MMA Fighter Challenges People to Punch Him in the Face, Everyone Fails

Tag: UFC interviews

Interview: UFC 169′s Al Iaquinta Discusses His Journey From Wrestling to MMA, Training With the Serra-Longo Crew, And ‘The Ultimate Fighter’


(Iaquinta lands on Piotr Hallman during their bout at UFC Fight Night 30 in October. / Photo via Getty)

By Shawn W. Smith

Armed with a thick Long Island accent and a 5-1-1 pro record, Al Iaquinta joined the cast of the first live Ultimate Fighter in 2012. He stormed through the competition, defeating Jon Tuck, Myles Jury, Andy Ogle and Vinc Pichel en route to the finals, where he fell short to Michael Chiesa.

What many thought would be a difficult matchup for him in his next UFC appearance turned out to be his coming out party, as Iaquinta decisively beat on Ryan Couture for three rounds at UFC 164. A follow-up win over Piotr Hallman established him as one of the many lightweight prospects to watch heading into 2014. His wrestling base with heavy hands is not unlike his Serra-Longo teammate Chris Weidman, who Iaquinta looks up to for inspiration in the gym.

At UFC 169, for the third time in six months, Iaquinta will take to the cage. This time he will take on the debuting Kevin Lee. A submission expert by trade, Lee presents some interesting challenge to Iaquinta, whose two professional losses both came by submission.

CagePotato caught up with Iaquinta ahead of his bout at UFC 169 this Saturday to get his thoughts on Lee, The Ultimate Fighter experience, and much more.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: How was your training camp for this fight?

AL IAQUINTA: Training’s been going good, same as usual. I’m here with Ray Longo and Matt Serra and the team, just getting ready. I’m ready to go. I’m chomping at the bit to get in there.

Does the terrible weather we’ve had in the Northeast make things difficult? At 20 degrees below zero, it must be challenging to get up and into the gym.

Yeah, definitely. It makes things a little difficult, but I kind of like it, going through training camp in the snow. It reminds me of wrestling season. If you go out for a run you’re all bundled up and getting through the elements. It kind of makes me feel like I’m in a Rocky movie. I’m thinking of all the things I’m doing to get ready for this fight and if he’s not doing that, it’s a big disadvantage.

When you have these constant camps in succession, three in the past six months, does it make it difficult to improve your skills?

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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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UFC on FOX 9 Interview: Matt Brown Discusses His Tough Road to the Top, And How MMA Saved His Life


(“I’ve been at the bottom. When I lost three in a row I thought I was cut for sure. I have no fear of that. I can look at it and say there’s worse things in life that could happen.” / Photo via Getty)

By Shawn Smith

A real-life Rocky if there ever was one, Matt Brown is not your typical MMA fighter. He didn’t wrestle in college and he doesn’t have the polished good looks that will land him on posters. He turned to mixed martial arts as a way out of a lifestyle that was killing him, and it has been anything but a smooth ride to the top of the UFC welterweight division. Three straight losses in 2010 had many, including him, questioning whether or not he was a UFC-caliber fighter.

Now with six straight wins in the UFC, Brown will get the most challenging opponent of his career. On December 14th at UFC on FOX 9, he’ll take on former title contender Carlos Condit in what is sure to be an explosive bout. We recently spoke to Matt to get his thoughts on the fight that could launch him into title contention, how MMA saved his life, his experience on TUF, what he thought about Georges St. Pierre‘s controversial win over Johny Hendricks, and so much more. Enjoy.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: What was it about mixed martial arts that drew you to the sport?

MATT BROWN: The first time I saw it was Tank Abbott way back in one of the first UFC events. That got me kind of interested. The first one that really got me was Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie in Pride. I thought “man, this is freaking amazing.” It was something I wanted to be a part of in some way.

The draw is mainly the intensity and the authenticity of the sport. The UFC says it best: It’s as real as it gets. That’s a rare thing in life and in sport.

I find it funny you say Sakuraba and Gracie because they were so grappling-based and you’re more of a knockout guy.

At that time with the knowledge I had of MMA, Royce was unstoppable. He was the epitome of a UFC fighter. He was this mysterious guy who came in and did all these things that no one had seen before. It was amazing. The fact that [his fight against Sakuraba] lasted an hour and a half, it was like watching a movie. I don’t know what it was about that fight, but even to this day it’s a pretty amazing fight to me.

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What Was Up With Johny Hendricks Last Night on Fox Sports Live? [VIDEO]


(Props: FOX Sports Live)

Is he delirious from the weight cut? Did somebody spike his cough syrup? Did he just get poked in his right eye? Did somebody interrupt his nap? Is he blazed as hell? What’s with all the blinking? There has to be an explanation for why Johny Hendricks seemed a little…impaired…during his FOX Sports Live appearance last night, hyping his UFC 167 main event with Georges St. Pierre. We’ve transcribed a couple highlights below, but seriously, you should watch this thing yourself and tell us what you think.

On whether GSP should be scared of him: “A-hah-hah, you know what, here’s the thing…uh…it’s…to each their own, y’know? I’m not scared of anybody. Uh, whenever you get in the Octagon, just do what you do, y’know? Um. He might be, I don’t know, y’know, here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter. Uh…all I want is a win.”

On his squabble with GSP over drug testing: ”I don’t need drugs to win. A-heh. Youknowwhattimean? If I’m at 220, I don’t look like I’m at 170. I’m fat, out of shape, and I love my life. Youknowwhattimean? I don’t need steroids. I don’t need steroids to have power. If I had power…if I had steroids, I wouldn’t be at 170. I’d probably be at 205. The way that I eat and the do all that stuff so here’s the thing, is that one person has accused me of something or ‘read between the lines’…uh, y’know, Georges had six fights, err six years to prove his innocence of people accusing him of stuff. He wants to prove it with me, he just chose the wrong person.”

Ed. note: At 7:23-7:26, we see that the split-screen presentation is just bullshit, and that Georges and Johny are really in the same room, sitting next to each other. Good work, FOX.

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UFC 164 Interview: After First Octagon Defeat, Ryan Couture Looks to Prove That He Belongs


(Photo via Getty)

By Elias Cepeda

Ryan Couture was on a roll. The lightweight had won four straight fights against progressively stiff competition in Strikeforce, earning a shot inside the UFC.

His first test inside the Octagon would be a tough one – Ultimate Fighter winner Ross Pearson last April. Many speculated that the son of MMA legend Randy Couture would be in over his head but the younger Couture actually came out and fought effectively against Pearson.

For one round, that is. Couture managed to stay safe, close the distance and take away Pearson’s striking weapons with a conservative but winning clinch strategy in the opening stanza, but in the second round the Brit connected with a big shot and stopped Ryan.

“We started out well,” Couture tells CagePotato.

“We had a good game plan and it worked in the first round but then he caught me in the second. He did what he needed to do.”

Couture says that cornering his father in past UFC fights helped him get his bearing a little bit but that fighting in the world’s top MMA promotion himself definitely felt different. “Totally different,” he admits.

“I was lucky to have my dad bring me into his corners a couple times so that I got sort of used to the scenery and environment but it’s a different thing when you’re the one whose hands are getting wrapped, when you’re the one in the co-main event. It’s hard to explain. Plus, I had a different corner than usual. My grappling coach wasn’t able to be there and he’s a big part of my process and success.”

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[EXCLUSIVE] Matt Brown Reflects on Becoming The UFC’s Unlikeliest Welterweight Contender


(Can Matt Brown keep rolling through the division’s elite? / Photo via Getty)

By Elias Cepeda

Since the beginning of 2012, UFC welterweight Matt Brown has won six consecutive fights, all but one by KO/TKO within the first two rounds. His most recent was a startlingly fast and violent knockout of the previously red-hot Mike Pyle in under thirty seconds this past Saturday at UFC Fight Night 26.

All of a sudden, Brown is more than a tough and exciting fighter — he’s the owner of the most impressive win streak in the division outside of Georges St. Pierre and Johny Hendricks, who meet one another with GSP’s title on the line in November.

Brown has been calling out the champion and, well, now it makes sense. CagePotato spoke with the contender Sunday while he celebrated with family far away from the lights that shone on him kindly in Boston during his latest victory.

“It’s weird, man,” Brown muses while sitting with kids playing and shouting around him. “Obviously, I’m real happy with the result but I do feel a little unfulfilled. It wasn’t the type of fight I prepared for at all. But you take what you can get, right?”

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Interview: A Healthy, Thankful Joe Lauzon Readies to Battle at Home in Boston Saturday Night


(Lauzon still carries a little reminder from his most recent war against Jim Miller. / Photo via Getty)

By Elias Cepeda

“I’m definitely excited and equally scared,” Joe Lauzon says while driving through some nasty Boston traffic this past Wednesday. On Saturday, the Massachusetts lightweight will fight in front of his home town at the Boston Garden on the UFC Fight Night 26 main card — but that isn’t what has Lauzon excited and scared.

The 29-year-old just found out that he and his girlfriend are expecting their first child together, a boy. “Obviously I want everything to go smooth and have a healthy kid. There’s all kinds of stuff to be worried about,” he confesses.

That’s Joe the expecting father talking. Joe the fighter doesn’t expect a child to change anything at all for him.

“Having a kid doesn’t change anything for me, fight wise. There’s a little bit with timing — I don’t want to fight right before or after he is born, but other than that…I train really hard and I fight really hard. I don’t think having a kid will change any of that,” he says.

So don’t expect platitudes from Lauzon about how being a dad adds or takes away from his motivation, as has often been said by other fighters. Joe likes to scrap, always had, always will.

And, after a pretty long lay-off, Lauzon has a good, tough bout ahead of him Saturday against the underrated Michael Johnson. 2012 saw Lauzon raise his star with a win and two Fight of The Year candidates, but he has yet to fight in 2013, choosing to let old injuries heal and wait for a chance to fight in Boston.

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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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[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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Interview: Stipe Miocic Jumps Back Into the Heavyweight Fray at UFC 161 Against Roy Nelson


(Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting)

By Elias Cepeda

Heavyweight Stipe Miocic came to the UFC in 2011 with an undefeated amateur and pro record and a penchant for knocking people out. Impressively, he continued his tear once in the world’s top MMA organization, winning his first three UFC bouts, two by stoppage, and earning a main event slot opposite Stefan Struve.

The fight was a step up in competition for the Ohio fighter but he appeared to be handling Struve well until the Dutch fighter staged a come back and TKO’d Miocic in the second round. Suddenly, the Croatian-American fighter’s hype-train was derailed and his undefeated streak snapped.

That was back in September of 2012. Miocic has not fought since then. This Saturday, however, he will be back in the Octagon at UFC 161.

“I took time to heal and then to improve,” Miocic tells CagePotato. “I definitely feel like I’m much better than I was back then.”

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