Pep Talk Q&A: Challenging "Bones" and Protecting Them

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Holy shit, Pep! Jones is a beast. How soon do you see him getting a title shot and do you think he wins it?


Can’t disagree with you, Alex. I’m guessing he will be in line in 2011. From a talent standpoint, I think he can hang with anyone in the UFC at 205 right now. I still think he’d have a tough time with Machida, but he’s either a pick ‘em or a favorite against anyone else in the division for me. I’m not just basing that on his record. There are guys who have come into the UFC and gone on a run that were nowhere near the fighter Jones is. More importantly, his length, reach, athleticism, high level Greco and dynamic striking make him incredibly difficult to prepare for. In fact, any ONE of those attributes at a high level would create some preparation challenges. Combine all of them and you’ve got a mess on your hands regardless of your last name at 205.

That said, given that Jon is only 22 years old and looks to have a long, successful career ahead of him, I think the UFC will exercise a certain degree of patience in bringing him along. He is a very mature, well-spoken and marketable fighter and there’s no rush in putting him into title fights. He’s also still growing and given his youth and frame, don’t be at all surprised to see him fight for the 205 strap and ultimately end up in the heavyweight division.

Hey Pep. I have a few questions that me and a few friends have always been curious about. Why do fighters pour water on the mat and rub their feet in it before a match? Why do fighters tape up their hands? Who pays for the hotel, plane fare, food, and rooms for a fighter’s entourage? How much money does a fighter lay out during a training camp to various coaches?

Dennis L.

Good questions, Dennis. I’m sure lots of people wonder about some of those things so let’s get crackin’. I have it on good authority that Zuffa fighters get one hotel room and two airfares for each non-title fight and two rooms and three airfares for title fight, whether they are the champion or the challenger. Any additional rooms or travel expenses are on the fighter. As for the pouring water on the canvas and rubbing their feet in it, fighters routinely say that the canvas is rather slick and that the water actually makes it less slick for them. Here’s the rub (no pun intended); I’ve been told on several occasions that the logos on the canvas tend to be more slippery than the canvas itself and that the water might actually have a negative effect when hitting those patches in the cage. Fighters tape their hands before a fight to lessen the likelihood of injury. The tape both creates an additional layer between the actual hand and the opponent as well as keeping the hand tightly clenched while striking. When it comes to the cost associated with a training camp, that number could range from zero to tens of thousands of dollars. Usually, a fighter’s regular trainers will get a cut of the fighter’s purse as compensation. But, when you get into situations of bringing guys into mimic an opponent and paying for their transportation, hotel room, food and, potential financial compensation, costs can quickly escalate. Imagine how high that bill can get when fighters move a camp to Colorado or Big Bear for six weeks to train in altitude.

(Shlemenko throws a spinning backfist at Robert McDaniel.)

First I would like to thank you for your radio show…it’s really great and I hope you’ll keep doing it for a long time. My question is about Alexander Shlemenko. Last Saturday his performance on Fight Festival 27 was really impressive. His manager said, that some big deal for Shlemenko is coming soon. So, my question is what do you think about Shlemenko and his possibilities to make it in some big organization? Does he have all that it takes to become a contender, for example, in Strikeforce?


Thanks for the props about Pro MMA Radio. I intend on doing the show for a long, long time!

I will be interested to see more of Shlemenko. At 27-4 with 21 of those wins coming by (T)KO or submission, he has a very impressive record. He’s a dynamic striker with solid submissions and I’d love to see how he’d match up in the middleweight division of a promotion at the Strikeforce level. I think the question mark for me comes down to the quality of competition he’s faced. It’s often very difficult to evaluate talent levels when most of the opponents on a fighter’s record are unknown fighters.

Shlemenko took care of Sean Salmon in 40 seconds a few weeks ago in his last fight, but Salmon has been less than impressive, going 2-4 in his last six. He’s also a guy who got cut from the UFC and never really found any success against top competition so it is very hard to gauge what a win over Salmon means. Keep in mind that Salmon went 0-3 in the UFC and Strikeforce. Taking nothing away from Sean, that win doesn’t really give us any idea of how Shlemenko would do in the big leagues. Additionally, the four losses on Alexander’s record have come at the hands of three fighters. He lost twice to Jose Landi-Jons (0-2 in Pride), once to Jordan Radev (0-2 in the UFC) and Jacare Souza, the most talented fighter he’s faced thus far. I think he’s improved a lot since those fights took place and he’s only 25 years old with a ton of experience, so it would be interesting to see how he would do in a major promotion.

Larry Pepe is the host of Pro MMA Radio.

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