PHIL BARONI INTERVIEW
05/25/2006

Phil Baroni wants to be remembered. He fights not for the money, not for the fame, but because he was born a fighter and he wouldn't have it any other way. He's the type of guy who loves to fight with a passion, loves the competition and basically wants to go to war. Read on and learn what makes the "New York Badass" different from the rest.

 

       

 

PRIDE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Hi Phil! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. So, what have you been up to since your recent victory over Yuki Kondo?
PHIL BARONI: Training, I was back in the gym the next day.
PRIDE: You doing anything for fun?
PB: Right now, nothing, just no time for fun. Time to win the Gran Prix. I'm not doing anything fun right now. And when I do win the GP, then I'll go on vacation, go to the beach and chill out. But right now I'm on a mission, I have something to accomplish.
PRIDE: We all have our own talents and want to be the best at something. Why was your calling MMA?
PB: I felt I've always been a fighter. You see, there are different ways people express themselves, writers write stories, painters paint pictures, musicians play music, I'm a fighter and that's how I express myself. I don't know if you want to call it an art form, but that's what I am and that's what I do. I don't know if I decided to become a fighter or was born a fighter, but there nothing else harder and nothing else feels better. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to box. I was shadowboxing Mike Tyson and always wanted to be a fighter that was my dream.
PRIDE: Tell me about your fighting background? Wrestling boxing?
PB: I wrestled in high school and college and did some boxing and kickboxing. I think MMA is the way to put them together. The best boxer isn't necessarily the best fighter in the world. MMA finds out who the best fighter is.
PRIDE: What are some mottos that you live by?
PB: My main motto is to never give up, set goals and to accomplish them and never give up. Just don't give up and believe in yourself.
PRIDE: How'd you get the name, NYBA? And do you miss New York?
PB: I was doing some boxing, kickboxing, and I knocked out this champion and they gave me this nickname.
PRIDE: How long have you been with Hammer House and how are they treating you?
PB: Good, it's a life long fraternity. Blood in, blood out.
PRIDE: You guys seem like a very close-knit family.
PB: We're tight.
PRIDE: What's going through your mind when you're standing in the ring, looking over at your opponent, hearing your name being introduced to all the fans in attendance, about to get the fight started?
PB: I'm thinking about all the hard work and sacrifices that are coming together. It takes a lot of discipline to get here and now its just time to perform and to fight my fight and leave it up to God. Don't hold back, just keep on pushing no matter how bad I'm hurt, I have to hit harder, not to give up due to the pain or the frustration and just to keep going and fight through it and make him feel what ever you feel.
PRIDE: Tell us about your hardcore battle against Minowa?
PB: It was a great fight. I was dealing with a lot of personal demons and for a couple years I was down about myself and when I got to Japan I only wanted to fight my ass off and with every last bit of strength I had. I want to look in the mirror and say I did my best; I trained hard, and made many sacrifices. I trained by myself for that fight so it was a hard fight. From that fight I learned that i could beat anybody at anytime and that I have what it takes to be a champion.
PRIDE: What did you learn and what would happen if you guys went at it a third time?
PB: I'd win a third time. We would pick up where we left off and it would end in a KO. I know what to expect from him.
PRIDE: What can we expect to see from you in this tournament that we haven't seen thus far?
PB: I'm a well-rounded fighter, I'm gonna fight the way I always fight, and hopefully I'll get to show how well rounded my game is. I've trained for a long time, I can fight on the ground and fight standing up. I'm a great wrestler, that's my background. I've won countless grappling tournaments and well versed on the ground and if they make me show it, they're gonna be surprised.
PRIDE: What do you expect from your opponent Kazuo Misaki? Last time, he lasted 2 rounds with the welterweight champ Dan Henderson.
PB: He's tough. I think he's a good opponent. I hope he has the courage because we're gonna go to war. Be a man and let's see who the better fighter is. He's not going the distance with me like he did with Dan Henderson. He will try to survive. We'll see who the man is. He's a good fighter, he likes to fight and it'll be a good fight.
PRIDE: Is there anything special about your training routine that sets you apart from other fighters?
PB: I train harder and smarter and longer and make more sacrifices and watch my diet. I take supplements and take gamma o. I don't cheat and do all my training and hard sparing and don't cut corners. Every time I step in there I know I did everything right and deserve to win. I know I don't cheat here or there and give myself the best opportunity to win when I step in the ring.
PRIDE: You sound like a guy who loves to fight, loves the competition, and basically just wants to go to war.
PB: I love to fight. I'm not fighting because I want to be rich or be a movie star or because I'm a troubled guy. I'm fighting because it's my passion and I'll fight anybody anywhere! It's what I was born to.
PRIDE: You've only fought three opponents so far in pride, if you could, who would you like to KO next?
PB: I want to fight the guy with the belt and be the best fighter in my weight class.
PRIDE: Anything you want to say to Kazuo Misaki?
PB: Hands up, chin down! Because I'm coming for you bro and I'm throwing bombs. Let's just fight and see who the man is and make it a dogfight and see who the bigger dog is. Let's go and put on a show!
PRIDE: Do you have a moment in your career that you are most proud of?
PB: Beating Minowa while coming back from an injury.
PRIDE: How does it feel to knock out a MMA veteran like Kondo in 24 seconds?
PB: Feels great. I'm proud of that, he's a tough guy, he's never been knocked out but I beat him with standup at his own game.
PRIDE: How do you like fighting in Japan as opposed to the USA.
PB: I love it! It doesn't matter where I fight. I love Japan and the fans have accepted me and taken me in. I appreciate all the support and love fighting for them. I think they are the greatest fans in the world and show much respect for fighters and believe me, it's appreciated because I haven't always had that. When I get lots of applause and it motivates me to fight harder and gives me a great feeling when I win.
PRIDE: What's your opinion of the sport today with PRIDE coming to the US and MMA getting more popular each day?
PB: I'm excited about pride coming to the US and I'm happy that Pride has given me the opportunity and very happy fighting for them, the biggest fight organization in the world.
PRIDE: We're glad you're with us too! Thanks for your time Phil. It was awesome talking to you. Anything you want to tell the fans in the US?
PB: Pride's coming home, don't forget about me, catch me on ppv's, on FSN. The best fighters in the world are in Pride and were international. If you want to see the best, and see what real fighting is, watch Pride. And to the fans, its a trip! People want to shake my hand and get my autograph. I love it and realize that this is my passion and Id like to thank the fans for giving me the opportunity to perform for them.