| Another great show took place this week on BJPenn.com’s Late Night Cage Side Radio and our hosts Kinch and Chase Raymond welcomed on one of the sports longtime staples and current WSOF lightweight competitor, Antonio McKee. Antonio is scheduled to take on the undefeated “Lethal” Lewis Gonzalez on August 10th at WSOF 4 in Ontario, California. McKee is a veteran of the sport and was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule the week before his upcoming bout to discuss several different MMA topics including the unfair work environment for fighters, the need for a fighter’s union, and his thoughts on his upcoming fight with Gonzalez. Here are some of the highlights from Antonio McKee’s interview with BJPenn.com’s Late Night Cage Side Radio:
McKee was first asked how preparation for his upcoming fight was going and how his weight management/cut was coming along.
“Everything is good. You know, getting in shape for another wrestler, which I don’t have a problem with the wrestling,” he explained.“I’m calming down now, I’m a lot older. I’m getting ready to be almost 45 years old, fighting in the lightweight division, the challenge is more making weight than the actual fight itself.”
“I’m like 166 right now and it’s pretty cool but at my age it’s hard to be dehydrated for those one or two days. I don’t recover as fast. It takes me longer to recover so my diet is really strict right now. Lots of water and vitamins and stuff.”
McKee, who has 35 professional MMA fights under his belt and is coming off of a loss to Shinya Aoki last December, then talked about why he still fights, how much loner he plans on doing it, and what he thinks about his upcoming opponent, Lewis Gonzalez:
“I don’t fight for the money. I fight because I love to do it. It’s an energy boost, it’s a rush, I’m a high adrenalin guy so for me it’s more of like, it’s just the challenge within me. But I’ve said already, if I was to lose this fight I’m done, I retire. I’ve never lost at anything two times in a row. I had a bad little incident up there in Japan. Aoki thumbed me in the eye right off the first 15-20 seconds of the fight and I still tried to fight and I got hit in the same eye again and I just stopped. I couldn’t deal with the pain but that was one of the first times I’ve been hit so facing up against Lewis Gonzalez, which he’s a tough wrestler, he’s a grinder, he’s young, he’s aggressive, he’s hungry, and if this was to come down to a bad fight and I pull it out and win or it just doesn’t go the way I feel when I’m training,” he continued, “If it doesn’t go the way that it’s supposed to go I think, you know, I don’t have to say it’s time to retire. My body will show me that in the fight. Fighting a guy that is 8-0, it doesn’t matter how tough he is. I’m a seasoned veteran. I know where I’m at the whole time in the fight. I’m not really worried, I don’t take stupid chances and so I’m pretty comfortable. Now, if he takes me out of my character and he starts doing things that I’m not able to deal with then we have to look at it in a different perspective.”
“This is probably one of the most relaxed fights I’ve had. There’s no pressure. You know, he’s young, he’s tough, he’s undefeated…I’m old, I’ve got a great history, a great record. There’s nothing to lose so I think it’s a dangerous fight for him to try and build himself up off of me. But, if I had the opportunity as a guy that’s 8-0, 9-0, and my strength was his strength I’d take the fight against a 45 year old guy, for sure. But what is there to gain?”
“I’m sure he’s excited to fight me. I’m just curious to see how it goes.”
McKee then shifted the focus of the conversation when he began talking about how he ended up in the WSOF at this point in his career and how he feels about the unfair situation that many fighters are put in as far as benefits, retirement, and payment go. He has been a longtime advocate for starting a fighter’s union and was very vocal about why he feels that the UFC has set up a system that caters to some fighters but is completely unfair toward others. He started off by saying, “I’m not a big Dana White fan. I love the sport, I love the UFC, I’ve just always had issues with Dana, the way he conducts himself as a human being. And for those reasons I’ve had to take the long, stressful road to success, but at the same time when you get to know me, you get to talk to me, you know that I’m just trying to make the sport a better sport and I would like to help [WSOF] grow and you know what, I think I’ll put on a pretty good show for them. At the end of the day it’s a brand. You’re building a brand.”
In light of how the conversation had shifted McKee was then asked to comment on his one-fight stint in the UFC and how he was cut after dropping a controversial split-decision to Jacob Volkmann. He explained, “We knew that going in that if it was close against Volkmann that I would lose. And that again tells you the power of an organization that pretty much runs the commission, runs the judges. We’ve seen it go both ways though.”
He then stated that he was not going to be a puppet for anyone and he feels that his lack of brown-nosing is what partially played in to his release after just one fight.
“With respect, I’m not going to kiss anybody’s ass,” he said. “My job is to help promote the sport and help protect the fighters.”
He continued by saying, “We need more than one organization running the show.”
Lately there have been a lot of fighters commenting on the unfair pay that most athletes in the sport are receiving for their services. McKee was asked if he thought the fighters pay has gotten better over time as the sport has grown and he completely disagreed.
“I think it’s worse now than it was before. People don’t understand inside what’s going on,” he said.“At least if there’s a fighters union we can be consistent.”
“When you start talking the politics of this game it’s not always who has the biggest pockets. We’ve seen that. We’ve seen organizations come up against the UFC and within a year they’re folded. And they were millionaires. There’s tons of money there. I think the key is knowledge. We can learn from the UFC mistakes that they’re making with the fighters and that is your way in to a successful fight promotion is learn from the fighters, make the fighters a part of the organization that are educated.”
A few weeks back Late Night Cage Side Radio talked with War Machine Jon Koppenhaver about the unfair pay of fighters. He said that it would take all the top fighters in the world to come together and refuse to fight until things changed for everyone. McKee agreed with that, to an extent. He stated, “Tito fought it and he lost. Randy Couture fought them and he lost. So it’s like slavery bro. You might have freed the slaves but you didn’t free their minds.”
He continued, “I’m just happy to be in an organization that is treating me like a professional and that’s the bottom line.”
The conversation then shifted back to McKee’s upcoming fight against Lewis Gonzalez at WSOF 4 on August 10th. When asked how he felt this fight was going to play out he replied,
“It can go two ways; Lewis is going to run out and just try to gas me out and be in for a big surprise and end up getting choked out or cut open because elbows are here and that’s been one of my biggest assets in the fight game or he’s going to come out, have a little respect and I’m going to etch it out, etch it out, etch it out and win a decision because he’s not trying to push the pace nor is he actually pushing the tempo. I’m not really worried about a striker because his striking, he just hasn’t had enough fights. 8 fights? The only thing he can do is wrestle but I think once he feels my pressure he’s going to get tired because I don’t think he’s had anybody that’s been in the trenches that can carry the weight that I carry when I’m on top of him and I think I’ll end up catching him in a rear-naked choke.”
To close the conversation McKee was asked what he felt would be next for him if his gets the win on August 10th over the undefeated Lewis Gonzalez. He stated,
“I’ll talk to World Series and continue perusing maybe a title shot, another belt, because again there’s not too many people in there that qualify. In the last 5, the last 7 years I’ve only had 2 losses and one of them was a split-decision loss, but I think I’m most definitely one of the top fighters at that weight class but then we also have to look at corporate. Do they want to put a guy at my age in there to be the champion? So it’s either a title shot or a job.”
McKee will be looking to get himself back on track following his loss to Shinya Aoki last December. He’ll have a huge test in front of him with Gonzalez but if he can come away with a victory he could very well be in line for a title shot for the WSOF lightweight strap. We’ll see how it plays out next weekend in Ontario, California.
We would like to thank Mr. McKee for joining the show to discuss his upcoming fight with the WSOF and we wish him the best of luck as he heads into that fight against “Lethal” Lewis Gonzalez.
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