Posts Tagged ‘The New York Bad Ass’

By Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

When Phil Baroni started fighting the sport of MMA was known as a somewhat ‘brainless tough man competition’, where the brutal usually trumped the tactician. However, Baroni was one of the first to bring a blend of disciplines together to win with regularity. His tremendous hand speed, and stiff wrestling pedigree made him one of the first all-around fighters in MMA.

Once he made it to television,Baroni’s career took off. As the UFC was starting to grow into a major sport, Baroni’s brash character, and aggressive style made him an instant draw. People paid to see him win, and they also paid to see him loose. His polarizing persona forced you to make it a decision. You either loved him or you hated him, but either way you wanted to see him fight.

His fight against Dave Menne at UFC 39, and rivalries with Matt Lindland and the late Evan Tanner will always be considered as all-time UFC classics.

Since then “The New York Bad Ass” has fought in every major organization around the world (Several stints with the UFC, Strikeforce, Pride, Dream, Elite XC, ONE FC, Titan FC and  others), and is now set to make his promotional debut for Bellator MMA against Karo Parisyan (23-10 MMA) on July 25. On paper the fight seems like a “cross roads” bout, as both fighters are trying to right their once promising careers. However for Baroni, its just another fight!

“I still have the fire!” Baroni said. “I love to train. I’m happy and I have a lot left to prove. I feel my career has been a letdown, and maybe a bust.” Baroni said. Those of us who watched him fight however would disagree. “I’m looking to this fight to set the record straight.”

That record has seen him fight everyone from Frank Shamrock to Ryo Chonan. Adding Parisyan’s name to the win column would certainly pave the way for more big name fights. “Karo is coming off a big win over Ron Keslar, who was a sparring  partner of mine at AKA, and Keslar beat War Machine who is another friend, so its a big fight me.”, Baroni chuckled. “I need to show these young guys I’m still the big dog!”

Currently still under contract with One FC, “The New York Bad Ass” was able to secure a fight with Bellator while still under contract with the Asian promotion in part due to the negotiations of former CEO Bjorn Rebney. With Rebney no longer in charge, Baroni is excited to fight for his former Strikeforce boss Scott Coker; who is now running the Bellator operations.

“When I was coming out of Pride I met Scott Coker; He came up to me and told me ‘I want to be in the Phil Baroni’ business.” Baroni said. “He promotes fighters.” Coker unlike his predecessor at Bellator, and unlike Dana White prefered to remain behind the curtain. A trait that left a lasting impression with Baroni. “You see these guys like Dana White and Bob Arum, become big stars as promoters, doing media scrums, and its like ‘who cares?’ they are just promoters! I just don’t understand it.” Baroni said.

As a promoter, Coker prefered to see his fighters in the limelight. The fact that Scott Coker prefers to stand behind his fighters motivates Baroni more.

“If you look at the Strikeforce fights, it was Frank Shamrock vs. Phil Baroni, or it was Frank Shamrock vs. Cung Le. It wasn’t Strikeforce a hundred and whatever, it was about the fighters, not the promotion!” Baroni said. “When Coker came to me after Pride, it meant something, it motivated me, ‘Now I want to repay that faith and make him[Coker] happy he is in the ‘Phil Baroni’ business.”

A good showing in his promotional debut would certainly secure that faith. However, win or loose “The New York Bad Ass” already has plans to drop in weight and fight at 155 lbs. Baroni claims he could have made the weight for his debut with Bellator, however he “could’t say no to a big name like Karo.” A fighter he not only respects, but recognizes as a legitimate threat. “Karo is coming off a big win, he is a real tough dude, the guy was one of the best in the UFC for a long time.” Baroni said. “I know he had some personal issues in the past, but he seems past all that now, and looked strong in his last fight.”

This fight will also be the first test for Baroni’s surgically repaired ankle. The long recovery from the injury has tested him mentally and physically. A test he would have never passed without the help of his loving wife Angela. “She didn’t give up on me, and she held it down while i was recovering!” With her support he has been able to continue fighting, and again looking to regain his former form.

A return to OKG Gym in Las Vegas is another reason for the drop to 155. “Nick told me if I wanted to come back to OKG I had to prove to him I was serious.” With his injures healed, and his weight in check it appears Baroni has passed all of the test he needed, now he needs to parlay that confidence into a great performance.

Although confident about his chances again, Baroni understands he may have to win over the pundits. “I’m not stupid, I know what the critics say” Baroni lamented. “They think I’m washed up, especially coming off the injury, but the public didn’t really see my fights in One FC, and the critics don’t see me training hard everyday. That is why this is also an opportunity for me to reintroduce myself to the American MMA fan.” Baroni said.

A win over Parisyan on national television would certainly go a long way to regain that notoriety. A loss however, would not define him. Guys like Phil Baroni are cut from a different cloth. His interests carry outside the world of fighting, and he currently owns his own business along with partner boxer Paulie Malignaggi (Future Legend), and also spends a lot of his time helping charities raise money.

“Recently I started volunteering for the One Step Closer Foundation that works with families of and individuals with, cerebral palsy.” Baroni’s nephew Christopher is one of the children who receives assistance from the charity. “I see first hand how hard it can be financially on families, it breaks my heart to see people like my sister struggle to afford things they need.” Baroni said. The charity utilizes the fighters loyal fan base to help raise money through events like their charity poker event which raised $63,000 that directly helped those in need, those like Christopher.

Baroni wears a green armband in support of the charity, and if you would like to make a donation please visit their site at: http://www.onestepcloserfoundation.org

The future for Phil Baroni will be defined by Phil Baroni, not by the critics. His legacy is secured in the concrete memories of the true fan, alongside the Chuck Liddells and Randy Coutures. He may not have won a title (Yet!), but his popularity can never be questioned. Despite what anyone may say, he is and always will be “The Best Eva!”

Make sure you watch Phil Baroni at Bellator 122 on July 25th, when he takes on Karo Parisyan. The fight will be live on SPIKE TV Check you local listings or log on to Bellator MMA.

 

You can follow: Phil Baroni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/philbaroni

Phil Baroni is Sponsored By: Future Legend http://www.futurelegend.co/ a company he owns with Boxer Paulie Malignaggi.

He Trains out of One Kick Gym in Las Vegas http://onekickgym.com/index.html

Phil Baroni would also like to thank the following:

Havoc Boxing for making “The best boxing robe in the business” Phil is their First MMA Sponsored Fighter Following the Likes of Diego Corrales and Sugar Shane Mosley

Tracy from Affliction Clothing,

Garden of Life Raw Meals

Lana’s Egg Whites

Special Thanks: to Chiat Sityodtong from Evolve Singapore.

 

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Phil “The New York Bad Ass” Baroni is one of the early pioneers in the sport of Mixed MArtial Arts. The Massapequa Long Island native, has fought in some of the biggest stages in the world. Baroni became an immediate fan favorite with his brash style, his unapologetic demeanor, and his vicious aggressiveness. With his legacy assured, and losses piling up many people wondered why Baroni was still fighting at all.  Baroni recently said in our 30 minute interview. “I’m a Pride fighter.”

Below is a few of the questions from our MMA discussion.

JK:You have been fighting since 2000, in some of the biggest shows in the world. Why in your own words do you still compete?

Baroni:”I’m a pride fighter, you know. I fight for money. Records are for DJ’s, Money talks and bullshit walks. But my goal is to win the One FC belt. However, a shiny belt only puts food on the table if you sell it on ebay, at this point in my career money talks.”

JK: You seemed to be a different fighter in your last fight,(win at One FC Debut) do you feel more comfortable fighting under the unified Pride Rules? (with soccer kicks and knees to grounded opponents)

Baroni: “Yeah, I’m a New York street fighter. I’ve been kicking people in the head since I was a little kid! But I play by the rules whatever they are.”

JK: What was the difference between the last fight, and the one before, the one you lost to Holland in Denver?

Baroni: “I have to give a lot of credit to my cornerman, Mike Swick. Everyone before had been telling me to pace myself, and try not to get tired, but Swick told me to be the old Phil Baroni, the guy who comes out guns blazing, and something clicked in my head. At the time I was listening to too many people, my own press clippings, but Swick told me to fight my fight, and thats what I did. He understands me, he was coming off a few losses and a long lay off as well, so he knew where i was at”

JK: The Holland fight was featured on the “Fight Factory” television show. Did having the cameras on you put any added pressure on you? It was a pretty heart wrenching scene with you wife crying after the loss.

Baroni: “The show didn’t show it, but Javier Mendez begged me not to take that fight. I had a few major injuries that hadn’t healed yet, and I took the fight cause i needed the pay day. I should have never taken that fight! I didnt watch that fight, still…I’d rather watch the last one!”

JK: Good segway. How do you feel about Jon Jones not taking the Chael Sonnen fight on short notice?

Baroni: “I would have taken the fight, but look what happened last time, I lost. But, I’m not Jon Jones. I think everyone should get off this kids back. He is the champion, the Boss, what he says goes. Would I have taken the fight, ‘yes’ but who the hell am I? I am not sponsored by Nike, when you’re the champion you get to make those decisions. I don’t think it was his fault the event got cancelled. He is young. In this sport he doesn’t even have hair on his balls yet, is he brash and cocky, ‘yes he is’ but he is the champion, and the champ calls the shots, do you think Don King ever forced Mike Tyson to fight? Tyson would have told King to go fuck himself!”

JK: How has training at AKA changed you as a fighter?

Baroni: “It hasn’t really changed me, but I get to train with the best all the time! Everyone here is a great!”

JK: Did any of the drama between Josh Koscheck and Javier Mendez have any effect on the team?

Baroni: “On me, no. But the team and the trainers yeah it caused a strain. A lot of the fighters were close to Josh, some aren’t. I personally respect the guy, he is a former NCAA champion, and he is super tough…trains his fucking ass off! But business is business and that was it. It disrupted the coaches and managers, but not really the team. at one time Javier and Josh were really close, so there are personal things involved. thats none of my business.”

JK: How did you feel when all of this stuff was airing on television?

Baroni: “Would I have said and done things differently? Maybe I don’t know I got a big fucking mouth too, but yeah maybe some of it was better left off camera.”

JK: How was it having your life documented at every turn?

Baroni: “I’m used to the cameras. I’ve been in this game for a long time, I don’t even pay attention to them.I got nothing to hide.”

JK: What is next for the New York Bad Ass, I saw some rumors that you may be signing with Rey Sefo?

Baroni: “I would love to fight for the One FC belt, but like I said at this point in my career, I have to go where the money is. I have bills to pay, and have to put food on my table!”

JK: Do you have another fight booked?

Baroni: “Not sure what is next. I feel great. I’m in great shape. Old injuries, I don’t make excuses, everyone fights injured but I had some old injuries finally heal, and working at AKA i have learned more in the last six months than I have my entire career. I get to wrestle with Daniel Cormier all the time, I feel great. Feel like I could jump right into the NCAA’s and do great.

JK: What can Phil Baroni fans expect to see in your next fight?

Baroni: “You’re gonna see the same as the last fight. I’m gonna come out guns blazing, looking to finish in the first round. If you can get passed it, hats off to you. I used to train with the Team Quest guys a little (Matt Lindland, Dan Henderson) Like those guys and Randy Couture, I’m getting better as I get older. Physically I am just as strong as ever, and technically I’m faster. ”

JK: When you do decide to hang up the gloves, do you see yourself still part of the fight game in another capacity? Or will you do something else completely.

Baroni: “I love the game man, after fighting I’ll be involved somehow.”

Interview note: I would like to thank Mr Baroni for taking the time to speak with me. We will keep the post updated with any Phil Baroni Information and fight announcements. You can also follow “The New York Bad Ass” on twitter @philbaroni