Exclusive: Phil Baroni discusses his plans for 2014, Silva’s broken leg, GSP vacating the title, Ben Askren and more
The news is pretty remarkable considering the “New York Bad Ass” was last seen in action at May’s “ONE FC: Rise To Power” event, where he suffered a gruesome injury in the opening round of his fight with Nobutatsu Suzuki. (GIF courtesy of Zombie Prophet)
After dominating Suzuki in the early going, Baroni found himself backed-up against the cage, which is where the freak accident occurred. Baroni’s right foot got stuck in the gap between the cage and the mat, and as he fell down at an awkward angle, the gruesome result of the injury was revealed. Phil’s foot was literally turned in the wrong direction and the bout was stopped by the referee. The result of the injury was a dislocated ankle and a broken fibula.
It was absolutely terrible news for the 37-year-old, who looked to be on pace for a shot at ONE FC gold had he defeated Suzuki.
When news of his injury hit, most people, fans and media alike, were quick to write-off the “New York Bad Ass,” assuming that he was to old to recover from such a serious injury.
However, Baroni himself never gave up hope on a return to MMA, as he told Chris Taylor in a recent interview:
Taylor: You are coming off a horrific ankle injury that you suffered in a bout opposite Nobutatsu Suzuki at the “ONE FC: Rise to Power” event in May of 2013. When the injury initially occurred, many people thought it would spell an end to your MMA career. At any point did you feel that way?
Baroni: I never felt that way, but my coaches at AKA thought it 100%. The doctors thought it. My therapist thought it. Especially with me being 37 years-old and with an injury like this usually taking over a year before you can really begin to try and come back back from it. But those mother fuckers don’t know what kind of man I am. None of them would be able to come back from this injury. But I’m not them. When people tell me dumb shit I just don’t listen anymore. I look at them and their position in life and think do I really want to believe what they’re thinking. Do I have anything in common with them? Other than I train at the gym or they did the surgery on me. Or that they are going to give me a therapy program to follow. They’re not me. They don’t know me. Fuck their opinions. I fucked up the meat of my career listening to people . Believing dumb shit about myself. Mark Coleman and One Kick Nick always believed in me, and those are the guys I have won all my big fights with. Same with everything in life, it all matters who you surround yourself with and who believes in you and when push comes to shove who has got your back. One Kick Nick had my back many times when guys wanted to kill me. And me and Coleman and his old man wrecked shop in the PRIDE ring . Took on the baddest of the bad and left victorious ha ha.
Taylor: When did you know or decide, that this injury was not going to be the end of the ‘NYBA’ and that you would return to MMA?
Baroni: You know what, I knew I was gonna make a comeback when I was sitting alone in my hospital bed in Manila. My corner had left me and went to Thailand. We were all supposed to go there after I won the title eliminator, but that didn’t happen and instead my leg was broken with my foot facing the wrong way. I just thought a lot about the situation I was in and about my poor wife being at home worried ’bout me. That’s when I knew I’d come back. I wasn’t gonna go out like that no matter what! Taken out on a stretcher after I begged and argued with the commission and my corner to pick me up and let me walk out on my own power. Don’t let me go leave the cage this way I said. But they wouldn’t budge and I was stretchered out. That’s when I knew that no matter what, I was making a come back. The ‘NYBA’ wasn’t going out like that. That wasn’t gonna be the last time anyone saw me leave the ring. Sitting alone in the hospital bed is when I new I’d fight again.
Taylor: How excited were you when the doctor stated that you could return to training?
Baroni: I actually went and showed the doctor that I could still train. I got a call from my coach Skinny Hav, he was in town for Gray Maynard’s fight, and he said “Come down to the gym (Extreme Couture) I’m gonna train Gray. Let’s move around.” I was like fuck that man. I just left therapy and they said 4 more months until I can even try to run. He said “Yea, didn’t you have coaches telling you to retire when you were last in the UFC?” I was like “yeah.” And he’s like “You were still fighting and better than ever . So get down here and try and move around. Fuck the Doctors what do they know?” So I did. All this, even though 5 months after the surgery they told me it would be at least a year until you can start training again.
Taylor: Now that you’re back to training, when do you expect to step back into the cage and will that be with ONE FC?
Baroni: I just need to get in shape, get my weight down, figure out and set up my training and I’d say I’m anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks before I’m back fighting again in the cage. I think I have good relations with ONE FC. I co-main evented their first event. I smashed a 3rd degree BJJ Black Belt from “Evolve MMA” and was blowing through Suzuki, who is a tough cat, before my ankle came apart. It’s fucking crazy that I was standing on it. Suzuki saw I had something wrong and attacked like a fucking Banshee with knees. When I pivoted to put his back to the fence it just dislocated and I fell and broke my leg. Shit sucked, Suzuki tried to give me a soccer kick but I blocked it. Then he punched me opening a small cut on my brow. The Mother fucker ha ha! We’re cool now. If he gets the Askren fight I’m gonna head to Japan and help him a bit with his wrestling and take down defense .
Taylor: You and former Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren have been verbally sparring on twitter. Is this a fight you would like for your return to MMA or would you prefer a warm-up bout?
Baroni: After a few days of training, I realized that I’d need a longer camp if I was to fight Ben. I’d probably head down to Penn State and wrestle with the team there for a bit. Then I’d call in some of the old dogs like “The Law” Matt Lindland , Kevin Randleman , The Hammer, and “Twinkle Toes” when I got back and get busy wrestling with those guys for a month or so. Plus do all my regular training and sparring at “OKG” One-Kicks Gym. I’d put together a solid camp and beat the brakes off that prima donna. I believe he’s made to order for me and that I’d light his ass up! He doesn’t have any explosive muscle in his body and would have to get his hands on me to execute a takedown. That’s when I’d light him the fuck up!
Taylor: At 37 years of age, what else does the ‘NYBA’ hope to accomplish during his time in MMA and in which organization?
Baroni: At age 37, I still have a lot to accomplish and a lot of wrongs to right. I’m either going to win a title in ONE FC or knock someone out in the UFC when they hit up MSG. I might be a World Series lightweight champion as well. And yes, I’m seriously considering the move to lightweight. I’m on the diet and I’m doing the training program. I’ll be able to make it, as I’m only 180-pounds now. But no more about that. I have nothing else to say about dropping to 155, when or where. And back to the question, I’m gonna go to the highest bidder. All of these companies I’m talking to have bank, and I’m a prize-fighter. I want to fight for the biggest prize. That’s the name of the game isn’t it?
Taylor: Yes, without a doubt. Long-time UFC welterweight champion, Georges St Pierre, just vacated his belt and walked away from the sport. What were your thoughts on his exit and the way UFC officials handled the situation?
Baroni: Georges is the man. He made MMA what it is today in Canada. He is the champ. He beat all comers his way. He said this is what I’m going do to you, try and stop me, and he did it. When he was having a tough wrestling match with Hendricks, he out-kickboxed him and mixed his game up enough to get the win. He’s fucking tired or over it, or has shit to take care of. Let him take care of his business. You don’t like it? Go fuck yourself. He’s GSP and beat all the greats. Party’s at the Hard Rock with fine ass sisters and shit. Fuck I’m a fan. And if you read this Georges, can I come in the hot tub with all the fine sisters and sit front row for the vines contest? Ya know the “NYBA” was your favorite fighter growing up haha. If I was Georges… I’d be living large and making it rain!
Taylor: Coming off a horrific injury of your own, I was curious about your thoughts regarding Anderson Silva’s injury at last month’s UFC 168 event and if you think he can come back?
Baroni: If Silva wants to make a come back, he can. It’s a broken leg. I dislocated my ankle and broke my fucking leg and I’m back disco-dancing like a G at the Spearmint Rhino. Fuck the doctors or whoever else doubts you big pimp. If ya feel like it and you want to Anderson, the World is Yours! Make the comeback and knee some busta’s face off. Or fucking ride off into the sunset surf in Brazil, drink champagne and have caviar in Paris, you earned it homie. Do what you feel, whatever floats your boat Anderson. Whether it’s kicking someone’s face off or living the “good life” you earned. Best of luck to the guy. If I can come back, he can no doubt. He just has nothing more to prove. I on the other hand, still have got to show the world how big my Italian sausage is.
Taylor: Hahaha. Before I let you go, I have to ask this; I heard a rumor that a couple of years back you KO’d Johny Hendricks in sparring while at Extreme Couture, is there any truth to this?
Baroni: And everyone keeps asking me about KO’ing Hendricks… It was his first day in the gym and he was ‘bombing’ on me. I had no idea who he was so I sat his ass down. Or, well laid him down ha ha. This was back when the “WEC” was still around. Hendricks is a great fighter and he is doing things in the sport I always wanted to accomplish. He’s a nice guy and a hard worker. I have nothing but respect for the dude. But, if anyone wanted to see us fight I’m pretty confident I could sleep him. I mean we had on 16 ounce gloves and head gear the first time ha ha ha.
Taylor: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us Phil. Any last words from “The New York Bad Ass” for your fans or perhaps Ben Askren?
Baroni: I wanna thank my fans for all the support over the years. I truly appreciate it. I really do! Ben, if I run into your candy ass I’m gonna smack all that yellow right off your teeth ya little busta!
Phil is hoping to return to the ring/cage in the Spring of 2014. We here at bjpenn.com wish the “NYBA” all the best in his return to MMA.