Awsome article by Joe Hall

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A Few Stories, A Few Questions for Everyone - Part One : :
Between Rounds by Joe Hall (December 13, 2002)


Ever wondered what Frank Shamrock wanted to be growing up? The hardest Don Frye has ever been hit? What Dan Henderson thought of Vanderlei Silva's staredown? What it's like trying out for the revered Miletich Fighting Systems?

I've been on staff at MaxFighting for nearly a year now, and those are just a few of the questions I've asked various MMA personalities. For every interview I've done, there have been several responses that don't make it into a story. Regardless, they are recorded, transcribed and filed away for a rainy day.

Most of the questions I ask a fighter are related to an upcoming fight or a current issue, unless they're an up-and-comer, in which case I typically focus on background information. Other inquiries I make, though, are for selfish reasons. I ask each fighter I interview a series of the same questions -- for example, what is the best thing about MMA? -- for the sole purpose of collecting their intriguing answers and comparing them.

Just the other day I was able to peruse my compilation of quotes, and now it's time to share. Here are just a few of the compelling statements and stories I've been told in 2002, some of which have been incorporated into articles, and others I guarantee are new to your eyes.

One question I frequently ask is the following: What is your most memorable moment in MMA? Frank Shamrock answered with one of the best, and most disgusting, stories I've ever heard:

"That's a tough one because when I fight, everything slows down for me. I see everything, for the most part. I'll tell you this:

"The toughest instance I remember was when I was fighting in Pancrase. I was fighting [Osami] Shibuya, and he was just all muscle. I hadn't trained properly, wasn't in that good of shape. It was before I got serious. About seven minutes in, I realize I'm completely exhausted. So exhausted, so dehydrated that my mouth was all dried out and my lips were sticking on my teeth.

"Midway during this match, I'm so dried out and we're all hugged up in the ropes, I reach over and lick the sweat off my arm so I can have moisture in my mouth.

"Just imagine the thought that has to go through your head when you're like, 'There's water on my arm. I can get to that. I may take a shot or two, but '"

At that point, I mentioned to Frank that it could have been worse. He could have licked the sweat off Shibuya's arm, I said. "Oh my god, that was next," he responded.

***
What is the best thing about being a mixed martial artist? is another question I've asked numerous fighters.

"Everything bro," Matt Serra told me just days before his fight against Kelly Dullanty. "Some people love to train; some people love to fight. I love to do both, man. I love the training coming up to it. The sacrifice. Especially now, I can't eat nothing. It's brutal, man. I'm looking forward to right after, when I can hang out and eat and go to a nice Italian restaurant. But seriously, when you're in there, it's a very emotional, almost spiritual feeling. It's very hard to explain. It's like the most ultimate high. It's something that I think really has to be in you."

"Just the challenge," Don Frye says. "The hand-to-hand, man-to-man combat. Testing your own limits, whether you can do it or not. You get to look inside yourself and see what you're made out of."

"The camaraderie that comes with the training," says steel-chinned welterweight Aaron Riley. "What I really like is the fitness side of it, getting in shape, the friendship you develop among the fighters and among your training partners. It's just how I choose to spend my days, I guess."

Carlos Newton says the best thing is "being able to let yourself go."

Of all the responses I've received, Jens Pulver put it best: "When you get out there and go against another guy who has just taken the last two months to prepare for you. I think the best part about fighting is the preparation. The nervousness and the anxiety and the ups and downs that you experience in practice leading up to the minute that you walk out to that ring has got to be the best and the craziest feeling that anybody could ever experience. Basically, you go out there and you're naked to the world. They get to see everything about you, from your heart to your soul, to your drive, to your desire, to your fire, to whether you're a quitter or you're a go-getter."

Of course, you can't ask about the best aspect of being a mixed martial artist unless you inquire about the worst as well.

"The worst thing is defeat," Don Frye says.

"The next day," Riley says.

Dave Menne says it's "all the people who talk about it. All the stuff I hear about he said, she said. All the people who want to attempt to be an expert without really taking the time to really become a fighter, to live that life."

***
Everyone has a variety of heroic, ambitious professional desires when they're young, and mixed martial artists are no different.

Growing up, Frank Shamrock says he wanted to be "an action star." That's not all, though. "I've always wanted to be a professional athlete," he adds. "And I've done them both."

"I'm sure I wanted to be a firefighter or a policeman," says Pride star Dan Henderson. "Something like that, like every other kid. I wanted to make the Olympic team. I went and watched the Olympics; my dad took me when I was fourteen (84 Games in Los Angeles). That was pretty much my first experience with the Olympics, and I wanted to make the Olympic team. So, I did that two Olympics later."

"I just wanted to be the best at whatever I did," Don Frye says. "Of course, I grew up watching Mohammed Ali, Joe Frazier, Terry Funk, Ric Flair. I wanted to be a fireman; I did that. I wanted to be a cowboy; I did that. I wanted to have a world championship belt; I did that. I wanted to be a good husband and a good father; I hope I can pull that off."

Dave Menne, who I put into a select group with Frank Shamrock and Matt Hume as three people who talk about fighting on a different level than the rest of us, wanted to be a brain surgeon as a small child. When he moved on to junior and senior high school, Menne wanted to be a writer. (Both Menne's mother and grandmother have been published, and as a youngster, he wrote a play that garnered awards on the state level for creative expression.)

***
I've spoken to several fighters training at Miletich Fighting Systems in Iowa, but no one has painted a better picture of what it takes to train there daily than Tony Fryklund. Best known until recently for his performance at UFC 14, Fryklund left his home outside Boston for a torturous tryout in Iowa. Here is his story of how he ran the gauntlet and became one of Miletich's fighters:

"In all the years that I spent doing martial arts, 99-percent of it was useless. I wanted to put a couple of years into grappling and real submission fighting. Then I said, 'Okay, now I think I'm ready to start training with the people that really do it.' That's when I finally went back to the UFC. I didn't know who any of these guys were. Very rarely did I touch on it. Then finally I went, and it was when Jens Pulver was fighting Caol Uno. That's when I just happened to be standing there, and I met Pat Miletich and these guys. I don't know why, but I happened to have a r矇sum矇 with me. That night at the after party, I slipped it to him. A few days later we were speaking on the phone, and he invited me out to come to the camp and train for a couple of weeks.

"When I got off the plane the first time visiting, Pat picked me up at the airport, and we went down to Stars and Stripes, which is the local sportsbar. In the middle of the afternoon they were having bar room boxing and extreme fighting! Right in a ring in the center of the bar! And girls were fighting as well! I looked at Pat and said, 'Does everyone fight in this town?' He said, 'Yeah, pretty much. You either wrestle or you do ultimate fighting.'

"Basically, I got beat up the whole time I was there. I had trash bags full of ice on each leg in the hotel room talking to my father back in Boston, going, 'Oh my God, I can't even walk, but man, I love it out here.' My legs were beaten up, and I spent the whole two weeks looking up at the ceiling because everyone in Iowa is a wrestler. Then we did standup. Pat has so many pro boxers come to the camp. That was when Pat said, 'Wow, this kid is pretty hard-nosed.' That's when he said, with my face bleeding but not quitting and giving these guys a run for their money, 'Your standup is real good; your submissions are decent; your grappling is what we need to work on, but I'd love to have you come back and fight at 185 pounds on the team.'

"I moved out here in May (2001), and June 23 I fought in Jamie Levine's show, Reality Superfighting. I was out here for five weeks, and all I did was get beaten up. I went [into the fight] with a deviated septum, a broken nose and a huge cauliflower ear. I was a mess going into the fight. I couldn't breath through my nose; I was draining my ear with a syringe."

Tony won the fight, by the way, and has not lost since moving to Iowa.

***
Vanderlei Silva's ominous staredown first became famous at Pride 12. While the menacing glare surged a chill down the collective spines of MMA fans watching at home, Dan Henderson had a much different perspective: He was in the ring, and Silva's piercing gaze was focused on him.

Fortunately for Dan, he lived to tell about it. Did it intimidate you? I asked him.

"The stare?" Henderson said. "No. I had a tough time keeping a straight face. Next time I'll probably kiss him or something."

***
Don Frye is widely recognized as one of the toughest fighters in the sport. He has stood toe-to-toe with Tank Abbot and absorbed a series of brain-rattling blows for it, refused to submit while Ken Shamrock cranked on his ankles and knees, and even stepped into the ring to face Jerome Le Banner under K-1 rules. Before he fought the French kickboxer, which very well could have changed his answer, I asked Don what was the hardest he had ever been hit. We shared a laugh as he described the incident.

"That was when my training partner, Sam Sotello, hit me," he said.

"Kick or a punch?" I asked.

"It was a punch," he answered. "He raddled me from the top of my hair all the way down to my heels. Knocked my toenails off."

"Did you go down?" I asked, once I had finished laughing at his eloquent description.

"No, I didn't go down. I thought about it. I called a time out, that's for sure."

***
More to come in Part Two.




For comments E-mail jhall@maxfighting.com
 
OP
J

JDenz

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He hasn't written it yet it is a weekly article that he writes
 
OP
J

JDenz

Guest
Ya it is a great article one of the best that I have read in a long long time just thought I would share with you guys.
 
OP
J

JDenz

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I am pretty sure that part two will be out on friday I will keep an eye out for it.
 

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