“FIGHTING IN FORT WORTH WILL FEEL LIKE FIGHTING AT HOME.” Vernon Lewis Interview

Interview with Heavyweight Mixed Martial Artist Vernon Lewis. Met the guy while he was competing in Seguin, TX a while back. Here we talk MMA, last minute bouts, and coming off an impressive victory. He will be stepping back inside the cage at Premiere Fight Series in Fort Worth, TX/March 2nd. Let’s get started!

Photo property of: Jordan Overturf

sPidA: Your last bout was a last minute fight, what made you jump inside the cage and where are you training?

Lewis: Yeah, It was an 8 day notice fight. I had a fight scheduled a month earlier, but my opponent backed out last minute so I was somewhat in shape. Had a little too much turkey and dressing during the holidays but I was ready for a fight.

sPidA: What promotion was this for and what were your thoughts on the event?

Lewis: It was for STFC (South Texas Fighting Championship). I was blessed to have the opportunity to fight in front of the McAllen, TX crowd and would fight there again. Even on an 8 day notice…LOL

sPidA: You are coming off of a submission victory, was this part of your game plan going into your last bout?
Lewis: Well I would of love to get a KO but he was a Division I wrestler. I knew I was better standing and on the ground so where ever the fight went I was comfortable.
sPidA: You study BJJ under the Relson Gracie lineage, was signing up for BJJ an easy task for a big guy like yourself? Is using technique rather than strength an easy transition?

Lewis: I’ve been doing No Gi grappling since 2006 so rolling in the Gi was a challenge for me. In the beginning I was getting tapped by guys that have only been training for a year, so it was a humbling experience for me. I love training in the Gi now. It has helped my No Gi game, and I even won 1st place in the Relson Gracie Tournament held in Waco, TX last year. I train in the Gi at least twice a week, even while I’m getting ready for a fight. As far as using my strength, we have some big guys at our gym so my mount escape has to be a little bit more technical than just pushing and bridging.

sPidA: What rank are you and who is your instructor?
Lewis: I’m a blue belt under Relson Gracie, and I train under Chris Spicer at the Relson Gracie Waco Academy. It’s a young gym, but we are growing every day.

sPida: This next bout you have coming up will be for Premiere Fight Series in Forth Worth, TX. Who is your opponent and does fighting away from home get easier over time?

Lewis: My opponent is James Hubbard. We will put on a show for the Fort Worth fans. I can’t wait.. I really don’t see this as fighting away from home. Waco is about an hour away, and I’m just glad I’m fighting in Texas. During my amateur career I couldn’t find fights in Texas, so most of my fights were in the bordering States. Fighting in Fort Worth will feel like fighting at home.

sPidA: What were you doing before jumping into MMA? Did you ever think you would be stepping inside the cage?

Lewis: I was working and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I needed to get in shape, so I started training at an MMA gym. After a few months some of the guys there told me that I was pretty good, and asked me if I wanted to fight. Five months later I had my first amateur fight.

sPidA: Since making your Pro debut in 2010, you have fought once in 2011 and once in 2012. Are you looking to stay busy this year?
Lewis: I always want to stay busy, but my opponents, unfortunately, have been backing out. I decided to stay busy by getting into professional boxing in 2011. Boxing wasn’t what I wanted to do, but at least I had something to look forward to. I’m hoping that 2013 will be the year that I can make a name for myself in the sport of MMA!
sPidA: If you had an opportunity to fight a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, who would it be and what would be your game plan?

Lewis: Randy Couture. He’s a legend. I look up to him because he was on top around the time I started training. My game plan would be not get beat up against the cage…LOL

sPidA: Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to talk with us. Is there anybody you’d like to thank ?

Lewis: I want to thank my family for supporting me on this journey, my training partners for pushing me in the gym, and I want to thank God for blessing me with a life that allows me to do what I love to do.

fightlabel

Training Philosophy: Physical vs Technical

Russian Sambo courtesy of SystemaSpetsnaz.com
[Russian Sambo image courtesy of SystemaSpetsnaz.com]
If you read my first article, “Strength and Conditioning in Competitive Martial Arts” then this next installment should help to elucidate those concepts even further. If you did not read that article, I hope that this one can stand on its own. Rather than outline specific exercises or routines, I want to continue to lay the conceptual groundwork for a solid training philosophy.

One of the ideas that I encounter in martial arts frequently, specifically among practitioners in the US, is the idea that strength training is somehow anathema to fighting, or even counterproductive. Hardly a BJJ class goes by without someone complaining that their partner “just used his strength”, and has “no technique”. To a certain extent, I am sure that this is an extension of Helio Gracie’s idea that strength is not the only component of combat, and that strength can be overcome by superior technique. Everyone can agree on that. It is incorrect, however, to take this to its extreme and make the claim that strength does not matter. This is something that you are much, much less likely to hear in a top collegiate wrestling program, or at a sports club in Russia, and that is because it is an empirically proven fact that stronger athletes perform better. If your opponent is stronger than you, your appropriate response to the problem should be developing your own strength. If they are larger than you, then you should consider bulking up or cutting down. It really is that cut-and-dry.

Every time I begin to work with a new athlete, especially fighters, I find myself burdened with the task of convincing them that strength and conditioning work is of equal importance to skills. Udo Quellmalz, one of the best competitive judoka of all time, was a product of the Soviet model, as he competed for East Germany before the Wall fell. He continued to train, of course, after the USSR dissolved, and was quoted as saying that “the East German approach was much more professional than that of the West. The volume and intensity of training was so much higher” . He also described his preparation for the 1995 World Championships as a single “ten-day conditioning camp in the Austrian alps. We hardly did any judo, it was just endurance and strength training”.

The government-subsidized coaches and scientists that oversaw his training recorded the empirical data of these sessions in great detail, including lactate levels, VO2 max, recovery time, etc. The modalities that worked were kept and developed, while the others were scrapped. One of the bits of data that piqued my interest the most, however, was the simple recording of hours spent training. Quellmalz spent 20+ hours a week training, as opposed to the average 10 hours spent by elite Western athletes. The volume of training is impressive, sure, but the detail that I am focusing on here is that there is not a distinction made between the hours spent on physical preparation, and those spent on skills work. It was one and the same.

I challenge you, the readers, to record how much time you spend on physical preparation vs skills work over the next week. Then, add the two numbers together. This should give you a real, tangible representation of how much time you are spending on becoming better at your respective disciplines. We will pick up again next week with training specificity under the Soviet model, as an extension of the ideas expressed in this article.

References:
1. Mark Law, Falling Hard: A Journey into the World of Judo (Boston: Trumpeter Books, 2007), 173.
2. Mark Law, Falling Hard: A Journey into the World of Judo (Boston: Trumpeter Books, 2007), 174.

“What keeps me motivated is becoming the best…” Randy Villarreal Interview

Randy Villarreal - 125 lbs Prospect

Probably one of the most active Mixed Martial Arts fighters at both 125-135 weight class division. A few words with someone I personally know and whose career I have always followed. Bound STFC come Friday July 13th, a few words with Randy Villarreal.

sPidA: What first attracted you to Mixed Martial Arts?

Villarreal: When living in San Antonio my brother used to bring UFC DVD’s to my apt, that got us looking for a place to train and we found your class. (Yes our very own sPidA was my first Jiu-Jitsu Instructor)

sPidA: You’ve competed a lot in both your amateur MMA career as well as your Pro career now, what keeps you motivated?

Villareal: I have had over 25 fights in 5 years, what keeps me motivated is becoming the best in the 125lb weight division and be World Champion. Then I’ll be satisfied!!

sPidA: You have fought some of the best talent in both the 125-135lb weight division, if you could host a Flyweight Tournament and add 3 others (including yourself) who would they be and why?

Villareal: If we’re talking 25ers not in the ufc for a flyweight tourney it would def be Will Campuzano (cause thats the one 125lb fight I want more than any else and I feel he doesnt wanna fight me) Jimmy Flick (so I can avenge my loss to him) and either Jason Sampson or Nick Mamalis (so I can avenge those losses as well, since I was winning both those fights.)

sPidA: People always ask me “when is the best time for a fighter to start competing?” Your thoughts?

Villarreal: I would say, the time frame for an MMA fighter to start competing would depend on the individual and the amount of time he put into his training, both physically and mentally. With that said, realistically anywhere from 8 months to a year of solid full time training and the right Coaching.

sPidA: With fights getting harder and harder to find here in Texas, are you looking to compete outside the State this year?

Villareal: I wouldn’t mind fighting outside the State (as I have before) but it all depends on the pay and a fight with ANYONE at 125lbs.

sPidA: Thank you bro for making time for this, as always we wish you the best,anything else to end this Interview?

Villarreal: Id like to thank my coaches Durwyn Lamb,  Tony Tipton,  Albert Hughes, Coach Javad and Coach Sina for all the work they put into me for my fight this Friday the 13th. Midnight Activity Music for being there for me since my amateur days. I’d also like to thank you Spida for all the continued work you do for ALL the fighters and last but not least I’d like to thank all my fans and supporters. I love you all!!!
MMA Cage Fights - STFC 21

“I want to look into their soul and break them…” Cody “WOLVERINE” Williams

Interview with Mixed Martial Artist Cody “WOLVERINE” Williams , he will be traveling to Louisiana/Delta Downs on July 7th. Fighting out of Beaumont,Texas, The Main Event and a great opt for him to bring back the IXFA Title…Let’s keep Texas Fighting!!

sPidA: You came out with a BANG from ammy to Pro, was there alot of pressure making the transition?

Cody: No pressure at all it was just time and after getting the nod from American Top Team HQ that i was ready it was just finding a fight after that.

sPidA: You’ve had 5 bouts as a PRO fighter, other then getting paid to punch people, what has been the best thing about finally going Pro?

Cody: Bigger stages to perform on – businesses tend to take you more serious when you sit down and talk with them and you’re a professional fighter – unfortunately theres no governing body to filter talent and someone who just applies for their pro card

sPidA: Your last bout was an unfortunate loss, how where you able to stay focus and prepare for a title shot /IXFA?

Cody: A hiccup – both losses have just been fractional errors on my part – Benoit said he was going to bring a fight to me so when I backed up to let him up he hit me with a savvy little trip move and took the back – kudos to him for the win – but if you watch the fight I think we know who was bringing the heat.

sPidA: Will fighting for IXFA in the Delta Downs be the first time fighting outside the State of Texas?

Cody: I have fought in Louisiana a couple of times as an amateur but this will be the first trip as a professional

sPidA: Your waiting backstage and they finally call your name to walk out, what goes through your mind and what helps you stay focused?

Cody: I just look down at the cage as a playground and try to make as much eye contact with my opponent as possible – i want to look in their soul and break them before the first bell ever rings – i just tell myself this guy signed a contract will full intent to beat me up and take my money, my sons money and food – that will drive any person.

sPidA: I’ve personally followed your social media outlets, (FB/TWITTER etc) How important is it for a fighter to manage there status and how has this been helping you in your fighting career?

Cody: Its worked for me – I haven’t put on a show or a gimmick I mean I post what going on with me and give the fans and sponsors an inside view of what goes on with me – also has helped me build a fan base that i might not have been able to do by just fighting.

sPidA: With so many MMA movies out there, which has been your fave so far and if given the opt, would you star in one?

Cody: I liked Warrior – the story about the teacher was cool and grabbed the audience – I saw a lot of what i fight for in his character and working for the law firm at that time had a lot of the same feelings – showing up to work with bruises and black eyes having to go in front of other professionals was kinda awkward but I made it out like, “yeah this is a real black eye and busted lip” as far as the plot it was okay but i really favored that particular character – The Mickey Ward story was really good too! I think it was The Fighter? Hands down though i have to go with the messy bare knuckled boxer in “Snatch”!! I think my story would make a great movie – and would love to star in one – I think I could be a pretty good actor in a movie even if it wasn’t my story necessarily

sPidA: Your work outs are insane and your always pushing yourself to the limit, what keeps you motivated to pursue your dreams?

Cody: Goes to my son – I mean I’ve made the transition to train full time now and its hard not knowing where that next paycheck will come from – I started my own business and have been working on getting it off the ground – everyday is a blessing there are people out there that have children that cant walk or be active in anyway, kids that would do anything just to see what it feels like to run down the street or catch a baseball, “God gives us these talents and if you sit idle on them he may just take them away” I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in a position where i couldnt workout or train so when im tired or feel like I cant make that last round I just think about how blessed I am and suck it up and push through it

sPidA: Not to over look your next opponent but after the Title win,what’s next on your Mixed Martial Arts agenda?

Cody: keep training keep fighting – I’ll be going back to American Top Team in Florida after this fight to do some more training and hopefully getting ready to take another fight – Legacy, IXFA, Fight Time in Florida and BAMMA USA in Cali have all shown interest but currently I have 2 more fights on my contract with Legacy so they have first pick.

sPidA: Thank you brother, best to you in your travels and keeping Texas Fighting, any last shouts to your friends,fans and sponsors?

Cody: I want to thank my family and support system that has made it possible for me to train full time – my friends for believing in me even when I don’t come out of the cage with a win they are always there to pick me up – to GOD for blessing me and keeping me motivated through my son – all my sponsors especially Sign Builders of America in Austin , Major League Grill, Trey Lacy DDS, Spidle Oil, West LTD, APAC Construction all located here in South East Texas, 88MilesWest.com and ZeroCutCreative.com and the newest addition to my team World Gym here in Beaumont – they are doing some great things for the Wounded Warrior Foundation and im stoked to be a part of that! Certainly American Top Team and The Mostyn Law Firm for all that they have done. My boy SUBTRAXZ (Chris Sublett) and Headz Will Roll Recordz for all the custom sounds that i get to workout too and walkout to! And to Cruz Combat for the custom fight shorts i love them cant wait to walk down to the cage July 7th!!! TexasFighting.com!!!!

“I see this as my re-birth into the sport” Kevin McGee Interview

A few words with Lufkin,Texas Mixed Martial Artist Kevin McGee, Bound PREMIERE FIGHT SERIES, July 28th in Fort Worth,Texas. Check out his website for more info: ” www.loudhousecrossfit.com ”

sPidA: You’re coming in with a 2-2 record– are you hungry for a win come July 28th?

McGee : I am very hungry for a win! I see this as my rebirth into the sport.

sPidA: Being a CrossFit instructor, is it hard to stay motivated,or do others help you stay focused?

McGee: I have a lot of people encouraging me to work hard and perform my best, but my strongest motivators are my children. I want to be a hero to them—not as a winning, big-name fighter, necessarily, but as a man who works hard to achieve his goals and doesn’t back down from a challenge.

sPidA: Alex Russ was your last opponent– he is ranked a top the Texas elite. Are you taking the loss and moving on or expecting a re-match in the future?

McGee: I consider Alex to be a friend. He is a good guy and I want the best for him. That being said, no fighter wants a loss to go un-avenged and I certainly wouldn’t turn down the opportunity!

sPidA: Having a teammate training for the same card, how does it feel knowing someone else will be battling along side with you on the same card?

McGee: It’s great. I actually have two teammates on the card: Jay Flores and Marshall Gorham. We’re all coming to fight! Getting there and being there together simply makes us stronger in every aspect.

sPidA: For someone who has never been to Lufkin, what best describes the town and its people? Is MMA big there or still growing?

McGee: MMA is blowing up all over the world.I don’t think there is a town in America that doesn’t have fans.Lufkin is the same way—from crazy drunken rednecks that think they can whoop Chael Sonnen to the hard working 8 year olds in the boxing program at the Boys And Girls Club who dream of getting to that level. Lufkin is a tightly knit country town and there is a lot of support here.

sPidA: Dana White had talked retirement within the next 6 years, if given his job, what would you change, if anything, in the organization (UFC)?

McGee: That’s a tough question! Being a business owner, myself, I know there is a LOT to it. I can’t imagine running an organization of that magnitude! He has obviously built a successful model and I can’t say that I would change much without knowing more intimate details of the operation. It is the pinnacle of our sport, competing in the UFC, and I don’t really see that changing in the near future, with or without Dana White.

sPidA: Another MMA giant will be closing its doors soon (STRIKEFORCE). Good or Bad? Your thoughts?

McGee: I am a fan of all MMA. When any big-name organization closes, it has its pros and cons… But I see most of the Strikeforce fighters continuing on in other organizations. That’s really what matters, right—the fighters, themselves.

sPidA: How many times a day do you fit training into your schedule?

McGee: I train very hard, and then I rest very hard—usually something like three days on, one day off.The three days on are full out, high intensity sessions with, generally, a strength workout, a very intense metcon, and skill work.The rest day is meant to be full of active recovery—foam rolling, low intensity single modal workouts, yoga, ice baths, etc.

sPidA: I have seen your photos on Facebook– is Ice bathing as bad as people say it is? How often would you say people try it?

McGee: Haha – Ice baths suck!! Period but they are the single most effective recovery tool I have ever found. Most of the time people experimenting with ice baths don’t do them properly. I would suggest that anyone wishing to try them do plenty of research, beforehand, and have a few friends with them when the time comes to jump in. We have a 100 gallon watering trough at LoudHouse CrossFit that we use exclusively for ice baths. You fill it with about 60 gallons of water, or so, and about 100 pounds of ice, then you jump in, submerging completely up to your neck, and stay in 12-15 minutes. I try to take in some calories while I’m in the water. Trust me… it is an experience you won’t forget!

sPidA: Thank you much– I will be there come July 28th, Anything you would like to add to this interview?

McGee: Hey, man – it’s my pleasure! All I want to add is a thank you to my coaches and teammates, especially Eddie Pepper, Shannon Porter, Jason and Amanda Skinner, Marshall Gorham, Jay Flores, and James Hubbard. I also want to thank my beautiful girlfriend, Elsie, for all her help and support. She is a light in the dark. Thanks, also, to my Church and to my family—their wisdom and guidance has done more for me than I can express.

Oh, one last thing—I’m still looking for sponsors, if anyone might be interested! Get a hold of me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kevin.captainmagic

“Combining combative sports with total fitness” …a few words with Mitchell Hale

Mitchell Hale
Mitchell Hale, 4-2

Interview with Abilene, Texas Mixed Martial Arts fighter, Mitchell Hale, coming out of a 2 year layout, we talk strategy,new gym and a new beginning for this North Texas standout! Lets begin.

sPidA:  What can tell us about your current gym and what differs it from others?

Hale :  Let me start off by saying Future Fitness  Fight Team is legit. the gym is founded by my head coach Brandon Farran. The concept behind Future Fitness Fight Team, is combining combative sports with total fitness. A lot of MMA gyms forget just how important fitness is in Mixed Martial Arts

sPidA: Your last bout was 2 yrs ago, will there be any Cage rust going into this bout or have you stayed busy sparring and helping others?

Hale : I don’t think there will be any rust, but rather an unveiling of the new fighter I’ve become since training with the Future Fitness Team gym.

sPidA: What kind of support are you getting from the local scene and what can your friends and family expect?

Hale : I have a ton of support coming out to this event and they can expect to see a whole new fighter in every aspect of the game.

sPidA: Having had your coach Brandon Farren win his bout just a few weeks ago at EFC, How much if any has that motivated you for this fight?

Hale : Naturally, you can’t help but to be motivated by the performance he put on, but even more so it lets me know I’m on the right path to victory! I’ve gone through his whole boot camp with him and now the team is focused on my bootcamp, which i am currently going through.

sPidA : What have you been training on or will we like your opponent have to wait and see?

Hale : I can’t give away to many of our secrets, no homo, but there’s a reason why Brandon is built like a Greek God. So you know my strength  and cardio will make a statement on its own. The technique I learn on a daily basis is going to be all the difference in this fight.

sPidA : Your last opponent was Cody Pfister,who was picked up to compete on this past seasons TUFF reality show,are you a fan,what are your thoughts on this if any?

Hale : Big ups to Cody but, I really don’t have the time to focus my attention to reality shows; i am a single father, a student, and a full time fighter. My free time goes to giving my body the rest that it needs to recover and perform.

sPidA: Is there one fighter (other than your coach) that you just respect watching compete,if so whom and why?

Hale : Fedor, because of his one punch knockout power!

sPidA: Not to overlook your next opponent but are you looking at staying active in the fight game or will you be playing it by ear after this next bout?

Hale : I most certainly am, got some good opportunities lined up for the future but my focus remains on this fight!

sPidA : Is there such a thing as too much MMA, Your thought,is the UFC overdoing it with all these showing or just giving fighters the much needed exposure?

Hale : I think its a little bit of both. Of course the  UFC will always be the ultimate goal for every serious fighter, because of the pay and exposure. At the same time the over kill keeps fighters, who haven’t made it too the big leagues, hungry, busy and able to make a career out of MMA.

sPida : Thank you Hale for your time, any last minute comments bro?

Hale : This is definitely a fight you won’t want to miss, so MMA fans come out and show your love for the sport!

((Would like to end this by thanking our Media sponsors: TheMucleFactoryonline.com, www.bigdfitness.com and www.gearedupnutrition.com))

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