Saturday night's fight between Phil Baroni and Joe Riggs may not be the most interesting bout on the Strikeforce card, but it certainly stole all the headlines in the weeks leading up to it.
Seems like every day another trash-talking episode popped up between the two out-spoken fighters. Whether it was Baroni calling out Riggs for missing a pre-fight conference call or Riggs accusing Baroni of being a drug user, if nothing else, both men did a fantastic job of selling this 170-pound clash.
FanHouse spoke to "The New York Bad Ass" via e-mail about restarting his career as a welterweight and what he hopes to accomplish in the future. The full interview is below.
Ariel Helwani: Since dropping down to 170, you're a perfect 3-0. Is there a specific reason why you have been so successful as a welterweight?
Phil Baroni: Hmm, let me see: I'm fighting smaller guys more my size maybe? And I'm in better condition and more athletic because I'm carrying less muscle. I think both of those could be a factor.
How difficult is that weight cut for you?
Not difficult. Not having sex before the fight, now that's difficult.
Joe Riggs has openly talked about being disappointed that Jake Shields dropped out of their previously scheduled fight. Do you feel as though he may be looking past you as a result?
(The) kid's a jerk off. He is doing and saying exactly what Shields said to him. The same s**t that got him all riled up. What a jerk off, really.
Which part of Riggs' game impresses you most?
He is great on top and, when he is winning, he is tough.
Do you feel as though you have some unfinished business in Strikeforce considering the way your last fight in the promotion against Frank Shamrock turned out?
I have unfinished business with my whole career. If you haven't noticed, it has not turned out exactly as I planned. In fact, nowhere near how I saw it turning out. But I still have a chance at a great opportunity in Strikeforce against Joe Riggs to change that and point it in the right direction headed right at a rematch with Frank Shamrock.
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Based on his last two performances, do you think it's time for Frank Shamrock to retire?
No. He had a long layoff before his fight with [Nick] Diaz, and Diaz is just that good. I felt he was beating Cung [Le] and almost KO'd him before he broke his arm. I also heard his arm was already hurt in training by a kick from [Maurice] Smith. I think the layoff hurt him, Diaz is really good and he was injured. All those factor in, as well as his first time down at the weight [179 pounds]. He had a lot against him going into that fight. He is still great. I learned a lot from our fight and a lot in the two years after about what he said [about] being a real martial artist. He should not retire. He is a great fighter, and I want to smash him.
How long did it take for you to get over the disappointing loss to Joey Villasenor last year on CBS?
Not long - I did not let it. Thanks for bringing it up, a**hole. I was fighting in England down at 170 a month later. I could not let it bring me down. I feel it was an early stoppage, especially against somebody like myself, but he did a great job; hit me hard; choked the f**k out of [me] and kept on kneeing and punching away. He is a great finisher and he did enough to make the ref panic and jump in. I was going for a take down to try and save my a** and regroup, [and] next thing I know I'm on the ref's leg and I feel pants. I was like, 'Oh f**k, I hope he kneed me while I was down or hit me in the back of the head.' I look up, and he waves it off. I was like, 'Man, come on. In New Jersey, in front of my fans ... This is the worst ever. Why, oh God, why?' Thanks a lot for bringing it up. I always love to relive that once in a while. Did I tell you about the time my grandma died?
At the time, did you ever think you would get another chance to fight on a high-profile card on a network like Showtime?
Yeah. Why wouldn't I be? What the f**k kind of question is that? Joe is a great fighter and can beat anybody on any given day.
I've heard some crazy stories about how EliteXC operated behind-the-scenes. What was your experience like fighting for them?
It was fine. I made some good new friends, like Doug DeLuca, and worked with some old ones, like T.J. Thompson and Rich Chew.
As a veteran of the sport, were you upset with how much they pushed Kimbo Slice?
I did not really give a f**k; he is a nice guy. Whatever they wanted to do with their money. He did a good job. People tuned in; he got people to see Gina [Carano] and helped get her, [Jake] Shields, and Robbie Lawler famous. Too bad I was not winning the fights I was in PRIDE on CBS. Maybe I'd be in Maximums [sic] top hot 100.
What are your thoughts on women's MMA and specifically the amount of attention Gina Carano receives?
She is a tough b***h. She can fight; she has a good personality; she is good for the sport in general; she draws attention. Eyes are good.
You have been training with Wanderlei Silva for this fight. What's that experience like?
I've trained with him a few times. He is a nice guy. He is tough and goes hard; he is a great training partner. I look forward to training with him more in the future now that he is [in Las Vegas] full-time and has a gym.
Who would like to fight after Riggs?
Just Joe Riggs. All roads lead through 'The Diesel,' so I have to blow through him. I heard names like Diaz and Shamrock and [Scott] Smith ... Whoever, I don't care. As long as it gets me closer to the title and back on the right track to becoming the champion I dedicated my whole life towards being.
At the press conference in St. Louis two weeks ago, you said that your agent, Ken Pavia, doesn't know what a southpaw is. Is that true?
I think he does now. He f**king better.
Ariel Helwani also covers mixed martial arts for Versus.com.