EXCLUSIVE | Phil Baroni explains the difference between PRIDE fighters and today’s fighters

Phil Baroni

On October 20, fan favorite MMA veterans Phil Baroni and Chris Leben will step through the ropes to battle in a bareknuckle boxing match. While this matchup has generated a bit of controversy among fans, mainly due to Leben’s recent health problems, it’s one that has Baroni very excited.

In Leben, Phil Baroni sees a kindred spirit. He considers himself and Leben to be the last of a dying breed; remnants of a vanishing warrior class that thrived not just on ability but on extreme toughness and strength of will.

Baroni feels that it was fighters of this type that populated the roster of defunct Japanese MMA powerhouse PRIDE. Today, he feels that these fighters are very rare, as the MMA landscape is crowded with athletes who have skill, but not necessarily guts.

“The reason there was only 30 guys in Pride is because that’s how many tough motherfuckers there are in the world,” Phil Baroni said on the latest episode of BJPENN.COM Radio. “It didn’t fucking change. There’s a lot of good athletes, anyone can learn the moves. Anyone can learn the moves, but it’s not about the moves. It’s about the fight experience, and I believe that’s why Chris Leben has always had a ton of fans. He never gives up, he never backs down, he comes back from the brink of defeat. And I’m the same way, I’m not gonna quit, I’m gonna fight to the end, and that’s what the fans like.”

“A lot of these athletes nowadays don’t do that, so why do people want to see me and Chris Leben fight? That’s why,” Baroni continued. “They’ve seen us out there before, they’ve seen the blood, sweat, and tears, the fucking guts, the dogged determination, the persistent perseverance that we’ve displayed. And that’s why they want to see us, we’re two fighters that are real fucking fighters. You hear [UFC President] Dana White talking, ‘so you want to be a fighter’… well, motherfucker, of course we want to be fighters. We’re real fucking fighters and we’re still doing it.”

What do you think of these comments from the legend Phil Baroni?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/30/2018.