At long last, Phil Baroni will make his Bellator debut later this month at Bellator 122. The fight marks "The New York Badass'" first time back since suffering a disastrous mid-fight ankle injury in mid-2013, the same injury that left him with a year of painful physical therapy and crushed his dreams of vying for the ONE FC welterweight title.
But now Baroni is healthy, and as a throwback to a bygone era, Bellator matchmakers have paired the 38-year-old up against 31-year-old Karo Parisyan, himself a fellow ex-UFC standout who made waves in the early to mid-2000's only to fall on hard times of late. The two are supposedly on good terms, however during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Baroni made it clear that he isn't at all pleased with how Parisyan has handled the lead-up to the fight.
"I'm not going to talk trash about him, but I heard a couple of his interviews," Baroni started. "He told me no trash talking. We're friendly, so I was like alright, cool. But I saw a couple of his videos.
"And after thinking about it, he kind of disrespected me. Like, I'm just a puncher or a half-ass wrestler? I'm not a high school wrestler. I'm not Miesha Tate and you're not Ronda Rousey, dude. You know what I mean? I'm a two-time All-American, I [competed] at Division I powerhouses, Central Michigan and Hofstra University. I'm a real deal. I'm a real deal wrestler. When I want to wrestle, I can wrestle. I was taken down all the time? Yeah, I was fighting Olympians, Matt Lindland and stuff. He's not Ronda Rousey and I'm not Miesha Tate, like a high-school girl wrestler. I'm a real deal wrestler, so if it's going to come down to takedowns and who's getting thrown, it's not going to be me.
"I'm telling you right now," Baroni continued. "I'm kind of taking offense with it. Maybe I'm getting a little bit short-tempered and a little bit looking into stuff too much, but like, I'm not an unskilled fighter. I'm just a heavy puncher? I'm a good boxer. When I moved to Las Vegas, I was training at Top Rank when Floyd was ‘Pretty Boy.' He was training there while I trained alongside him, and I sparred with the top-notch guys all the time. Back in day, my work ethic and sparring, how hard I sparred, it was legendary. You'd hear the announcer say they had to lock the gym door to keep me out of it. And that's how I am right now. I got the fire back, and if you really think he's going to be able to out-skill me, and that I'm just a half-ass wrestler that can punch hard, he's mistaken. He's really mistaken.
"I don't want to say anything because I'm friends with the guy, but if he really thinks that when we trained at Couture's that I was going all out, he's mistaken. When I go all out, I knock people out. The stories are true. Yeah, I knock out good dudes when I want to. If you ever have a problem, let's go hard and you're getting knocked out. I've done it at AKA, I've done it at Couture's. I've done it everywhere when I have a problem. I didn't have a problem with him, but I'm going to have a problem with him in Bellator. Guaranteed."
That wouldn't be the end of it, though. Baroni was just getting warmed up, and all it took was a small compliment regarding the rant from host Ariel Helwani to set "The New York Badass" off all over again.
"That's not a promo, dude," Baroni fumed. "I'm not trying to sell pay-per-views. I just want to set the record straight here.
"I'm quiet, I'm not saying s--t. ... I'm not here cutting promos. Bellator, I'm coming to f--king fight, dude. I'm telling you right now, I'm coming to f--king fight. I'm working harder than I've ever worked in my life. I'm not here to f--king put on a show and hope to be... I don't know what... hope to be anything. I'm coming here to f--king fight, let's set the record straight. We're going to win some f--king fights, go out in my career on a high note. I've been a f--king big disappointment, and it's been a little bit embarrassing, some of this s--t. So I'm looking to f--king set the record straight, man. This is it.
"These other guys are old and this and that, maybe they have nothing to prove, maybe their hunger isn't there and the desire isn't there? Well, I'm f--king hungrier than I've ever been," Baroni continued. "And I've got a lot to prove, so it's a different scenario. And maybe they're a little older, they don't want to go f--king run at 11 o'clock at night. I'm f--king working out three times a day and putting in six, seven miles in 20-degree weather here in the f--king desert, so it's a different animal. I got something to prove. F--king Dana (White) wants to say this s--t about age all the time and it's a young man's game. Na, it's a young man's game because f--king kids don't want to get paid and they just want to be famous. Old guys are a little smarter and want to make a little bit of money, and young kids are sometimes hungrier. But f--king no one's hungrier than me, bro. I'll leave it at that. No one's hungrier than me."