A few weeks ago, I was perusing one of the forums and came across a thread requesting a different kind of MMA interview. The gentleman said that he enjoyed the standard training and bad blood questions for fighters, but that he wanted to get to know them on a more personal level.
My latest effort, with former UFC middleweight star, Phil Baroni is quite a bit off the beaten path. I decided to build the entire interview around getting to know the NYBA a little better. I asked him a series of questions that aren't standard to MMA media by any means, but makes for an interesting and fun experience regardless. I hope our readers will enjoy the escape from the norm.
Android or iPhone?
I got the worst Android ever. It's like a five year old phone. I lost my phone, I went to buy an iPhone and a lady was turning in her phone, and she was gonna get $30 for it. I gave her $35, and she gave it to me, so I'm using an old phone now. That's how bad my phone is right now. It's a Handroid, it's old as Hell [laughs]. I lose my phone at least twice a year.
What's your morning routine?
My morning routine now is not the best. I wake up, go downstairs, drink coffee, take a dump and sit on the couch for the rest of the day. [Laughs} I drink coffee so I can go get lighter, and then that's it. I sit on the couch and watch TV.
What kind of TV are you watching during the day?
Right now I'm watching the Hawaii Life. That's the dream, to move to Hawaii.
What do you eat for breakfast?
Lately, I've been eating left over pizza from the night before and apples. I haven't really started my diet yet. I'm eating the easy to grab food.
When you go out, and it's an NYBA night, what's your venue of choice?
I just moved back to Vegas, and lately, it's been the Rhino.
Why did you move back to Vegas?
It's because of the injury. I have good rehab facilities and doctors here in Vegas.
You've got an extremely hot wife. Tell me how you courted her and managed to land her for yourself.
I don't know how I pulled this one off. When I met her, I brought her to PRIDE America, she saw me fight and win in a really big show. I think I fooled her into thinking I was a superstar [laughs]. Right after that, I signed with Strikeforce and got the contract to fight Shamrock. I was making some money, and I think I pulled the wool over her eyes. I gotta thank Coker, because he would have me staying at the Beverly Wilshire and stuff like that. To be honest, like I've done with most of my career, I bullshitted her [laughs].
When you're lounging around, do you wear one of your sparkly robes?
[Laughs] I lounge in my underwear; boxer briefs.
How do you maintain your physique when you're not fighting?
If you saw me right now, I look like a 37 year old guy who sits on his couch in his underwear [laughs]. I'm not in the best shape right now. When I am in shape, it's just diet and training hard. In between fights, I'm not in that great of shape, though. I'm a regular guy. I like to go gamble, I like to drink, I like to eat. I don't stay in shape year round.
You've stopped wearing your goatee, why is that?
When I first got into the UFC, I was like 24 and the baby. Back then, everyone was in their 30's, and it was a bunch of older guys. I wanted to look older, then people started recognizing me for the goatee, so I kind of just kept it. Lately, it's started getting gray, and it's too much of a pain in the ass to dye it, so I just shaved it off.
I know that you like to gamble; what's your game of choice?
I used to be big into Blackjack, but you can lose your money real fast like that, so now I'm playing Poker. It's a lot slower way to lose your money. I was at the Olympia thing and ended up winning 3 Gs playing Blackjack, so I might have to back to that.
When you win some money like that, what's your first instinct? Is it to go gamble more, go to the Rhino, have a nice dinner, or drop a large chunk in the bank?
All three of those things besides banking it.
Of all the strip clubs in Vegas, do you think the Rhino is the best one?
Yeah, I think so.
When you're gambling, do you drink, and if so, what's your drink of choice?
Maker's Manhattan on the rocks when I'm really playing hard.
Do you drink beer?
Just Heineken. I don't like to drink beer too much, because then I have to get up and pee every 10 minutes.
If you're in the zone, and putting down some good hands, let's say a 5 hour stretch, how many Manhattans are you knocking back?
10 and then that's when I usually go broke.
After a good night of gambling, when you're ready to grab some food, what do you go for?
Vegas is 24/7, so there's a lot of options. It also depends on how much money is in my pocket. If I've had a good night, lately I go for sushi.
If you have $5k in your wallet for a vacation, where do you go?
Thailand. It's super cheap. I can stay there for a month on 5 grand and live like a king.
Are the ladyboys really that hard to distinguish from regular females?
In Thailand, no. I was fooled once, but it was in Japan. I think Enson (Inoue) kind of set it up on me. That was like 10 years ago, before I was a seasoned world traveler [laughs]. I would say that if you're getting fooled by a ladyboy, deep down inside, you want to be fooled.
Thailand has some strict laws over there. Have you ever had a skirmish with Thai authorities?
No way. When I'm out of the country, I am a good boy. The last thing I want is to end up in some Thai prison. That's the last place I want to be.
Once you wrap up your MMA career, what's your dream job?
I want to be like that dude Bourdain, who goes all over the world and eats good food and get drunk. That's the dream job for me.
When will we see a baby Baroni?
My wife's in nursing school right now, so maybe when she gets out, I'll put a bun in the oven. [Laughs] I might have a couple in Japan already.
Tell me about a crazy PRIDE moment.
I've had a lot of em. Before I was actually in PRIDE, I was in Japan visiting Enson. He took me to get a massage. The hot chicks on the street, you know, ‘Come in and get a massage.' You go in and get a massage, and the next thing you know, it's not the same girl that you saw on the street. The chick is not nearly as nice looking as the one who brought you in, but you're already there and you already paid.
I had a couple drinks and I was young. I was laying there getting the massage and started feeling on the chick, and when I got to the front, she had some junk in there [laughs]. I ended up getting dressed real quick and getting the f*ck outta there.
PRIDE is kind of infamous for backstage brawls and skirmishes. Did you ever witness one?
It was so different in those days. PRIDE was the wild, wild west. Everyone wasn't always afraid to keep their jobs the way it is now. The Chute Boxe guys were crazy. There were definitely some fights backs stage. The one everybody knows about is when Crazy Horse knocked out Wanderlei. A lot of shit went down back there. I can't say any names, but I've even seen guys back there loading their wraps. It was a different era, and it was way different than the MMA we know today.
If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Train year round. Enjoy it and realize that you're living the dream. It's all going to come to an end one day, so make the most of it while you can. Find a good camp and stick with them. Train your ass off, stay in shape and move into the gym. It's a tough sport, so stop and smell the roses and make sure you enjoy it. Find a good manager, someone you can trust, and let him help guide you and help make your decisions. You have a couple of years to fight professionally and the rest of your life to think about those years, so make the most of them.
You can follow Phil via his Twitter account, @PhilBaroni