Hopefully you all know the drill by now. You said who wanted me to interview, I got some of ‘em. You told me what questions you wanted to ask, I asked ‘em. Most recently we turned our attention to the one and only ‘New York Bad Ass’ Phil Baroni, and boy did he deliver.
Read below for some incredible (and lengthy) answers to the questions YOU wanted to ask:
Tim Bissell: How does it feel to have the readers of Bloody Elbow pick you as one of the UFC veterans they most wanted to hear from?
Phil Baroni: How does it feel? I don't know, I guess good to be remembered. They picked me? I mean, I guess that’s good, right? I wrote a few blogs for you guys. I think I got a little carried away and haven't been asked to do another one. Laughs I wish I had a fight or an opponent, some shit fight related to talk about. But it does feel good when I think about it. I been in this game a long time. I dedicated my life to it. It's been my identity for most of my adult life. So yeah, feels good.
You’ve fought for a number of MMA promotions (UFC, Pride, EliteXC, Cage Rage, Strikeforce, Titan FC, ONE FC, DREAM, Bellator and more). Which promotion was your favorite to work for and why (question from -Badfish-)?
Nobody else has fought in more major promotions. And against the world’s best, too. From day one. Don't forget to throw that in there.
PRIDE and UFC hands down, because when I was in the UFC (my first go), and in PRIDE, I was a contender. I was in the hunt for gold. I fought in the grand prix two times to become the best 83 kilo fighter in the world. I also fought and KOed UFC and Pride champions, former and future. People forget that.
I didn't only beat them. I highlight reel KOed them and stomped their heads in. Sent them to get their shine boxes. There used to be a gif of Joe Pesci stomping the guy's head in the bar in Goodfellas next to me stomping [Ikuhisa] Minowa’s head. Can you find that gif for me?*
Do you wish that you had fought for Affliction when they were operating? So you could have added another promotion to your list (-Badfish-)?
Yes I do. I'm friends with Tom Atencio, who ran that show. Tracy [Hess] from Affliction still supports me, sent a bunch of clothing to Thailand, hooked me up. Yeah that was a good show. I wish I had fought on it.
MMA has changed a lot between 2001 and 2016. What are the best changes which have happened over that time (Bilderman)?
More shows, more money, and better opportunities for fighters. That's what's better. Just like in all pro sports.
What are the worse changes over that time (Bilderman)?
Everyone thinks the guys today are better cause they do spinning and flying shit a lot more. But look at [Dan Henderson], he's holding it down for the OGs. I can't wait to get back in there and do my thing. I was doing good and was really strong and ready to win a world title in ONE FC, but I broke my fucking ankle to pieces.
Can you tell us about the ankle injury you suffered in 2013 when competing against Nobutatsu Suzuki in ONE FC (-Badfish-)?
My foot got caught under the door. Then Suzuki saw I was stuck and started kneeing and punching me. When I pulled my foot out from under the cage my ankle dislocated and when I put weight on my foot, my ankle shattered. Fucking terrible injury. It's like the ACL of the ankle, only much worse and much harder to comeback from.
I laugh when I see everyone talking about [Anderson] Silva's injury. Mine was much much worse and harder to come back from.
Were you still feeling any effects of that injury leading up to your fight (or during the fight itself) versus Karo Parisyan in Bellator a year later (-Badfish-)?
Fuck yeah. I'm still felling it. Every morning, every night, when I run, when I skip rope, everything's off, even when I walk. My back’s fucked a lot cause I limp a bit now. But chicks dig it. You know they like my swag.
Your fight with Frank Shamrock put Strikeforce on the map. Was there real beef between you and Shamrock? If so, why (DarthFaber)?
Can you do me a favor and remind Scott Coker of that for me?! And it was Real. Fuck him. He's a cock-sucker. And we both know who got carried out of the cage and went to the hospital and who went to the after party and partied like it was 1999. He got a thermometer stuck up his ass and I was boogieing like Saturday Night Fever. Spent 10k that night at the club on my AKA teammates.
If someone wanted to name a pizza after you, what toppings would come on the New York Bad Ass Pizza (-Badfish-)?
Ah fuck, I just was in New York and had pizza after six months in Thailand. I had a Sicilian slice. So that's me, that's it, a big thick Sicilian corner slice.
Is it true that you were expelled from school for beating up a janitor? Can you tell us the story (-Badfish-)?
Yeah, something like that. I beat up a few people that day. The janitor got it the worst, though. Big fucking dummy with tattoos when nobodies had tattoos. I fucked him up, slapped the principal. Mrs. Wernback, or some shit, and yeah he was a dude. And the janitor wasn't some old dude. He was a prison release guy. Big brother who was on release and wanted to stick his nose where it didn't belong. Ever see how I finished Minowa?
Is it true that there never was a real Team Hammer House (DarthFaber)?
No, Hammer House is the best team in MMA. The Hammer, the Monster (RIP), Brandon Hinkle, Wes Sims and myself were the staples. [Mark] Coleman was the first UFC and PRIDE heavyweight champion. Kevin [Randleman] was a freak, a real monster, and UFC champion if he was healthy and not always injured. He would have been unstoppable. And he was young early in the UFC, when he didn't even really know how to fight, just a fucking unbelievable talent. Hinkle was a champion in Brazil and Japan, a stud wrestler. Wes, well... Big Wes stomped Frank Mir’s head. Laughs
What Hollywood actor would you want to play you in a movie about your life (-Badfish-)?
Robert De Niro, but he already made it. It was called Raging Bull. Same story, but I just haven't won the title yet. I need to get over to Rizin or ONE and finish the story.
What do you say to fans who think that MMA is turning into pro-wrestling? Do you think MMA being similar to pro-wrestling is a good or a bad thing (DarthFaber)?
Good and bad. You just got to be real and yourself. Conor [McGregor] is great. [Chael] Sonnen is great. They’re all reading the book I wrote. Sonnen was a dork like [Randy] Couture and [Matt] Lindland back in the day. Then he wised up and took my shit to the next level. But then again, I didn't have TV and they cut all my interviews out. If they put out what I really said, I [would be remembered] as good as any of the talkers, but I never had a platform. Anyway fuck it. I like it. I started it. And it's all good.
How is your pro-wrestling career going right now? Do prefer being a good guy or a bad guy (DarthFaber)?
Good. I'm gonna do some more. I got offers I turned down, because the promotion I fought for didn't want me wrestling. I'm a free agent now. I'm gonna fight, pro-wrestle, and gamble my ass off until I die.
I'm a fucking bad guy.
Who would win a pasta eating contest between you and Matt Sera (-Badfish-)?
Matt Serra, he could eat anything more than me. Well maybe not one thing, but food, he's a fat Italian bastard - God bless him. He's a coach and he has a team, he's doing awesome. I’m happy for the guy. Jui-jits and Renzo and Longo all worked out for him. He's got an empire over there with Weidman. I'm a fan, I always root for the NY guys, especially ones I came up with. They’re all neighborhood kids from around the way. I wish I wasn't so fucking crazy when I was a kid. I used to spar at Longo’s gym. I started my career fighting for him and Lou Neglia. I went to Avenue U a lot and sparred Neglia's guys. Looking back, they looked out for me. I won my first eight or ten fights for them, all by first round knockout.
MMA may be legal in New York, but currently the law requires fighters to have insurance covering up to $1 million in case of a brain injury. This could cost the promoter around $15,000. Is this new insurance necessary or is it a set back for MMA in New York (GopnikBezElektrichestva)?
I just want to fight in New York before my career is over. At least one fight. I am the New York Bad Ass! I’ve been repping New York [since day one].
Are you still in contact with War Machine? If so, what kind of things do you talk about (Victor Rodriguez)?
Yeah. What the fuck do you think I talk about? I just listen and write back. He's my friend. A real friend. He fucked up. Made a bad mistake and is paying for it. He's really paying for it with his time. Thailand, 20k and he'd be free. He fucked up bad. I feel for him. I remember him moving to Vegas to train with me. He worked hard and wanted to be a champion. I think we all trained and sparred hard. Really hard, and I think it's why some of us are getting in trouble now.
Why did you stop working with Bellator (Victor Rodriguez)?
Ask Scott Coker. I don't know. I was hired by Bjorn Rebney. I don't fucking know. [The Parisyan fight], that was my last fight for Bellator. I think I just need to win and look good doing it. I was skinny, weak, small, unfit, and shouldn't have been in there against Parisyan. I was having personal BS. War Machine was living with me and that was just really bad. I'm still paying for it now. I know what I have to do. Fight, win, and look good doing it. Simple as that. I have to take a no-money fight and win. Sucks at forty, but fuck it. I paid my dues. I always come to fight. I never give up. I'm strong and I fight for a finish every time.
I'm exciting and I can promote with the best of them. I just need to handle my business. I'm not stressing it. I always take care of my business. And I don't forget. I'm planning on winning a few fights, fixing my record to winning, and maybe winning the New Japan [Wrestling] title as well down the road.
How did it feel to get headbutted after you knocked out Scott Jansen? Did anything happen between you and that guy after the incident (RightHookLeftHook)?
Not with me and Scott, but remember the blond he was with?
You competed in wrestling at a high level at the state, JUCO, and I believe even the D1 level. Can you give us a run down of your wrestling career, proudest accomplishments, biggest wins, toughest opponents (DSdouble)?
Two time All American, I took 5th and then 2nd in the Nationals for Nassau, before I got injured and transferred to Hofstra, and then Central Michigan University. When I was at CMU, we took 5th in the NCAA's with five All Americans and a National Champ. My best friend is Casey Cunningham, who now coaches at Penn State with Cael Sanderson. I was a real good wrestler and my style is perfect with MMA. I just never broke it out. I wanted to be the Mike Tyson of MMA, not another Tito Ortiz or Matt Hughes. I wanted to be Wanderlei Silva or Chuck Liddell. Now I just wanna win some.
Are there any fights you really wanted but that never came together? Why did you want to fight those guys and why did it never happen (DSdouble)?
Wandy, I always looked up to and admired him. He was a monster from the jungles of Curitiba, Brazil. The fight professor Stephen Quadros put Wandy over so well. Him and Bas Rutten were the best and so was PRIDE. [Nobuyuki] Sakakibara really knew what he was doing.
Joe Silva sucks. He's my friend but he sucks. I wanna see fun, good fights. Why the fuck was I fighting reigning Olympic silver medalists all the time and Team Quest guys? Why wasn't I fighting strikers like Nick Diaz? Joe sucks.
How much did you enjoy punching Matt Lindland in the kidneys (RyanThomasMMA)?
I just wanted to win. I think that last round had to be 10-8. And I knocked him down in the first. Don't get me started. You think the judges suck now? They were way worse before Dana's balls dropped. He was happy to be legal in Nevada and it was the Nevada Commission as well as New Jersey Commission that made it all legal and possible.
What was your biggest payday in MMA (637482625)?
Not so much. Coker hooked me up after PRIDE. [Versus Frank Shamrock, my] purse was 100k and sponsors were about 75 for that fight. I had fun blowing it while I was suspended. Nobody told me I wouldn't be making 100k every fight.
It died. I got a F150 and a Highlander my wife drives, she also drives the little BMW we got. Little fast two-door.
How did you get into modelling and did you ever think that would be your main career instead of MMA (kemi.fuentesgeorge)?
Yeah. I'm fucking super handsome, with the best body money can buy.
In modelling, did you ever have to cut water weight in order to look super ripped? If so, what was the experience like, how did it compare to cutting for MMA (kemi.fuentesgeorge)?
Yeah, and I did. Bodybuilding contests as well. It's easy, you take a diuretic and pee it out.
What look were you going for with the granny sunglasses and the fu manchu goatee (kemi.fuentesgeorge)?
What the fuck are you talking about? I always had a beard and the goatee was ‘in’ like beards are now. But a fucking dork like you wouldn't know that. Granny sunglasses? They were HUGO Boss! Telephone tough guy you are, huh? You ever cover the fights in Vegas buddy? What's your name again?
So there you have it, everything you wanted to know about a Phil Baroni, a bona fide MMA legend. That was a lot of fun and I was able to explain that the last question did not come from me directly (thanks Kemi!), so I guess I’m safe in Vegas, for now.
Look out on the Fanposts for more of these as I book new vets to speak with. If you’d like to suggest another veteran for me to interview, say so in the comments below - or hit me up on twitter.
*I could not find that gif