- Shad D. de Guzman
Please tell us more about your team that's competing in the "Ring of Fire."
We got Ricco Rodriguez, a heavyweight, he's got a long string of fights. We got Mike Whitehead who was in the premiere of "The Ultimate Fighter (TUF)" show, so he's a very good fighter. And then at 185 lbs. we got Kyacey Uscola, he's a very accomplished wrestler and is very good in defending submissions, and has really heavy hands. So you see that'll be a really good fight, he should win by knockout. Then of course we've got you know our girls at a 135 lbs., it's Tonya Evinger and she's a really vicious person, and she's got really good skills on the ground, got really heavy hands for a girl and it has been a great fight right there. And then of course lightweight, we got Evan Dunham, I mean Evan is a "sleeper," most people don't give this guy credit, but this guy here has a really good ground game, and he's got really good hands and feet, and he puts them together very very well. So I don't think people see Evan, especially as a record, you see the other guys they don't see Evan as being a competitor and compete in this fight, and well, you watch and he'll win his fight.
Would this be your first visit here, and how do you find the country so far?
Yeah, it's my first visit and I tell you what man, I've always heard about it you know, the Philippines coming over here because it has a great nightlife, you know? (laughs) So everybody got much a chance to look around and see how things are going here, but I'm very interested to check it out here pretty soon.
This event is a team format competition, however, if you were to decide, would you prefer the tournament format of the good old UFC days if it weren't a team competition?
No, I don't mind the single fights, but the tournament thing for me was kinda unfair, because if you were to fight a tough fight and either you break a hand or you break your foot, you'll have to go to the next round and the other guy didn't get any injury, and then he comes in you know, you're kind of the underdog. So you really didn't get to see the best fighter win in that event a lot of times, because it was just depending on the match-up. So now with the team format as individual fights, guys are gonna go out, they're gonna fight for their team, I love it because all the guys are training together and are working together, all I have to say on this is they fight and that points matter. So it really bonds and brings everybody together enclosed and makes everybody train harder because they don't want to let their team down.
Would you consider establishing a Lion's Den Camp here in the Philippines?
Oh absolutely, I think that um, you know from everything I've heard since I've been here is that there a lot of interest in MMA here, and I think that opening a Grappling School here people would come in by the hundreds, I mean it would do really well.
We've seen a lot of you in the movies such as Virtuosity, Champions, Scarecrow Gone Wild, and even in the hit TV series That '70s Show. We've heard of the pre-production upcoming movie "Never Submit," could you please tell us more about it?
Yeah, you know I've kind of played around with movies a little bit here and there ... actually I got "Never Submit" and the "Ultimate Warrior." In "Never Submit" I got the part, and we're just waiting for them to start filming that now, so I'm very very happy to be a part of that, and I'm taking some acting lessons. And so far, it's been doin' pretty well and so I'm excited, kinda dabbling about it a little bit and see how I do.
Can you please comment on the recent turnover of Pride FC?
Well you know I mean I think UFC is just trying to buy up the competition and it's taking kinda control of the market, and it's what they're trying to do and it keeps them from having to pay anybody or any of the fighters big purses, so they're trying to buy it up. It's not good for the fighters but it's definitely good for them because they keep everything down, but that's not gonna be that way forever you know, there'll be competition like brands such as this that is coming around. And there are other people trying to make a move like M-1 and other places like that, so eventually there will be a couple of more organizations out there that will make the market a little bit more balanced for the competitors.
Mind me asking, has the hatchet been buried between you and Tito Ortiz?
Oh I'm sure it is, the only time me and Tito where we got in each other's faces is because we were competing against each other you know. And so you know obviously Tito won those battles, and that's that, I would have to move on and follow my career where it takes me, and Tito has got to do the same with his, but I'm not one who holds grudges or even holds anything in the past, I move on and I look to the future for me, and I'm sure he does the same thing, so to answer your question in small ... yes.
Would you say that you are now at the peak of your game and ready to retire in terms of fighting?
I would say right now I think that the last couple of years I did come in with some injuries, I fought injured and I really take a hard look on weather or not I was going to be able to recover and fight again, so I went out and I did some things that I needed to do to get healed up. I came back, I started training, I started practicing and I feel like, really like I've been better than I have on the last five (5) or six (6) years, I feel like a 100%, I feel great so that's why I want to get back in the ring and I want to fight again, because I want to erase what I did the last two (2) or three (3) years, I didn't make a very good showing, just for the fact that I don't think that I was at a 100%, and I need to go out there and fight at a 100%.
If given a chance, would you compete here in the Philippines and fight a local?
Oh absolutely, I mean it doesn't matter, you know I love to fight and I've always taken anybody they've put in front of me, and I will keep doing it. Doesn't matter to me, I love to fight, and I'll accept to fight anybody.
After being inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame and all the countless accomplishments, what's next for the legendary "World's Most Dangerous Man?"
Well right now I just want to get healed up, I want to get back in the ring, I want to fight, I want to fight at a 100% and do a couple of fights this year, make my decision after I do those fights on where I'm at, evaluate where I'm at, but in the meantime I'm running my gym, I'll dabble a little bit in movies and maybe testing the acting waters.