“Been there and done that” is an expression we have all used but do we really mean it and have we really experienced all that we can? Today we get a chance to bring you a veteran of the cage who really has been almost everywhere and done almost everything in not only the world on MMA but in athletics in general. Pete “The Secret Weapon” Spratt (25-22) is not only an amazing fighter who has appeared on TUF 4: The Comeback but in various wars in the MFC, Strikeforce, Legacy and the UFC but was also a very highly recruited football player. It was an absolute honor to get this chance so take a second and get to know the man and make sure to get over to Twitter and follow him @iampetespratt.
First off thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. Now I am big college football fan and I remember you as a highly touted recruit and in fact you were Northwestern’s top recruit and finished at Southeastern Oklahoma. You also hold many records to this day in Texas for Track and Field, what got you into the world of MMA and reflecting back do you feel you made the right choice going with MMA?
Spratt: Well, I really didn’t get involved in MMA in college because there was no MMA. I was training Boxing, Kickboxing and American Kenpo during the off seasons to stay in shape. I got into American Kenpo because of the movie The Perfect Weapon with Jeff Speakman and just so happened that my instructor was also a boxing coach too. I think I may have been his 1st student to compete in boxing. Anyway back to the question, the first UFC was in 1993 and I enrolled at Southeastern in 1992, so this whole MMA thing hadn’t even started. After UFC 1, they started calling it NHB or No Holds Barred fighting. So probably in 1995 or 1996, I started dabbling with the grappling aspect of fighting because Royce Gracie made it so popular in the UFC! Also a couple of friends I was training with were fighting professionally and I started beating them in training within a couple of months and I gave it a shot after things didn’t workout with professional football.
I am not sure that I made the choice between football and MMA as much as it just happened to fall into my lap! I worked out for Washington, Buffalo and Philly but it just didn’t happen. Philly was really interested but wanted me to move to DB and that just wasn’t a move I could make. I had played receiver my whole career and that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to return kicks, punts and play wideout. Well, I went undrafted and my agent couldn’t get me any workouts so I became a graduate assistant coach. Funny story, the scout from Buffalo came in to check out film of the guys we had that were gonna be seniors in which I had graduated the year before. Well we’re all sitting in there watching film with the scout and he just keeps going on and on about who is guy number 2? I just sit there silently because he is watching last years film. My coach says, “That’s the guy sitting next you that y’all passed on last year!” He looks at me with a dumbfounded look on his face and says, “Man I am sorry, I figured you would have gotten picked up by someone at least the CFL!” I just acknowledged him with a light-hearted smile. Long story short, I didn’t like coaching football, the hours were too long and too many egos with guys that were my teammates the year before. I thought to myself, “What can I do to still be an athlete and get paid for it?” The rest as they say, is history!
That’s amazing that the scout asked about you not knowing who you were haha. Well we are glad you made that choice because your career has been a blast to watch so far. Which lifestyle is tougher, that of a student athlete in college or a professional fighter and why?
Spratt: I would have to say the lifestyle of a professional fighter especially when you have to support yourself. Working odd jobs to maintain a source of income to pay whatever bills you have and in my case I had rent, car payment, insurance, phone and child support. Man it was very tough coming up back then. You had to be able to train and if you didn’t have a job that was pretty flexible with their schedule you would be ass out from training and fights. I hated having to ask off to be about to train or to leave for fights. When I was a manager for Finish Line my DM told me one time, “You seem to care more about fighting than you do your job!” I told him, “When I am selling shoes and athletic apparel nobody is trying to cave my face in, so yeah your right I do!” I put in my two weeks after that meeting. Now life as a student athlete was a cake walk. I had room and board paid for, tuition paid for, grandma paid my car note and insurance all I had to do was go to class, make good grades, go to practice, play football and run track. Some of my best days were back in college. I had very little responsibility in having to support myself. I had a full ride to play football, so what more could you ask for?
You never know man, you try to sell a Nike guy some Adidas then you may have to defend yourself or those before school sales I have seen some crazy things ha. You also wear the hat of running Team Spratt, can you talk to us about that team and are there any up and comers we should keep an eye open for?
Spratt: Man all these hats are tough. I am a business partner, a manager, a coach, a teammate and a mentor. It’s crazy but I wouldn’t change anything right now. I love my job and how many people can actually say that and mean it?
I have a couple guys that you will be hearing good things about. My partner Rodrigo is actually getting back in the cage soon and if he stays consistent he will be a force real quick. He has a 3-2 record and his losses are to 2 very tough guys in Damien Stelly and his last lost was to Andrew Craig at Bellator in 2010 in which he was winning 2 rounds to 1 before the doc stopped the fight with 8 seconds left in the last round on a cut. Then I have a kid C.J. Vergara that went 6-1 as an ammy and is currently 2-0 as a pro. He has not lost a fight since he started with me. Julian Shore currently 2-2 but 1-1 under me. Been with me a little less than a year moved to Texas from Hawaii and trained under Chris Leben out there. He is finally figuring me out as a coach and what I expect so I look for good things in the future. I have a guy Richard Odoms that now trains with me I think he is 7-1 last lost to Jared Rosholt. Then I have a couple amateurs in Sean Balusek, Jonathan Jahant and several guys that have yet to fight ammy.
I remember watching that Craig fight and was amazed with 8 seconds left they stopped it. Nice we will keep an eye on those guys as well. You have been a pro since 1999 and been in a bunch of different promotions, talk to us about the evolution of the world of MMA and what are some of the craziest things you have seen or been a part of? You were also a cast member on TUF 4 talk to us about that experience and looking back would you do it again?
Spratt: Hmm, well the evolution everyone sees that. The UFC on Fox was just the pinnacle. MMA on the same networks of other Major sports. It’s incredible. I know I wanted it to get to this level but never in my wildest dreams saw it happening. I mean you have tremendous athletes from all walks of life coming into this business of MMA. It has given wrestlers a place to make a living, former football players, soccer players etc. I think I was one of the 1st hybrid athletes to come into this sport. I was an all American football player to a Mixed Martial Artist. I can’t think of anyone before me that did it off hand! Now look at today, former NFL’ers, college football all Americans etc.
I am not sure I can divulge the craziest thing I had been a part of but it did have to do with clean urine and a UFC champ. That’s all I can say! Most of my experiences have been positive but on a personal level I have had many many fights where I showed up and fought hurt and without my corner people. I would fly out to an event overseas and for one reason or another my cornermen missed a flight, wasn’t allowed to cross over etc and I would literally have to ask someone at the fights to help me while I fought. That has happened several times!
No I would never do TUF as a competitor again if it’s the same rules as they had when I was there in 1996. Season 4 was so different because we had all been there before and I didn’t see why we had to have all the restrictions of young adults. Most of us all had families and were pretty responsible adults and fighters. So to give us these limitations to cause controversy in the house and basically make us go stir crazy was unnecessary.
You are a true pioneer Pete! Made way for guys like Herschel Walker, Brendan Schaub and others. As for TUF, I would agree and some guys did go a little crazy. Looking at your career you have held titles in many different promotions and fought almost every tough guy in the book. Which title meant to the most to you and which opponent do you feel was the toughest for you. Which win still means the most to you?
Spratt: That’s a tough question. I really don’t think much about the titles I have won in the past because they don’t really mean anything now. I mean, they matter at the time because I was in the moment but thinking back on it, it wasn’t really that big of a deal. Now a lot of these smaller promotion titles carry weight because of all the TV exposure these shows get on AXS TV formerly HDNet. Mark Cuban did a great thing when he started putting all these smaller shows on his network to give the lesser known fighters more exposure as well as the promotion.
At this stage in my career my last win is the one that means the most to me. That was my last second KO/Unanimous Decision win over Daniel Acacio in Brazil for Amazon Forest Combat. I was a late replacement for Josh Burkman who had visa issues and I took that fight on 10 days notice. I ruptured the extensor tendon on my right thumb in the 1st round and was still able to fight through and get the victory.
That is crazy, we see fighters get these crazy injuries in the cage like Zombie at UFC 163 with his shoulder popping out and we hear about breaks in hands all the time, True warriors! Now at UFC 42 you beat Robbie Lawler who is on a resurgence of his career right now, what kind of emotions went through you when you got that win especially because he was 7-0 coming in to that fight. You were then offered perhaps the greatest WW champion the UFC will ever see in Matt Hughes but you turned it down, can talk to us about that.
Spratt: I didn’t really have any emotions after that fight with Robbie because I knew I was going to beat him. That was the fight I had asked for before the UFC made me fight Carlos Newton in my second fight. I was on a 3 fight contract and Robbie was killing everyone and with me being on my last fight, I felt like the UFC was like ok it’s his last fight on his contract Robbie will beat him and then we don’t have to deal with him anymore. Well when I won I think that just messed everything up. So they offered me a title shot and honestly it came down to money and they didn’t want to give me what my management asked for and I walked away. No ill feelings, it was a personal stance on my self worth. They hold all the cards when you fight for them so it’s either go with the flow or get released and I chose to be released.
Very interesting and honest insight there, not many people get to see that side of the sport. You are also one of the very few pro fighters to push past that 40 year old age barrier and you proved age is nothing but a number by recording the fasted KO win of your career with an 18 second KO of Antonio Flores, how amazing was that to defy what many call a “barrier” for fighters and pro athletes in general?
Spratt: That was nothing, I still have more in my bag of tricks! It was amazing though because many people had picked this guy to KO or sub me. I was thinking to myself no respect for the old dog at all so I had to go prove a point. Did I think I would KO him in 18 seconds? No! Did I think I would KO? Yes, it just happened to be with the very first punch I threw in the fight!
And what a punch it was! So you fought in February and came up short, when can we expect to see you back in the cage?
Spratt: I am headlining Legacy FC 23 in San Antonio, TX live on AXSTV September 13th. I am not sure who I will be facing since my original opponent Danny Salinas got hurt and pulled out this week. Man it will be a busy night I might try and do something that hasn’t been done. Including myself, I have 4 other fighters on the card and one other guy affiliated with our gym that trains jiu-jitsu with my partner for a total of 6 of us. I am not sure I can do it but I plan on cornering all my guys and fighting the main event. I have CJ Vergara, Julian Shore on the prelim that I train directly, Billy Buch that trains with my partner, my partner Rodrigo Pinheiro, Richard Odoms in the co-main whom I train directly and then myself in the main!
Ok time for that age old Fight Club Question, if you could stand across the cage from anyone no matter the weight class of generation or even if they were a fighter, who would it be and why?
Spratt: If I was younger I would probably have a cool answer for you but I am not, I just count each opportunity as a blessing. So to answer your question, whoever is next!
Hahaha well played sir. Who do you enjoy to watch fighting these days and if you had to give me your top 5 Pound for Pound fighters who would they be and why?
Spratt: I love watching a lot of guys. I like Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Aldo, Faber, Anthony Njokuani, Anthony Pettis, Demetrius Johnson, Donald Cerrone, Diego Brandao who I coached for 3 years, Vitor, Daniel Cormier, Diaz brothers, Gilbert Melendez, Korean Zombie, Big Country, Guillard, Rousey, Cat Zingano, Tate, Holly Holm, Frankie Edgar, Dom Cruz, Andre Craig, Robbie Lawler, Melvin Manhoef, man I could go on and on. That’s just to name a few.
My top 5…. 1. Anderson Silva – he can do whatever he wants in a cage until he gets bored and that was the case in his last fight. 2. Jose Aldo – He has it all from the floor to the feet but just doesn’t have to show it. The guy is incredible 3. Jon Jones – What a natural talent and quick learner. Gifted gifted athlete and the sky is the limit for this guy. 4.GSP – I mean how can you argue anything this guy has done besides not finishing. He is a phenomenal athlete with the ability to adapt to any situation. 5. Ronda Rousey – she is so far ahead of the game with her grappling it is ridiculous. I know for sure there are guys she can beat in her division. How can you with every fight with the same couple of techniques. Body lock to inside or outside trip to armbar! Amazing. 5. Cris Cyborg – probably the only woman that has a chance to beat Rousey if that fight ever happens!
Amazing list and I for some reason think the Rousey vs Cyborg is the WMMA version of Randy vs Fedor and will never happen. Two key issues in the world of MMA right now seem to be getting MMA in New York and the elimination of wrestling in the Olympics, I am interested in your opinions on the topics.
Spratt: Really don’t care about the NY thing its IMO mob and money related. Olympic Wrestling has to stay it’s one of the oldest sports in the world. I mean really, Olympic trampoline over wrestling? Come on!
You’re pretty active on Twitter and social media, how important do you feel it is for not only yourself but this younger generation of fighters to keep in touch with their fans and supporters in social media realm?
Spratt: With today social media it’s very important. I still don’t tweet as much as I should but Duane Ludwig is the one that convinced me to get on twitter. He told me about all the sponsorship opportunities he was getting just because he would tweet about them so I figured if it’s working for him it can work for me! It’s a great tool to make a little extra cash and stay relevant in the World today! I mean look because of Twitter you are interviewing me now!
I would have to agree and as for the interview Jen aka @toughprincessjn is the world’s best at setting us up so it was going to happen one way or another hahaha. If someone came up to you thinking about getting into the world of MMA and asked for your advice what would you tell them?
Spratt: I would tell them to find a credible gym with credible coaches and start there! This MMA thing had gotten so big that there are basically “MMA” gym on every corner but they are really teaching Karate or some other stuff. They put MMA on their doors because that is what’s hot. From my experience in my location I steer away from the MMA stigma because honestly the average persona has a fear of training MMA because most people don’t want to fight or go to a gym and get beat up all the time in MMA training. I would have 15-20 people on the mat for Muay Thai on Mon and Wed and Tue/Thurs 3-5 people on the mat for “MMA!” I decided that I would teach Muay Thai to everyone Mon-Thur and only gear MMA to my fighters and that has bumped my enrollment to averaging 20 people on the mat a night!
Well said sir! Well thanks for all your time and knowledge, before we let you go are there any sponsors or people you would like to mention?
Spratt: My long time Manager Sven Bean, Oren Hodak my agent at KOREPS.COM, The Lawhorn Family at MMAOVERLOAD.COM, Team RPBJJ/PSMT, My long time friend in this game Saul Soliz at Houston Metro Fight Club, My wife and kids and all my family and friends! And thanks to my homegirl Jen @toughprincessjn and Art of MMA getting this put together!
There you have it fight fans! The one and only Pete Spratt. Make sure to get over to Twitter and follow him. He is a great guy and responds to almost everything. Cool guy to pick the brain of!