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Tag: Interviews

Interview: ‘Kingdom’ Actor Jonathan Tucker Discusses His Journey Into MMA Culture


(“The great majority of people who are fighting are not doing this for money and glory. There’s something else that drives them to the cage.” / Photo via kingdom.directv.com)

Though mixed martial arts has inspired its share of movies — both decent and dreadfulKingdom is the first TV drama to be set in the world of MMA. The series, which premieres next Wednesday, October 8th, on DIRECTV’s Audience channel, focuses on ex-fighter Alvey Kulina (played by Frank Grillo), his two sons, and their daily battles inside and outside of the cage.

Providing some of the show’s necessary tension is Jonathan Tucker, who plays the troubled black sheep of the Kulina clan. Jonathan took some time last week to chat with CagePotato.com about his preparations for the role, and the lengths that the cast and crew went to in order to ensure authenticity. Read our interview with Jonathan below, follow him on Twitter @jonathanmtucker, and visit Kingdom’s official site to learn more. 

CAGEPOTATO.COM: Kingdom takes place in the setting of a mixed martial arts gym and professional fighting, but it really seems to be about a father’s relationship with his sons. Tell me a little bit about the character you play, Jay Kulina.

JONATHAN TUCKER: Jay’s kind of this high-wire act, who’s part warrior, part jester. There’s a lot of characters in MMA gyms, and everybody’s being driven to fight for some different reason. Everyone’s finding a sort of healing in the training or the fighting or the camaraderie of being in a gym like that. And for Jay, there’s a sense of distance that he gets from the training and fighting that keeps him out of the other addictions in his life. And when he loses that ability to train, he succumbs to a lack of self-confidence and turns to alcohol and drugs and sex — which is certainly something that I got to see among people in different gyms around Los Angeles.

How much physical preparation was required for a role like this, where you’re portraying a fighter? What was that process like?

We did a two-week boot camp with Joe “Daddy” [Stevenson] and his team, and Greg Jackson, out in Pomona and Victorville, and I did a lot of individual coaching at different places around LA. I was already generally walking around at the weight I was on the show, but when you give a person a few months to really step it up and focus on the diet and the workouts, that extra 5% difference really shows.

I was dragging my ass to the gym every single minute I wasn’t working, and then fight training; we rolled in the morning, got in conditioning right afterwards, then we’d have time for lunch, we’d go box, and usually do some kind of kickboxing in the evening. Of course, we had the luxury of time. All we’re really trying to do on the show is honor the fighters who are trying to pay their rent, who are always working a second job, who are supporting families. The luxury that we had to just train without worrying about paying our mortgage, that was something we never took for granted.

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Quote of the Day: Bobby Green Thinks Donald Cerrone Is a Woman-Groping Racist


(*And* he’s a nacho stealer? When did you go so wrong, Cowboy?!!)

You gotta feel for Bobby Green right about now. In the past month, “King” has been scheduled for two different fights at UFC 178 — first against former Strikeforce title challenger Jorge Masvidal and then against Donald Cerrone in the evening’s co-main event, only to have both cancelled on short notice. The Masvidal fight was scrapped in favor of the Cerrone fight, which was then scrapped when Eddie Alvarez signed with the UFC and was subsequently booked against Cerrone. As a result, Green has now found himself without a dance partner for UFC 178.

It’d be easy to understand Green’s frustrations, given the likely massive paychecks he is missing out on for not being “high-profile” enough. Whether or not these frustrations played a part in his interview with The MMA Hour yesterday, during which he accused Cerrone of racist comments and inappropriate behavior with several female fans during a recent UFC Fan Expo, remains to be seen. Still though, Green held nothing back when discussing the behavior of his short-lived opponent:

He just said some racist stuff. He said stuff like, random racist stuff like ‘we gotta check him, we gotta check him, you know how black people like to steal.’ I’m like ‘what the,’ and I’m getting hot in front of thousands of people, all these people are here for the signing and they’re going ‘ohhhh’ and ‘ooooh’ and ‘ahhh.

He was groping every woman in his line to do his signing. He’s groping these women. They’ve got husbands, they’ve got fiancees, they’ve got boyfriends, I’m like, that’s messed up man, just because this guy’s a nerd and he can’t do anything to you, you’re going to do this to him. Girlfriend’s cute, Donald Cerrone, picks her up, grabs her ass, starts grabbing on there and stuff and he’s like “I’m Donald Cerrone.” I’m like, ‘you’re going to piss somebody off, you get the wrong person they’re going to get pissed.’ He’s like, ‘what are they going to do to me, I’ll knock them out.’ I’m like what the? This guy’s full of himself.

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Interview: Casey Oxendine Explains Why Hip Show Is an Evolution in Combat Sports, Not a Freak Show


(Props: AXS TV)

You may know Casey Oxendine as the MMA: Inside the Cage co-host with the most hated-on goatee in sports media. (If that doesn’t ring a bell, maybe you remember the “referee KO’s cornerman after fight” video we posted a while back. Yep, that was him too.) A longtime crusader for MMA regulation and awareness both locally and globally, Casey has signed on as co-host and American promoter for Hip Show: Arena Combat, the Russian 2-on-2 fight league that will make its North American broadcast debut on AXS TV this Friday, March 14th.

Although Hip Show has been building a strong fanbase in Russia since 2012, not everybody is on board with team-based MMA on an obstacle course. When we first announced our sponsorship of the 3/14 broadcast, we were hit with numerous negative comments from readers who called Hip Show a “spectacle,” “freak-show crap,” and ”absolutely unacceptable to anyone who respects combat sports.” We called up Casey last week to discuss why team-fighting isn’t as crazy as it seems, the irony of MMA fans calling it a novelty act, and his current efforts to hold Hip Show events in the U.S.

Whether you think Hip Show looks badass or you think it’s a sign of the end-times, please tune in to AXS TV this Friday night at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT and give it a chance. (You can also follow the league on Twitter and Facebook.) Now on to the interview…

CAGEPOTATO: How did you and Cyrus Fees get this gig in the first place? Did you approach Hip Show to work on an English-language broadcast, or did they approach you?

CASEY OXENDINE: We saw Hip Show about a year ago, and we were like, “Wow, this is the craziest thing we’ve ever witnessed in our lives.” We started to get in contact with them because of our show MMA: Inside the Cage — we wanted to cover it, and to talk with them about exactly what we were seeing. They wanted to take this thing bigger than just Russia, where it’s been extremely popular. So through that course of action, we began repackaging a lot of their first-season footage into episodes and so forth to get it aired here in America, so that the English-speaking [market] could understand what was going on. From there, it evolved into what it is now.

We got in touch with [AXS TV Fights CEO] Andrew Simon — Cyrus had worked as a ring announcer for XFC on AXS TV — Andrew took a look at it and he’s like, “Man, this is really cool.” Then Andrew cleared it through Mark Cuban himself, which was really neat, and they said, “Go for it. We’re going to give you a two-hour special, let’s show the world what this is all about.”

What made you think that Hip Show had the potential to be more than just a novelty act?

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Has Tito Ortiz Actually Been Beaten Into the Living Death? One Specialist Says “Possibly”


(For reference.)

In the lead up to their first fight some twelve years ago, Ken Shamrock promised to beat then light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz “into the living death” at a pre-fight press conference. It was a confusing, horrendously-delivered threat that not only drew an uproarious reaction from Ortiz, but set the precedent for such future Ken quotes as “You got kicked. By a kick.” and “I am very confident this fight can go either way.”

Over a decade later, it appears that Shamrock has finally made good on that promise, albeit through a far more convoluted means than actually beating Ortiz in a fight. We all know that a neck injury forced Ortiz out of his fight with Rampage Jackson last October, leading to the cancellation of Bellator’s inaugural pay-per-view in the process, but according to Bjorn Rebney, there’s a possibility that we will never see Ortiz step foot in the cage again. Again. As he told MMAWeekly:

When I initially got on the phone with the doctors, and Tito announced to us that he had fractured his neck, that was and is the primary concern. There’s not a substantive answer at this point to whether he’s going to come back.

We’re having discussions with him. The key was to get 120-percent healed. It’s an unsettling conversation to have a specialist in the field of neck injuries to tell you that with the right kind of drop on the head, or the right kind of impact on the spine, paralysis could be a result. That’s never a good conversation: A) for a world class althete, but B) it’s never a good conversation for the person in my position charged with putting that person inside of a cage to fight against top tier competition.

At this point, you kind of have to feel bad for Ortiz, don’t you? All the poor bastard wanted was one (delusional) last shot at a (Bellator) glory, and now he’s worse for the wear than he’s arguably ever been in his career. If this isn’t a sign that he should have stayed retired and never married a porn star, I don’t know what is.

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Matt Brown Details Back Injury, Plan for Recovery and How Carlos Condit Is Still on his Mind


(Brown smashes up Jordan Mein at UFC on FOX 7 in April. / Photo via Getty)

By Elias Cepeda

Last week, UFC welterweight contender Matt Brown herniated two discs in his back and was forced to pull out of his scheduled fight against Carlos Condit this Saturday at UFC on Fox 9. As he explained to CagePotato, he initially hoped a cortisone shot would help him feel well enough to fight, but that didn’t pan out.

Now, he’s benched from most physical activity for a month other than his therapy exercises. The good news is that if rehab goes well, Brown could be back training full contact in two months.

“The prognosis for me is basically that for one month I’ve got nothing but rehab. There’s no bending over to pick anything up and I can’t have any impact in any shape or form. No running. Nothing like any of those types of things,” Brown says.

“After two months, assuming rehab goes well, I’ll get a second cortisone shot and should be able to go full contact again.”

If Brown does his physical therapy to a ‘T’, he says he’s told that he should be able to avoid surgery on his back. Despite being so badly hurt, Brown says that he couldn’t bring himself to pull out of the fight on his own.

“I knew in my heart I wanted to do it,” he says.

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Video Tribute: It’s Bruce Lee’s Birthday, So Watch These Super Rare Interviews

On Bruce Lee’s would-be birthday last year, we took a teary-eyed look back at some of the martial arts legend’s greatest fight scenes and real-life demonstrations, and even checked out a couple of documentaries devoted to his life and career. Not wanting to retread any old ground, we thought it would be appropriate to showcase another side of Lee’s personality this year — mainly, the thespian, the filmmaker, and the philosopher.

A true renaissance man, Lee studied philosophy and drama while attending the University of Washington — where he would meet his future wife, Linda Emery — in the early sixties. Throughout his career, Lee exuded a wit and charisma that often left those interviewing him at a loss for words (that many of these interviewers were self-contentious imbeciles to begin with only made his intelligence all the more apparent). But more than anything, it was Lee’s succinct, thoughtful, and level-headed approach to the criticism constantly being thrown his way, justified or not, that made him a star.

After the jump, we revisit some of Lee’s rarest and most revealing interviews. Check them out, then pay your respects to the father of mixed martial arts.

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[EXCLUSIVE] Bellator Champ Pat Curran Is Making the Most of His Short Window of Opportunity


(“The goal was to make a good living doing this and I’m already there. I want to see how far I can take it.” Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting)

By Elias Cepeda

Of late, much of the big news that comes from Bellator has to do with contract clauses and disputes, lawsuits and high-profile cancellations. Because of that, one can imagine it being difficult for a marquee Bellator fighter like Pat Curran to focus on simply doing his job well.

However, the featherweight champion insists that he doesn’t keep up on other people’s news and stays focused on what matters — fighting. “I don’t like to think about it too much,” he tells CagePotato.

“As a fighter I have a very short career window and I have to make the most of where I’m at right now. I’m on a main stage with a major organization that gives me the opportunity to stay busy and make a pretty decent living.”

Having a tough opponent in front of you can help a fighter keep focused as well and Curran has exactly that this Saturday at Bellator 106 when he defends his belt against Bellator Season 6 tournament winner Daniel Straus.

“He’s very talented and very well rounded,” Curran says of the challenger.

“He throws a lot of straight, long punches and follows up with kicks. He does a very good job mixing up striking with wrestling. He’s good at clinching with guys and wearing them out. I’m definitely not just expecting a striking fight like I had with ‘Pitbull’ [Patricio Freire]. I’m prepared for anything. If it becomes a striking match, I’m ready for it. If it goes to the ground, I’m ready to mix it up.”

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‘Glory 11′ Exclusive: Five Questions With Kickboxing World Champion Tyrone Spong


(Photo via Glory/Tyrone Spong’s Facebook page)

By Elias Cepeda

Ten-time world champion Tyrone Spong made a name for himself punching and kicking people in the head as a kickboxer but has recently begun to establish a reputation for, well, punching and kicking people in the head in MMA competition. The Dutch striker is 2-0 in MMA but will next compete this Saturday under kickboxing rules at Glory 11 in Hoffman Estates, IL; you can watch the action live on Spike TV starting at 9 p.m. ET. CagePotato sat down with the “King of the Ring” and asked him five questions about his training, legacy, “real Muay Thai”, his upcoming opponent and his future plans.

CagePotato: What made you decide to branch out from kickboxing and start fighting in MMA as well? Was it just a matter of being able to make more money by fighting more and in different sports? And how hard has it been for you, physically and mentally, to balance it all?

Tyrone Spong: For me, being active in different disciplines — it’s a challenge but I enjoy doing that. Of course all pro fighters need to make money but what I’m really trying to do is build a legacy as one of the greatest of all time in combat sports. So far, everything is going well. But the training and fighting so often is hard. It’s hard. The key for me is to have my physical condition up there all the time. So, I always train. Then, once I get a fight, if it’s an MMA fight I focus on that or if it’s a kickboxing fight, I focus on that.

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Video Tribute: Looking Back at the Defining Moments in the Film (and Tennis) Career of Martial Arts Pioneer Jim Kelly


(Two legends in their primes, filming the greatest martial arts movie ever made.)

With surprisingly little reaction from the MMA blogosphere, martial arts pioneer Jim Kelly passed away over the weekend at the age of sixty-seven years old. Odds are pretty good that you recognize Kelly as Williams from Enter The Dragon, but his legacy is far greater than just that one role. Armed with his signature afro, one-liners and arsenal of kicks, Kelly broke the color-barrier for black actors in martial arts films at a time when the genre was almost exclusively reserved for Asian martial artists.

Aside from being one of the most instantly recognizable martial artists on the planet, Kelly also found the time to become a professional tennis player, an enthusiastic MMA fan, and a popular draw at conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con International. So in memory of Kelly, we’ve compiled videos of some of his greatest fights, interviews, and even some footage of him playing tennis. Enjoy.


Kelly and Lee working on fight scenes for Enter the Dragon.

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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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