MMAPlayground Interview Series - Vol. 3 (Nam Phan)
As with any successful professional, mixed martial artists eat, sleep and breathe their craft. They put everything on the line when they wake up, hit the gym and pour their blood, sweat and tears into the sport we all love. When they enter that cage, for the fan, it's all about the entertainment, but these athletes go through the daily rigors with more in mind. For some fighters, it's a paycheck. For others, it's the glitz and glamour, but for some it's a lifestyle fueled by a deep passion and connection to the sport of mixed martial arts.
In our newest site feature, MMAPlayground would like to introduce you to some of these men and women of MMA that you may not know much about.
Our mission? To introduce. To educate. To spread the word.
Nam Phan is an Asian American fighter, who has also competed as a professional boxer. He is most known for his time spent in the Ultimate Fighter household during the twelfth installment of the series. He failed to reach the final, but impressed enough to earn a shot in the Octagon, facing Leonard Garcia and losing what is widely regarded as one of the biggest robberies in recent mixed martial arts history. With a recent loss to former featherweight champ, Mike Brown, Phan was given what he wanted. On October 8, in Houston, Texas, Nam will get a chance to step into the cage and exact his revenge on Garcia.
Phan caught up with us while in his gym, gearing up for some kickboxing.
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MMAPG: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Nam. You have a fight scheduled right around the corner against a familiar opponent in Leonard Garcia. The look on your face when the decision was announced the first time around pretty much expressed what pretty much everyone was thinking…you got robbed. Do you plan on switching up your game plan this time around? I know you don’t want to go in to much detail, but did you go back to the drawing board in preparation for a rematch with Garcia or did you just fine tune your previous strategy?
NAM PHAN: I always try to show some support! The only thing is I gotta try to finish this fight. I feel like if I don’t finish this guy in 15 minutes, just count is as a loss.
MMAPG: How do you feel about the judging in the Garcia fight, and how the judges seem to award his aggressiveness so much?
NAM PHAN: It kind of pisses me off. You gotta be aggressive, it’s cool, but you gotta score points. It’s frustrating.
Bellator champ Hector Lombard and 'Babalu' discuss potential fight, origin of feud
As the days go by, the buzz continues to snowball regarding a potential showdown between Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard (30-2-1 MMA, 7-0 BFC) and free agent Renato "Babalu" Sobral (36-9 MMA, 0-0 BFC).
Details began to trickle out late this past week regarding the possibility of the non-title "super fight" consummating at 205 pounds. The Nov. 19 Bellator 58 event in Hollywood, Fla., was floated as the target date.
But despite the chatter in recent days – and what appears to be the endorsement of all stakeholders – the fight is not yet set in stone.
Strikeforce vet, ex-WWE wrestler Bobby Lashley signs with Shark Fights
Bobby Lashley (6-1) has a new home.
The former WWE wrestler, who made a pro MMA debut in 2008 and fought two times under the Strikeforce banner, has signed a three-fight deal with the Texas-based Shark Fights promotion.
Officials formally announced the rumored deal on Saturday.
A debut date and opponent were not revealed. Financial terms of the deal also were not disclosed. Lashley, though, is expected to fight in November, possibly as part of a show in Missouri.
Since its inception in 2008, Shark Fights has become one of the sport's top regional promotions. It's expanded its reach with HDNet and FUEL TV broadcast deals, and its seventh show of 2011 is scheduled for later this month.
The Shark Fights signing comes a few months after Lashley pulled out of a Titan Fighting Championship 19 headliner with former UFC fighter Eddie Sanchez (12-5). Officials cited "personal reasons" for his scratch.
Mike Whitehead strikes plea bargain in sex-assault case
Heavyweight fighter Mike Whitehead will face probation after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors accusing him of trying to have sex with a woman who was asleep in his home.
Whitehead appeared in Las Vegas' Clark County District Court this week to officially plead guilty to a charge of attempted sexual assault, the Las Vegas Sun reports. Whitehead entered an Alford plea, under which a defendant maintains innocence, but concedes that prosecutors probably can get a conviction.
He will be officially sentenced in January. Under his plea bargain, prosecutors will recommend probation for Whitehead, who would be required to register as a sex offender...
Nick Diaz: UFC Is Trying To Make These Wrestling Matches
It was one of the most shocking stories in mixed martial arts history.
Former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz (25-7 MMA, 6-4 UFC), handed the biggest opportunity of his career, no-showed a pair of pre-event press conferences and was pulled from a UFC 137 fight with UFC title-holder Georges St-Pierre (22-2 MMA, 16-2 UFC).
The world struggled to make sense of the situation, and honestly, so has Diaz, himself. The fiery Californian admits he dropped the ball, but he's shocked St-Pierre went along for the ride. And that supposed disdain for the press? Garbage, says Diaz. Media members should feel free to stop by his gym anytime.
"I'm not trying to make all these little excuses," Diaz today told MMAjunkie.com. "If I'd have known the fight was going to be off, I would have [expletive] gone to the press conference, or I would have told somebody, 'Hey, if I don't make it to this stupid [expletive], I'm not fighting.' I think that people would have gotten me there. I think people would have come and gave two [expletive] and gotten me to that press conference."
Bellator's Kurt Pellegrino on short retirement: "I fell in love with the sport again"
Did you miss him yet?
After a brief hiatus from MMA, 12-time UFC veteran Kurt Pellegrino (16-6 MMA, 0-0 BFC) has announced his return to the sport. This time, however, he'll call Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney "boss."
The New Jersey native will make his promotional debut at Bellator 59 against Patricky Freire (9-2 MMA, 2-1 BFC). The event takes place Saturday, Nov. 26, at Caesar's Atlantic City in New Jersey.
The official announcement was made during Saturday's Bellator 49 broadcast on MTV2.
It's been just 103 days since Pellegrino announced his retirement to the world via his website.
Velasquez Spent Time On Shelf Wisely
He didn’t spend the past year focused solely on rehabbing his right shoulder; Velasquez also used the time to improve his overall skills. He feels he's spent his time wisely but taking every aspect of his game to a higher level.
Dos Santos will face a much more refined heavyweight champion on Nov. 12 than the one he saw wrest the title away from Lesnar. Two key areas that Velasquez felt needed improvement -- his footwork and head movement -- are now up to speed with his wrestling acumen. He's even added a few wrinkles to his ground game.
“I’ve gotten a lot better, just from the time off, from a technical standpoint,” Velasquez said. “I’m happy I used the time off wisely, and everything healed up.
“There aren’t a lot of guys who can say that with time off they’ve gotten better. But my technique and understanding of the entire MMA game has gotten better and I’m happy for that.”
What Chael Sonnen REALLY Thinks About Anderson Silva
Despite his recent, well-publicized troubles, which have included being suspended for steriods and receiving a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to money laundering charges, ESPN have seen fit to place him alongside host Jon Anik for the past two weeks running.
Sonnen has seized the moment, almost entirely dispensing with his standard UFC persona in favor of something far more professional, sincere, and, dare we say, truthful?
“The bottom line – Anderson Silva did an awesome job,” Sonnen said in his assessment of ‘The Spider’s’ performance at UFC 134 in Rio last weekend. “He continues with his dominance. He’s such a good striker. And what he’s really good at is keeping guys at range and having guys fight his fight, and he showed it again.”
Jon Anik then tested just how much he could get Sonnen to admit on national TV by asking him if his rival was the best in the business.
“I’m not ready to say he’s the best ever,” Sonnen said before conceding, “but he’s certainly special.”
There were flashes of the “old” Chael though, such as when he was asked who Silva can beat.
“For me personally it comes down to this – if you want the job done right, apparently I’m going to have to go out and do it myself.”
i also enjoyed his analysis of Anderson mocking opponents....
“When he drops his hands and mocks you, that’s when he’s getting ready – that’s his set-up. So you gotta make him restart. Either take a couple steps backwards [and] make him come to you, or charge him, but you’ve gotta reset him. That’s when he’s starting to get his footwork down.”
Lindland: ‘You Don’t Sue Your Friends’
Not that long ago, when Team Quest was mentioned in mixed martial arts circles, two names immediately sprang to mind: Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson.
However, the two have gone their separate ways, and, in February, Henderson filed a lawsuit against Lindland in California federal court alleging trademark infringement, copyright infringement and unfair competition regarding the Team Quest brand. Lindland countersued the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion for claims including trademark and copyright infringement, unfair competition, deceptive advertising, breach of contract and interference with Lindland’s future business relationships.
Charles Oliveira signs new four-fight deal with UFC
Despite an official two-fight losing streak in the octagon, Charles Oliviera (14-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) will remain on the UFC roster.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today learned from sources close to the promotion that "do Bronx" has been tendered a new four-fight deal.
Oliveira has verbally accepted the offer, and the new deal is expected to be finalized next week.
Oliveira most recently competed at UFC on Versus 5, where he was felled by a devastating Donald Cerrone bodyshot and lost via first-round TKO...
After latest win, re-energized Jens Pulver has no plans for slowing down
Jens Pulver said he's found a winning recipe for success in MMA. Or more accurately, one for finding success again.
The former UFC champ got back on the winning track this past Saturday with a second-round KO victory over WEC vet Coty Wheeler (14-4), and today, he told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) about the ingredients that have gone into his reinvention.
Mostly, it's about limiting his appetites between fights.
"People want to know the biggest thing that makes a difference? I'm not going to go out after this fight and get up to 195 pounds, 20 percent body fat, sit for three months, and then go, 'Oh, it's fight time again?' Then spend my entire camp trying to get in shape," Pulver (25-15-1) said of his pay-per-view win at "MMA Fight Pit: Genesis." "That's how I rolled for the last four years.
"Now, I'm 156 this morning with six percent body fat, and I'm training this afternoon."
There, he'll don a jiu-jitsu gi and work with trainer and fighter Jeff Curran, with whom he took residence with this past November. The gym boasts a stable of impressive newcomers and veterans alike, but Pulver gave special attention to Curran's cousin, Pat Curran, who is scheduled to meet Marlon Sandro in the finals of the Bellator "Summer Series" bantamweight tournament on Saturday.
"I think Pat Curran, he definitely leads the way," Pulver said. "That's a powerful kid. He's leading the charge, dominating people in Bellator. It's hard not to follow."
Pulver has struggled to overcome mental blocks in 12 years of competition, and in recent years, he has met a rising tide of critics who say he should hang up his four-ounce gloves. As for now, he's ignoring them. The only appetite he's looking to feed is new information gleaned from the gym...
With bantamweight title shot against Dominick Cruz looming, Demetrious Johnson facing questions of moving to flyweight
At UFC on Versus 6, Demetrious Johnson will square off agianst Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight championship.
Despite this, the former is still facing questions regarding his admittedly smaller physique and future fight plans, most notably whether or not he's a natural flyweight and if he's planning to drop down once the UFC adds that division to its active roster.
MMANation.com caught up with "Mighty Mouse" so he could give his take on the matter.
Video interviews with Mighty Mouse, Dominick Cruz, and Mike Easton in Playground videos section.
Ryan Couture returns at Strikeforce Challengers 19 on September 23rd
Coming off the first professional loss of his career, Ryan Couture (2-1 MMA, 2-1 SF) will start the process of rebuilding in the fall.
The son of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture is scheduled to return at Strikeforce Challengers 19, which takes place Sept. 23 at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The event's main card airs live on Showtime.
Champ Watson out, Wallhead in against Trigg in BAMMA 7 headliner
BAMMA middleweight champion Tom Watson (14-4) has been scratched from next month's BAMMA 7 headliner with a back injury.
In his place steps Bellator veteran "Judo" Jim Wallhead (21-6), who now meets Frank Trigg (21-8) in a non-title fight at the Sept. 10 event.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today confirmed the switch with sources close to the event.
GSP and Nick Diaz Likely on Tap for UFC Primetime, but Will Diaz Play the Game?
UFC Primetime has become a big hit leading up to some of the promotion’s marquee bouts. The series follows two main event fighters on a three-part, behind the scenes journey leading up to their fight.
For UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, the series is old hat. He’s taken part in the promotional vehicle several times. There’s a reason for that. St-Pierre is one of the most popular fighters in the sport, and he realizes that partaking in such promotional tools only helps to drive his popularity, and value, threw the roof.
UFC 133 results: After finishing Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans wants to 'teach Jon Jones a lesson'
Rashad Evans finished Tito Ortiz -- once and for all -- in the main event last night (Aug. 6) of UFC 133 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and earned himself a light heavyweight title shot in the process.
And a ticket to Denver, Colorado, to challenge the winner of Jon Jones vs. Quinton Jackson at UFC 135 on Sept. 24.
Of course, while a win for Ortiz last night would have undoubtedly been good for business as the Huntington Beach hype train would have only built more and more steam, UFC President Dana White is surely seeing nothing but dollar signs at the possible 205-pound title match-ups.
After UFC 133 win, Chad Mendes' title shot could be derailed by hand injury
PHILADELPHIA – Following a convincing but low-key UFC 133 win over heavy underdog Rani Yahya, is Chad Mendes still next in line for a UFC title shot?
Following Saturday's event, it was a question UFC president Dana White pondered aloud.
But he also found a way to divert a direct answer: by pointing out a hand injury that could sideline the young contender for the foreseeable future.