Phil Baroni is set to take on Japanese knockout artist Nobutatsu Suzuki at ONE FC: "Rise to Power" in Manila next month and, as always, "The New York Badass" had plenty to say for himself. He's returning to the scene of his most dominant display in recent memory when he blasted through Rodrigo Ribeiro in exactly a minute last August.
The setting is slightly different as ONE FC has booked a bigger venue, moving from the 16,500 capacity Smart Araneta Coliseum to the 20,000 capacity SM Mall of Asia Arena, but it will be the same old Baroni who plans to score a second successive stoppage win for ONE FC, set up a title shot in the process and then party well into the early hours and beyond.
Standing in his way is Suzuki, a Japanese fighter who is 9-1-2 with all nine of his wins coming by way of knockout or technical knockout. Baroni's best chance of success has traditionally been to blast through opponents in the opening round meaning all the ingredients are in place for some exciting early exchanges.
At stake is a possible welterweight title shot and after unsuccessfully challenging for belts with mid-tier promotions such as Icon and Strikeforce, winning a championship with a major global player like ONE FC would be the perfect way for Baroni to end his career.
Here's what the man himself had to say on the subject.
All Suzuki's wins are by knockout, are you concerned about his power?
No, I welcome it! I wanna taste it and then shove mine down his throat and have him choke on it. Suzuki's a knockout artist? Then lets fucking bang! I want to go out there and put on a fucking show. I'm ready for it! I want to ROCK the house in Manila. Rock it again! I want the fans to be talking about me and my fight when the night is over. I want people to remember my name. I'm the Guinea from New York bringing the thrilla' back to Manila. Yo Suzuki, let's trade bitch!
You also have a reputation for having heavy hands, do you think thing this is going to be a stand-up war?
I think I'm going to go through Suzuki like shit through a goose. I'm coming hard, bringing the heavy artillery . I'm going to hit him so hard his brain is going to shake inside his skull! The fight is going to be stand-up but not a war it's going to be an assault. A battery, he is going to take a beating. And I'm going to try and kick his head off . Kick it into the stands so one of my fans gets a souvenir.
How do you think the fight is going to finish?
The last thing Suzuki is going to remember is the taste of my feet. In fact he isn't going to be able to get that taste out of his mouth for weeks. It's going to finish violently, they're going to have to pry me off this chump!
Are you going to be going for an early knockout?
I'm going to jump on him and see what he is all about as soon as the bell rings. I'm going to punish him. Bust him up really bad. He is going to find out what it means to be in a real fight with "The New York Badass' and he's not going to like it. The fights in ONE FC are real fights and you can't hide behind the rules. He is going to ask himself, "Why did I get my self into this? How did I get here?" And then, "Where am I? Who am I? Is it Christmas?"
You seemed to enjoy yourself last time fighting in Manila, how happy are you to be back?
I'm real happy to be back. I love the Philippines, the fans, the women, the night life. I'm gonna fucking rock Manila again! Manila is my city! I love this place! I'm going to have a limo a block long waiting for me after I smash this busta' and my corner men are going to fill it for me with the finest Filipinos and I'm going to party like its 1999.
You're coming off one big ONE FC knockout, do you think one more win will be enough for a title shot?
I think when I stop this busta' and in the fashion I plan on doing it, Mr. Cui will have no choice but to give me a title shot! The fans will demand it. My mind's right, my body's right and I'm ready for war. I'm having a great training camp. I have some new tricks up my sleeve. I have a new trainer and everything's coming together. I'm going to show the brass at ONE FC that I'm still the man, that I'm not just sex appeal, that I'm the whole fucking show. And I was born to be a champion.
How much would it mean to you to win the ONE FC belt at this stage of your career?
That's the only reason I get up and go to the gym two times a day, the only reason I run an hour every night. The reason I don't have kids or a family at this point in my life. The reason why everything in my life is on hold! I want a fucking title and to leave my stamp on MMA and ONE FC. I want to feel what it's like to be a real world champion. I want the kids when they ask for an autograph to say "Champ, can you sign this? Can I have a picture champ?" I always though I'd be a champion by now and be retired have a family and be done with this part of my life. But I haven't achieved my goal to be the best in the world yet. I've been close, I could almost taste it. I fought for the world championship three times, two in the PRIDE 83 kilo grand prix and in Strikeforce. I was the number one contender in the UFC, one win away from a title shot twice. It's my destiny to be a world champion. And it just so happened to work out that I'm going to win that championship in ONE FC. I guess somebody up there has been saving the best for last for me. I'm going to have a championship belt around my waist before I retire.
Do you have a message for the fans in Manila?
Ladies look pretty, wear your bestest dresses, get your hair did, put your makeup on and look pretty. My delux king size suit only has room for 94 and we will be partying, popping bottles till the crack of dawn. It's hard to get a ticket to the NYBA victory bonanza but if you look good and can shake what your Mama gave ya, you might just get a VIP ticket!
Baroni vs Suzuki is set for May 31st at ONE FC: "Pride of a Nation" at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila and the card also features Bibiano Fernandes, Honorio Banario, Eduard Folayang, Kamal Shalorus, Masakatsu Ueda and Kevin Belingon.