Posts Tagged ‘Greg Jackson’

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“May see thee now, though late, Redeem thy name, And glorify what else is damn’d to fame” Richard Savage

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

Edited By: Bob Fisher Pugilpix

Perspective can bring clarity. Unfortunately there is no time line for understanding. For some it comes early, for others it may never come at all. For Joe ‘Daddy’ Stevenson, perspective has been quite elusive. As a young fighter Stevenson made his pro debut in 1999 at the tender age of 16, now nearly 50 fights later, that perspective has arrived.

Long after his last fight, Stevenson found himself on the mat at his gym, working with his younger fighters. He told them he wanted them all to define their goals as fighters clearly. He wanted to know what each of his fighters expected of themselves, so he, the coach, could do his best to make those expectations come true. Everything was going according to plan until one of Stevenson’s young proteges, Jamal Pogues, asked, “What about you coach?”

The seemingly innocent question may have been considered a wise-ass response, but instead the question stabbed its way through 17 years of fighting and attacked a soft spot inside of Stevenson that he himself had never addressed! “I thought about his question for quite some time.” Stevenson said, with the answer eluding him at every turn.

As a coach, Stevenson has many young students who count on his experience and knowledge to light the dark passage that is a fight career. During the ‘goal definition’ process, Stevenson realized he himself had never completed the exercise. “I’ve had a lot of great coaches, but I’ve never had someone in my ear outside of the cage” Stevenson said. Although he had many coaches that focused on technique, Stevenson didn’t have a coach to lean on¬†during the difficult times away from the cage.

As young wrestler, Stevenson’s stock skyrocketed with his success. At 16 years old he was already training with the likes of Oleg Taktarov, Bas Rutten, Ted Williams, and Genki Sudo. All of whom, were successful mixed martial artists at the time. For Stevenson, this opportunity was all he had. “Wrestling was the only thing I was ever good at!” Stevenson said. After working with these legends, fighting seemed to be the next logical step. His pro debut came against Joe Camacho (rest in peace) one month before his 17th birthday.

His career was off to a terrific start, and after a successful stint with the King of The Cage, Stevenson moved to Las Vegas to pursue his black belt in jiujitsu. During this time, Stevenson pretty much retired from fighting. Instead he focused on coaching, training and helping others prepare for fights. Things stayed the same until UFC matchmaker Joe Silva came into the gym to watch Stevenson train. After watching, Silva insisted that Stevenson join season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter. Just one year earlier this show launched the sport of mixed martial arts into the main stream. With the epic bout between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar fresh on his mind, Stevenson leapt.

Opportunity once again knocked, and Stevenson was ready to answer, but still he was going through the motions. Once he was isolated inside the TUF house, the demons that haunt so many came knocking. “I was very self conscious about my drinking, thats why if you re-watch the show I always had a red cup!” Stevenson said. “I didn’t want my kids or any kids to see me drinking!” So, he tried to keep the demons hidden, away from view.

Still, Stevenson thrived professionally, winning season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter. Inside the cage, Stevenson was becoming one of the most feared men in the lightweight division. However outside of the cage, and away from the lights, Stevenson’s life was beginning to unravel. Now the centerpiece in the crowd, Stevenson never felt more isolated.

Celebrity can bring with it a loneliness. For Stevenson, he looked for the answer in the bottom of a bottle, or three. “I was a undefeated as a drinker!” Stevenson said. Depending on how you look at the situation, one could certainly agree or disagree depending on what you consider defeated. “The day after the Ultimate Fighter Finale, the day after the biggest night of my life, I was given my first DUI.” Stevenson said. Apparently the alcohol from the celebration had not found its way out his body, and on his way back home, the TUF season 2 winner found himself in hand cuffs.

As a fighter, Stevenson could always rely on his god given talent. So the dance with demons continued between fights, and even sometimes during the fights. At the age 20 Stevenson’s marriage fell apart. And Stevenson responded by healing the only way he knew how, in the gym by day and the bar by night.

Still, inside the UFC cage the wins kept coming! After a self imposed hiatus from drinking, Stevenson went on a tear, winning four fights in a row, earning him a shot at the vacant lightweight title against the future legend B.J. Penn. A fight that still evokes a very deep emotion from Stevenson. “B.J. and I were actually friends.” Stevenson said. “I can remember hanging out with him in a bar one night, and he came over and said ‘You now one day we are gonna fight bro, good knows good!'”, and although that meeting ended in celebration, their next meeting was not so easy.

Penn won their fight decisively in what would be remembered as one of the bloodiest fights in UFC history. “I remember seeing my blood shoot out of my head in a stream that was about five feet long”, Stevenson said. According to a ringside doctor the gash on his head caused him to lose over 500 ccs of blood. You would think a loss like that would be devastating, and to some extent it was, but¬†after all, Stevenson had never planned on even getting there. Up until this point, one of the best fighters in the world still didn’t have a single defined goal. Instead the loss was handled much the way the wins were, with a few pills chased by alcohol.

After that fight, Stevenson returned with an impressive win over Gleison Tibau, but then alternated 2 wins with 2 losses. One of the wins was an impressive domination of current lightweight contender Nate Diaz. Up until this point, Stevenson was always able to maintain two lifestyles. at first he was a fighter who liked to party, but soon he became a partier who moonlit as a fighter. Soon the perennial fight of the night contender now found himself in rather boring fights. An uninspiring decision loss to George Sotiropoulos was followed by 3 more losses, including a KO loss to Mac Danzig, which was the only time Stevenson had ever been knocked out in his career. After his loss to Javier Vasquez, Stevenson was released from the UFC.

Although devastating, the loss was quickly washed away, and soon the mediocrity of everyday life became the daily reminder to what he had pissed away. Stevenson began to realize he had not only lost his job, but he was beginning to loose himself as well. Nearing bottom Stevenson began to look for answers. He found some of those answers in familiar faces that were now anonymous. It was in these meetings that, Stevenson began to discover himself. He found both comfort and solace listening and sharing. He reveled in being an example.

In the gym, Stevenson was quickly becoming known as one of the best young coaches in the sport. His pedigree and wrestling base made him a fountain of knowledge that even the most seasoned of fighters could drink. Rapidly his young stable of fighters began to start making names for themselves. And Stevenson himself was also starting to evolve professionally.

After working on the show ‘Breaking Bad’, Stevenson began his love affair with Hollywood. Soon after¬†he received a phone call from coach Greg Jackson that would change his direction. Jackson had been contacted by the powers that be in Hollywood, who were looking for a fight choreographer for a new show that showcased the world of mixed martial arts.

The show created by Byron Belasco starred Frank Grillo, Nick Jonas, Jonathan Tucker, Matt Lauria, Mac Brandt, Paul Hauser, Natalie Martinez and Nikki Going as a dysfunctional fight family native to the Venice Beach area. One of the main problems with shooting a show about MMA, is making it look real. In the past, the sport has not been kind to the translations of MMA incarnations on film, which weighed heavy on Belasco. So they brought in Stevenson to sculpt the cast into fighters, and to add certain level of authenticity that would resonate heavily with mixed martial arts fanatics.

Taking his time, and working from the bottom. Stevenson began to shape these actors. “I only know how to train fighters,” Stevenson said. ” I don’t know how to pretend to fight”. So these actors pretty much went to bootcamp. Their bodies changed, their diets changed, and even their outlook on the sport changed. The show ‘Kingdom’ debuted to raucous reviews, and quickly became a hit. Not only were television audiences impressed, but the MMA community specifically was considerably thrilled. A testament to the actors, and the choreography of Stevenson.

Busy on many fronts, Stevenson found himself torn between coaching and working in Hollywood, living somewhere in the nexus between an old itch returned. Constantly being involved a long forgotten flame began to burn again, and soon ‘The Daddy’ was ready again, to take to cage. Returning to the action for the first time in 3 years, Stevenson took on very tough prospect Dominique Robinson. The fight ended up not going Stevenson’s way (he lost a 5 rd split decision) but his performance was hindered by poor preparation and by an infection that had him on antibiotics the day of the fight. He simply forgotten how much preparation was necessary, and Robinson was more than willing to remind him. Even still the fight could have gone either way.

The loss bothered Stevenson, but his performance is what left a particular bad taste. “I didn’t prepare for the fight properly.” Stevenson said. “Even though mentally I was in the right place, physically I didn’t take enough time to prepare. When you are out of action for 3 years you can’t just jump into a camp and get ready, and I thought I could.” Stevenson said.

For the next few months, Stevenson went back to the usual grind. Alternating between cornering fighters, coaching, and working on set, while maintaining his role as the father of four young boys. However this time he kept his weight down, returned to training, and for the first time in his life Joe Stevenson was doing everything the right way, but he didn’t know where he was heading.

Then came the answer in the form of a question. “What about you coach? What are your goals?”

“I went home after Jamal asked me about my goals, and thought about it.” Stevenson had often looked for answers, and often found them from within, but this time he was at a loss. Was his purpose now to coach, or was his goal now to grow as a coordinator in film industry?¬†The answer once again came back to fighting.

“50 wins” Stevenson said. “My goal is to win 50 fights, then I can move on.” Currently Stevenson would need another 17¬†victories¬†to accomplish that task (Some websites differ with regard to record). At 34 years old he is still young enough to compete at a very high level, and his pedigree will always translate to the sport. But why would he want too?

The goal although defined, remains obscured by certain mitigating factors. Truth, fear, the past, and even the demons themselves are all part of the motivation. For a fighter of Stevenson’s caliber his last performances can’t be easy to live with, especially since now he thinks he could today, out perform his younger self. ” I’d instigate the 25 year old version of me into a brawl, before I double legged him and pounded him out!” Stevenson confidently claimed. Perhaps that is who he will be facing the rest of the way.

For Stevenson, the goal may have been defined. The 50 win plateau may hopefully end up being the destination. The end may justify his goals, and what Stevenson finds on the road to redemption remains to be seen. However it appears in coming full circle as a person, Joe Stevenson has finally arrived as a fighter.

 

Notes: Joe Stevenson returns to action July 30 in his hometown of Victorville CA, fighting under the California Fight League promotion. Click the link for ticket information. Joe Stevenson is also set to fight in August under the Tru-Form Entertainment Promotion, it what could be one of the best SoCal fight cards of the year! For information on where to watch the hit television show Kingdom (click the link).

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By Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Video by: John Walsh The Clinch Report

In the world of mixed martial arts, few names are more recognizable than Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture. He is the only 3x Light Heavyweight and 3x Heavyweight champion in the sports history, and has also transitioned outside the sport into main stream media better than almost any other fighter. His fights are legendary and so are the training camps that he founded.

Team Quest and Xtreme Couture are two of the sports most recognizable camps, and both were founded in part by Couture. We have seen his coaching skill first hand on the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter, so he is the perfect fit for Bellator and for the show.

Couture has endured a media backlash from the UFC since signing with the rival promotions new endeavor. Dana White has said publicly that Couture is now persona non grata¬†at all UFC events including ones where Randy’s son, Ryan( who is on the UFC roster) is fighting. The elder Couture was in the UFC employ up until recently, but decided to sign elsewhere when he felt his status with the company was left in limbo.

Now with “Fight Masters”, Couture is looking forward to the shows reception. Which should be well received. The show itself on the surface may seem like a ‘TUF’ retread, however after watching the premier episode it is evident that this is not the case. The show offers a completely fresh look at the reality concept with regard to fighters.

Each fighter gets to choose his coach for the season. After a short interview process each fighter decides between Frank Shamrock, Joe Warren, Greg Jackson, or Couture.  Each coach evaluates the fighters, and in some cases, even lobby to be chosen. The show somewhat represents what a real fighter would do, by choosing his own path.

With a diverse mix of talent and incredible coaching; the show is all about pure mixed martial arts. However the coaches add a dynamic of competition between themselves that is not only genuine, but at times it is hysterical. The added entertainment value is a refreshing change to the buffoonery we have become use to on the other reality shows.

The show debuts ¬†Wednesday, June 19 at 10 PM / 9 PM Central on SPIKE TV, and offers a mid week MMA fix for both the avid and casual fight fan alike. With the network having previous success with this reality show format in the past, and with Bellator’s current growth ‘Fight Master’s’ success is all but guaranteed.

Bjorn Rebney bellator Owner and CEO

Bjorn Rebney bellator Owner and CEO

By: Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Once again Bellator shows their¬†business¬†acumen by following in the footsteps of one of the UFC’s most lucrative paths. Viacom and Bellator announced on Tuesday, that filming would begin “imminently” for a show that would be similar to the Ultimate Fighter, set to debut in the summer of 2013.

Several high profile MMA stars have signed on to coach including UFC exile Frank Shamrock, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture,¬†renowned¬†coach Greg Jackson, and former world champion Joe ¬†Warren. The show dubbed “Fightmaster:”, will not be an exact clone of the TUF series, but very similar. Once again Bellator seems to have stolen more of the UFC’s thunder.

The most glaring issue is the signing of Randy Couture, whose¬†tumultuous¬†relationship with the UFC is apparently¬†permanently¬†put to rest. “I’m¬†glad I never have to do¬†business¬†with the man ever again!” Dana White bristled when asked about Couture teaming with Bellator. “Most people that do¬†business¬†with him would agree!” White, also clarified that the former two division champion’s son would still be fighting under the UFC. Although he made it clear that the elder Couture was not welcome in any capacity. “He can’t even buy a ticket!”

Building on the TUF model, Viacom has put together a tremendous team to run “Fightmaster”.¬†‚ÄúThe cornerstone of this show is really about the people behind it,‚ÄĚ said Bellator president Bjorn Rebney. ¬†‚ÄĚThe Amazing Race‚Ä̬†creators¬†Bertram van Munster¬†and¬†Elise Doganieri will be the wizards behind the curtains.

The series will feature 32 welterweights who will choose their own coaches. Fighters will compete for a 6 figure contract, as well as a spot in a future championship tournament. 2013 is looking like the year of Bellator.

Every move they make, seems to pay dividends. With partnerships that are genuinely concerned with producing a quality product, and fighters who tend to leave it all in the cage, the successful rise of this promotion seems to be guaranteed!

Listen above to Dana White speak to the media this morning when he canceled UFC 151

After being a pedestrian during the conference call this morning that shocked the MMA world, it took a while to organize any coherent thought about this situation. Immediate reaction was¬†sadness, for Dan Henderson who¬†obviously is not getting any younger, sad for the fighter who¬†sacrificed, and lost extremely important revenue both from¬†sponsorship’s, and from fight purses.¬†Slowly that emotion evolved into anger directed directly at Jon Jones, and Greg Jackson. Not because of the outlandish things Dana White said, but because they were in a position to satisfy their ultimate boss (the fans), and they refused to answer the call. The very same call that Mauricio Rua answered, that led to Jones becoming the champion.
Rashad Evans was slated to fight for the championship originally but a knee injury forced him out. Rua was offered Jones;  and like a champion he accepted. Now Jon Jones is refusing to do the same. Apparently Jones must has a very short memory, and now an even shorter fan base. The UFC already has enough heels, that are actually really good at playing the bad guy. Kosheck, Nelson, Diaz act universally, they never stray from who they are. Jon Jones does not seem content with either role. Great fighters, want to fight. The fact that Jones did not even want to negotiate terms (ie make it a non title fight, 3 round fight, more money etc) leads me to believe one of two things. First either Jones himself sustained an injury, and this is a convenient way out of the fight. Or he is getting bad advice from his handlers. Either way the damage is done. Jon Jones who once had the potential to achieve Chuck Liddell like status, has assured with one move, that he never will! Fight fans forgive fighters who get beat, who give lackluster performances. However they are historically very tough on paper champions.Fight fans are loyal to their sport first and the fighter second. Jon Jones lost a tremendous amount of respect in the fight community today. Respect that may not ever be earned back. For now, and for some time to come, he will undoubtedly be known as the fighter who choose not too fight too fans, and the employee who let a large number of colleagues, and other workers down!