Ever interviewed someone when you’re sitting in a closet? Yep, that was me on Memorial Day Weekend 2011 when I talked with famed MMA/Muay Thai striking coach Phil Nurse. I’ve talked to people in a lot of odd places, but this was a definite first.
The 48-year-old Nurse was visiting his home country of England at the time of our chat, so I had to attempt to figure out a crazy international calling card plan so my phone bill didn’t get jacked up. When we talked, the phone connection was a bit low in volume and thanks to some noisy neighbors that were barbequing outside my apartment, I needed to find a quiet spot in my four room abode.
The only spot? My bedroom closet. Technology in 2011, everyone.
Nurse was a great interview, talking about his background in Muay Thai, heading up his school and fight team in New York, how he transitioned to MMA and the awesome story of how he eventually met Georges St. Pierre despite turning down the opportunity several times initially. It was definitely one of those “What if” moments as the two have been linked for years.
Most Americans are probably aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, something especially evident in our sports culture. Notice a lot of your favorite NFL players wearing a bit more pink these days? It’s the league’s nod toward this high-visibility cause.
MMA has its own beacon of awareness in UFC light heavyweight Phil Davis. The world’s largest MMA organization didn’t tell Davis to wear pink trunks but rather it was Davis’ decision to don a color not exactly associated with a tough guy sport. He does so to honor his mom and his late aunt who battled cancer.
After getting a lead from my editor, I interviewed Davis for October’s FIGHT! Magazine (available on newsstands with Carlos Condit on the cover) about how he came to the decision, what cancer has done to his family and what’s going on with his career.
This was definitely a last-minute story idea, written over Labor Day weekend with the interview done in my car on the way up to Maine and the piece written the next day. This isn’t anything new for journalists/feature writers, but it’s still fun to take people behind the curtain.
Pick up the magazine, follow Phil on Twitter and if you like my writing, check out my WrestlingObserver MMA interview series with Bryan Alvarez, my weekly show with PJ Huot on WGAM/ESPN Radio NH or my work on Bloody Elbow.
Belcher competes in the UFC’s 185-pound division and had a really nice career going until an eye injury sidelined him for 16 months. After a little scare, Belcher is back and returns to action Saturday, September 17th at UFC Fight Night event on Spike TV.
In interviewing him, one of the really cool things I learned is he’s growing an MMA empire down in Mississippi with the Alan Belcher MMA Club. He told me his kickboxing signups for June were among the highest in the country and he’s got nearly 30 employees — something many gym owners would drool at having.
Sometimes I worry about the future of those pro athletes who simply don’t know anything other than the sport they play.
I’m not talking about the megastars or even the next level down. I’m talking about the prospects that get some decent bonuses, have some success and then are dropped with no chance of a comeback.
I worked in pro hockey for a long, long time and saw kids come and go that were absolutely screwed once their playing days were behind them. Without any common sense and a lifetime of having people help them out, many find themselves among society’s most useless assets: entitled without a reason to be so.
I find that MMA athletes, however, are in much better positions.
I think it’s the martial arts background and upbringing, but MMA athletes are truly cut from a different cloth. Belcher is among those destroying the assumption that fighters are just savages in the cage and little else.
He’s a smart guy, as is Mike Swick who I interviewed for August’s FIGHT!. Swick and Roger Huerta are opening up a full MMA school in Thailand and have been busting it out to get it done. Those are just two examples in a sea of guy who value a dollar.
Initially, Belcher was a little difficult to track down because of a crazy schedule, but every time someone answered the phone at the gym, they were friendly and nice. (That’s a good note for any business, by the way.) Overall, the feature was a positive experience and I hope he does well Saturday and in the future. He’s got plenty of time left to get back in the title mix and if it doesn’t happen, I think he’ll be alright.
Plenty of other great features in the issue including the cover story on former WEC 135-pound champ Brian Bowles, Bellator 155-pound champ Eddie Alvarez, Versus reporter Molly Qerim and tons more.
Like last year, I return to the depths of MTV’s current culture for the Video Music Awards. Unlike in 2010, I’m a lot more familiar with this year’s crop but that doesn’t mean you will be.
If this is your first time here, I’m 33 and live in New Hampshire. I am very much into music with the 90s alternative scene being my main influence growing up. I have lived all over the music map and once was the music guy for a pro hockey team for six years. I’m still waiting for a Top 10 song of clap chants.
If this year’s show proved anything, it’s that the current philosophy of always being in the public eye is still holding true in pop music and that the Video Music Awards is anything but about music….except for a young British singer.
We kick off with a greaser-looking person doing a monologue about Lady Gaga. Except, this is Lady Gaga. I have no idea what she’s talking about, but it sounds like she’s acting as a jilted Gaga lover. Girls are screaming throughout her monologue, which kinda kills it. Eventually she sings a song. Queen’s Brian May comes out for a guitar solo. And we’re off.
Hey y’all! A few updates on a rainy Sunday night here in the 603:
One of the true joys in my writing career is my role as a contributing freelance writer for FIGHT! Magazine, the industry’s top magazine for mixed martial arts (aka the UFC for you noobs). It looks slick, it’s well-respected and they pay me. Win win all around!
One of the unique things about writing for print media is that you lose the timing aspect you get in today’s internet world. This month’s feature on UFC middleweight Mike Swick is a great example of that. I have to submit my articles roughly 5-8 weeks before they see the light of ink and page day.
A lot can happen in anyone’s life in a month’s time so part of the game is hoping that nothing too crazy changes between the time of submission to the time of print.
Mike was set to fight at this Saturday’s UFC event in Brazil, 18 months after he last competed due to multiple injuries and a bizarre confluence of stomach issues that essentially made his body work against him.
As bad luck would have it, Mike hurt his knee and is undergoing surgery that took him out of the fight.
Of course, the August issue of FIGHT! hit stands with an awesome three-page layout with part of the focus on this comeback fight. I’m still proud of the feature and believe in it fully, but it kinda stings that the focus of the article had to pull out. Welcome to the print journalism world, folks.
In any case, pick up the issue which also features a great cover story by Chuck Mindenhall on Gray Maynard. Seriously, it’s awesome.
Josh and John Pollock…reunited.
I’ll always feel kinship to my friends at the Fight Network in Toronto, Canada — the same group where I had some of my first major radio interviews back in the day. One of the people I used to chat with is John Pollock, who is a fixture on the network and hosts a series of podcasts about combat sports.
It’s been quite a while since I was on the show (March!) so I was glad to get a text from John Thursday night asking if I could come on the show and talk the UFC deal with Fox. We talked for nearly 30 minutes and I actually got a great column idea out of the interview. I love when that happens!
Here’s the interview. Skip ahead to 70 minutes in to hear myself and John unless you want to listen to a review of TNA Impact.
- In my real world job, I’m really liking my role as “editor in chief” of Dyn.com. We recently relaunched our entire site and rewrote/restructured all of the content, which was quite an exercise. To some, relaunching a site isn’t a big deal but when you consider we were combining major traffic from a sister site into this one, it was a pretty big freakin’ deal. Our email program is next up for review and some Nason-izing.
- I continue to drop in every few weeks on BloodyElbow.com with a guest editorial or quick-hit news bit. I actually kinda like the guest writer role as I stay free of commitments but still have a presence on one of the most heavily-trafficked MMA sites on the interwebs. Here’s my latest for BE on my ideal UFC debut on Fox.
- I wrote an homage to Maura Tierney amidst a lot of bitching about Rescue Me.
- I still need to do something up on Grantland. The fact I don’t go there as much as expected is telling.
- Finally, the WGAM MMA Show keeps plugging along. I feel like we’re putting out a great product but we need more people to listen. (Duh statement, right?) It’s a crowded market for MMA podcasts and shows, but we’re really close to a breakthrough. We have UFC fighters on nearly every week and have talked to some big names. Still, we’re at 12 likes on Facebook as of this writing which drives me slightly crazy. Damn social media.
Following the nearly-four month writer’s strike (Nov. 2007 – Feb. 2008) when Hollywood came to a grinding halt, the FX show Rescue Me went against the grain of their traditional 13-episode seasons (a formula that most FX shows have worked to perfection) with a marathon 22-episode year in 2009.
Once upon a time, that wouldn’t have been a problem. But in today’s quicker, faster, less commitment culture, it was a mistake — intensified because the season just wasn’t that good.
Mercifully, it was announced that Denis Leary’s latest gift to the world would come to an end this summer with one final run, not coincidentally closing it out on the same week we recognize the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Through the season’s first four episodes, that decision has looked the like the right as the show has stayed in the same sad muck it’s been in since “the long season” with one standout performance we’ll get to in a few paragraphs.
So what happened? Read More…
You wouldn’t think writing about writing would be difficult, but I have struggled like a Single-A pitcher in Fenway Park when it comes to keeping this site updated with links to my work for Wrestling Observer, Bloody Elbow, FIGHT! Magazine and others.
(Seriously, I do this for a living!)
But short of hiring a personal assistant, I came up with a temporary solution: living, breathing pages. What the heck does that mean? A single page per entity where I can log/link my latest stories for a specific news source. (Here’s an example I did for Bloody Elbow.) This will be easier for me to update on a weekly basis as opposed to whatever the hell I was trying to do before.
There’s plenty of non-MMA stuff I want to talk about as well, including a review and early thoughts on Bill Simmons’ Grantland project, some music stuff and talk about Match.com.
Until then, enjoy the updated pages. Three down, more to come: