More quotes from the conference call promoting EliteXC on CBS:
Crowd-pleasing EliteXC Middleweight Champion Robbie Lawler of St. Louis will defend his title against exciting, hard-hitting Scott Smith of Sacramento, Calif., while fast-talking, colorful, controversial Phil “NYBA” Baroni of Long Island, N.Y., will meet determined, dedicated, world-class Joey Villaseńor of Albuquerque, N.M., in a 185-pound scrap in two of the five fights on the inaugural “CBS ELITEXC SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS” on Saturday, May 31 (9-11 p.m. ET/PT), on CBS.
The first mixed martial event in primetime on network television will be presented by Los Angeles-based Pro Elite, Inc.’s live fight division, EliteXC, led by Gary Shaw, and emanate from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Kimbo Slice, of Perrine, Fla., will face England’s James “Colossus” Thompson in the main event on CBS. Other televised fights will be Brett Rogers of Minneapolis taking on Jon Murphy of Philadelphia in a heavyweight match and Gina Carano of Las Vegas facing Kaitlin Young of Circle Pines, Minn., in a women’s bout at 140 pounds.
Tickets for the live event start at $25 and are available at TicketMaster locations, by phone (201) 507-8900, online at www.ticketmaster.com and at the Prudential Center box office (973) 757-6625.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. ET. The first live fight is at 6:30.
Shaw: We are so excited to be working with CBS on this first-time ever (live, primetime MMA event on network television where) all you need is a screen, rabbit ears and a plug, and you get it for free, f-r-e-e. So it’s really exciting, May 31, 9 p.m., live in prime time.
The card is excellent and action packed. We are very, very excited to present it, as it’s going to be a great in-arena experience. It also will be great television programming for CBS and ELITEXC as partners.
Smith: I’m real, real excited to be on this card. The biggest thing about this card is every time I talk to people that watch an MMA fight for the first time, they get hooked instantly.
And people just don’t always want to buy it on pay per view. And this is going to be on free television. We’re going to get millions of people watching this that may have never watched MMA before. They’re just going to get hooked. I think every time it’s on CBS it will get bigger. It’s a stacked card, going to be exciting. Get a lot of new fans and I’m honored to be a part of it.
Shaw: On May 19 at the CBS lot (in Studio City, Calif.) we’re having a West Coast press conference demonstration. I’ll let everybody know what it’s all about. Those that are on the West Coast, we’d love for you to be there live and attend it with us.
Question: Scott, can you tell us about your preparation for the Lawler fight?
Smith: I always bounce around a lot when I train. I’ve been up in Big Bear with Tito Ortiz. I have gone up there a couple of times for a couple weeks at a time. I am sticking with my same Muay Thai coach in San Francisco, which is actually about an hour and 45-minute drive for me. I am on my way back from there now. I pulled over to talk. I go there two to three days a week. It is well worth the driver and working with my Jiu-Jitsu instructor. (Myself) and James Irvin, a fellow fighter, have our own gym in our own hometown to get the training for this fight. I bounce around a lot.
Question: Is Ortiz helping you out with some wrestling?
Smith: Ortiz is helping me out with the wrestling, and I’m helping him with the stand-up. We are both fighting a left-handed fighter. His fight coming up is against a southpaw, and Robbie Lawler is a southpaw. Both have the same training regiment. So, it works out.
Question: How do you and Lawler match up and how do you see this fight breaking down?
Smith: I see this as a stand-up fight. If Lawler gets in trouble, he will take the fight to the ground. Not enough people give me credit for my wrestling background. I took fourth in state in junior college in California, which is a pretty good accomplishment. I’ve been doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a lot longer than Muay Thai. I haven’t been able to show that in my fights as much. If this fight does go to the ground, which I believe (because) I will get him stunned, get him rocked. I see him trying to take the fight to the ground.
But, I think we both want to go out there and put on a show like we always do. I see this fight staying on its feet and somebody getting knocked out.
Question: Even though Lawler had some really good wins in 2007, do you think he may have a little ring rust?
Smith: I definitely believe in the ring rust. I have the advantage there. If I’m fighting every three to four months, it’s great for me. I don’t get a chance to get out of shape. I’ve gone six, eight months without fighting and it feels like a first fight sometimes. So, that’s a definite advantage for me.
Question: Do you want to make a prediction for this fight?
Smith: I will win by knockout. I have no secrets about my game. Not only would I be willing to give my opponents my fight film, but they can come in and film me practice. There are no secrets about my game.
Question: When you got into MMA, did you think you would be fighting in prime time on CBS?
Smith: (No, I did not. I got into an MMA because I was a fan of it. I wanted to do it a couple of times. I did it seven, eight, nine, 10 times. I just kept winning. This is an absolute dream come true.
Every time I fight, I have some big accomplishments in my career. The fights become bigger and bigger opportunities for me. I don’t see a bigger opportunity than this right here. Fighting for a belt on network television is just a dream come true.
Question: Do you feel you’re getting closer to a point in your career where you’re comfortable vertical, horizontal? Do you think you’re 50/50 now, or are you leaning one way?
Smith: I still prefer to stand up and fight. But, I can honestly say in the last two years I have been doing just enough wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu to get by. In the last two months preparing for this fight, I’m actually having fun with it for the first time in a couple of years.
I look forward to my private instruction with my Jiu-Jitsu instructor and my wrestling coach. I was kind of getting myself worried there that maybe I should be a boxer, Muay Thai fighter. But I’m having a lot of fun with my ground game now. So, I’m improving every day.
Question: Do you think a quick fight favors you?
Smith: A quick fight favors both of us. A fight that goes the distance definitely favors Lawler. I’m not going out there to try to outpoint him. I’m going out there to try to finish the fight. Every combo I throw is going to try to finish the fight.
Eventually, I am either going to land a big one or Lawler is going to land a big one. If it goes the distance, he would outpoint me and I would be disappointed. I’d probably never want to fight again if this fight went the distance.
Question: With this huge platform that you’ll be on, are you feeling any pressure actually to keep it standing?
Smith: I don’t feel the pressure because I’m the challenger and the underdog. I’m the one with nothing to lose. If anything, Lawler would be the one feeling the pressure. It is kind of an ego thing.
I assume people aren’t going to stand with me. I’m going out there and want to stand. If Lawler stands with me, that’s great. But I don’t feel the pressure to have to keep it on the feet. I’m not stupid. If I get rocked, I have no problem trying to take the guy down.
Question: Gary, a couple of months ago you mentioned on a conference call that you would like to put boxing gloves on Kimbo Slice. Is there any development on that?
Shaw: There is no development right now. I am concentrating on keeping Kimbo in the cage, building him to superstar status, which I believe he’s at. We’re happy where we are with him in his career. This is more than a spectacular opportunity for Kimbo to be in front of a potential audience of 100 million-plus eyeballs. So, for now, Kimbo is staying in the cage.
Question: Do you think Kimbo will ever be in the boxing ring?
Shaw: That is a good question. I think Kimbo is a potential heavyweight champion of the world, absolutely. But, right now, we’re focusing strictly on his MMA career with Bas (Rutten) and Randy Khatami and proving all the critics wrong who say he’s not really a great fighter.
We invite all those critics to (enter) the cage and we’ll prove that Kimbo is a great fighter.
Question: Scott, what would a win over Lawler mean to you?
Smith: This would be huge. This would put me right where I want to be. I’ve been knocking on the door to the Top 10 so many times, and then I lose a big fight. Winning a big fight like this would put me right back there.
If you gave me a list of the top-20 185-pounders in the world, I would hand-pick Lawler. So, this is a huge opportunity for me.
Question: What does it mean to be on national television and be able to show your skills to a national audience?
Smith: It’s a dream come true. Everybody and their mom are going to be watching this. I have family in Oklahoma that didn’t even know I fought. They’re all throwing huge parties to watch this.
Even I can afford to watch CBS. You don’t have to buy it on pay per view. I love it.
Question: Gary, do you foresee Kimbo facing Butterbean in the near future?
Shaw: Anything is possible. (But) Right now, no, I don’t have Butterbean on the radar for Kimbo. I am trying to get Kimbo in with more MMA fighters and big-time fighters.
But, there may be a time that we’ll let Kimbo knock Butterbean out. I’ve spoken to Butterbean personally. Remember, when Butterbean goes down, it’s with a thud.
Question: Scott, who do you think hits harder between you and Lawler? How confident are you standing with him? Do you think that you’ll get the knockout? Do you think your chin can take one of his punches and vice versa?
Smith: I do believe Lawler will be one of the hardest-hitting opponents I’ve faced. But, I definitely will be the hardest hitting opponent he’s faced. I’ve faced guys that hit real hard. Pete Sell hits hard. Jim Irvin hits like a truck. I guarantee Lawler’s never fought anybody that hits as hard as me. People don’t realize that until they fight or spar with me. Lawler is going to buy all the hype. Yes, I definitely see me winning this fight by knockout.
Question: Is not worrying about the scorecards a new approach or is that how you’ve always approached your fights?
Smith: That’s how I approach my fights. I went the distance once with Patrick Couture. It made me sick to my stomach. Even if I would have pulled off a decision, he definitely won that fight. If they would have given me the decision, it would have made me sick, too. I don’t like having those fights where you go out there not to lose. I want to go out to win the fight.
Question: Why are you so committed to winning by knockout? Why are you so turned off by winning by decision?
Smith: No. 1, I’m the underdog. No. 2, I have the power advantage. If I land a clean shot, I can knock anybody out. I don’t care if it’s 185 pounds, 205 pounds, or heavyweights. I’m improving on my speed every day. I’m improving on my technique, and I land those shots. I’m going to knock those people out.
Question: Do you feel you should be the underdog in this fight?
Smith: I definitely should be the underdog. Lawler is the champion. He’s won the bigger fights.
Question: Gary, can you tell us about some fighters on the undercard that we should watch for?
Shaw: I would think you would want to watch our entire card. One thing I pride EliteXC in is what we do on the fights and fighters that we present. I’m very proud. We’ve had very few mismatches. We’ve had very few boring fights. Before we sign fighters, we let them know they’ve got to fight. We’re not interested in having a love fest.
Skala “Jared” Shaw (EliteXC VP):
You’ll want to keep your eyes on Nick Serra, Matt Serra’s brother. He is a veteran making a comeback at 170 pounds against another good prospect we have out of Philadelphia named Matt Makowski. That’s going to be an interesting fight. You’ll want to keep your eyes out for Carlton Haselrig, a heavyweight. He is a former Pro Bowl offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers and N.Y. Jets. He is 1-0 in his mixed martial arts career. He also was an accomplished All-American collegiate wrestler. He also defeated Kurt Angle.
We are very interested to see Haselrig in the cage. Obviously we’re all very excited at EliteXC about Wilson Reis, who we feel at 140 is one of the top fighters in the world.
Shaw: What it boils down to is that it’s almost our entire card. I’m trying to figure out a new way not to define undercards against TV because these are all going to be the future TV stars.
I really believe that the in-arena and TV experiences of watching all these young fighters will excite you.
You’ll see that we try our hardest to give all of you something to be proud of in the MMA world. We’re trying to build MMA as a sport, not just EliteXC as a brand. If we don’t build MMA as a sport, then the brand will not last. So, I’m glad my son, Jared, gave you a little rundown. Believe me, Smith wouldn’t be challenging for a belt if we didn’t think he was a worthwhile challenger, and we wouldn’t put him on if we didn’t think he was one of the most exciting fighters in the world.
I want to address one other thing because somebody asked a question about ratings. I think all the ratings are flawed. I’ve gone on record as saying that. They’re basically ratings of the UFC fighters. The UFC has some very, very fine fighters and has put on some fine fights. EliteXC has some fine fighters and we’ve put on some great fights.
So, the rankings aren’t really what they should be because until the UFC is willing to put their fighters up against our fighters, then the rankings will always be flawed. But, there are visionaries like Jay Larkin from the International Fight League (IFL) and Scott Coker from Strikeforce that see the benefit to the world of MMA, television and all the fans of these organizations fighting one another.
So, until that time happens, I don’t go by any rankings. I think Smith is one of the finest fighters in the world, as is Lawler.
Question: Gary, since you promote both boxing and MMA events, where do you see the two sports going?
Shaw: Boxing continually kills itself by only featuring old fighters, boring fights, where MMA has all these young Smith-type fighters that light it up, and that fans want to see.
Fans of MMA are more rabid than boxing fans. MMA is a lifestyle. A loss in boxing is close to catastrophic. In MMA, it’s not.
So, therefore MMA is a very fast-paced sport. Once people get in the arena, it becomes very addictive.
There is a huge difference. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure I liked it (MMA) myself. But, I can tell you now that I love it. I find it so exciting. It’s just fast. It’s great. The talent level is deep. That’s the major difference. That’s why this is going on CBS.
This is the single biggest thing that will ever happen to mixed martial arts — and boxing cannot get on a network.
Question: How much can mixed martial arts learn from those mistakes and try and fix it?
Shaw: Hopefully they can learn. If they cooperate, it will be much better for everyone. The differentiator is in the UFC where nobody can be bigger than (Dana White) or the UFC. In EliteXC, everyone can be bigger than Gary Shaw, not in waist line, but in notoriety. Everyone can be bigger than our brand. It’s supposed to be about our athletes. We need to get the UFC and other organizations to cooperate and let the fighters fight one another. We let Nick Diaz go and fight Gomi when there was Pride, and he wound up beating Gomi and really made a bigger name for himself.
If there’s a big fight out there for Smith, I’d let him go and fight for someone else. Those are the opportunities. That’s what can be learned. If we don’t learn about it in MMA, the sport will die on the vine just like boxing. It will be there, but it won’t be what it can be. Right now, mixed martial arts has the single best opportunity in the history of the sport by having all these eyeballs on CBS.
Question: Scott, how surprised were you that your second fight in EliteXC is now for a title?
Smith: I was pretty surprised, but I was honored at the same time. I didn’t think I was many fights away from being in a title fight. I didn’t think it would be one win away, but Kyle (Noke) was a top contender and I took him out, so that puts me right there.
Another top contender is Joey Villaseńor, but Lawler has actually beaten him. So, I think it makes sense for me to fight Lawler first.
Question: How strange does it feel to be fighting for a title fight and not being the main event?
Smith: I get a lot of questions on that. KCAL-TV in Los Angeles asked me if I was offended by that. Kimbo Slice is a huge name. He’s an upcoming, great fighter. I’m honored to be on the same card as him.
I would much rather fight for a title and fight the second to last fight than be the main event and not have Kimbo on the card. The fact that he’s on the card is going to have millions of more people tune in. So, if people tune in to watch him, they’re going to watch me and that’s great for me. So, I’m honored to be on the card with Kimbo.
Question: Gary, can you comment on the report that Mike Tyson has agreed to fight Kimbo?
Shaw: First, I want to comment on what Smith just said. He is now going to be my assistant promoter. He’s better than I am. But what he said happens to be 110 percent correct.
I have the media report about Tyson. I have had no discussions with Mike or anybody surrounding Mike. I know Mike. Yes, I would make that fight in a heartbeat.
Question: Scott, can you talk about your personal transition from UFC to EliteXC? How did that all come about?
Smith: It was kind of a mutual thing, but, bottom line, they (UFC) ended up letting me go. I was coming off two losses. They basically told me to go get a couple of wins before I came back and fought. I can’t stick around and wait. I’ve got a mortgage and kids. EliteXC had the door wide open for me, and UFC let me go at the same time.
So, it actually worked out great for me. I was a little nervous at first. But now, with the way EliteXC is going, I’m just thrilled to death they let me go.
Question: Is it correct to say you signed on for the show during the Ultimate Fighter contract?
Smith: Yes, I still have three fights left with UFC and they let me go after that.
Question: Gary, how many seats is the arena set up for?
Shaw: We are still working on it because of all the CBS television kills that we have to do. But we’ll probably be set for somewhere around 12,000.
We can expand on that. Scott (Smith), you remember to tell Tito (Ortiz) my door is open.
Smith: I think he (Ortiz) knows that.
Shaw: I happen to be a huge fan of his (Ortiz) on a personal level. No organization has the best fight, fighters or puts on the best fights. It’s all around. I’ll take all the Smiths in the world every day. They can walk in and there will be a contract. I’m sure Smith can speak for himself, but we treat every fighter, whether it’s their first fight with us or their eighth, we treat them all like champions.
Smith: That’s very true.
Question: Gary, can you address the criticism directed toward Kimbo that he’s getting his big shot on CBS even though he only has a couple of MMA fights?
Shaw: I’m doing a big HBO show Saturday in Nevada. It’s called Rising Stars and its three kids that are some of the best fighters in the world, and one of them has only had nine fights.
So, I don’t think the number of fights determines how good a fighter is, or whether that fighter could be a star or superstar. There’s a lot of jealousy in this sport. People are jealous of Gina Carano. I said I was going to make her the face of women’s MMA, and we delivered on that.
I knew Kimbo Slice could be a superstar. I believe if Smith does what he’s capable of, and it’s nothing against Lawler because I’m a huge fan, but Smith can be a huge star because of his personality, the way he speaks, the punching power.
For those that say things about Kimbo to me are haters because they should be cheer-leading him to lead the way and open more doors. I don’t think MMA has had as much excitement the last few years as Kimbo is now bringing to the table.
Let me remind everyone on this call that nobody cared who Mike Tyson fought. If you asked someone what they were doing Saturday night, they would say they were going to see Tyson. They didn’t say Tyson against anybody. If he beat up on somebody that wasn’t as good as him, people would say he’s the baddest man on the planet. Some of the questions on this call are about an aging Tyson who got knocked out in his last fight. But it’s still the aura of Tyson.
That’s what Kimbo Slice brings. I’m proud to promote him and proud to know him. I’m proud to call him a friend. Everybody should be cheer-leading Kimbo because he is a reason, not the only reason, but a reason that CBS really looked up. The logo of CBS, that eye, they put that eye right on Kimbo Slice.
Question: Do you think that Kimbo is just maximizing his popularity right now?
Shaw: I wouldn’t even say Kimbo is maximizing his popularity because truthfully he’s in awe of what’s happening to him. Those that have met him and talk to him will realize that he’s in awe. He doesn’t walk around like he’s some big kick-ass star, disses people or whatever. It’s the complete opposite. He’s quiet and nice, and he’s a special type of person.
It’s just that Kimbo is in the right place at the right time. He had a huge YouTube Internet following with more than 10 million unique hits. So, Amen. Give the man credit. He didn’t just go to sleep one night, wake up on third base and thought he hit a triple.
Question: What’s it about Ortiz you like and makes you interested in signing him if he’s a free agent?
Shaw: Of all my years in the fight game, I know one thing that I could see, touch, smell and feel, and that is a star and a superstar. Every time I see Tito Ortiz, he wreaks of stardom. I think I can even better his days in the UFC.
I think I can reincarnate Ortiz. He is a talented fighter and has all the mechanisms that you need to make someone a superstar.
Can you imagine Tito Ortiz and Kimbo in the cage together one day? My door is open. I hope that he’s able to negotiate one day because I would never interfere with a contract. I hope he’s sitting right next to me, not across from my desk, but right with me.
Baroni: This interferes with my workout to listen to this bulls**t interview thing. What am I doing? I have no idea. What do you want? I’m sick of asking questions. It’s time to fight. I got my f***king mouthpiece in right now. Smokin’ Joe Villaseńor owes me a knockout. It’s the hottest thing in California, get back home and bust this kid up.
Shaw: Would you fight the winner of Smith and Lawler?
Baroni: Yeah, I would fight the winner of Smith and Lawler. Isn’t the plan to beat the champion? I was just listening to Smith. He said he can knock out anyone. I don’t get knocked out. Smith won’t knock me out. So, that’s a fight. If he wins, I’ll be there in the center of the ring. We can go toe-to-toe and trade. I don’t lose those fights.
I’ll be watching that fight after I put Smokin’ Joe Villaseńor on ice.
Question: Joe, what are your comments on what Baroni just said?
Villaseńor: Come on, this is ‘Phil the Mouth’ Baroni. Hands down, he is going to beat me in a words war, but he definitely has to deal with a lot of heart. I know I’m going into enemy territory, which totally gets me pumped. I know Baroni is going to have some family members there, and I’m excited, man. I’m actually shaking in my pants right now. I’m a little nervous right now, and Baroni has quite the mouth. I am not going to talk much. I respect Baroni. I respect the power. But, he says he doesn’t get knocked out. We’ll just have to test that out.
Question: Can you comment on the fact that Baroni said he is going to ice you?
Villaseńor: (Laughing) That’s a good one. He’s going to ice me. I don’t care what Baroni says. We know him. He said he’s going to do this and that all the time. But he’s got to come through. I didn’t say I’m going to do this or that. I’m going go out there and perform my best and we’ll see what happens in the end.
Baroni: You are going to get knocked out, kid. Your best isn’t going to be big enough. The bottom line is this is my coming home party, and you’re the victim.
Villaseńor: Your coming out party, Phil? You’ve been out for a while. You’ve been exposed for a while. I’ll just have to show everybody on national television and expose you, expose you at home, expose you in front of everybody. I’m excited to get the opportunity.
I respect you, man. I respect the power you’ve got. But it’s coming. It’s coming. You know it’s coming. I don’t need to talk trash. You know what’s coming. That’s all there is to it.
Baroni: I ain’t talking trash. I’m stating the facts, dude. I’m going to smash you and you’ll get hurt real bad. Be ready. Try your best. Your best is not going to be good enough, and we’ll send you back to Nashville.
Villaseńor: You’re getting me even more excited for this. I’m pumped. This is just what I needed. I needed somebody to talk trash to me. This is the first time in 30 fights that I’ve had somebody treat me this way. Hey, thanks for the motivation.
Baroni: You’re welcome, buddy.
Question: Phil, are you thinking about a rematch with Frank Shamrock given his broken arm?
Baroni: Of course I think about a rematch against Shamrock. I think about it every day. A day doesn’t go past I don’t think about it. Everyone watched the Cung Le fight saying, ‘Wow, Cung Le is this, is that. Wow, Shamrock should have had him.’ I was watching the fight thinking, ‘I can’t believe I lost to this bum.’ I can’t believe this guy got a “W” over me.
It is what it is. Joe Villaseńor still owes me a knockout. He is going to pay for that loss. When Shamrock gets better, he’s next. That’s a fight I never should have lost. I fought the guy with a torn adductor muscle. That’s a fight I want back. But, I’m focused on Smokin’ Joe, big mouth Smokin’ Joe. I’m focused on him and shutting his mouth.
Question: How is your ground game?
Baroni: It f***ing blows, and it is not going to the ground. Who cares about the ground game? Smokin’ Joe tries to stand and trade. You saw his last fight. He likes to bang. So, this is going to be a great fight. That’s why it’s on CBS.
It is going to be two guys in there and throwing down for another exciting fight. Villaseńor is not going to leave until he’s carried out on a stretcher. My ground game doesn’t make a difference. Who cares about a ground game anyway? Nobody wants to watch that s**t.
Question: Joey, do you have a rebuttal to that?
Villaseńor: I think Baroni is right. His ground game does suck. I’m sure that’s what he wants, for us to bang it out where he has an opportunity win. I hope he doesn’t go down form shock because I’ll have to have to choke him out like Shamrock did.
Baroni: Yeah, hopefully. Villaseńor can’t wrestle and he can’t take me down. So, it’s not going to the ground.
Question: Gary, will there be a seven-second delay on Baroni?
Shaw: Baroni will be a 30-minute delay.
Question: Robbie, what are your thoughts on the upcoming title defense against Smith on CBS?
Lawler: I’m just working hard and trying to stay healthy. That’s about it.
Question: Joey, do you think you have the advantage in overall technique?
Villaseńor: I think my overall game is improving daily. I have power with movement. It’s about executing. Overall, we all know that Baroni has stand-up power, but I’m going to try to expose him with my movement. So, it’s just all about executing.
Baroni: Basically to sum it up, Villaseńor is going to run. He basically just said that he (will) bring his track shoes and chase me. He’s going to run. It doesn’t matter because in the cage you can run, but you can’t hide. I’m going to find you, I’m going to hit and everyone’s going to think about you.
Villaseńor: You’re going to make me pay for your last two losses, right, Phil?
Question: Joey, how do you feel as far as where your career is headed? Do you think you’re on track and back to where you need to be to get a title shot?
Villaseńor: I think I’ve been doing the right things. The Ninja and Lawler fights were something that I’ve definitely needed in my career, some humps to get over with, some things to look at on film and correct and executing the right training methods for me. So, those fights definitely needed to happen in my career to move forward.
I’m excited for my future and for what’s happening with the sport. I think I’m right on track.
Question: Do you have any response to Baroni talking about how basically you’re just going to end up running around the cage to stay away from him?
Villaseńor: I don’t really have a response to that. We all know that Baroni is getting me tangled into his game right now. This is where he wins every fight. Baroni wins every vocal fight. He is getting me a little pumped up and a little pissed off, but I’m not going to fall into that game. I’m just going to let Baroni talk, and I’m just going to execute game plans and then we’ll just see what he’s saying afterwards.
Baroni: The game plan is to run, Joe. That is a good game plan, run and try to survive. A lot of guys tried that game plan against me on the ground. Get me on the ground. That’s what nobody cares about, Smokin’ Joe. Run, get the guy on the ground. No one wants to watch that sh**t. Just think about this. I’m bigger, and I’m stronger. I’m faster. I’m a better athlete than you. In fact, I’m the biggest, strongest, fastest, best athlete in the division. Remember that. I’m going to catch you. I’m going to catch you and hurt you. When I’m ripe, I hurt people. I’m ripe for the fight. I’ve got my f**king mouthpiece in my mouth right now. I am ready to go and ready to bust you up
Villaseńor: Put that f**king mouthpiece in deeper, please.
Question: Gary, is the winner of the Villaseńor-Baroni fight entitled to a title shot?
Shaw: No one is guaranteed anything. People have to earn it. Let’s see what happens. Let’s see what kind of fight it is, and let’s see how it ends. There are definitely top contenders for the belt. All four of these guys on the call right now are the premiere fighters at 185 pounds in all of mixed martial arts.
Question: Robbie, could you set the record straight on why you dropped out of your last two fights?
Lawler: I had to drop out of one fight due to illness. I flew into Hawaii the night before I got sick. That’s how I made weight. I was on the toilet all night. I made weight, but I wasn’t ready to fight.
The next one was in December when I was supposed to fight in Hawaii again. I hurt my shoulder, and actually tore my bicep.
Baroni: I saw it, too, in Vegas; it was definitely torn.
Shaw: That’s why we’re bringing Lawler to the East Coast. It is safer.
Question: Robbie, are you healthy now?
Lawler: I’m training hard, so I’m a little sore right now. But, next week, I’ll heal up. I will let my body rest a little this weekend and I should be ready to go.
Question: Phil, originally your opponent was (Murilo) “Ninja” (Rua). Have you changed anything about your training, or is everybody the same to you?
Baroni: Everybody is the same. What you see is what you get. I am coming to throw bombs. My chin is down. My hands are up. Let them fly. I’ll bring my track shoes. Villaseńor will be running. So, thanks for the heads up, brother. I’ll work on my movement and cutting people off, and knock them down on the run. I’ve done a lot of that in my career. As I said, Villaseńor can run, but can’t hide. I’m going to get him. The cage gets smaller by the round. I’ll be ready to do my thing.
Question: Phil, now that you’re with EliteXC, do you have a new set of wheels?
Baroni: We’ll see. We’ll see. Gary’s (Shaw) is talking s**t about Dana White, and all this crap. Where’s my car, Gary? Hook me up.
Shaw: I’ll take you for a ride in my Ferrari.
Baroni: I don’t want to go in your car. Let me hold onto your watch for a while we’re at it.
Shaw: Let me hold onto your girl for a while.
Baroni: (Laughter) Which one?
Question: Robbie, how concerned are you that you may have a bit of ring rust?
Lawler: I’m not too worried about ring rust. I do well when I have some layoff. I’ve been training hard. I’m in shape. I’m ready to go. I’m mentally prepared and that’s all that matters. I hadn’t even sparred for the last two years, and I’ve been sparring for the last month and a half. So, I feel pretty good.
Question: Joey, when the fight was offered to you after Rua couldn’t make it, (were you concerned there was not enough time to prepare for a different opponent)?
Villaseńor: I wasn’t really that concerned. I didn’t overexert myself in the fight with (Ryan) Jensen. It ended within the first round. I was still in great condition, and when given the opportunity to fight on CBS, when you have all these positives going in your direction, it would be hard to say no. I made my mind up as soon as the phone rang.
Question: Gary, what is the status of any negotiations between you and DREAM?
Shaw: There are no negotiations. However, we’ve loaned them some fighters recently, including Nick Diaz. I will put my fighters anywhere. I’ll let anybody else’s fighters fight our fighters. I will co-promote if the deal is right with anybody.
That’s what mixed martial arts needs. If it’s going to survive, that is what has to happen.
Baroni: I’m going to hold you to that because I’ve got two scores I have to settle over in Japan.
Villaseńor: Go over there and fight, too.
Shaw: Maybe we’ll bring a whole team to fight their team.
Baroni: Sounds good. Let’s do it.
Question: Robbie, do you think the fight against Smith will be pretty close?
Lawler: I don’t know. What I’m going to try to do is not get hit, first of all, so if I don’t feel his (Smith’s) power, that’s going to be awesome. If I get hit in the right spot at the right time, I could get hurt. But, I’ve been training hard and I’m not too worried about it. I’m in shape, and I’m going to try not to get hit and that’s my game plan.
Question: Robbie, what are your thoughts on MMA going primetime live for the first time?
Lawler: It is awesome for the sport. I don’t care about necessarily being on TV in front of a whole bunch of people. I care more about making money. Sponsorships are big right now, and that’s awesome for the sport.
Baroni: Let me answer that question real quick. Guys like me and Lawler have been fighting for a long time. We were in the UFC when no one knew what the UFC was. We’ve been fighting for chump change. We’re fighters. That’s what we do. Yeah, it’s great to be on CBS, but when we got into this sport it wasn’t even on pay per view.
So, it’s great to be on CBS and it’s great to have all that exposure and everything else. But, I didn’t get into fighting because I wanted to be a rock star, and neither did a guy like Lawler. That’s not why we did it. I don’t really give a sh**t about Gary Shaw’s watch or his Ferrari. I do it for pride, and I do it to set high goals and accomplishments. Six million people in the world and there’s only one world champion. Lawler is that guy right now. So, I really don’t think it matters to him or the real fighters about fighting on CBS.
As far as Kimbo Slice, the guy is pretty much a real fighter. Why? Because he didn’t know he was going to be a big success, MMA guy or be fighting on CBS. He likes beating people up. That’s just what it is. Big dogs can’t get in the yard and see who’s bigger. Fight in the cage. Let’s not make it more than it is. It’s a fight in the cage. Fighters fight and people are drawn to fighters. Football players and sh**t get into it now because they see how big it is and they see the opportunity. That’s bullsh**t. We’ve been here a long time, and we’re grateful for the opportunity. We’re happy to be fighting on TV. It’s great, but that’s not why we’re doing it. That’s not why we got into it. There was no TV to get into. We just wanted to get into a fight. We’re basically doing this for free.
Shaw: That’s what the beauty of what you guys have on the call right now, along with Kimbo and Gina and the rest of the card. None of our fighters are prima donnas. They’re here for the love of the sport and the pride they fight with, and they’re all going to lead and show you their souls on May 31. You can guarantee that.
Baroni: That’s right. We’re real fighters. Joe Villaseńor, whatever, he’s a victim. I’m going to kill him. But, he’s a real deal fighter. He’s going to fight in a cage. But, he’s a champ. He wasn’t fighting for the money, (or) the girls. He wasn’t some f**king teacher that f**king retired so he could be on Ultimate Fighter. He’s a real fighter. He’s doing it because he wants to f**king fight. He wants to prove himself. That’s where I am. That’s where Lawler and Kimbo are at. I don’t know much about Smith, but he’s in there banging away. He’s the real deal to me. So, we’re real fighters. We ain’t movie stars.
I didn’t sign a contract with CBS. I signed because I wanted to fight. I saw the roster and opportunities available to me and I took it. I want to fight the best fighters in the world. Frank Shamrock signed with that organization. I want that mother. I want to kill him. So, CBS, that’s a bonus. I’m a real fighter. I want a shot. I want to fight. Gina Carano, she’s a chick that wants to fight. She wants to kick box. So, we’re all real fighters.
Question: Robbie, what would a win mean for you in terms of getting more exposure?
Lawler: Sponsorships will come. My name is going to get out there. I have to go out there. If I’m ranked high or get my ass kicked, I have to go out and perform and fight the way I know how. I need to win, plain and simple.
Question: Gary, what would it mean to have maybe Randy Couture sign with EliteXC and have the DREAM match between Couture and Fedor?
Shaw: I would love to put that fight on. I know everybody is in it for the money. I appreciate what everybody says. But sometimes deals cannot be made because people are not realistic. People need to be realistic in order to put fights on. When Fedor wants to fight just anybody for $2 million, that is not realistic for my company. So, somebody wants to give him that kind of money, not for a real fight, that’s strictly up to them.
Question: Would you take the opportunity to pick up Couture if you had the opportunity?
Shaw: Yeah, of course. Couture is a legend. He is in great shape. But every day at the age that Randy is starts taking its toll on the athlete. All these guys on the phone can tell you that. I’ve dealt with enough fighters to know that there comes a certain time and an age that they peak and then there comes a time that they just can’t keep up the pace of the training.
I think it was Lawler who said that his body is hurting right now from the rugged training. You can’t keep that pace up forever. If it was, George Foreman would still be boxing and Joe Frazier would still be boxing. I don’t know if Couture’s time has passed. I know he’s a spectacular athlete and spectacular talent. If Randy was not under contract, and I’m not sure if he’s clear of his contract, then I’d be more than happy to sit down and talk with him. But make sure someone tells Ortiz my door’s open.
Question: Phil, how does EliteXC treat its fighters? How does it compare to the other leagues?
Baroni: They’re treating me well. I went into the office to do bulls**t paperwork. They had a birthday cake and surprise party. I’m 29 again this year. I was pretty happy about that. It was pretty surprising. So, maybe they’re trying to butter me up, but whatever it was, it’s the thought that counts. It was a nice thought and a nice gesture. I’m waiting for my f***ing keys. You can mail them, Gary. (Laughter)
Lawler: Some guys are getting cut. Live with it. I was cut a while back, like four or five years ago. Guess where I am at right now because I kept working? I don’t feel sorry for anyone. Go to work and get better, plain and simple. Beat people up. That’s the game.
Baroni: I agree. It’s our business. It’s not the nice business. It’s not about feeling. It’s about winning f***ing fights.
Villaseńor: I’ve fought for Pride. I’ve competed against Lawler in Pride. I fought in Japan. I fought for King of the Cage. I fought for numerous organizations. It’s (EliteXC) the best I’ve been taken care of. The staff is down to earth and they don’t treat me like a product. They treat me like a person. I think that’s probably the most important thing with someone like myself. They treat me like an individual. EliteXC is on the right track with the way Gary Shaw talks about treating its fighters. Shaw has been in this game a long time and he understands what fighters want, what we need and that’s being respected. There is no show without the fighters. Along with that, there’s no fight for the fighters without a good promoter. So, we are all scratching each other’s backs on this one. Hands down, I think that EliteXC is making some big moves, and they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.
EliteXC is the one to get the first big show on the road. I’m just glad to be a part of it.
Question: Robbie, aside from the injuries do you think you’re at the peak of your career?
Lawler: I’m just mentally prepared more than anything. When I first came into the fight game, I was just raw, just coming out. I was going to knock everyone out by training hard. But, I wasn’t mentally prepared to go to war and put my body through everything. So, now I can go to war. I can fight for five rounds and I’m ready to go. That’s the difference between now and six years ago.
Question: How did you accomplish that change?
Lawler: When you train with the best in the world and they’re doing great, they’re beating people up and I train with these guys every day. I’m lumping these guys up. I had to look within and try to change some stuff and slow my game up a little bit and think a little more when I was out there fighting. That’s what I’ve been doing.
Question: What do you think of Smith as a fighter? He seemed to indicate that he expects this to be a stand-up battle.
Lawler: Standing up is where all fights start. I’m ready to bang. I’m ready to kick. I’m ready to defend takedowns. I’m ready to take someone down. I’m ready to do Jiu-Jitsu on the top or bottom. It’s going to be a fight. I’m going to start on the feet, but who knows where it will go.
Question: Do you think you have better or equal wrestling skills to Smith?
Lawler: It doesn’t matter. I’m a pretty good athlete. I can move really well and we’ll see.
Question: Do you want to make a prediction for the fight?
Lawler: It’s going to be a great fight. I don’t talk a lot of trash. I’m going to come out there ready to bang and go to war. That’s the way I do it.
Question: Do you have any closing comments?
Lawler: I’m training hard. I’m going to be ready to go May 31. I’ve got a good team behind me. I have a new facility in Granite City, Illinois, H.I.T. squad. That’s it.
Villaseńor: I am very excited. I am glad that they gave me the ring. I look forward to going to war in enemy territory. It’s never real until moments like this, and all that hard work and all that training here in Albuquerque with my team.
I have a great team behind me. I’d like to say to my family and friends in Albuquerque and New Mexico I love you and the world finally gets to see my heart.
Baroni: I’m kind of shy. I really don’t have much to say. Put me on the spot like that and all. I’m just f***king happy to get home. I’m happy to get home. I look forward to the East Coast, New Jersey, New York. I fought a long time in Japan, all over the place, California, and in dude’s hometowns all the time. Now, we’re coming to my house, and I’m going to defend.
I’m happy to be back. It’s a long time coming, and I’m training real hard. I’m at AKA. I think it’s the best camp in the business. I’m training real hard. All fighters think their camp’s the best, but mine speaks for itself. I’m in top shape and I’m going to be ready to go. I’m not going to be denied. Blood and guts. I’m 15 minutes, rounds all out, man, ready to go. I’m going to be proving what I started in 2002 before injuries and bulls**t happened. I am the best 185-pounder in the world. When things are right and I’m ripe, I hurt people and I knock them out and I’m a show-stopper. I’m going to stop this show on CBS. I’m winning this fight and ending it violently. I will separate Joe Villaseńor from consciousness.
Smith: I’m expecting a check from Gary Shaw for my phone bill, an hour and a half call. But this is a historic event, like everybody’s been talking about, CBS, network television. EliteXC couldn’t have done a better job. The match makers couldn’t have done a better job. These will be exciting fights. If I weren’t fighting on the card, I’d be excited to sit at home and watch the fights myself. So, tune in, you guys, you will get some good fights.
Baroni: Gary, tell the people in Jersey (Arturo) Gatti retired, but Phil Baroni is coming back home.
Shaw: They’ll be there. I wanted two thank yous that are really important other than our sponsors, main sponsor Rockstar and Burger King. I’d like to thank Ken Hershman from SHOWTIME, who was the visionary who allowed me to bring the product and put it on SHOWTIME to begin with. I’d also like to thank the folks at CBS for keeping their eye on the ball, and in this case putting mixed martial arts on TV. I would also like to give a special thank you to Mitch Graham from the (CBS) PR department who has been working so hard with us.
The single most important thing is the health, safety and welfare of the fighters and caring about the fighters because without the fighters, we don’t have a show. I think it was Joey Villaseńor who said that. On May 31 in prime time, that’s the single most important thing. It is going to be prime time live, not 2 a.m. in the morning, not a tape, but live. You are going to get to see a spectacular card with these fighters who are really warriors, really skilled athletes.
This will be the single biggest day in the history of mixed martial arts. It is a chance for people to learn and understand what mixed martial arts is all about, that these fighters are not just street fighters or brawlers, but they’re highly skilled, trained athletes that have many different disciplines.
So, I think it’s our chance to await the world to see what it is. For these fighters on this call and those that also will be fighting on CBS, their lives will change dramatically. When they pull up to that arena and see all those satellite trucks that are beaming this around the world, they’ll get the feel of that arena and they’ll realize that they’re making history because they’re part of the first event of this type in the history of the world on network TV.
The fighters will be a part of that history forever. These fighters that are on this call will be part of building up the sport of MMA, which I know is so very important to them.
So, on May 31, you’ll get to see them in prime time. The next morning they will be people who will be in so many households that they’ll be spotted and noticed in train stations, airports, car rental places, wherever. It’s a great day for MMA. It’s a spectacular day for these athletes. I’m proud on behalf of EliteXC and our staff, who I think really care about the athletes, our match-making team, which I think is the best in the world. I thank all of you. I thank the press for indulging us and for being interested and asking great questions, and you’re all apart of it.
I hope you write what you see on that day, whether it’s good or bad. I know it’s going to be good. But, we always take your comments well. So, I thank all the press. Thank you for giving me and EliteXC the opportunity to represent all of you.
Tags: Mixed Martial Arts