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After their fight, the Fodors remain a house divided


Caros Fodor and his little brother Ben Fodor fought last Saturday night, with Caros winning a decision. On the outside, the fight was met with plenty of squirms. The idea of half-siblings literally trying to do each other harm in a cage crossed a threshold that a lot of people couldn’t understand. Ben and Caros' mom, Susan, didn’t attend the show. She was one of those.

On the inside, it was more complicated.

If the fight was meant to resolve some deeper sibling conflict that a broader public wouldn’t fully grasp, it didn’t. Ben Fodor — known more famously by his crime fighting alter ego, "Phoenix Jones" — was visibly shaken before the fight, getting emotional in an interview with the World Series of Fighting’s Joey Varner. Yet he still can’t stand the sight of Caros after the fight. He has estranged himself from his family at least temporarily, and says he has no intention of reconciling with Caros ever again. He says he understands forever is a big word. Forever’s a big word.

Then again he prides himself on being a man of conviction.

"No, we’re not talking," Ben told MMA Fighting. "After the fight I kind of just walked off to spend some time alone in the woods for a while, and when I came back the next day I went over to my brother’s house to apologize and bury the hatchet. I went over there, and he was having this little party. I walked into the bathroom and I was like, yo, I want to apologize, that didn’t go down the way I thought it was going to, and I don’t feel much better. I said I was super-sorry, and I gave him a hug.

"But the minute he touched me I just wanted to hit in the face again. I realized, you know what, I just don’t like this motherf*cker. And I was like, ‘I’m not going to like you, bro.’ And he said, ‘why did you come over here if your intention was just to hit me in the face.’"

The stories of why they fought in the first place shatter off into many emotional shards and indiscretions. Caros pulled a Carbine 15 on Ben when they were younger, and shot him right in the stomach. It was a blank round. A prank. They have fought at birthday parties and holidays. They have fought as adults. They have fought in training. It was inevitable, they said, that they would fight officially within the sanctioned walls of a cage. Emotional baggage went into the matchmaking. The fight might have been booked in bad taste, but it wasn’t a publicity stunt. 

WSOF president Ray Sefo even gave the brothers a chance to call the fight off at the XFINITY Arena in Everett, Washington on Saturday night, seeing how the conflict was all but consuming Ben beforehand.

"Right after that interview came, Ray came into my locker room and said, look man, I know you’re emotional about this, if you need to bail on this thing, I don’t care," Ben says. "He said, ‘it’s going to cost me a lot of money, but I will make sure you don’t lose money, and I can’t pay you all your money, but I can get you some money and make sure we’re good, and we can get you another fight at another time.’

"He told me he was going to fight his brother in a kickboxing tournament they were both entered in. And he almost had to fight his brother, and he was resolved that if he had to fight his brother he was going to walk out there and let him knock him out. It never happened. It turned out okay, they got eliminated separately."

For Caros, backing out was never an option. He was going to fight his brother come hell or high water. They were going to fight.

"[Ben] keeps saying that it was all on me, there’s literally a clip of him talking shit about wanting to fight me after his last win in Arizona," Caros says. "He just pretends he had nothing to do with it. I didn’t want to back out of it. We signed the paperwork. We always talked about fighting. Whatever."

Ben lost the fight unanimously on the scorecards, but didn’t take any damage, which was a relief to his mom. Caros had some cosmetic injuries, a swollen eye, but came out relatively unscathed as well. To scrub the memory away of standing against his brother as fast as possible, Ben -- who received a seven-day medical suspension -- booked himself into another fight. 

He’s filling in on a local card this Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Tulalip Resort Casino. "The main event fell out and it was a title shot at 170, and I’m not fat," he says. "I’m ready to go." Inward conflicts became public circus, and he’s distancing himself from that as fast as he can. He says he doesn’t want a rematch. He always wants rematches with guys who beat him, but not in this case.

The civil war wasn’t therapeutic. If Ben is acting erratic, Caros doesn’t care. He avoids anything to do with his brother, whom he says embarrasses him when he goes out at night fighting crime as a superhero vigilante. He says Ben’s mental state remains a bit of wilderness to him.

"Yeah, sometimes I wonder, he’s out there," Caros says. "I really don’t know. We haven’t been talking for a long time, so I really don’t know where he’s at in life, how it’s going for him. I purposely don’t listen to or read anything he does. Like if I see him post something on social media, I turn away. I don’t want to hear him say anything that makes me want to never want to talk to him again. Only thing I’ve been told is from interviews with reporters telling me what he said."

One thing he said was that the epiphany of how much he didn’t like his brother didn’t happen in the failed embrace days later, but in the first round of the fight itself. While on the ground, Caros was throwing elbows trying to open him up. Caros was trying to spill his blood, which is what fighters do, but not brothers. The conflict has many such layers. It was full of trespasses. It was never going to make complete sense.

"I got pissed," Ben says. "When I went back to my corner, they said, look, this guy is not your brother. He’s not your friend. He’s throwing elbows, he’s trying to cut you. And the second round I was throwing bombs."

Asked if he’d ever reconcile with his half-brother, Caros shrugs his shoulders.

"That’s a good question," he says. "It’s all on him. It’s just whatever for me. He hangs onto things pretty tight, so I really don’t know man."

Asked the same question, Ben is certain he won’t.

"You can’t trust that guy, man," he says. "He trains with you for two years, sets up a fight behind your back, and then goes out there and tries to cut you with elbows. What a dick. I don’t know if I could ever be cool with you because I don’t trust you."

Ben went to the woods and thought, and now he’s going to fight again a week later. The fight did things. His family dynamic has changed.

"I haven’t actually talked to my mom," he says. "I’m not sure if I’m going to. We’ve always been cool, we don’t even have a problem. Caros has always been closer with the family than me. Not by a lot, but just by a little bit. So after the fight was over -- and this is no fault of my mom or anybody -- but after the fight was over, when I was walking through my sabbatical, Caros went home to my mom’s house and ate dinner with the family and they were all over there. That just didn’t sit right with me.

"I know that she didn’t do anything wrong, and I’m not mad per se, but I’m just like, you want Caros knock yourself out. I’m going to go do my own thing. I’m fighting this weekend again and I didn’t invite anybody from my family."

Caros was trying to cut Ben. He was trying to spill his blood, blood he is familiar with even if they aren’t blood brothers. Caros was treating Ben like another opponent, which is a detachment Ben struggles to understand. That little exchange you can’t help but think is a glimpse into the divide itself. Ben still had barriers, ideas of brotherly limits. Delusions. He wanted his brother to materialize in some form in the fight. Caros wasn’t hitting his brother. He was hitting a stranger.

Ben was a stranger.

"Absolutely, anytime I’m throwing elbows, it’s with the intention of cutting someone," Caros says. "We’re in a cage match, I was trying to do whatever I could. Of course I was trying to. He was doing a really good job of keeping my hands tied up. He’s strong as an ox. People were like, you went easy on him when you were on top, and I’m like, no, he controlled my hands well. He had me tied up, so props to him on that."

Was it worth it? Did it make anybody feel better? Did it resolve anything? Not as far as Ben is concerned. He went to apologize to Caros days after the fight but realized the thing runs deeper than that. Whatever was really at stake on Saturday night is still at stake. Whatever consequences came of it, he has internalized. It’s part of his character, he says, to use his gut on such matters.

"You cannot fight crime and not know yourself," he says. "Because there are moments when you come across…like, I came across $4,000 in cash on a drug dealer one time. There are moments where, somebody’s trying to stab you and there’s no one around and you got the knife back and you could do fucked up things. You learn what kind of dude you are pretty quick. There are no consequences. It’s not about any cop, it’s about what you feel inside. There are rare moments in life where you have no consequences."


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