Matt Manning might not be a diehard mixed martial arts fan just yet, but the bassist for melodic post-hardcore collective From First To Last is well on his way to becoming one. While on the road a few years back, the scruffy musician watched a couple of Ultimate Fighting Championship DVDs with The Bled guitarist Jeremy Talley and was hook from the moment he pressed “play.”
Though From First To Last are currently on tour to promote their new album “Throne To The Wolves,” Manning is keeping a close eye on the Internet so he can watch all the “brutal” highlight reels he’s bound to be missing. Then when he’s done, it’s back to the self-defense book he’s been reading so he can master the art of dislocating people’s shoulders.
FIGHT! Magazine: When did you discover mixed martial arts?
Matt Manning: We were on tour one day and The Bled was with us, and their guitarist, Jeremy [Talley], is super into it. He has these [UFC] DVDs, so we would sit and watch these DVDs all the time! I was like, “This shit is brutal!” I never got any of those pay per view fights or anything, so I didn’t know how intense it was, and I’m not a big fan of boxing because you watch guys punch each other. But MMA is crazy! UFC is awesome!
FIGHT!: What was the first event you saw?
Manning: It was [with] Ken Shamrock … a comeback fight against one dude (Tito Ortiz) and it was over in like five seconds. He immediately got his eyebrow smashed and the ref called it. I remember drinking at my friend’s house and we watched it, and literally waited the whole night for this fight and it was over in no time. Man, time fucking flies when you’re employed and just trying to float from day-to-day, I guess.
FIGHT!: So are you a diehard fan?
Manning: No. I don’t have cable. Occasionally I see some cool stuff that’ll pop up on these websites I’ll go to. [They have] all the gnarly videos of people doing stupid shit and getting hurt, and there’s always fights on there. If there is anything that happens at one of those UFC’s or [other] fights when something insane happens, like watch this idiot get knocked out in one second or get his face crushed in or something like that, [then] I always get that. But without cable, it’s kinda hard to see any of that stuff.
FIGHT!: Do you also roam the Internet for Kimbo Slice videos?
Manning: Oh yeah! The Kimbo videos are awesome! I haven’t seen a recent one in a while, but every one I saw was like, you know, “Ok, you’re in a parking lot” and he just smashes them in no time. That dude is huge and scary. Would you fight him if you were a UFC fighter?
FIGHT!: If fighting was my career and we were in the same weight class, then sure. Why not?
Manning: True. I think the cool thing about it is there are so many different styles. You got the dudes who roll around on the ground, you got the dudes who are awesome at holds, and you got the guys who just go fist-to-face [and] just punch the shit out of each other the whole time! I heard about this class you go to, and you live in China and it basically takes you from nothing to top of the line in a year. Like you come back and you’re a ninja assassin or something.
FIGHT!: Have you ever thought about training, or becoming a Chinese ninja assassin?
Manning: Honestly, I’ve been on this survival kick lately and just getting into that stuff. I studied courses today where it teaches you urban tactical evasion stuff. Like if shit hits the fan and your stuck in the city somewhere, and have to survive against gangs and people losing their minds … like [how to react if] a nuke went off somewhere, so I’ve been more into that crazy, survivalist kinda stuff. But the fighting training comes into it too. I got this book, like a Special Forces [book] from the Army Surplus store, which basically shows how to disarm anyone. It’s a self-defense thing. I’m pretty sure every move dislocates the other person’s shoulder.
FIGHT!: I’d be worried for the next gang banger who messes with you.
Manning: Yeah. I’ve never been fucked with, but you never know. Times are getting crazy. I just wanna be like … if somebody says, “Hey, give me your wallet,” in one second, their arm is dislocated and on the ground crying. That’s what I want. That’s what I’m training for.