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Monday, 06/03/2013, 04:12 pm

EXCLUSIVE | (PART 1) Manny “The Mean Bean” Rodriguez Talks About Alliance MMA, His Coaching Role, and His Job as a Bellator Commentator | Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio

By JAKE CHASTAIN

| This week on Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio our boys invited Alliance MMA coach, Bellator commentator, and former King of the Cage heavyweight/ mixed martial artist Manny Rodriguez onto the show. During his segment on the show Rodriguez touched on several topics ranging from Bellator’s upcoming summer shows, his coaching role at Alliance MMA, and his job as a Bellator commentator. Here are some of the highlights from that interview this past Sunday on BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio:

First, Manny talked about being home and his role in helping coach the guys at Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, California:

“It’s great. The guys, like you said, I mean, some of the best up and coming stars, some champions, a little bit of everything, you know? Some great up-and-comers that are fighting on the regional circuit, and it’s just a family. So when I’m on the road I miss going down there, and uh, yeah man, it’s just fun to be back and be able to be there. I’m there a couple days a week when I’m home and, I mean, Eric is great. He’s a great head coach and he’s been a good friend for a long time. Back when he was doing the Total Combat stuff we had our group of guys down here, they had their group of guys down there and that’s kind of how the friendship started and uh, it’s been great, you know? I obviously got to get beat up by “The Punisher” Jason Lambert for a number of years and I developed, uh, you know, kind of his style against the fence and that’s what I’m able to help guys work on; their wrestling and their wrestling defense there and it’s nice. It’s really good. An uh, it just keeps me in the game.”

He then spoke about why he still loves to coach and commentate for Bellator FC:

“That’s actually a really funny story but the reason why I still coach is actually because of Shawn Tompkins. He and I became good friends and I actually started training, like stand-up coaching, with him like years and years ago. I was just getting burnt-out. I got tired of some guys that I thought were super talented that just didn’t have the focus. You know, you got guys like Dominick Cruz and you have to yell at him to get out of the gym and then you have other guys that you feel are just as athletic and just as capable but you can’t get them in the gym to save your life. And then Shawn was like, ‘hey , you know what, you just spent so much time, you know, so much energy in your life trying to develop these skill, you know, it would be a shame not to pass them on. So that’s why I do it. It’s a way for me to feel, just help the evolution of the sport. Like, I’ve learned so much, like Eric, Eric has learned so much, we’ve spent so much time working on skills it would be a shame to let them die.”

Rodriguez was then asked if his job in commentating helps him with his with coaching:

“You hit it on the head but it’s backwards. Because when I was coaching, and I’ve been coaching forever and training, I was watching so much video that it was really easy to make the transition to commentating because you’re watching video and you’re trying to give insight as to what is going on and how you can change what is going on, you know, in a coaching aspect, and uh, it just made it really easy.”

“Every coach in the sport is just watching a ton of vide. I mean, in any type of combat sport that’s all you do, so it just makes it really easy. I just watch live fights and I have my little monitor cage side.”

Rodriguez was then asked if he watched old seasons of the Bellator tourney to get ready to commentate for the upcoming seasons:

“Yeah. Basically I’m watching fights 24/7, basically. I get texts from different people that I know in the sport and they give me names and I scout up-and-comers and then I go back and watch guys that I know are going to be in this tournament and go back and watch their old fights just to see what they do, see maybe what they can change because you always hear interviews with guys that are like, ‘oh, I’ve been working on this,’ and, you know, you want to see how that fits into their game.”

 Because Rodriguez is so involved in MMA he was then asked if he ever get tired or burnt out on being around fighting:

“Sometimes I get tired of, like, fight day. You know? Because fight day is long. When you’re not fighting it’s the longest day every, you know? Especially if you have, you know, a friend fighting or a kid you’re coaching because you guys have to focus for so long on fifteen minutes that the fifteen minutes is part of the twenty-four hour day and it’s just, uh, it’s nerve racking, so that gets kind of old. But, of the sport? No. No, man. I love martial arts. Like I said, man, I’ve been doing jiu-jitsu, this is a jiu-jitsu weekend, you know, so I’ve been watching the World’s, um, but I’ve been doing so many martial arts for so long that I just never get tired of it. There’s always something new that I see someone doing that I wonder if I can fit that into what I’m doing or what I’m teaching, or if it works good for one of the guys, you know? Because everyone fights differently, everyone has a different body type. You know, I was a midget heavyweight so I had to get inside on people. I uh, yeah, I had to keep my head moving, you know what I mean? I didn’t have a great jab which is one of those things you have to modify; techniques and strategies for different body types and personalities. So I think that’s what keeps it interesting for me. Keeps it fresh.”

And because he is a coach and former fighter/training partner to many of the fighters in Bellator’s roster he was asked if it was hard to stay unbiased when commentating a friend or training partner’s fight:

“I mean, when I first started in commentary it was the hardest thing in the world. It really was because, like, I think that was one of the early conversations I even had with Bjorn [Rebney], you know. It was, you know, a lot of these guys are personal friends of mine and, uh, you can’t be biased because that’s not fair for anybody. It’s not fair for my guys, it’s not fair for their opponents. But I’ve kind of learned over the years and I’m actually, if anything, I’m kind of biased the other way. Like, I talk about the other guys more just because I know, you know? But it’s really hard emotionally. Half the time I just want to hit the cough-button and just coach. It’s really hard not to do that.”

To listen to the entire interview with Manny on Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio click here. And stay posted for the second installment of this exclusive interview wtih Manny “The Mean Bean” Rodriguez on BJPenn.com

-Jake Chastain

@jchastain45

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