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21 Humans Who Make Being Human Look Really, Really Hard

Tag: MMA interviews

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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Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller Re-Emerges in Mostly-Coherent Interview About Unretirement, Forgiveness, And the Uriah Hall Incident


(Props: MMAInterviews.tv)

As Jason “Mayhem” Miller puts it in the above video interview, “2013? Pretty unlucky number for me.” Indeed, the semi-retired MMA fighter and former media personality spent the past calendar year getting arrested, getting arrested, getting arrested, and dropping N-bombs during a public scuffle with Uriah Hall. Now, a humbled (but still pretty kooky) version of Mayhem is training full time with Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA, looking for a return to competition, and he has a few things to say about the controversies that have surrounded him recently. Some notable quotes…

On leaving MMA and coming back: “I took some time, I retired, I totally got away from it, and realized the love and the passion that I have for the sport is just undeniable. I realized I love it so much. And the way I am, I got real passionate and jumped right back in. I’ve been here training at Kings for about a year now, and I feel like a new fighter. I’m ready to get on out there. I’m entertaining some offers from some different leagues that are around the globe, and I’m just trying to find my home.”

On who he’d like to fight next [WARNING, MAYHEM AHEAD]: “I don’t know man, I would like to fight Stephen Hawking. I’d like to punch him out of his wheelchair, maybe get him in an armbar. He can’t defend. No one can defend. [*pauses, switches to Stephen Hawking robot-voice*] Ow. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Physics!

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Shinya Aoki on Survival, Rebounding From Defeat, And How PRIDE Changed His Life [Tokyo Dispatch #1]


(“I’m honored that anyone would watch me fight, but my goal isn’t to appeal to people.” Photo via MMAWeekly)

By Elias Cepeda

If it wasn’t for his cauliflower ear and your knowing how a person gets such a proud deformity, Shinya Aoki is the type of fighter you’d never suspect was, in fact, a fighter, just from looking at him or speaking with him outside of training or competition. To the untrained eye, Aoki looks like just another Tokyo hipster or backpack kid — slight in frame, stylish, with thick-framed glasses.

Sure, he’s got a gravely, action-hero voice but it delivers extremely humble words, for the most part. Shinya Aoki always appeared to be a mild-mannered, soft-spoken person from the interviews I’d seen of him over the years.

As he sits in a conference room in a Tokyo high-rise on this rainy late December afternoon, nothing I see on the surface changes that perception. For a half hour, Aoki is warm, engaging, quick with a smile and nervous laughter.

In just over one week’s time, however, Aoki will be in a ring, attempting to snap another man’s arm in half. The only reason he will not is because the opponent will smartly tap out before his limb breaks.

Like many great fighters, Shinya Aoki flips a switch, so to speak, from Clark Kent to a kind of malevolent Superman when it comes time to compete. Not only has the ordinarily calm and friendly Aoki not hesitated to break the bones and tear the ligaments of opponents, throughout his career, he also isn’t above standing over their prone bodies and flipping them the bird, as he did to Mizuto Hirota in 2009.

The submission wizard and MMA veteran of over forty professional fights, knows exactly when he makes that shift from civilian to ruthless warrior.

“From the moment I get in line to make my entrance [to the cage or ring],” he says. “That’s when it switches.”

Aoki’s psychology going into a fight is simple and logical. In fact, it is the mindset one could easily imagine would develop in any other skinny teenager who started doing martial arts. Aoki may have developed into one of the world’s best fighters, but when he steps onto the mat, all that is on his mind is survival.

“When I’m out in normal street clothes, I’m a regular person,” he explains. “When I get in the ring, I’ve got to turn on that animal instinct. I’ve got to become a survivor. That’s what switches in my head.”

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Interview: Duke Roufus Discusses GLORY, The Pettis Brothers, And the Chaotic Art of Striking


(Roufus [at far left] with Sergio Pettis, Anthony Pettis, Ben Askren, and Roufusport BJJ coach Daniel Wanderley. Photo via Dave Mandel/Sherdog.)

By Elias Cepeda

Duke Roufus had an illustrious career as a kickboxer before becoming even more well-known as an MMA coach. In recent years, his highly regarded Roufusport camp has produced such talents as UFC champion Anthony Pettis, his younger brother Sergio, and former Bellator champ Ben Askren. In advance of the Glory 13 event in Tokyo this Saturday that Roufus is doing color commentary for, CagePotato sat down with him to look back on the twists and turns of his career, and look towards the future of some of his biggest stars.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: What would you say your role with Glory is, Duke? We hear and see you doing color commentary during events but when you were in Chicago last fall, you also had a big presence in all sorts of other pre-event activities.

DUKE ROUFUS: Well, about ten years ago they had me do color commentary for K-1 on pay-per-view broadcasts. This was really a natural progression when they came back with Glory. My role is that of a color commentator but I’m also just a huge kickboxing enthusiast. I love the sport. I’m just as big a fan as a participant.

We’ve always heard Joe Rogan talk about “K-1 level striking” in certain UFC fighters — meaning that a particular guy had great striking, so much so that he could survive in K-1, which was recognized as the top kickboxing promotion in the world. Has Glory replaced K-1 in that role?

Yeah, for sure. K-1 just struggled internally. Japanese kickboxing and MMA have had some internal issues. The guys from Glory have really stepped up. They are also huge kickboxing enthusiasts. Now, all the best fighters are fighting for Glory. We also did something similar to what MMA did with unified rules, and we’ve tried to set that up for kickboxing. We want to make it a fan-friendly fight. The fans can really tune in and enjoy the fights. We created a rule set that makes it fun for the fan.

As an expert kickboxer and one who knows Muay Thai so well, don’t you think that the Glory rules could be better, though? You have many fighters who have trained and competed under full Muay Thai rules — using elbows, using the clinch, using sweeps — and now they get to this point and they’re not allowed to use these effective weapons.

Well, with those things allowed, the tournaments would have a different outcome, that’s for sure. There would be more cuts from elbows and so more guys wouldn’t be able to move on in the tournament. And clinching is how you defend not getting elbowed.

The uneducated fan boos when the clinch happens. Uneducated MMA fans do the same thing when Jiu Jitsu happens in a fight. I understand clinching and the art of it. I understand trips and dumps. Unfortunately here in America, people want to see big punches and big kicks. It can be difficult to understand Muay Thai. Even the scoring is a little difficult to follow. Kickboxing is very similar to boxing. That makes it easy to follow.

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Interview: Back in the Spotlight, Andrei Arlovski Won’t Stop Until He’s Champion Again


(“It’s a trap when you’re on top of the world. When I was champion, I had people who would go out with me every day of the week. After I had two, three losses, people disappeared.” / Photo via Sherdog)

By Brian J. D’Souza

This Saturday, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski will make his third appearance under the World Series of Fighting banner when he faces off against briefly-retired UFC/Strikeforce veteran Mike Kyle in the main event of WSOF 5. Arlovski is actually coming in as an injury replacement for Anthony Johnson — the man who broke his jaw (and his four-fight win streak) at WSOF 2 in March.

As he prepares to bounce back into the win column, the Pitbull took some time to speak with us about this weekend’s fight, as well as the highs and lows of a memorable career. Enjoy…

CagePotato.com: What do you think about Mike Kyle as an opponent?
Andrei Arlovski: He’s very quick. Has quick hands. Very quick jab, good right hand. I just have to be ready for his speed. That’s why I train a lot right now with Jon Jones — he’s my main sparring partner. We try to help each other. He’s a hard worker, he’s a good striker, so it’s good to work with him.

CP: Your last fight against Anthony Johnson was a painful one.
AA: Yes, my jaw was broken in the fight. The referee didn’t watch the time [letting the fight continue eight seconds past the five-minute first round] and Johnson broke my jaw in two places. Every punch in my face after that gave me that feeling of putting electricity in my body. Of course, I’m not happy that I lost, but I’m very happy that I shut all the fucking mouths who said I have a weak chin. I was able to fight two more rounds with a broken jaw.

CP: How big of a problem is bad officiating, bad time-keeping, and bad refereeing in MMA?
AA:
To be honest with you, I can’t make any comments right now. Maybe later. I’m sorry. I just hope this time, the referee is going to be more professional.

CP: You’ve made an impressive career comeback after losing four straight fights in 2009-2011. How tough was that losing streak for you mentally?
AA:
 It was really tough mentally, it was really tough physically. I was asking myself, “What’s wrong? Every time, I do everything right.” I train right, I was on a schedule. You know what my old trainer told me? He said “You need to retire.”

I just gave a call to Greg Jackson, I said “Listen, should I retire or not?” He said, “Absolutely not! Just come to my camp and we’ll start over again.” Greg Jackson supported me a lot, he gave me hope.

I told [Greg] face to face, “I don’t need any favors from you. Do you think I can be champion again?” He said, “Yes.” “Do you think I have potential?” he said, “Yes.” And hearing that was enough for me.

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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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Submit Your Questions for Our Video Q&A With ‘Notorious’ Nick Newell!


(Work hard, play hard. / Images via Fighter 411 and @NotoriousNewell)

Undefeated lightweight Nick Newell is set to make his return to the cage next month at World Series of Fighting 4: Spong vs. DeAnda (August 10th; Ontario, California) where he’ll be taking on Keon Caldwell. Nick has been one of our personal heroes for years, and he’s agreed to do a CagePotato fan-Q&A in advance of his WSOF debut, where he’ll answer questions sent in by you wonderful people.

Got any burning questions about Nick’s life and career? Please submit them to the comments section below by tomorrow night; we’ll award a CagePotato t-shirt to whoever writes the best question that we decide to use. Thanks so much, and please follow @NotoriousNewell and @MMAWorldSeries on Twitter!

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CagePotato Q+A: Rose Namajunas Discusses Twerking, Ronda Rousey, And Getting That Invicta Belt


(Subscribe to CagePotato on YouTube!)

Before she returns to the cage at Invicta FC 6 on Saturday night, our favorite strawweight Rose Namajunas — a.k.a., The Honey Badger — took some time to answer a few questions submitted by the Potato Nation. (The role of CP’s comment section was played by Pat Barry. Well done, Pat.) Follow Rose on twitter @RoseNamajunas, and be sure to tune into Invicta FC 6 on Saturday!

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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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