Still Got It: An MMAmania exclusive interview with Frank Trigg


Frank Trigg is a man of many talents.

The former two-time UFC welterweight title challenger splits his time commentating fights with Michael Schiavello, cooking, training and he's an avid technology junkie.

At 39 years old, he also believes he's got a few more years of fighting left in him. He recently signed a deal with BAMMA, which started with a fight this past May, a first round TKO via doctor stoppage of John Phillips in an absolute bloodbath. 

Trigg was slated to fight at BAMMA 7 this upcoming Saturday (September 10, 2011) for the middleweight title against belt-holder Tom "Kong" Watson before an injury to the champ forced him off the card. Top UK fighter "Judo" Jim Wallhead will be taking Watson's place in the main event against the experienced wrestler instead.

The veteran out of Xtreme Couture spoke with about his upcoming fight, his regrets, and why aspiring fighters should think twice before joining MMA.

Brian Hemminger ( Okay Frank, you were slated to fight Tom Watson for the Bamma middleweight championship next week but he had to drop out due to injury. That was a pretty big fight for you especially at this point in your career. What was your reaction when you heard the news?

Frank Trigg: The initial reaction, I didn't really know what was going on. All I really heard was them talking about looking for another opponent and then I found out it was Jim Wallhead. It wasn't any kind of crazy reaction. I've just gotta move on to the next guy. I can't dwell on that fight falling through, I've just got to focus on Jim Wallhead in front of me so I'm going after him.

Brian Hemminger ( Yeah, Jim Wallhead, he's a guy that's naturally a 170 pounder, a weight class you have a lot of experience in. He's a guy with solid judo skills, respectable stand-up and a strong ability to take this fight down and work his ground and pound. What are you expecting now that you're facing "Judo" Jim?

Frank Trigg: It's a different character altogether than Watson. Watson was a Dutch kickboxer type and this guy is more of a takedown and ground and pound guy so I'm expecting him to shoot on me in the first 35-45 seconds of the first round. I expect him to come out banging and try to offset my balance if he can. In the stand-up, he'll probably be looking to land a big right hand and put me down with a TKO. He's going to assume his wrestling skills are at least comparable to mine and he will try to take me down and get on top of me and beat me up a bit. I'm expecting him to be really aggressive, throw a lot of punches and go for the takedown quickly.

Brian Hemminger ( I don't know how much chance you've had to watch tape on Wallhead. He was a participant in the Bellator season four welterweight tournament and he some difficulties with Rick Hawn. Hawn didn't have the experience of Wallhead in overall MMA but was still able to outpoint him in the stand-up.

Frank Trigg: Well, that's Rick Hawn. Rick Hawn is an American judo Olympian and Wallhead is just a judo guy from England. England's got great judo so you would think that their judo would be pretty comparable but if it were a judo match, I'd put my money on Rick Hawn. If a guy's best repertoire is to ground and pound you and you don't let him ground and pound you and you pick him apart being more aggressive with your punches, you're gonna beat him. There's no way for Wallhead to beat you if he can't ground and pound you. 

Brian Hemminger ( I saw an interview where you talked about really working on your footwork.

Frank Trigg: Yeah, as you get older, you get a bit slower and there's some basic motions and stuff that I was missing my entire career that I had to start working on a bit, just moving my feet a little bit more. I've been trying some new drills and some different things with my feet that have been working for me. 

Brian Hemminger ( Let's talk about your permanent move to middleweight. I know when you came back to the UFC it was at 170 and then you've since decided to move up in weight for your last fight in BAMMA and you were preparing to fight for this middleweight title. Is that something that's just a logical decision as you get older? Is it not as helpful to cut down to 170? Dan Henderson is way more productive at 205 than he is at 185 lately.

Frank Trigg: Well, it is out of a page of Dan Henderson, that's for sure. Henderson has always had that mentality of he wants to prove that he's better than the bigger guys. He wants to fight at 205 because he wants to prove that he's better than those guys despite weight about 200 naturally and those guys are about 230 and he's knocking fools unconscious. That's definitely something that rubs off on me. 

When I look at the biggest mistakes of my career, top two for sure is coming back to the UFC at 170. I could probably make 155 pounds. I could make weight on night before a fight at 155 pounds but I can't function the next day to fight at 155. I can't function at 170 the next day. Making weight and being able to be an athlete the next day and compete are two different things and I just can't compete at 170 anymore.

I've been cutting weight basically since I was 13 years old. It started with a couple pounds before a tournament when I was in little league wrestling, then four pounds in high school, then maybe 7-8 pounds during my college career every time I had to make weight and then 10-15 pounds for the opens in wrestling after college. Now for MMA to make 170, it's 15-20 pounds to make weight and that's just getting to be too much on my body.

I'm at a better position, I've got more movement, I've got more energy and I'm able to train harder and train smarter when I'm at 185 so the biggest mistake for me was when I went back to the UFC at 170. It should have been 185. That was my decision so all the blame is on myself. The move to 185 is where I need to be.

Brian Hemminger ( Can you talk about how you're skills have kept evolving to keep up with the younger generation of fighters. I know the move to middleweight is one step. Is there anything that you've really been focused on to stay with these guys?

Frank Trigg: When you work out alongside guys like Jay Hieron, Martin Kampmann, Gray Maynard and Mike Pyle at Xtreme Couture and you're in the same process as these guys and you've got the same coaches that these guys do it's something that helps you stay in the present, seeing what they do, talking to them about workouts, what they've been eating and you get some stuff put together. It's not major changes I have to make for me because I've been training in this sport for so long, it's really minor changes. Sometimes it's moving forward in on direction but moving backwards in another direction. It's definitely not as hard when you put your mind to it.

Brian Hemminger ( We had an interview with Gesias Cavalcante and when talked about one of the most important things he'd learned in his career was 'learning to forget.' Basically there may have been techniques that made sense in the past and maybe you've got to push those aside to advance with something new.

Frank Trigg: That's one of the things that Randy Couture always brought to the table to compete, he always had a great gameplan for his opponents. Win, lose or draw, there was always a great gameplan. What worked in the fight before is not necessarily what will work in the next fight. It's a different person, a different body, a different time. JZ is correct. There are certain things that worked in the past and won't work in the future. That's entirely true. I might be able to armbar one opponent but I can't armbar the next so I've got to go to a triangle and I've got to prepare my triangle for the next training camp. 

Brian Hemminger ( I've heard people ask you about advice for fighters just getting started and you always tell them to just, "play golf." Can you elaborate on that a bit? Why don't you think this is a good career choice?

Frank Trigg: There's so many other ways to make money. There's so many other ways that aren't gonna nick your body up and hurt ya and shorten your lifespan. There's so many other ways to go and do other things if you want to make money and you're athletic and you don't want to hurt your body as much. You'll also make more money. Why would you want to be a mixed martial artist? There's not a ton money to be made. The top 3 percent make all the money. Everyone else has to struggle to make a living. Everyone thinks, "oh, I'm gonna be like Tito Ortiz or Chuck Liddell or Rampage. I'll be just like Rashad Evans or Jon Jones!" Yeah, good luck buddy. Those guys are one in a trillion. One in a trillion, those guys. They make all the money. Everyone else just eats the scraps. You've got to be a businessman on the side, use your degree. Learn something else. There are so many easier ways to make money.

Brian Hemminger ( I'm wondering if this also plays a part into that mindset. At 39 years old, have you felt the accumulation of injuries suffered during wrestling and training and fighting all this time? Has that started to add up on you?

Frank Trigg: Oh yeah. Like every other professional athlete, I'm injured from just doing my game. That's how it is. That's life. When you're a professional fighter like this, that's what goes on. You get beat up, you get hurt. That's just how it goes.

Brian Hemminger ( Visualizing success, how would you like to see the fight play out against Wallhead on the 10th?

Frank Trigg: Well to be blunt, I hope it ends early and quickly. I just want to get it done as early as possible. There's not particular way I want the thing done, I just want to get it done and over with.

Frank would like to give a shoutout to his twitter @FrankTrigg, his FacebookMMA Adventure (where you can win a trip with him) and the Frank Trigg iPhone app which should be coming out soon.

So what do you think Maniacs?

Does this old dog still have some fight in him? How will he perform against a fighter 12 years his junior next Saturday night?

Speak up!

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