“I respect the Gracie name and I respect Roger, he’s good people; when even shaken hands before. But if my mother signed to fight me, I’d fight her. It’s just business to me.”
That’s how a fighter as respected and controversial as Kevin Randleman, 38, who will face Roger this weekend, begins his interview with GRACIEMAG.com. Read on below.
What has Kevin Randleman been up to before this Strikeforce?
I took some time off due to serious injuries. I spent a year and a half in recovery, that’s why I haven’t been fighting much. In my last fights, my doctor asked me not to fight, and the truth is I wasn’t near ready to fight, but I like to get in the ring so I went.
That’s how fighters are, we always think we can find a way, but I wasn’t in good shape. No I can say, honestly, I’m in my best shape for this fight with Roger. I’ve never been in the shape I am today, not even when I was UFC champion, not even when I as in Pride. I was crazy in those days, I’d train with a bunch of nuts; we didn’t train for real.
I remember when I was fighting in Brazil and I beat a guy. His grandfather was so mad he threw something at my head. It was an incredible experience!” Kevin Randleman
What about now?
Now I train Jiu-Jitsu, muay thai, wrestling. I’m always working on something. I’m really proud. I think after this fight I’m going to make a lot of fans because it’s going to be a show. And, again, I thank Roger Gracie for giving me this opportunity. After all, my career began in Brazil. I know Brazil. That country has some of the toughest people in the world, men and women, because they hunger to fight. Just like me, who grew up in a big family without much money, so I had to be hungry to want more.
Last week a rumor went around that you had gotten another infection, the same kind you got in 2006. What really happened?
It was a really bad infection, and even got in my eye, but now I’m fine, thank God. Now there’s no chance my sparring partners or opponents will get infected. But it didn’t keep me from exercising. That’s why I’m fine, my cardio is still great. It wasn’t like I had a broken arm, which would have caused me to cancel the fight. I remember I fought the whole of 2000 with loads of injuries: my knee, shoulder, elbows. And I didn’t get operated on anything. The organization would say they didn’t care if I lost, they just wanted me fighting, since the fans wanted to see me.
What do you think about professional MMA nowadays?
I think it sucks. I’ll keep on fighting like a pitbull. That’s how I am, and folks these days don’t like that here in the USA. Hey! I’m getting ready to fight someone; I don’t have to be cool with you, forget me! What I want is to fight, and against the best, and not be cool with anyone. The press calls me all the time and I ask: “Do I know you? I’ve never shaken your hand; I don’t know you. Why are you calling me?” That’s why I like the sport more from the days of the Gracie family, more than these days with thousands of companies and organizations bothering me and making money for themselves.
What do you remember from your fight in Brazil in 1996 and 1997, during the days of the bare-knuckle MMA fights?
Fighting in Brazil was great. One time I was walking in to the ring to fight a Brazilian and the guy’s grandfather was nearby, watching the event. When I beat the guy, the grandfather got so mad he threw something at my head. It was an incredible experience. But that was pure MMA, an MMA where the fans understood and respected the game and the athletes. And the referees knew the subject.