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UFC 233 video: James Vick talks Thailand, Paul Felder & missed opportunities

Check out Body Elbow’s on location interview in Thailand with UFC lightweight James Vick before his fight with Paul Felder at UFC 233 on January 26, 2019.

The UFC’s #11 ranked lightweight James Vick is gearing up to face the #15 ranked Paul Felder at UFC 233 on January 26, 2018. Bloody Elbow caught up with the 13-2 Vick on location out in Phuket, Thailand for an interview. “The Texecutioner” explained the benefits he receives from training in Thailand, from the temperature to the massages, and also mentions how he dropped and won a little bit of coin on his teammate Sodiq Yusuff’s UFC debut.

Vick also opened up about his confidence slipping a bit, as far as big opportunities go, after coming up short against top-ranked 155-pounder Justin Gaethje in the UFC Lincoln main event back in August. The interview is rounded off with Vick’s prediction of how he sees his fight with Felder playing out, and what might be next for the promotion’s #11 lightweight.

**The complete interview video can be seen at the top of the page.

  • James, you’re out here in Phuket, Thailand. What in the world brings you out here?

“Well, this is my third time out here training with Phuket Top Team. I’ve been here, this is my third time, I’ve been here a couple weeks now this time. I love it. The first I ever came out here, I fell in love with this place, and I’ve been coming back ever since.”

  • Of course, you’re preparing for your upcoming UFC 233 tilt with Paul Felder. Will your entire camp be held out here, or are you heading back to the U.S. to finish up?

“I’ll head back to the States. I’ll go home for about a week, and then I’ll go to my other camp, Team Lloyd Irvin in Maryland, around the middle of the month.”

  • You said you’ve been to Thailand a couple of times. What keeps you coming back?

“Yeah, for this fight particularly it makes sense. You know, I’m fighting a Muay Thai striker, so it makes sense to come out here and get used to that more. I mean don’t get me wrong, we have great fighters in the States, obviously, but different techniques here. Elbows and knees and stuff that Felder is pretty good at and has shown in his fights. Just wanted to touch up on those things.

Just coming out here, everything. The climate is amazing. The prices are amazing. Being able to get a massage everyday, that’s something back home you’re going to pay $60 - $100 to do. Anywhere in that price range. Here, you can one for seven dollars, American. It’s even more expensive in Phuket because this is a tourist area, but seven dollars, American, for a massage from the best massage therapist in the world, the Thais are. It’s such a benefit to your body.”

  • I saw you playing with the snakes. What’s that all about, and did you get bit?

“No, I did not get bit haha. That’s the third time I’ve actually played with them, too. Every time I come out. Someone took me out there the first time I came, and took me to that and I was like, ‘oh that’s pretty cool.’ Now, every time I come out, I go and do that again. every time.”

  • Your teammate Sodiq Yusuff made his official UFC debut on the Adelaide card. I saw you at Island Poke Bowl beforehand, and you told me he was going to do his thing. I know you expected him to win, but did you think it was going to be in less than a half of a round?

“For sure I did actually. No disrespect to his opponent, I mean I don’t even know the kid, but they’re light years apart in skillsets. I knew that was going to happen. I don’t mean to be offensive, but it was a mismatch. It was 100% a mismatch. There was a reason Sodiq was a 4.5 to 1 favorite in that fight. I think most people knew that was going to happen. I think that Sodiq is ready for top guys right now.”

“I tried to negotiate a couple of years ago to get Sodiq in the UFC. A year and a half maybe, definitely less than two years ago. I sat down with Dana White and I had a talk, and part of my deal was I wanted to get Sodiq in the UFC, and they wouldn’t sign him back then. They acted like they couldn’t sign him because he only had four fights at the time and was 4-0. I was real annoyed by that, because first of all, they can sign whoever the hell they want to sign.”

  • C.M. Punk?

“Yes! Then I see McGregor’s teammate, the dude was like 3-0, and he got in the UFC, and then he lost two in a row. Sodiq was ready two years ago to be in the UFC. Now, he’s ready for top guys. I’m not saying this because he’s my teammate. I know good fighters when I see them, and he’s one of the best fighters I’ve ever trained with, by far. I think he can beat top-10 guys right now. Like right now, they need to give him top-10 opponents.”

  • Did you drop any coin on him?

“100% always! The odds were too good in his favor to bet a straight bet, so I bet the under 1.5 and cashed.”

  • How do you see your fight with Felder playing out? Will it be a war that goes the distance? Is it going to be quick?

“He’s a tough guy. He’s never been finished. He’s never been knocked out; he’s never been submitted. So, there’s a good chance it will go the distance. He can fight. He’s not a joke. He has a lot of experience; he’s fought top level guys. He’s a good striker and he’s well-rounded. Even when he does go to the ground, he’s able to get up pretty fast. He has good wrestling defense and good get ups and everything like that.”

“I still think I’m better. I’m better everywhere. All around, my technique is better. He keeps his hands up very well, has good tight defense. He’s also lost a few decisions just on being out-worked. Yeah, I’ve gotten caught and I’ve gotten knocked out a couple of times, but I’ve never lost a decision, and I’m not going to. Unless you get someone who can just hold me down for three rounds, I’m not going to accept being on the outside losing a decision. I feel like he’s done that a couple of times.”

  • You’re currently ranked #11 at lightweight in the world. What are you shooting for after the Felder fight?

“It’s hard because I blew a huge opportunity last fight. I blew a huge opportunity because these guys don’t want to fight me anyway. To be honest with you, even if I would have beat Justin Gaethje, I would probably still be fighting Paul Felder. Or, I would still be fighting someone ranked below me. 100%. I wouldn’t be fighting someone ranked above me, even if I would have won that fight, because they wouldn’t have agreed to fight me. I don’t know what happens after this.”

“Honestly, that’s something I’ve lost a little confidence in, is the opportunities. I blew a big opportunity when opportunities were few and far between for me anyways. I had to win twice as many fights as most of the people to get the opportunity to begin with. I frickin’ blew it. So, we’ll see what happens. It’s all about who the UFC offers. I don’t turn down fights unless they’re asking me to fight someone for ridiculous money that I should be getting paid more for, or something like that. I’ve never turned down a fight against anyone. I fought everyone they ever asked me to fight.”

“I’m not afraid of anybody. We’ll see who I get next. I'm hoping maybe, for me, the best option I can get for someone above me to take the fight would be the winner of Barbosa-Dan Hooker. If I can get one of those guys to agree to fight me, that would probably make the most sense for me. I definitely don’t see any of the other guys above me besides that, that would agree to fight me for sure.”

Watch the 13-2 James Vick got toe to toe with the 15-4 Paul Felder at UFC 233 on January 26, 2019. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your UFC event coverage including interviews, play-by-play, highlights, and more!