Friday, January 11, 2008

Exclusive Interview with Phil Baroni

Originally posted on Punch Drunk Gamer. Justin Bolduc had a chance to talk with the NY Badass Phil Baroni about his suspension, the CSAC and the training it takes to always fight the best fighters in his division.

PDG: So I guess first, what have you been up to lately?

Phil: Nothing much, man. Lying in bed, eating cookies, feeling sorry for myself [laughs]. But [I did] commentary for the Fireworks in the Cage event – Travis Wiuff headlined.

PDG: Do you have any plans to begin fighting again immediately?

Phil: Yeah, but I’ve got to get in shape – I took a lot of time off and lying around not doing shit. I just got back in the gym and running a bit, doing some roadwork to get the weight off me. I plan on fighting again in March. I’ll be 100% in April or May, but I’ll be ready in March. I’d like a couple of back to back fights in March, April, May, or June – get in there and get a couple fights in.

PDG: You’re usually in good shape. Do you think it will be a problem to get back there, or do you think it will come pretty easily for you?

Phil: It’s going to be a pain in the ass. I always have a bad habit of letting myself go between fights, but this is the longest I’ve ever gone before. It’s going to be harder but like I say every time, when I get in shape I’m going to stay in shape and not have to do this again, but we’ll see [laughs]. That’s why fighting in PRIDE was good, they had me fighting every other month and I couldn’t get out of shape, and that’s what I’m looking to do – stay active and keep fighting and get back on the scene.

PDG: So you had some issues with the California State Athletic Commission. Despite a negative test result being presented you were still fined and suspended, though a reduced suspension. Recently Sean Sherk also went through an ordeal with the same commission. At this point, after all of that, how do you feel about the California State Athletic Commission, and do you really event want to fight in California anymore

Phil: I’m afraid to. I can’t go through this again; this has been one of the worst things that have happened to me in my life. It would be simple if I was using steroids because I just wouldn’t use them [laughs].

PDG: You mentioned your nervous – does what happened make you nervous about fighting other places or is it more or less isolated to California?

Phil: Well I don’t know. I don’t know if it was the laboratory, Quest Diagnostics. It’s a great lab, but it’s not a great lab. They brag they test for AIDS there, but so what? That has nothing to do with testing someone for steroids. Sean Sherk’s attorney found out that they didn’t clean out the machines they test people on before and after every test. So who knows what sample could have been there before mine that tested for those drugs. It’s really scary to be honest. I’m not saying I know all about laboratories, drug testing, or testing for diseases – I don’t. But [Quest Diagnostics] are a corporation and human.......and mistakes can be made. They had one guy testifying that there is no way the tests are wrong and that no supplement could cause a false positive.

Then just the other day a big study came out saying 20% of supplements are tainted. Now I’m not blaming my positive on supplements, but I’m just saying to stand up there and say there is no way it can happen, then this big study comes out that says they can it shows me that the lab either doesn’t know what they are talking about or that they are trying to cover something up.

I never received paper work from the lab or the commission saying I failed. I never saw the test; I just received a phone call. I want to see the “dirty” test because the same sample I retested came back negative. How did they hear that I failed, over the phone? They called up a guy and said “this is who failed and this is what they failed for,” and scratch it down on some note paper? It’s ridiculous and I’m sick of talking about it. I want to move on, and it’s been hard to move on at this point. That night for me I lost the fight, I lost the drug test – it’s a horrible situation to be honest.

I’ll just say this though; I feel the commission is there to protect fighters. They are in place to make sure that fighters have their medicals done, make sure we’re healthy to fight, and to make sure promoters pay us. They aren’t there to police fighters. When you go fight in front of some of these commissions they treat you like a criminal and act like it is a privileged to go out there and fight in front of them. No, they are supposed to be there to help you. Get some referees that know what they are doing, why don’t you do that before you worry about drug testing? Why don’t you get some judges that know what they are looking at and know how to judge a fight so that there aren’t so many bad decisions - worry about that. California says they are leading the way in drug testing athletes… really? Fuck you, get this shit done right. Protect the athletes and help the athletes. We’re not criminals who are guilty until proved innocent. We’re treated like shit. I don’t understand, we’re athletes just like any other sport. Why don’t they go test the San Francisco Giants or why don’t they test the 49ers and the Rams and the Raiders? Maybe if they went and tested them there wouldn’t be any conspiracies in those sports like there is now. Why are we punished and treated like criminals? We’re a bunch of guys trying to make a living. It’s just a job. And the state doesn’t drug test everyone that has a job. It’s just the way they treat you. I think the organizations should come up with the punishments and drug test the athletes – just like in baseball and football and other sports.

PDG: So looking at your career, you’ve pretty much entirely fought highly notable opponents. How do you feel about that, you’re 10-8, but like I said you’ve fought against all quality guys?

Phil: I’ve fought the best guys. I fought too many of the best guys and not enough of not-the-best guys, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. My record isn’t the greatest but I’ve beaten some of the best fighters in the world, and all the guys I have lost to are all great fighters – so I’m not ashamed. It could be a lot better – there are guys with thirty or forty wins coming into the UFC or PRIDE, then lose one or two fights, then rack up twelve more outside in the smaller organizations. My first fight was in the UFC. I don’t regret it. I’m proud of my wins and I’m not really ashamed of any losses. It’s been a tough career – it just sucks that with how big the UFC is that guys like me aren’t given a shot. A lot of my training partners are in there – guys I used to beat up on are in there winning fights and now a big deal. I don’t understand why a guy like me wouldn’t be in there – I paid my dues. I was fighting in the UFC and PRIDE before the big MMA boom. I’ve always had exciting fights. I’ve had a bunch of exciting fights and a bunch of knockouts. I always thought I had a home there, but I guess not. I have to go fight somewhere else.

I’ve received offers from others though. I received an offer from Showtime’s Elite XC. And I received one from the WEC – which to me is different then the UFC, it’s a step down. I don’t see guys moving up to the UFC; I think there will always be WEC fighters. I don’t want to do that. I have a lot more fights in me then that. But I’ve received offers from Showtime and a new show in Japan that just opened up. I’m trying to figure out what I am doing next, but first I need to get in shape before I can do anything.

I had a lot of fights in PRIDE – unfortunately no one saw those fights. The main public didn’t see the fights and it’s basically almost like it didn’t happen – I was fighting in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was in the UFC when the UFC wasn’t paying guys and not nearly as many people were watching it. Then I was in PRIDE when they weren’t paying guys as much as they originally were and they were in trouble and went out of business.

PDG: What would you like to accomplish next?

Phil: I just want to get back into a big organization and fight – I have a lot of fights left in me. Like you said, I fought all the toughest guys, and I want to keep fighting them. Now that I have my head and my experience I can make a good run. I want to win a big streak of fights in a row and win a major title in a major organization. Of course the UFC is everyone’s first choice. I have a lot of fight left in me and I want to prove I am better than I’ve shown.

PDG: Alright, to wrap things up, is there anything left you’d like to say?

Phil: I just want to thank the fans for the support and not giving up on me. Hopefully I’ll get into a big show that is on TV and that people watch, and put on more good fights. That’s about it and that is what I’m looking forward to doing. I hope the fans support me, and if they do respect to that. I’m not done yet.



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