The UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter has been tied to some the biggest names in the sport whether it is a coach like GSP, Matt Hughes, Randy Couture or Jon Jones just to name a few or contestants such as former champions Forrest Griffin or Rashad Evens. The show continues to provide great fighters and today we get the chance to sit down with one that could have a very bright future in the UFC, James Vick from TUF: Live.
Hey James, we hope everything is going well I know you are busy training for your UFC debut can you give us a little insight into how that is going?
Vick: Hey guys thanks for having me. Yeah I am working hard on coming back from my surgery and to be honest I just talked to Joe Silva about an upcoming fight. Due to the fact it isn’t set in stone I can’t tell you any more than that but I will be sure to let you know soon.
That’s awesome and can’t wait to find out who you open up with! Can you take a minute and talk to us about what got you into the world of MMA?
Vick: I watched the UFC as a kid, a fight that really stood out with the Belfort vs Tank Abbott fight and I really like it. My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up but I had always liked Karate as well and when I saw TUF I thought “hell I can do that”. What really started my road was, I was playing college basketball and got into a fight and lost my scholarship and kicked off the team so without competition I got bored and depressed. We had a boxing gym near where I lived so I tried that out and liked it so I started with that and then moved on to other aspects like BJJ.
Interesting. Now you were on TUF: Live which has packed with great fighters and coaches have you gone back to watch the show and what were your thoughts when you saw it?
Vick: It was a life changing experience. It was the first real time I could concentrate souly on MMA without having a job to go to, it was my job so that was great. I loved being surrounded by that talent and being on Team Cruz was great, I really respect and enjoy the way he fights and what he taught me. I did go back and watch about half the episodes and found it a bit odd that they kinda made me sound like I didn’t know a whole lot about MMA which couldn’t be farther from the truth but they did do a good job of showing my skills. It was great for that publicity and getting my name out there too! So it was a double win not only getting the experience and training but show kind of made me a small star hahaha. My goal is to be a world champion so that experience can only help.
Now on that show they made you look like only a boxer, tell us a little about that background and how it benefits you, it that what type of fighter you want to be known as?
Vick: To be honest I hadn’t been boxing for that long, maybe two years but I did have a bunch of amateur wins (about 20) in that short time. I think I am a pretty good striker and boxing did help as it helps me with my combos in that they are longer in boxing and mma so I know exactly what I want to throw and where. Plus it really helped my footwork which is huge in MMA, just look at Cruz and they way he moves. Plus with the little gloves I can sneak in shots that maybe wouldn’t work with the bigger gloves.
Do I think that I am only a boxer? No, I have been progressing my game while I have been out and I think I can turn some heads. I understand that fighters especially TUF guys have to keep progressing their game or they will be cut and I don’t want to be that guy.
Nice and now with those skills you are now part of Team Lloyd Irvin which is a top of the line BJJ spot. Can you talk to us about just how special not only Master Irvin is but what drew you to that gym?
Vick: I really love that place, Master Llyod demands 100% from everyone and expects you to win which is what I was looking for. We met while I was on TUF, I think he is the best coach they brought on the show and we became close on that. He put the time in on me and really gave me a chance and I can’t think him enough. It is an amazing place to train because not only is everyone great at boxing and BJJ but Master Lloyd flies coaches from all over the world so we can be the best.
Time for the age old Fight Club Question we ask all the people we get a chance to talk to: If you could stand across the cage from anyone who would it be and why, also with this weekend’s card being abroad where would you want that fight?
Vick: I would like another shot at Michael Chiesa. He was the last guy to beat me and I don’t feel he is a better fighter than me, I feel I messed up in that fight. I dominated that fight in my eyes and he caught me, props to him for winning and yeah I realize I lost but I would want to face him. I do understand I am in no position for that fight right now and would have to work to get it. As for where, I am from Texas I would want it in Dallas Cowboy Stadium, I grew up about 20 minutes away from it and it’s amazing.
Nice and I am sure a lot of people would like to see that fight, I know I would. Now looking back at your career so far is there anything you would go back and change?
Vick: I wish I was smarter in the realm of health, I have had 3 surgeries in 4 years and it has kept me out of the cage. I feel it came from over training and always thinking about that other guy training harder than me so I would push myself to far. I would have also cut ties with some people earlier in my career than I did. I wasn’t getting better and progressing but I kept them around which I shouldn’t have.
Yeah that makes sense. Now if someone came up to you who was thinking about getting into the world of MMA what type of advice would you give them?
Vick: Take it seriously man people get hurt for real here. Also shop yourself around and get to as many different gyms as you can and learn as much as you can. You can never know too much.
Nice. Now we have a pretty big card Saturday night as Luke Rockhold makes his UFC debut vs Vitor Belfort, who ya got and why?
Vick: Man I have a ton of respect for Luke and I study his game a lot because we have similar body types but I am going with Vitor here. Luke tends to drop his hands and you can’t do that vs a fast, accurate striker like Vitor. I think he gets the KO here but like I said I have a ton of respect for Luke.
Well thanks so much for taking the time James and we wish you the best in the future and look forward to hearing who you will face in your debut! Before we let you go are there any sponsors or people you would like to mention?
Vick: I just wanna thank and shout out Team Llyod Irvin, Phalanx MMA, Rodger Vann and the Weatherford Boxing Team.
Thanks again for your time and best of luck in the next fight!