"There are a lot of good fighters out there that's still not signed and I think cross-promotions are the best way to find out who the best fighters are," stated MMA veteran Phil Baroni as he shared his thoughts on the importance of being able to fight in multiple organizations and much more. "I still have a lot left in me and my best days are still to come," he continued as he talked about his recent multi-fight deal with EliteXC and his upcoming clash with Kala Hose for the ICON middleweight title. You definitely don't want to miss what he had to say about the fight as he guarantees excitement and a knockout. Check it out.
PC: How's everything going?
PC: I'm sure you're pleased about having the suspension reduced. How exciting is it for you to be able to concentrate on fighting again?
PB: I have to put it behind me. It's like getting manslaughter when you got charged for murder and you ain't do it, but oh well. You just do your time and move on.
PC: You showed tremendous heart in the Shamrock fight and I know you were dealing with some injuries going into that fight. How are you feeling physically right now?
PB: I'm good; fine. It was a tough dogfight, but I licked my wounds and I'm ready to get back in there. The injuries are gone. Injuries heal, you know.
PC: I see you just signed a multi-fight deal with Elite XC. How did that come about?
PB: It was the best offer and the best opportunity. It's a big TV deal in America. I had offers from Japan, but I think I've spent enough time in the land of the rising sun. I want to come back home and fight in America where I feel I should actually be fighting. It was the best opportunity and the best deal that was offered to me. I'm sick of waiting around. I'm ready to get in there.
PC: It will have been close to 9 months since the last time we've seen you fight. Have you been training or just taking it easy?
PB: Chillin' (laughing). A lot of guys like to train and they like the idea of being a fighter, but whatever. I'm over it dude. When I got my time off, I take it and when it's time to get ready for a fight and prepare, that's what I do. I train hard when it's time to get ready for a fight, but I'm not in there learning new moves or anything like that in the meantime (laughing).
PC: You always train with top notch fighters. Who are some of the guys you're looking to train with for this fight?
PB: Well, I'm down here in Vegas right now. I'm training at Couture's gym so pretty much all of the guys that train there. That's pretty much where I'm at right now, you know. They have some pretty good training.
PC: What would it mean for you to capture this ICON middleweight title my man?
PB: It would get me back in the mix. I want to get back in the mix. I feel like I haven't been able to fight to my potential in some opportunities. I've shown flashes of what I can do, but I haven't been as consistent as I should've been. I had some tough losses here and there. I don't think I've ever been able to put it together and get a bunch of wins. I'm more mature and I'm ready to go. It's my first fight back and I think I have all of the bullshit behind me with a fresh start in a new organization back in America and I'm motivated to win all of these fights for the next 2 years and taking it from there. I plan on putting together some wins and knocking dudes out.
PC: How active do you plan on being in these next few years?
PB: Real active. When I was fighting in the UFC between injuries and there weren't that many fights in the UFC, it was a show like every 2 months and you couldn't get on every show. I wasn't active enough and I think it hurt my performance. You have to be sharp and crisp all of the time and I fought some big fights rusty. In Japan, I was fighting every month and a half I won. Then, when they would give me a layoff, I was losing and then fight again and I would win. It was 9 months before I fought Shamrock and that's just too long of a layoff. He had a long layoff, but then he had the tune-up fight against Gracie so it's a big difference between training and going in there and fighting. I need to stay active. That was one of the things I talked about with Elite XC. I told them I want to be active and I want to fight often. They told me they have ICON, Cage Rage, Strikeforce and they'll still let me compete in Japan. If there is an opportunity, I'm always up for that Grand Prix, you know? They have the new K-1 DREAMS coming with the Grand Prix and I always love to get in that. That right there could reinvent yourself and restart your career. That's what I'm looking to do this year and I'm looking to win some big fights and winning big; by knockout! I want to put an exclamation point on all of my fights and show everybody that it's a lot left in the tank. I still have a lot left in me and my best days are still to come. I'm far from the downside of my career. I think I'm ready to put it all together. I'm more mature and I'm ready to take it to the next level.
PC: How important was it for you Phil to sign a contract with an organization that would let you fight in other venues and exploit other options?
PB: That's huge because there are other opportunities out there. There are great fighters in other organizations and I think being able to go outside of your organization and fight the best fighters, and not be inside like a little fishbowl, is important because there are 6 billion people in the world and everyone wants to know who the best is. I don't care what anybody says or what they think about the guy, Fedor's the best dude. Fedor's the best. The UFC champion right now, Fedor handled twice and he's a great champion. He was the Pride Champion for many years and Fedor handled him twice. The best fighter in the world right now is with M-1. He's not in the UFC so they can't claim they have the best fighters. They claimed Chuck Liddell was the best fighter and the whole time, the best was over there in Pride and no one ever knew it; Rampage Jackson. I don't think it's about organizations. The UFC is the king of the hill as far as exposure, TV, being famous and making money as far as if you're one of the guys that sponsor them and stuff like that, but as far as the best fighters in the world, you can't say an organization has the best fighters until they all fight each other. The cream always rises to the top, but you can't say, "I'm in the UFC, I'm the best." Being able to maybe go fight in the K-1 DREAMS tournament with Akiyama and Misaki?to say that Dan Henderson is the Pride middleweight champion, you know, I fought the guy who was the Pride middleweight champion and it wasn't Dan Henderson, it was Misaki. Misaki won the Grand Prix and not Dan Henderson that year, you know what I mean? He's the Pride middleweight champion. It's false advertisement or I don't know what you would call it. It's good promotion and the UFC has that down, but I want the fans to start realizing just because Cro Cop shit in the bed, it doesn't mean that all of the guys from Pride will. Anderson Silva was a Pride guy and actually a Cage Rage guy because that's where he first excelled and Rampage was always a Pride guy and Nogueira will always be a Pride guy in my book and they didn't have welterweights so there would be no one to fight GSP. The best lightweights that were in Pride are still in Japan, Gomi and Ishida. Then the other guys are in K-1 Hero's. JZ and all of those guys are tough. All of the best guys from Pride didn't come over and get beat. There are a lot of good fighters out there that's still not signed and I think cross-promotions are the best way to find out who the best fighters are. Don King thought Tyson was the best, Bob Arum thought Lennox Lewis was the best, Gary Shaw somehow got involved and they put that promotion together and made the fight happen. If you really think your guy is the best, bet on him and cross-promote. That was one of the big reasons I made the move to Elite XC because they're doing that. When I do as well as I plan on doing, I want to be able to show against other top opponents with cross-promotions with some other guys.
PC: You will be fighting Kala Hose and I don't think you're going to have to worry about him taking you down. How much does that play into your favor?
PB: I think it's going to be an exciting fight. He reminds me a lot of me when I was younger. He's not afraid, he hits hard, he takes a good shot, he comes in, he let's them go, he ain't in there trying to pace himself and win a decision and he's a tough kid. He's going to be a good test. I plan on knocking his ass out, putting him to sleep and separating his ass from consciousness, but he's going to be a guy that's going to be there and if you make a mistake, he's going to make you pay for it so you have to be on your toes and be ready. You have to be in good shape and I have to take this fight seriously and he's tough. Would I be saying that if I was fighting the world's greatest Jiu Jitsu fighter? Maybe not! He's not going to do Jiu Jitsu so it's going to be a good fight and a very exciting fight. It's going to be exciting for the fans. He's a tough kid. He's strong, undefeated at 185 pounds and he comes to fight. He thinks he's a contender so he's not afraid.
PC: I'm sure he's going to have a lot of Hawaiians supporting him over there. Is that any added pressure on you to fight him over there?
PB: Man dude, I've been the bad guy my whole career and I just fought in San Jose against Shamrock and I've never had a crowd boo me like that. I couldn't even hear my own entrance music they were booing me so loud. Is this going to be any different? No! I'm used to it and it fuels me. Whether they're cheering or booing, they're caring about you, loving you or hating you. It gives you that inspiration, you know, when they're cheering for you?like in Japan, unbelievably, my last couple of fights over there the fans were behind me and it fuels me. That was a big difference from when I first got over there and they were cheering for the other guy and I wanted to shut them up. I couldn't wait to knock the guy out and shut them up and then they were rooting for me and that made me work that much harder also. It doesn't matter; it's just an extra boost.
PC: Either way, they have an interest in you.
PB: Exactly and that interest keeps that fire going when you're in there.
PC: It's been awhile since the fans saw you in there. What can the fans expect from Phil Baroni on March 15th?
PB: Same shit dude; same shit. I'm going to bring it. My chin is going to be down, my hands are going to be up and I'm going to let them fly. It's going to be an exciting fight and you're not going to want to miss it. I'm going to be the same. I have no tricks up my sleeve. I come to fight. I'm going to come and fight and the guy I'm fighting is going to come and fight. You're not going to get a wrestling match or a Jiu Jitsu match. It's going to be a fight. It's going to be a dog fight.
PC: I appreciate your time. Congratulations on the contract. Is there anything you want to say in closing?
PB: Thanks a lot man and I appreciate everything. I want to thank my fans for the support and expect big things from me this year. I gotta put it together and this is the first step and it's going to be March 15th with Hose for the ICON title.