Quick Hits

Quick Hits

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DID YOU KNOW? C00L KNOWLEDGE FROM THE WORLD OF MMA

2004 The last time that Anderson Silva saw a fight go to round three.
 
KNOCKOUT STRIKEOUT

UFC 76, entitled “Knockout”, had 9 fights on the card… none of which ended in a knockout.

YOU’RE HIRED!

Kelly Perdew, President of the MMA networking site ProElite.com, was the winner of the 2004 edition of NBC’s The Apprentice.

THEM’S FIGHTIN’ WORDS

The word “Zuffa” is an Italian word, meaning “to fight”

FIFTY ONE

The age of the oldest competitor ever in the UFC

At age 51, the legendary Ron “The Black Dragon“ Van Clief is the oldest man to ever compete in the UFC. He was submitted by Royce Gracie at UFC 4 via rear naked choke.

BODY SLAM

World Wrestling Entertainment has been knocked off its throne as the number one selling sports entertainment brand on DVD. The top spot has been claimed by UFC, and now UFC has the top two DVD’s on the Billboard Sports and Recreation List.

PRO ELITE IS GROWING

ProElite Inc. announced that it has acquired the U.K. mixed martial arts organization Cage Rage Championships. ProElite also owns mixed martial arts organization EliteXC as well as King of the Cage.

FIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

The Fight Network has a new MMA show entitled Rough. The network said the show can best be described as “Entertainment Tonight locked in a choke hold with the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.”

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If someone told you she was involved in MMA, you’d probably assume she was a ring girl. You’d be wrong of course. Michelle Waterson’s knockout looks may have earned her the nickname “Karate Hottie”, but she’s a bonafi de pro MMA fi ghter. This month, Michelle talks to us about fi ghting, training at Greg Jackson’s, and helping to carry the torch for women’s MMA.

Hi Michelle, So tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Aurora, Colorado, and spent some time in Germany as well.

How did you get interested in Martial Arts?

Well, I started studying American Freestyle Karate when I was about ten, thanks to my brother. I competed in a lot of tournaments and did point sparring for a long time, but once I got my black belt I got curious about other styles. I studied Wushu for awhile which focuses more on traditional kung fu forms and acrobatics, competed internationally and did pretty well, but it was always in the back of my head if I could really fi ght and defend myself.

And how did that lead you into combat sports?

My mom, who is Thai, made a trip to Thailand and I went with her and did a 2 week Muay Thai camp while I was there. I absolutely fell in love with how challenging it was for me. When I came back I was really interested in fi ghting but I didn’t know any gyms to train at for Muay Thai. I ended up getting a job as a ring girl and became friends with one of the fi ghters, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. I told him I was interested in fi ghting. He was like “well if you’re serious about it, get your ass in the gym and we’ll start training”. I thought it was cool that he was willing to help me out with the training. I got a couple of amateur Muay Thai fi ghts in and then Donald was like “let’s do an MMA fi ght!”

Very cool. So before you were featured on the reality show Fight Girls, were you already competing in MMA?

I had taken my fi rst pro bout about a month before I went out to Vegas to shoot the show. I had no amateur fi ghts before that.

Just jumped right into the deep end huh?

Yup, go hard or don’t go at all!

So how was your fi rst experience in the cage? Obviously you liked it if you’re still fi ghting.

Oh yeah, it was an adrenaline rush like no other. I was nervous, excited, there were lots of emotions. You know before that, I had a few Muay Thai fi ghts, little smokers and stuff, and then I take a pro MMA fi ght in front of 9,000 people. It was crazy.

You just fought recently right?

Yeah, I just fought July 12, against Thricia Poovey. She’s a scrapper man. Our original game plan was to take her down and ground and pound but we ended up just standing up and boxing.

And you won by TKO?

Yep, TKO second round, she didn’t come out for the third. It was a good feeling, but that fi ght was really challenging for me mentally. You know there was a part in the fi ght where I was like “I don’t know”. She had me against the cage and was throwing bombs at me. I was thinking “she’s about to win right now” and I was arguing with myself I was like “no no no.. she can’t.” So I turned it around and took it to her.

Do you think training at Greg Jackson’s place has been a big part of your improvement?

Oh yeah, tremendous. Just everything about it, the family atmosphere, coach Jackson is great, and coach Winklejohn and Vanarnsdale are very motivating. And of top of that I have great training partners like Julie Kedzie and Holly Holm. It’s just a great place to learn and advance.

Do you train with the guys a lot?

Oh yeah.

How does that work? Do they ever go easy on you because you’re a girl?

Well, usually what happens is they go easy on me until I kick them in the face, and then they don’t go easy on me any more.

Haha… so do you think people tend to underestimate you because of the way you look?

I think sometimes yeah. But either way, when you get in the ring and you start going at it, it tends to go away. Whether someone underestimates me or not, is their fault.

Have you ever had issues with making assumptions about your opponents based on the way they look?

I have in the past, but I’ve come to realize that we’re all human, we all bleed the same, and I’m gonna hit her as hard as she’s gonna hit me.

So ultimately, what do you want to do with your fi ghting career?

My goal right now is to fi ght on national tv and hopefully get a belt. I wanna fi ght in Japan because I know theres a lot of good smaller girls out there.

So what do you do for fun when you aren’t training?

Well, I love to rock climb… sometimes we go paintballing, that’s a lot of fun. And theres a country bar we go to on Thursday nights and we all do some line dancing and some two steppin’.

Line dancing? I would have never guessed. That’s awesome.

haha.. well Albuquerque is such a small place you know, there are less distractions so we’re able to train more. When we do have free time we usually try to relax.

So do you like listening to country music?

You know, I do. I hated country music growing up, but Cowboy wouldn’t let me listen to anything else. It drove me crazy, but I love it now. I love all kinds of music though, I grew up on hip hop.

What would you say to other women that might be interested in the sport?

I’d just tell them if you want to get into it, you’ve got to be able to handle the pressure. But once you get in the ring, it’s on and fi ght or fl ight takes over. I’d tell them to go for it and not be scared. Its 80% mental.

Speaking of the mental aspect, do you do anything special to prepare mentally for your fi ghts?

I do a lot of visualization. I write a lot of inspirational quotes on my mirror just to help me stay motivated. Sometimes I wake up and I’m sore as hell and I ask myself “why am I doing this.. do I really have to go to the gym every day and get beat up?” But then I remember that I’m fi ghting for more than just me, I’m fi ghting for my gym, for my family and for the people that are looking up to me. My mom will tell me about her friends daughters that love watching me fi ght, and that means a lot to me. To be a positive roll model to other young women out there, because it’s tough to be a woman in this sport and represent yourself in a positive light.

Well you’re doing a fantastic job. We look forward to seeing more of you inside and out of the cage!

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YOU CAN’T PUT A PRICE TAG ON HAPPINESS

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This bamboo-blend V-neck commemorates Eddie Bravo’s victory over Royler Gracie at the 2003 ADCC Championships. It’s so soft that your girlfriend (if you have one) will steal it… so get two.

$39.00

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2. MRI RED Repair

Before the Sandman cometh, pop a couple of RED Repair capsules to help your muscles recover and repair while you sleep. You’ll thank us in the morning when you can deadlift a Honda.

$19.99

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3. TrauMMA Ayiyama Tee

We’re secure enough in our manhood to know that UFC welterweight Yoshihiro Akiyama is fittingly nicknamed “Sexyama.” If you want to follow in his footsteps, buying his shirt is a good start.

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4. Hayabusa Flip Flops

Functional, durable, and they look pretty flipping cool, these rubber flops are perfect for post-workout relaxation or to wear in the shower to prevent your feet from getting funky.

$14.99

Hayabusafight.com

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For most people, dreams are far away and usually unattainable. But Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen is a special case. When he captured the DREAM lightweight title in June, it was the culmination of hard work, persistence, and a little luck. But winning the belt was no flfl uke. Over his nine year career, he’s stood in with some of the best in the world.

While the Norwegian striker isn’t well known among American fans, it’s through no fault of his own. Most seasoned international MMA fans have at least heard his name if they haven’t seen him fi ght. Soft spoken and humble, his mild manner outside the ring recalls Cro Cop.

Clashing with top-ranked lightweights is nothing new for Hansen. And he’s damn good at it. Hansen fi rst came on the MMA scene in 1999, fi ghting in a Finnish underground promotion called Finn Fight. From there, he fought his way up the ranks, eventually showcasing his skills in Shooto, K-1, and ADCC. He fi nally hit the big leagues, landing a contract with PRIDE Fighting Championships, in 2005. His fi rst fi ght, at Bushido 8 against Masakazu Imanari, ended with one of the most vicious knees ever seen in MMA.

Being a successful MMA fi ghter means training in at least three disciplines, usually wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, and Muay Thai. However, Hansen’s martial arts background is far more eclectic. He has competed in Kyoukoshin, amateur boxing, kickboxing, and grappling tournaments. Hansen insists on having a diverse arsenal, which is clear when his guns start blazing. Takanori Gomi, Caol Uno, Yves Edwards, Gesias Calvancante, and Shinya Aoki have all fallen victim to Hellboy. Of his seven career losses, three were by submission early in his career, three were by decision, and one was a disqualifi cation. Hansen has yet to be knocked out.

Enter DREAM

After Zuffa acquired PRIDE, Hansen’s career stagnated in contractual disputes. As he puts it, “They only offered me half of my [PRIDE] salary, and I didn’t feel that was honest to do.” He eventually fought in Shooto, losing a decision to Eiji Mitsuoka. About a month later, he fought in K-1 Dynamite, submitting Kazuyuki Miyata in the second round.

Soon after, the newly organized DREAM promotion organized a Lightweight Grand Prix. The tournament, slated as four events over a four month span. The lineup included Shinya Aoki, Gesias Calvancante, Eddie Alvarez, and Caol Uno, among others. In the fi rst round, Hansen fought Kotetsu Boku. Hansen advanced to the quarterfi nals after winning a long, drawn out decision.

His next fi ght, DREAM 3 on May 11, 2008 against Philly fi ghter Eddie Alvarez, had all the makings of something beautiful to watch. The two came out throwing heavy leather; Hansen got caught early but persevered, making it a grueling fi ght for both fi ghters. But in the end, Alvarez pulled out the decision. Hansen was out of the tournament, or so it seemed.

DREAM 5 came, and Hansen fought Kultar Gill in an alternate match, dismantling him via armbar in the fi rst round. Soon after, Alvarez defeated Kawijiri in the fi rst round by TKO. However, he received a bad cut and was unable to continue. Hansen took his place in the fi nals, fi ghting submission wizard Shinya Aoki. They exchanged punches early, and Aoki then tried to grapple. Hansen pounded the Japanese grappling prodigy into submission at 4:19 in the fi rst round to capture the DREAM Lightweight Championship.

Joachim Hansen has proven internationally that he is a talent to be reckoned with. Only time will tell if those stateside will get the chance to fully appreciate the man they call Hellboy.

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With a professional record standing strong at 19-2, including two straight finishes over UFC vets Akihiro Gono and Nick Thompson, Dan “The Handler” Hornbuckle is on his way to becoming a household name in both Japan and America.

“When I first got into MMA with [trainer] Kyle Watson, I was 215 lbs. of pure muscle,” the Welterweight, who is also 50% Cherokee Indian, said. Having wrestled since age 6, Hornbuckle transitioned seamlessly into MMA. But even with such a background, mastery of technique wasn’t exactly the focus of his game, he said. “I used no technique whatsoever when I first started training MMA,” Hornbuckle said. “I always just overpowered my opponents and beat them up in a hurry!” It was this tenacious manhandling of his opponents that would forever see him labeled as “The Handler,” even after brute strength took a back seat to his quickly sharpening skills.

Hornbuckle’s jump into MMA didn’t immediately pay off either, as his love of fighting and thirst for experience occasionally saw him fighting in some rather seedy venues. “About a year into my training I was in South Dakota and I entered a fighting tournament at a bar,” he explained. The tournament, though, was free to all-comers, lacked weight classes, and was about as thrown together as it gets, Hornbuckle said. “It was definitely not what you call a ‘sanctioned event.’ If you won and the crowd liked you, they threw money into the ring. …I probably made a solid 50 bucks that night.” After continually paying his dues, whether it was through repressing an instinct to use strength instead of technique, or by engaging in barroom beat-downs for peanuts, Hornbuckle’s career began ascending through the professional circuit, including stints in Hook N Shoot and Bodog Fight. It was only then that he would experience what he now considers to be the hardest part of professional fighting.

“The hardest thing for me is finding the balance between family life, work, and training,” he said. “I have a wife and three little girls. They are my tribe, and they are my main priority, fighting or not.” As a result, The Handler has had a full-time job for much of his fighting career, including his latest as a fire safety sprinkler installer. After full weeks of work and sporadic training sessions, his weekends were usually reserved for playing catch-up in the form of 260-mile round-trip drives from his hometown of Mahomet, Ill, to Hammond, Ind, to train with Miguel Torres — a decision that would continue to reap huge dividends in 2009 at Sengoku-Ninth battle, where he fought Japanese MMA legend Akihiro Gono.

With a shift of stance and a snapping of shin, mainstream glory came calling for Hornbuckle when he defeated Akihiro Gono on his home turf via highlight-reel head kick. The video clip instantly went viral on the Internet, including Hornbuckle’s altogether tame, respectful, and cathartic post-fight celebration that saw the fighter shedding tears of joy. “Honestly, my first thought was, ‘How am I going to get out of Japan alive?’” Hornbuckle laughed. “But after that, the feeling of months of hard work and sacrifice culminated inside me and came pouring out. To go there and meet my objective in devastating fashion was very emotional for me.”

Since then, Hornbuckle has fought once more in the Sengoku promotion, this time stopping a well-seasoned Nick “The Goat” Thompson by TKO in the second round. The two wins in Sengoku have not only garnered Hornbuckle some valuable attention, but they have increased his value as well. The fighter is set to compete again in Japan on New Year’s Eve, this time as a main draw — and it couldn’t have come at a better time for The Handler. “I got laid off from my job before I fought Thompson, due to the economy,” Hornbuckle said. “So I became a full-time fighter by default. But I’m going all in, baby. I’m going all in!”

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THE SHOCKER

During his UFC 154 weigh-in, Tom Lawlor assumed the identity of the Shockmaster, a short lived WCW pro wrestling personality of the 1990s who is regarded as one of the most epic gimmick failures in wrestling history.

INTERIM VACATION

There have been eight Interim Champions in UFC history, but only two fighters Big Nog and Andrei Arlovski have actually defended the title against someone other than the reigning champion.

TOE-RIFFIC

Frank Mir’s toe hold submission of Tank Abbott at UFC 41 on February 28, 2003, remains the only toe tapping in UFC history. More recently, Marcin Held used a toe hold to submit Rich Clementi at Bellator 81 on November 16, 2012.

BIG DOPES

All three of Anderson Silva’s UFC light heavyweight opponents—James Irvin, Forrest Griffin, and Stephan Bonnar—failed their post-fight drug tests.

SNARF SNARF

Dana White keeps a $160,000 fossilized sabertooth tiger skull in his office.

DIGITAL PUNCH

According to PeekYou, the top 10 fighters with the greatest Web presence are:

10. BJ Penn
9. Chael Sonnen
8. Junior dos Santos
7. Tito Ortiz
6. Jon Jones
5. Vitor Belfort
4. Randy Couture
3. Chuck Liddell
2. Anderson Silva
1. Georges St-Pierre

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1. Venum Team Japan Jacket
Venum’s “Team Japan” jacket proudly showcases the red and ice-white colors of Japan. You can move like a ninja in this 100% polyester jacket with side pockets and a zippered front. Its brilliant texture offers a trendy and sporty style that will never go out of fashion—okay, it may go out of fashion in 50 years, but this jacket can easily get you through 2043.
$64.99
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2. TapouT Chael Sonnen Walkout Shirt
Chael Sonnen wore this tee to the cage for his UFC Fight Night 26 victory over Shogun Rua. Now you can stand behind the Sonnen motto “Everyday I Fight” wherever you go. This black 100% cotton tee features a crew neck and comfortable fit. If it’s good enough for the “Gangster from West Linn,” we’ll wear it.
$23.95
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3. Ares Sports Rub
If you’re in the gym working your tail off every week, you’re going to get some aches and pains—mat burns, bruises, and sore muscles. Have no fear, Ares Sports Rub can keep you in the game. Ares is a 100% all-natural topical cream intended for the temporary relief of muscle and joint pain. Don’t let a few sore muscles keep you from kicking ass and taking names.
$12.95
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4. Hayabusa Mirai Series Striking Gloves
Hayabusa is coming out swinging this month with their newly released Mirai Striking Gloves. These new gloves are equipped with the Boa Closure System, a powerful precision closure that locks the gloves into place with a simple twist of the dial. Quick on, quick off, the Mirai gloves give you the comfort, support, and protection you need to hit the heavy bag or go toe-to-toe in the ring. Now, touch gloves and come out fighting.
$179.99
hayabusafight.com

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CALL WAITING

“I haven’t even answered his phone call. I don’t hate him, but I just don’t want to talk to him right now.”

—Dana White to mmaweekly.com, concerning Stephan Bonnar’s failed UFC 153 drug test.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD

“Every time I see blood, I almost throw up. So every time I get cut open or my opponent gets cut open, I just try to hold back throwing up. That’s real hard for me—in between rounds I can get pretty queasy.”

—Jimy Hettes to FIGHT! Magazine.

HENDO REBORN

“I’m a wrestler, and I can knock people out—that’s pretty sweet, huh?”

—Johny Hendricks at the UFC 154 post-fight press conference.

JONESING FOR A FIGHT

“This guy is just dying for me to punch him in the face. Hold tight johnny boy our time will come. @jonnybones.”

—Daniel Cormier on Twitter.

IMPRESSIVE RESPONSE

“I am not impressed by your performance @GeorgesStPierre.”

—Nick Diaz via Twitter, moments after St- Pierre defeated Carlos Condit at UFC 154.

“I did better against Carlos than Diaz did.”

—Georges St-Pierre responding to Diaz’s Tweet at the UFC 154 post-fight press conference.

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A dash of this. A pinch of that. If Xyience scientists were looking for the perfect formula, they found it, and her name is Amanda Corey. 

You’re five-feet tall, but your personality is so big. Do guys find that intimidating?

It’s less intimidating. Working for Xyience, I run into so many different kinds of people, and I notice that my appearances really draws in a lot of people, and I think it’s because I’m smaller. Most guys are really intimidated to talk to taller models.Because I’m small and tiny, they don’t fear coming up to me and starting a conversation.

Now that you’re living on the West Coast, how does it compare to where you’re originally from in Rhode Island?

All my family lives back East. It’s really cool to go back and see my family and friends. Now that I live in California, they just can’t believe it. It seems like some kind of fairytale place that no one ever lives in. I am definitely a small-town girl. I grew up and went to college in Tuscon, which is a super-small city. I have my core group of friends, but I’m very outgoing when I meet people. I’m still kind of a homebody at heart—super-mellow and low-key—and I think that comes from a small town.

What did you learn from winning Beauty and the Geek?

The whole thing was pretty crazy. I was living in a house for seven weeks with no contact with family or friends. I’ve lived with roommates before in real life, but living with complete strangers and having your life filmed is definitely an experience. I think having an open mind and getting along with others was the most important thing. I would definitely do it again. The reality shows that are out there now have so much drama—don’t get me wrong, there was definitely drama on my show, but it was more family oriented.

How about joining The Ultimate Fighter?

I don’t think I would survive[laughs].

I don’t know, we like your chances. I hear you’re into kickboxing.

I have a membership at 24 Hour Fitness, and they do kickboxing classes every week. I also took a kickboxing class in college, and I liked it a lot. Then I started taking classes at the gym and found it was a great way to stay in shape. It kept my interest. It made me workout for the full hour, which is sometimes hard to do if you’re working out on your own on the treadmill.

The UFC is big at Hooters, where you worked previously. Do you ever go back for the fights?

I actually celebrated my birthday at Hooters! There were no fights going on—I wish there were, that would have been perfect. We actually did a little trivia thing, and we ended up winning a wing party—we won 200 free wings. We do go back when there are fights, but now, since I work for Xyience, I usually go to the fights. So that’s a great perk.

Are you a girl who can put down some wings?

I am! I love their food. People say their food is terrible, but I actually really, really enjoy it. The 200 wings that we won, I had four friends with me, and we put down all of them! It was fun. I have good genes, I’m pretty lucky.

What have been some of your favorite moments since working in the MMA field?

I’ve gotten to know Wanderlei Silva pretty well. We did a photo shoot together. I also did a photo shoot with Dan Hardy.Getting to know those guys on a personal level is fantastic.When I actually got to see Wanderlei fight in person, it was a crazy experience for me because I had known him on a work level. After I saw his passion for fighting, it was so exciting. I was so happy to see him do so well.

Is being in Seventeen Magazine and working with Hawaiian Tropic surreal for you?

It’s pretty cool. It’s different. Sometimes, I get calls from my friends who have seen me before I’ve seen the photos. I definitely never saw myself on ads and on billboards, but it’s pretty cool.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far, and what do you want to accomplish next?

One of my first accomplishments was winning the reality show, because that actually brought everything together. That allowed me to move out to Orange County. From there, winning the contract with Xyience was a huge, huge thing for me. I travel to Vegas a lot. They’ve gotten me into UFC and MMA, and that’s an exciting world. It’s never something I thought I’d get into, but it’s a respectable sport, and I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to get in with Xyience and the fight world. A goal of mine definitely would be to get into a hosting gig.

Being a fitness model, what are your favorite cheat foods?

I definitely love food. There’s definitely not much I don’t like. Any kind of chocolate—chocolate cake is definitely up there.Orange chicken is definitely my favorite. Anything fried is like a treat for me. I try not to dip into it too much, but one day a week I can have whatever I want.

You’re not just a model now either, you’ve started your own modeling firm?

I am the co-owner of an agency right now called Thrive Model Management. My best friend and I started it about a year ago, and it’s just now taking off. It’s pretty exciting. You can’t model forever. I got my degree in college. Although it’s not what I intended to do, it’s definitely something I can do when it’s over—stay in the industry and pass all the tricks and stuff that I learned down to other girls who are trying to get into the industry.

You seem to have your head together. What flaws are you hiding?

I don’t know about flaws[laughs]. I need to know much more about MMA. I’m still really new at it and just learning.Studying up a little bit more would be a good idea. I’m not so hardcore on working out—I need to do a little more of that.

What does it take for a guy to win you over?

I like humorous guys. I don’t need cocky guys. I like old school guys—chivalry isn’t dead. I want someone who is confident but definitely not cocky, a non-smoker for sure, and mellow like me.

How do you win them over?

I try to pretend to know what I’m doing in the kitchen. Food is the way to the male heart. I try to get the recipe book out. Being outgoing, sweet, and a good cook are some things that guys always look for in a girl.

What words do you try to live by?

My kitchen is Italian-themed. I bought this little picture that says, “Live long. Love lots. Laugh often.” I love those quirky little signs—it might be corny but just going by that day after day. I totally believe in karma. Whenever you’re in a bad situation, do the right thing—and treat others with respect. That’s who I am, and I’m pretty happy about it.

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As he swings open the front door of Hackney’s Combat Academy on a late July evening in Roselle, Illinois, you’d swear Keith Hackney could still ground-and-pound with the best of them inside the Octagon. Noticeably absent from his UFC days of the mid-1990s is the Billy Ray Cyrus mullet. However, he still has the pronounced guns that would make a bodybuilder envious.

If a fountain of youth exists, Hackney is tapping it, because at age fi fty, this mixed martial arts pioneer is, without a doubt, still built to fi ght.

“When it stops being fun, I won’t do it,” he says, as a steady fl ow of young fi ghters check in and greet him with a playful fi st pound. “It keeps you young and keeps your heart pumping. People sit around with the remote control and pretty soon the years go by. Then, all the sudden, they want to get in shape. No, you’ve got to stay on top of it.”

Whether it’s inside or outside the cage, staying on top is a way of life for this former UFC fi ghter. Best known for chopping down 600-plus pound sumo wrestler Emmanuel Yarborough at UFC 3 in 1994, “The Giant Killer” continues to attack his business ventures and training with a schedule so vigorous that many of today’s best-conditioned MMA fi ghters would be impressed.

Along with owning 10 rental properties and managing Hackney’s Classic Heating & Cooling in Roselle, Hackney trains fi ve to six days per week and teaches four times per week, including his latest venture as the head of the Combat Center at the Pinnacle Performance School of Wrestling in St. Charles.

“This is my relaxation, seriously,” he says with a smile. “Jumping in the cage is a great way to get rid of all your anxiety. Stress will kill you.” Hackney learned the lessons of the Octagon much earlier than most, but never in his wildest dreams did he envision the UFC’s meteoric rise from “controlled street fi ghting” to multibillion dollar company.

“It’s too bad the UFC didn’t start when I was 21 years old,” he says with a laugh. “But the thing is, I had an established business and I was trying to put my kids through college when I fi rst fought in the UFC. So what do you do? Quit everything and go into the UFC where they didn’t pay much money back then? You had to win three fi ghts in one night to win $50,000.”

Hackney never scored a huge payday in four UFC battles – he earned a paltry $1,000 for his submission victory against Yarborough – although his academy is feeling the trickle-down effects from MMA’s skyrocketing popularity.

“Before, I didn’t charge anything,” he says. “I had a place for people to come fi ght, and it was great. But we had so many people wanting to train that I had to expand and run a business.”

With 150 members, business is booming. On this Monday night, 16 participants fought through a heartpumping beginner MMA session, the phone at the front desk got a steady workout, and the parking lot outside this nondescript, brick-faced building fi lled up faster than the Allstate Arena will on October 25 when the UFC invades the Land of Lincoln for the fi rst time at UFC 90.

“MMA is the hottest thing going,” says Mike Castellano, former Carlson Gracie Academy owner and the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor at Hackney’s. “I think it’s going to be very popular at least for the next few years.” Hackney dreams of forming a fi ghting team, although he understands that the geographic limitations of his suburban academy may hinder this from happening.

“I’m not like the Miletich School where I’m right next to Iowa wrestling and you can bring in thirty wrestlers who have competed all their life and are ready to go,” he says. “It would be nice to have a stable like that, but in reality, it’s not in this area. Here, we’ve got a lot of beginners who come in. We take them from scratch and build them.”

He has no plans of downshifting this wild ride any time soon, so it’s safe to say you’re never going to fi nd Hackney and his wife Donna playing shuffl eboard and spending their golden years at some sleepy retirement community in Florida. “This is going to be my retirement,” Hackney says. “You know, you’ve got to have a reason to get up in the morning.”

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