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Tag: MMA interviews

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.


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.”


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

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. 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 for more of Brian’s hard-hitting MMA reporting.


Interview: Nick Newell Gives His Side of the Story Regarding XFC Fallout, Explains Why He Never Accepted Fight Against Scott Holtzman

(“I can’t sit around my whole life trying to make other people’s careers better. I gotta do what’s best for me, and what’s best for me is moving on.” / Photo via

Yesterday, XFC president John Prisco announced publicly that lightweight champion Nick Newell (9-0) had been “stripped of [his] title” after refusing to fight XFC’s top lightweight contender Nate Holtzman (4-0). Following the news, Newell released the following statement on his Facebook fan page:

EVERYBODY CALM DOWN! First of I AM NOT UNDER CONTRACT WITH THE XFC. XFC promoted a fight that didn’t exist yet.

The headlines are misleading and imply that I was stripped of my title because I refused to fight when in fact I just chose not to renew my contract with the XFC. I am not scared to fight anybody. I have been through too much in my life to be scared of any man. All you have to do is look at one of my fights to see my heart & my fearless style. This has nothing to do with me being scared. It is more so just an attempt to bully me into a contract.

XFC trash talking me and trying to slander my name upsets me more then anything but they are promoters. XFC is promoting, thats what they do. They have to try and make their guys look as good as possible and I’m not one of their guys so it is at my expense.

Even though Scott is bad mouthing me as well, I have no ill will towards him. I consider myself to be a professional and as a professional I choose to stay away from negative talk towards other fighters, but I understand that he is an unfortunate victim of circumstance.

Definitely not scared just have my eyes on bigger pastures.

Love you all,
Nicholas G. Newell

CagePotato contacted Nick yesterday evening to further clarify the situation, and he spent a few minutes with us to discuss his version of the events that led to his split with the XFC, as well as his plans for the immediate future. Short version: Newell’s decision to leave was based on his desire to continue moving upward in his career — and had nothing to do with Scott Holtzman specifically — and he’s very close to announcing his next fight contract. Check it out…

CAGEPOTATO.COM: John Prisco blasted you pretty hard for not accepting a fight against Scott Holtzman; he said you were scared, and that Holtzman would have stopped you in the first round. Did that feel like a betrayal to you?


Interview: Rose Namajunas Discusses Thug Life, Pat Barry’s Charm, And Her Invicta FC 5 Fight This Friday

(“I think putting ourselves in dangerous situations makes our lives exciting.” / Photo courtesy of Denise Truscello @ WireImage via Getty)

By Ben Goldstein

With her fight against Kathina Catron leading off the Invicta FC 5 prelims this Friday, we called up CP’s favorite (and only!) sponsored fighter Rose Namajunas to get to know the woman a little better. So what did she have to say about pre-fight nerves, Pat Barry, and mean-mugging strangers at the grocery store? Read on and find out. And be sure to follow Rose on twitter @RoseNamajunas for more updates from her life.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: First of all, who gave you the nickname “Thug”?

Rose Namajunas: My neighborhood friends. When I was little, I was the only white girl, I was smaller than everyone else, and for some reason I just acted harder than everybody else — just fearless, you know? So they kind of dubbed me that because of the intimidating scowl I always had on my face. That’s what gave me that name.

I’ve noticed that scowl before your fights, and even in your weigh-ins. Do you have to get yourself into that Thug-mode — is it a separate persona — or are you that intense all the time?

That’s just one aspect of my personality. I have a playful, fun-loving side, and I also have a very sensitive and emotional side to my personality. But it’s definitely one of the main things that most strangers will pick off of me from a first impression, that I really come off as this intimidating type of person. Like I said, it’s just one aspect of my personality, but I’m always practicing a staredown with strangers. Even going to the grocery store, I might mean-mug somebody just to see if I get a weird feeling from them. It’s practice. And I think that’s one thing that fighters don’t really practice that much, is their intimidation and their mind games, and the intimidating looks that you can give to people. It really can win or lose you the fight if you have that down. Mike Tyson was phenomenal at that game, of intimidating his opponents — he won the fight before it even started.

Has a stranger ever tried to fight you because you were looking at them funny in the grocery store?


Bellator 90 Pre-Fight Interview: King Mo Discusses His Successful Return to the Cage, Tonight’s LHW Semi-Final Against Emanuel Newton

(Lawal and Newton square off at yesterday’s weigh-ins. Photo via Sherdog)

By Elias Cepeda

After a year marked by a steroid suspension, a life-threatening staph infection, a firing from Zuffa, and then a quick hire by Bellator, Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal finally got back in the ring in January. The former amateur collegiate and international wrestler fought and beat the aggressive (and consonant-heavy) Przemyslaw Mysiala at Bellator 86, ending the match by first-round KO.

Lawal is back in action tonight at Bellator 90, where he and Emanuel Newton will meet in the semi-finals of the promotion’s Season 8 light-heavyweight tournament. We caught up with Mo recently to discuss getting back in the ring and his training for the peculiar tournament structure. Check out our conversation below, and be sure to tune in to the Spike TV broadcast of Bellator 90 at 10 p.m. ET, which will also feature the Season 8 welterweight tournament finals, and the delayed featherweight tournament final between Shahbulat Shamhalaev and Rad Martinez.

CagePotato: What was it like getting back in the cage last month after such a long layoff?

Muhammed Lawal: The weird thing is. It didn’t feel any different. I had [agent] Mike Kogan, my brother Bull who is fighting in Legacy Fighting Championships in April and Jeff Mayweather with me like usual. I had all my friends and family and coaches around me, so it felt normal.

But I also felt relieved and I felt rejuvenated to see blood and sweat on you, to step into the cage. Seeing my opponent on the other side made me realize what I really missed. It’s like when you are dating a girl. When she’s gone you think, ‘damn, I really miss this or that about her.’

I wanted to get a feel for things in the cage when I got in there but the dude [Mysiala] came forward with haymakers and I knew this might happen, so luckily Jeff Mayweahter trained me well. He trained me to slip, slip, catch, block and roll, and that’s what I tried to do. I hit him with a check hook while he was trying to land a big shot.

CP: Your semi-final fight is just four weeks after the last one. Do you have any injuries left over that you’ll have to fight with?


Interview: XFC Champ Nick Newell Wants to Prove He’s One of the Best Lightweights in the World

(Photo via

While attending the MMA World Expo last weekend, CagePotato contributor Oliver Chan ran into undefeated lightweight fighter and inspirational figure Nick Newell, who most recently won XFC’s 155-pound title with a first-round submission win over Eric Reynolds in December. “Notorious Nick” was cool enough to give Oliver a few minutes of his time, and discussed his work with Tap Cancer Out, why he deserves a shot in the UFC, and the “rich people’s sports” that are taking over the Olympics. Enjoy, and follow Nick on Twitter @NotoriousNewell.

CAGEPOTATO: I’m here with CagePotato favorite Nick Newell, Nick how are you doing?

NICK NEWELL: Good, good, I’m glad to be on the website again. I’m a huge CagePotato fan, and you guys have always had my back, so I really love the site, and I love that I’m getting more press from you guys.

Well, we’re big fans of you. Let’s talk about Tap Cancer Out, and this organization that you’ve aligned yourself with.

Jon Thomas who runs Tap Cancer Out is a longtime training partner of mine and a good friend. He’s a great guy and he’s got a great cause going. Cancer affects a lot of people, and I’m sure everybody knows someone who’s had cancer. A former training partner of mine had cancer, and I have family members who have had it, and it’s terrible. Any way you can contribute and help people out that have it is great.

During your MMA career there have been a lot of people who just didn’t want to fight you because of your physical attributes. Talk to us about some of the challenges you’ve faced getting to where you are now, as a 9-0 fighter.

It was a crazy journey, it took a long time — a lot longer than I would have liked — but the whole time while I wasn’t fighting, I was training and getting better and better. At first I got fights, and then I started beating people and then no one wanted to fight me. And they said, “Oh, it’s because you have one hand,” or whatever, but they were just trying to duck me, I think. And now that I’m fighting for the XFC, I get to fight really top-level guys, and everybody’s calling me out, so it’s different.

So what’s next, are you going to stay with XFC, or will you start looking at bigger promotions and try to get your name out a little more?


Interview: Frankie Edgar Awaits His Next Opportunity, Discusses Olympic Wrestling Controversy

(Photo via Esther Lin/

CagePotato contributor Oliver Chan was on hand at this weekend’s MMA World Expo in New York City, where he got his microphone in front of a wide-range of MMA stars and personalities. We’ll be running highlights from his interviews all week. First up: A brief chat with former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, who is enjoying a rare moment of peace between his last epic battle and whatever comes next…

CAGEPOTATO: You just came off a tough fight against Jose Aldo, and everybody wants to know: What’s next on the agenda for you?

FRANKIE EDGAR: Yeah, it’s two weeks out and I really haven’t made any decision on what I’m gonna do. You know, I’m gonna get back in there, but I don’t know when — not too long, I don’t like taking too long of a break. I’m already training, so we’ll just see how it goes.

Do you think you’ll jump back up to lightweight?

I think I’ll stay at ’45 for now. We’ll see what happens in the future, though.

Is there any opponent in particular you’ll be gunning for?

Nah, I don’t pick people’s names out, really. We’ll talk to Dana [White] and Lorenzo [Fertitta], Joe Silva and these guys, and my team, and we’ll figure out something out, I’m sure.

Switching gears, here, the big news from the Olympic Committee is that wrestling is possibly on the chopping block for the 2020 Games. What are your thoughts on that?


Bjorn Rebney Speaks Out on Randy Couture, Eddie Alvarez, And the Real ‘Toughest Tournament in Sports’

(Red rover, red rover, we call Captain America on over! Pic Props:

By Jason Moles

Between preparing to launch a new mixed martial arts reality television show on Spike TV, to selecting venues for 2014, Bjorn Rebney‘s time for small talk is sparse. But the Bellator MMA CEO always seems to have a moment to discuss his favorite topic — how much he loves running the second-largest MMA promotion in the world, and what the future holds in store.

Early Friday morning, just after the Bellator 87 post-fight press conference concluded at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in frigid Mount Pleasant, Michigan, I had the opportunity to speak with Rebney about some of the important topics that have developed in the past few weeks, and the impact they would have going forward for the ever-expanding fight promotion.

You could tell the man was tired by the look in his sleep-deprived eyes. Sitting on stage, and probably still laughing on the inside after having watched lightweight contender Lloyd “Cupcake” Woodard shave his facial hair after losing a stipulation match to David “Caveman” Rickels not more than five minutes prior to our conversation (the clippings were still on the table next to him), the most powerful man in the building finally had a fleeting moment to collect his thoughts while resting for the first time that day…

On Randy Couture Signing with Spike TV/Bellator:

“Randy’s a great addition to the team and is known to fans everywhere. We’re excited for the role he’ll play in helping Bellator reach the next level. I know you and the other media want more info than that, but wait until Tuesday [February 5th] — that’s when we’re holding the big press conference and that’s when you’ll have all the details of what’s going on. That’s when all the questions will be answered.”

On the Controversial Stoppages Earlier in the Night:

“I have an unfair advantage; we’ve got probably the best sound team in all of MMA production. What I’m able to do is, when there’s any kind of controversial stoppage, I can go back into the truck, super slo-mo things and listen to things. I can hear the things the fighters say because our sound design inside the cage is so spectacular. You can literally hear what the fighter’s saying and what the referee is saying — you can hear everything. I think they were great stoppages. I think Dan [Mirgliotta] did an amazing job and when you see it in slow motion, for example on the knee lock, you hear him scream and then see his head go back and ultimately see one tap. Now it’s a super soft tap, but you see it. Inside the truck, in super slo-mo, you can hear the screaming and see his head go back and that’s a verbal submission. According to the Unified Rules, when your head goes back and you scream out — it’s over whether you tap or you don’t tap. But I thought he did a great job.”


Interview: Lloyd Woodard Ready to Fight Like an Animal at Bellator 87

(Photo via Sherdog)

By Elias Cepeda

Fight record databases are filled with the names of guys and girls with one or two fights. Fighting in MMA can seem like such a fun, exciting idea at first. You watch your heroes on television, you find a gym and train hard. Then, one night, after mustering up the courage, you strap on the gloves and take your own walk to the cage.

But, as is often the case, you lose and lose badly, and that is usually it. Fact is, most people who get beat up or knocked out in their first or second fight don’t come back for more.

Lloyd Woodard came back for more. You might now know him as the charmingly off-kilter Bellator lightweight who fights on national television, but at one point he was just another guy who’d gotten it handed to him.

Woodard was knocked out in just his very first amateur fight. Cold. Instead of getting intimidated, he got angry.

“I got pissed,” he tells Cagepotato.

“I wanted that fight back for a long time. I was supposed to get a rematch with that guy but I never got it. Even so, I never considered stopping fighting. From the moment my feet first touched the mat, I knew that there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life.”