much more than just a guy throwing punches in a cage. The California Kid bought his own gym in 2006, and went on to build one of the most successful fight teams in the sport. He’s partnered up with apparel brands ranging from K-Swiss to Torque. He’s written a book. And he’s been the entrepreneurial driving force behind a number of forward-thinking enterprises, including MMADraft.com — a site he launched with Phil Davis that seeks to find better opportunities and wider attention for amateur fighters — and Optical Panacea, a new company that elevates MMA fighter posters into fine art.

With Faber awaiting his next fight-assignement from the UFC, we spent some time on the phone with him yesterday to discuss all of the projects that will keep him hustling this summer, from the first-ever MMA Combine that will take place at the next UFC Fan Expo on July 6th, to the public launch party for Optical Panacea that will be going down next Friday in Las Vegas. (Be there!) Enjoy, and be sure to follow Urijah on Twitter @UrijahFaber.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: It’s been a month since your submission win over Scott Jorgensen at the TUF 17 Finale. Has the UFC given you any word on when they want you to return, or offered you your next opponent?

URIJAH FABER: I haven’t heard anything. I’ve kind of been on vacation, but I’m looking forward to continuing training and doing big things.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: Duane Ludwig has been getting a lot of attention lately for his work as the head coach at Team Alpha Male. Is there one thing he’s specifically told you or taught you that’s helped to improve your game?

URIJAH FABER: I think one thing in particular is that we’ve been doing a lot of drilling. As wrestlers, we’ve all drilled a lot with our wrestling techniques, and now we’re bringing that into the other avenues as well. Duane’s got some awesome drills, and he has a great system down — the Duane Bang Muay Thai system — that we’re all learning. I was definitely able to incorporate a little bit of that into my standup [in my last fight], and it’s only going to get better.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: Tell me a little about the MMA Combine for amateur fighters that you and Phil Davis are hosting at the next UFC Fan Expo in July. How close will this be to something like the NFL Scouting Combine, and what are some of the testing criteria that will be specific to MMA?

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