The world of MMA is so crowded with the amount of fighters and gyms that in this day and age it is very easy to miss the true “diamonds in the rough”. The guest we bring you today is seems to be one of the more overlooked fighters in the UFC but I have a feeling you will remember the name after June 15th. Today we are talking with former Strikeforce turned UFC Lightweight fighter Isaac Vallie Flagg. He is currently riding an 11 fight win streak including a huge “upset” win over Yves Edwards at UFC 156. Make sure to follow Isaac on Twitter @IKEVF.
Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule, I know you just started your fight camp in preparation for your next fight June 15th vs Sam Stout. Also happy birthday (April 8th), how’s it been going?
Vallie Flagg: Thanks a lot for having me. Yeah we are a couple weeks into camp and getting ready for Sam, should be a great one. I took today off cause it is my birthday, but I still taught hahah there are no real days off.
That’s awesome, yeah we are pretty excited about this Stout fight but before we get to that can you talk to us a little about what got you into the world of MMA?
Vallie Flagg: Yeah sure. I had a friend, Tait Flecther who was on TUF 3 who showed me some stuff and tapped me out a million times. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and saw that Jiu Jitsu was the way to go and I dove in right away and here I am.
That is awesome and it always seems to be a friend and in your case a pretty badass friend that gets people into MMA. So today is your birthday you turn 35 and with that comes the age old question of, at your age is a must win fight every time? We see a lot of young guys who can take a loss or two and have the time to come back from it, sure Randy fought well into his 40’s but he wasn’t the same guy.
Vallie Flagg: Yes and no. I am here for the long haul and I am not going to stop until my body tells me it’s time so I don’t put too much pressure on myself. I see a lot of these mid 20’s guys putting huge amounts of pressure on themselves and it hurts them, I don’t do that. I love the sport and I am here to win.
What types of changes have you seen in the world of professional MMA since you started about 10 years ago?
Vallie Flagg: Well for one it is now more mainstream then it was in 2003. Money has also increased, back in the day it was a couple of bucks but now there is some serious money getting thrown around. I would like to think the fan base has gotten smarter about the game too, well some of them hahaha.
We hear about fighters wanting to take “easier fights” a lot, at your age do you feel that is an option seeing how 1 fight can take up to 4+ months prepare for? Is it something you would ever do or ask Dana White for?
Vallie Flagg: You know that’s funny cause when I first came over to the UFC from Strikeforce I was coming off a win Gesias Cavalcante and I asked for an easy fight but because I was coming off that huge win I knew it wouldn’t happen.
That’s putting it nicely because that “easy fight” was against a legend in Yves Edwards who has some impressive names in his win list. Can you talk us thought getting that decision win and just what it was like waiting to hear your name on the last score card of a close split decision?
Vallie Flagg: I was pretty confident that I had won that fight. I knew I had won round 1 and he had round 2 and I was still pretty confident I had taken round three but who knows. I did get a little nervous but when my name got called I was very happy. Yves is a great fighter and is no doubt a legend in the sport. I left that I had gotten “thrown to the wolves” with that right after the Cavalcante fight but I want to be the best and you don’t get there taking mid-level fights. Plus if I keep beating these top level guys people will start to talk about me.
What was it like getting that call from the UFC saying they wanted you to come fight for them because Strikeforce had just been bought out and you could have been in the boat of many other really great fighters like Chad George and not been taken up?
Vallie Flagg: I was a bit nervous at the time but I had won that Cavalcante fight which was huge so again I was pretty confident. Then I got the call I would fight Super Bowl weekend then click. I didn’t know vs who and I was fat at the time weighing about 187lbs so I had to get to work. That stressed me out a little but I knew I would be fine I just had to get to work. But yeah it was really cool getting that call and knowing I would be fighting at the top of the game.
Now you beat Calavanate then you went on beat Edwards, now you get another tough fight in Sam Stout. He is an ultra tough guy who has fought a bunch of the top line guys. Talk to us about what this fight means, what you think of Sam and a little about your mindset for camp.
Vallie Flagg: I have a lot of respect for Sam, he is a great fighter, hits hard, has a tough chin, very smart and seems to be changing his game if you watched his last night he is really evolving. I didn’t really know, but I had a feeling I would get him next when we fought so close together and both won. I saw a tweet from a higher up in the UFC putting the idea out there and the next thing I know it is confirmed, I am excited. Getting though Sam is going to be tough but this fight is gonna be amazing.
As for camp we are working really hard because Sam does present a lot of problems in the cage for anyone. Right now we are focusing on how to counteract those problems and as the fight gets closer we will really work on what I am going to be doing and my game plan. I am in the gym every day and teaching as well so I am always evolving man. I took today off because it’s my birthday but tomorrow I am right back at it.
Yeah this fight has fight of the fight written all over it. Now you mentioned your camp there, you are a Greg Jackson guy and that camp always seems to be in the media. It was one of the main story lines in Jones vs Rashad, it was brought up when Melvin Guillard left and then wanted to come back and Greg himself is always in the news. Can you give us your views from a guy inside the camp?
Vallie Flagg: Man, I love that gym! Just take a look at my tweets, I think it is the best place on earth. Ever since my first day, guys like Cowboy (Donald Cerrone), Cub Swanson and Joe Stevenson have been mentors to me I love those guys. Melvin when he was here was a great guy and we worked with each other a lot. Mike Vally and Isreal Martinez are the best coaches anyone could ask for.
As for Greg I don’t know why he gets all the bad press he does. I guess when your successful no one gets to hear the positives. Somehow the nice guy gets only bad press which really isn’t fair. Him and Wink have supported me since day one. I got to have a really cool moment after the Edwards fight where we were walking away and he leaned in and sad “no one gave you a fighting chance (vs Yves), it was cool to watch a guy like you beat a legend”. He went on to say some other things that really meant a lot to me. Nicest guy ever.
I am glad to see someone getting some positive press out there about Greg and his camp, I had the chance to meet him briefly and he is really humble and just a nice guy. Now you are sitting on an impressive streak that hasn’t seen you lose a fight since 2007 (one draw) why do you think we don’t see your name in the spotlights yet?
Vallie Flagg: HAHA great question and I don’t know man, maybe it is because I am newer to the big show”. I like being in the background I mean look at my camp I am the guy that gets a beating each day from guys like Cowboy and Cub but I am getting better because of it because they are top guys. I also don’t put my life on the line doing crazy shit like Cerrone does haha. I just work hard each day, I am a straight forward and easy going guy.
Yeah I hear that and for those of you that don’t know what he is talking about with Cerrone go look at his twitter haha. Now looking back at your career so far if there was one thing you could change what would it be and why?
Vallie Flagg: I would have gone to Jackson’s earlier. I started out with a guy who was very one minded in the ways of MMA and didn’t look to change up the way he taught or what he taught and it cost me fights earlier in my career. Had I started off with Greg I would have learned a lot more.
Nice! I think people need to realize when they are going to get a start in the world of MMA they need to pick a good gym to start at and do their research. We did an interview with Anthony Mitchell earlier and he said that would be his advice to anyone thinking of getting into the world of MMA. Speaking about that what would your advice be?
Vallie Flagg: I always say the same thing to this question. Work hard and be prepared to have your heart broken over and over. It takes so much hard work to get to the top and you have to sacrifice everything and really put your complete heart into it. Work hard and prepare to suffer as well. You are gonna wake up hurt day after day but keep in the mindset your getting better.
Ok, Fight Club question time. You get to fight anyone in the world you want, who is it and why?
Vallie Flagg: Chris Brown, that singer when he was beating up women and bullying people. Men if you wanna bully someone, make it someone who can defend themselves. But I think DinThomas beat me to that hahah but yeah Chris Brown.
Well that is a new answer and I couldn’t agree more. Well man this has been an absolute blast and thanks for taking time out of your camp to talk with us. Before we wrap up is there any sponsors or people you would like to mention?
Vallie Flagg: I would like to thank Venom, Bonai Acai and everyone at Jackson’s. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me guys have a good one.
There you have it folks UFC Lightweight Isaac Vallie Flagg. Make sure to tune in on June 15th as he takes on Sam Stout and give him a follow on Twitter @IKEVF. Until next time fight fans, good fight good night!