With only 12 days until UFC 125, and the main event almost certain to go to a decision, along with Clay Guida on the card (another decision), I decided to request an interview with someone who rarely goes to a decision (although his last 3 fights have). Even when he does go to a decision, it's an exciting 3 rounds of non stop action. Phil Baroni knows this could be the last chance he gets in the octagon, not just because he's coming off of a loss to Amir Sadollah at UFC 106, but because the UFC has been trimming their roster as of late. He will face undefeated TUF veteran Brad Tavares on Jan. 1.MMBB: I'm here with Phil Baroni 12 days out from his fight with Brad Tavares, I just watched you training a little bit, you look to be in a lot better shape than the last time I saw you. Training must be going great!?
Baroni: Yeah, it'll be a little over 3 months I'm here by the time I leave which is, like you said, we are 12 days out from the fight and I've done the work. I haven't missed a workout, and I've done extra. I'm leaving it in gods hands, I did everything in my power to be ready for this fight and to be in the best physical shape and conditioning and have my skills up to par. The rust is definitely officially knocked off and I'll have no excuse. We'll see who ends up with the W, I'm betting on me. I'm going all in on this one!
MMBB: Other than obviously knowing you're going to win, how do you see the fight going? Stand and bang?
Baroni: Well he's a stand up guy and if he wants to stand, that's my specialty. I've been fighting for 10 years, there is no surprises, I'm the New York badass, I'm gonna get in there and be the New York badass. The only surprise is maybe I haven't been the New York badass the last couple years, since I've been in Pride for whatever reason, but I'm that guy again.
MMBB: You got almost 30 fights, he has 6, do you feel that's a big advantage?
Baroni: I think I've forgotten more than he knows. This is going to be his first time in the big show. Everyone keeps saying the pressure is on me or I'll be cut, the pressure is on him too.
MMBB: I think the pressure is on everybody in the UFC right now.
Baroni: Yeah well no pressure no diamonds, and I love the pressure. I've been in these situations with pressure and so called gotta win fights for the last 5 years and I've been fighting over 10. Who knows how long I've been fighting in situations like this, but man, I love it! My back is against the wall, well I fight the best with my back against the wall. Maybe before I was taking it a little easier and not as serious, but I'm not dumb. I know the clock is ticking and it's now or never...Fuck never!
MMBB: Last time we talked, I know you don't want to look ahead, but you had mentioned Bisping, then I read about maybe fighting an up and comer,
Baroni: You know, I'm in great shape, done the work, I paid the price, hopefully I get out of there unscathed, and I can get back in the cage in New Jersey. I would love to fight in New Jersey! I'll put that out there, hopefully that can get out there, I'll tell you! I'm not looking ahead or past Brad Tavares, I've done that many times in the past. I did that bad against another guy from Hawaii and learned the hard way that Hawaiians are tough. Brad Tavares is probably the most talented Hawaiian at my weight right now, talent wise, young and freshness and I'm definitely not looking past him. I did the work, but you got to have goals. I'd like to win this fight, get a 1st round knock out like I used to do when I win and get on the New Jersey card! I think New Jersey wants to see me.
MMBB: I think that's the key, not taking the time off, not putting on a little extra weight, but staying active and in the gym, and hopping right back into the cage. The best fighters out there seem to get right back to it after a win.
Baroni: And that's when I fought the best in the world, fighting in Pride, there was no secret, I was fighting every 6 weeks. They liked me, they used me and I was fighting every 6 weeks. My shelf life ain't the best you know, I have some demons, everybody does. I need to have a fight on the table and stay active, you know a fight on the table to train for. I'm gonna say it after I win at the press conference, man, put me on the New Jersey card because I'm the New York badass and I have a lot of fans in New Jersey and I haven't done as well there in the past and I want to win for those guys and show them that I'm still a contender. I'll show everybody when I beat this kid, like I said before, I think he's the best guy I've fought in the last 5 years.
MMBB: Do you want an up and comer or would you rather a "name" or you just want to be on that card?
Baroni: I just want to be on that card. I've never picked my opponents before, whoever they put. Top 5 guy, if someone gets hurt, I'm stepping in. I'm gonna get right back in the gym and hopefully get on that card. I don't know who they have on that card already, but there's definitely someone that needs a fight. My fights are never boring and will definitely be a crowd pleaser. I think they got to throw me on that card, they have a ton of guys on their roster that need to get fights so I'd like to get on that card. I'm sure the performance I put on will make them at least think about putting me on that card.
MMBB: Now when you say get right back in the gym, obviously it's no secret you do well training here at AKA, you ever thought about moving out here permanently?
Baroni: Yeah, I got to win this fight first, and then if I do I'm looking to get a place down here and move out here permanently.
MMBB: That's smart, you do well training out of here!
Baroni: I think I've had some of my best performances training at AKA and that's what I'm looking to do now. Stay consistent and put on good performances and stay in top shape and fight my ass off. The time is ticking and I want to get as many fights as I can. A lot of guys talk about fighting a few times a year, I'll fight 4-6 times a year as long as I'm able.
MMBB: I've seen a big push on Twitter to get you and Tavares onto the Spike tv card, any word on if that's worked?
Baroni: Not yet, keep pushing please. Keep texting Dana White and @UFC and get me on that card! You know I'm gonna put on a good show, no matter what I come to fight and it'll be an exciting fight. I may not get put on the main card, but if it's on Spike, it'll get people to order that main card.
MMBB: I've seen a couple people actually say "Well Phil Baroni's 13-12, why does he deserve to be on the main card?" What do you have to say to those people?
Baroni: I put on a good fight. I'm 13-12 against a lot of great fighters. I've also had some stupid losses that I shouldn't have had before and I've beaten some really talented guys, some top flight guys. It's mma and record is irrelevant. I could have easily...I won 3 fights in 3 months before, I could have easily stayed on that circuit and padded my record by winning 12 fights in a year, but that's not what I'm here to do. I'm here to fight the best and I don't care about padding my record, this ain't boxing! Ask anyone who's fought me if I'm a 13-12 fighter.
MMBB: Getting off of you for a second, let's talk about the Koscheck/GSP fight, do you think GSP is that dominant or do you think he just sticks to a game plan and that's what makes him that good?
Baroni: He had a good game plan, I think now finding out about Koscheck's eye, that had something to do with it. I think maybe he wasn't really fighting well after the 3rd round, the eye was shut, they coulda stopped the fight, but he wanted to go the distance. Maybe looking back, the doctors or somebody should have stopped that fight. I don't know, GSP is good, he's a good fighter. I didn't see it going the way it did, but what can I say. Did that eye injury happen, maybe he's that good or maybe the eye injury really affected Koscheck, I don't know. What can I say about that fight, it was a good performance, he won. He did what he had to do to get his hand raised, he's still the champion. Now he's onto bigger and better things and more money fights.
MMBB: Another teammate, Jon Fitch will be fighting BJ Penn, a lot of people are saying "Oh, BJ isn't a real welterweight." Anyone who knows anything knows he's fought from lightweight all the way up to heavyweight, how do you see that fight going?
Baroni: He's a great fighter, and I don't know if he's better at lightweight. He was the best lightweight in the world until he ran into a bad stylistic matchup with Frankie Edgar, and now he's a better welterweight. I don't know, it's a hard fight, Fitch is a great fighter, he's very well rounded and works really hard. Fitch lives in the gym. There's no guy I know as dedicated, that came from a wrestling background, and got so well rounded that he's a legitimate black belt in jiu jitsu. I mean he's a great fighter and he has everything it takes to beat BJ. BJ is BJ and on any given night he has knock out power, he's hard to take down, he's got great submissions. BJ is also very well rounded so it'll be a good fight. It's gonna be, can Fitch's stamina and conditioning and toughness as well as his size break down BJ? Then I see him getting the decision. Or can BJ overwhelm Jon and stop him? It's going to be a good fight.
MMBB: Back to you Phil, 12 days out, you still going full steam or are you tapering down?
Baroni: No, I just sparred hard today with 2 guys. I grappled hard too. I'm still training hard, it's not time to taper yet, I still have to improve. I still have time to get stronger, get my conditioning better and peak! I'm not ready yet, a lot of guys right now would be happy with the performance today and be happy with where they are at, but I'm not. This is a big fight for me and I got a lot riding on it, and I want to keep on going. I want to have a couple more hard sparring sessions,I'm not worried about it, I'm not afraid, I'm ready to go!
MMBB: That's probably been the biggest issue you've had is the gas tank previously, you don't see that being an issue this time around?
Baroni: Whatever man, I didn't have a problem in Pride with my gas tank, and those were 10 minute rounds. I'm sick of hearing about it, I'm sick of being asked about it, you'll just have to wait and see. I hope he's counting on it, I'm not worried about it, I'm sick of the fucking question to be honest with you!
MMBB: You've fought all over the world, this is, like you said, probably the last hoorah, it's do or die for everybody in the UFC, not just you. Do you have any message you want to send to Brad Tavares leading up to the fight?
Baroni: I got no shit to talk to him, you know, let's just put on a good show and let's make them never second guess putting this on the undercard or on Spike. Let's show them that we are worthy and lets put on a good show. It takes two to tango, so lets do it man, lets fight. I'm coming to fight, you better be ready to fight, lets just fight.
MMBB: Any sponsors you want to thanks?
Baroni: Affliction, they've stuck by me, Tom Atencio. I'm not sure on any others yet. Who wants to jump aboard the Phil Baroni band wagon? There are slots open, if you want to sponsor the New York badass, get on now while I'm still cheap, because I plan on winning this big fight and my price is gonna go up, so get on board now!
MMBB: Thanks Phil.
Baroni: Alright man.