(Don’t miss next week’s episode of ‘My Baroni,’ when Phil accidentally makes a date with two different ring girls on the same night!)
You may have been so excited about Tito Ortiz bringing his one-man Schadenfreude act back to the UFC that you forgot all about it, but another Octagon veteran returns at UFC 106, and it’s the NYBA himself, Phil Baroni. When last we saw Baroni he was fending off allegations that he was pharmaceutically-enhanced before losing a one-sided decision to Joe Riggs in Strikeforce. Now he’s one of the rare fighters to get another shot in the UFC immediately after a loss, and he takes on Amir Sadollah this Saturday night in a contest between two guys in desperate need of a win.
So go on, Phil. Tell us all about how bad you’re going to beat this mamaluke, or maybe something about how you’ve been avoiding having sex with your wife lately. Come on and dazzle us. It’s been too long and we can hardly wait to hear your new material:
“Look, I’ve said it all already,” Baroni said. “The trash talking is starting to sound like a broken record, even to me. Nothing that I say is going to affect the outcome of the fight. Nothing he says is going to affect the outcome of the fight. There is no need to hype it up because he is a big name among the fans after winning the reality show. I’m coming to reestablish myself in the UFC at his expense, and I’m sure he is coming to do the exact same thing at my expense, since he lost his last bout. …I’m done with all that, at least for now. I’m not focused on that stuff. I’m focused on my training. I’ve got a tremendous opportunity in front of me, and I’m doing everything that I can to properly prepare so that I can take full advantage of it.”
Phil, it’s like I don’t even know who you are anymore.
Is it possible that Baroni has turned over a new leaf? Could it be that the fighter who has, at least in the last couple of years, generated more excitement in pre-fight interviews and press conferences than he has in the cage, is abandoning his larger-than-life persona altogether? What does this mean for his entrances? What will become of the already-weakened flashy robe sector of the economy if Baroni decides to play it straight?
All these questions will be answered when we see Baroni’s UFC revival on Saturday night, but it sounds like he is a man who is increasingly concerned about his legacy. Face it, if his career were to end today, he’d be remembered as the entertaining loudmouth who really put on a show up to and including the first two minutes of a fight. It’s not hard to see why this might bother a maturing fighter of Baroni’s years.
But on the flip side, Baroni has a niche, even if that niche does not typically involve being a truly great fighter. Adam Sandler may not be a great comedic actor, but he does funny voices and faces, and sometimes that’s all you want. Baroni is, in many ways, the Adam Sandler of MMA. He’s not going to turn himself into Bill Murray (Anderson Silva) or Gene Wilder (Georges St. Pierre) overnight, not even with a win over Amir Sadollah (Jimmy Fallon).
All I’m saying is, can’t the NYBA find a comfortable middle ground? Can’t he be outspoken and flashy and still train hard? Or does rehearsing an entrance and thinking up awesome one-liners really take that much time out of your schedule?