With the emergence of reality television, boxing has also ventures into the fray with Oscar Delahoya's The Next Great Champ and Stallone/Leonard's The Contender. Both shows debuted on national television with Champ being aired on Fox and Contender starting its run on NBC. Not lost in the shuffle is Zuffa's The Ultimate Fighter that has been a surprise for most as it has generated better ratings then the two boxing backed programs. Recently Boxingtalk got the opportunity to go one on one with TUF contestant Bobby Southworth who was recently eliminated from the competition by a controversial decision. In this exclusive interview, found only on Boxingtalk, Southworth goes in detail into his career and the show. For reality television fans and fight fans this is one you do not want to miss.SOG: How have things been going since the show.
Bobby Southworth: Everything is going great.SOG: We will get to the show in a second, but your career goes beyond the show. Can you comment on facing a fighter like Jason Godsey in your first fight.
BS: That was my first fight and it was going to be a tough go either way. There was suppose to be a 200 pound weight limit in that fight and I was actually suppose to face Travis Fulton, but he weighed in at 225 pounds. Then Godsey weighed in at 225 as well, but he looked bigger. I weigh about 195 and it was my first fight and he had about 40 fights. He is a decent fighter and he got the better of me that night, but all I can say is I did get him with one good shot.SOG: The first time I saw you fight was against Vitor Belfort in Pride. What was it like to get that opportunity, facing one of the best fighters out there right now.
BS: That really just came out of the blue. I guess he had an opponent and that opponent had pulled out and they were having a hard time finding a replacement when I got the call. I took the fight on two weeks notice, but you know when you are in the gym and you get that call, you take the fight or you should find another line of work. People thought it was a bad move, but it is something that we all dream about so I took the fight. I did, and I was outclassed but I thought I showed some solid skills for it to be just my third professional fight. It was a huge experience being in Japan. They treat you second to none. The fighters are treated far better by the Japanese audience then they are here by the American audience and Pride itself really takes care of the fighters. They set you up in a nice hotel, food was never a problem, we had plenty of predeim money. It was a nerve racking experience as it was the biggest crowd I had ever fought in front of. The most I had ever walked out for was about 5 thousand people, and here I was in front of 30 thousand. I was in the back puking in a bucket. I must have puked up about a gallon of liquid and everybody around like Guy Mezger and Tra Telligman were laughing at me. Not in a mean way, but trying to break the tension. I have a hard time remembering my fights until I see them on video, but I fought one of the top 10 guys in my weight class and I hoped to do better, but I froze up at the wrong time. I tried to work our game plan which was to keep it on the feet and if it did go to the ground try to tie him up and tire him out. When he passed my guard, I was waiting for him to create space and start striking because Vitor really did not go for submissions at that time and unfortunately he began that night. People say that we had an agreement not to strike but that is not true. I got him with a couple of good shots. I gave him a good black eye. He just got the upper hand and the victory.SOG: Despite him getting the choke, you lasted four minutes with a guy known for knocking everyone out.
BS: Yeah, I mean you can take Tra Telligman, Scott Ferrozo, Tank Abbott, and Vanderlei Silva and their time combined when the fought Vitor was not as long as my fight. I am not saying it is a testament to my fighting level, a victory would have been a lot better. It was a good experience and I would not change it for the world. I would do it again in a heart beat.SOG: Now on the first episode of The Ultimate Fighter, you mentioned you were semi-retired.
BS: Weight was a big issue, and Dana (White), the producers, and myself knew I was overweight but they wanted me on the show and I told them that I would do everything possible to get on weight if I had to make weight. There was some miscommunication on the show between the producers and the assistant producers as I was told weight was not going to be an issue until the finals. I was around 245 when I got there, and I got to around 237 and then were some things that happened that I cannot talk about that made them change the format, and all the sudden you did have to make weight and we had six days to do so. I was at 237, and then I got sick, because something happened at the house that got a lot of sick. I had 102 degree fever and was coughing up bloody mucus. You know, I was living on water with honey and lemon in it to help me cut the weight in addition to being sick. I had no energy for the challenge and that is why everyone thought that I was quitting, I wasn't quitting. They did not show the scenes of me having to stop carrying those pails to cough up bloody mucus or to blow snot out of my nose or when I collapsed at the end having to have the paramedics give me oxygen. In those six days I lost 10 pounds, and then I lost the rest on those few hours you saw on television.SOG: It seems like it is all about editing.
BS: Yeah, editing is big, but what they are showing is real. But some of the context is skewed a little bit. I am not happy with that, but I am grateful for the opportunity that I received.SOG: How did you get involved with the show.
BS: I have no idea. I wasn't training full time, and I hadn't fought since 2003. I did not even really train for that fight. The last fight I really trained for was in July of 2003. I had a big falling out at the gym I went to and it had been a real struggle because you fight in Pride and you come back to the States and the promoters are trying to offer you 300-600 dollars, and I have two kids and I had a small ju-jitsu program that was making a little money, but it was hard to makes ends meat so I went back to the one vocation that I had done, which was dealing poker. After falling out of the gym, I needed a job quick because I did not have an income and I did not have a place to train. I went back to dealing poker, and started making some money. It is always nice to have a little money in your pocket and at the bank, so I settled in. As that was happening I started seeing some of my old training partners having success in the fight world. Paul Buentelo winning the King of the Cage world title, Mike Kyle and Josh Thompson having some success in the UFC, and these are guys that I could at least hang with in the gym. I just thought about giving it another run, and Crazy Bob cleared the way for me to train at AKA again. I had been back there training for about three weeks and all of the sudden I got the call for the show. You know all the other guys on the show knew two months before the final casting call they had already received a lot of the paperwork and stuff they needed. They called one day before the final casting call, so I showed up and was obliviously heavy. I was just lucky enough to get picked for the show and I went there and busted my ass the whole time, and you pretty much saw the result.
I am not ashamed of anything that I did on the show, I am actually proud that I was myself. There was a lot of guys that were talking about how their parents, friends, or their kids and teammates were going to see these things and they did not want to be portrayed in a negative light, and I do not really care about that. I mean, I am a parent and I not a do as I say not as I do kind of a parent. I do not hide things from my kids. I let them know what is going on. Everybody on that show either loves me or hates me but at least they know the real me. You know some of the more popular guys are portrayed as the nicer guys, but that is not the real them. They are watching what they say and trying not to give up a bad image. When you are a fighter, you still have a private life, but on the show your private life is publicized. When you see me as a fighter, I do not think I was a bad sport in anyway. When I lost I congratulated my opponent and you know talking to my coach and others that I felt I won is not really complaining. That is the way it goes. That was the real me. I am a guy that can be really kind or compassionate, or the guy that can push back when he gets pushed. That is the real Bobby Southworth.SOG: As far as the show itself, I have noticed that the major complaints that I see, and I think the show is very good.
BS: It is a very good show.SOG: A lot of people are questioning whether the show is biased towards Randy Couture and Team Quest, because of the Chris Leben incident and everything. Did you ever get that feeling while you were on the show?
BS: At least on the blue team a lot of people were feeling that. You know a lot of things go on behind the scenes that you do not know about. A lot of the scenes you see on the show, like Randy talking about being an ambassador for the sport, and being a role model and then a member of his team pulling the stuff that he did and then you see Randy making comments about my antics in the house, which was really only one incident that I feel that Chris is as much to blame for the name calling part of it and us getting into the argument. I do not think there is one thing that I did wrong and I did not have any antics so to speak. You know, I do not want to say that the show is biased towards Team Quest, but that is how it appeared. It was one of the big sentiments among a lot of the people in the house. You have to play the hand that was dealt, you know we all signed everything away. They told us we did not have to make weight, and then I sucked it up and lost 32 pounds in five days and whether it is biased towards Team Quest or not it does not matter as the bottom line is that everyone is there to win a contract and when you see those kind of things, you should just become more determined to reach your goal. If you keep watching the show, I think that it will seem that things even out a little more, but that is for people to decide in the future and I cannot comment on things that haven't happen yet.SOG: Now I may not agree with how some things are being handled, but I do understand why every time a Team Couture guy leaves a Team Liddell member has to take their place. I feel that way it will be two guys from different teams competing for the contract.
BS: Right. Yeah a lot of us did not understand that. When Detroit is playing the L.A. Lakers in the NBA finals and Kobe Bryant goes down, you do not put Ben Wallace on the Lakers to try to even things out. The bottom line is that they were there to show the team aspect of MMA and to find the best fighter and not only were we beating them as a team, we were beating them in the ring and I thought it was unfair for them to take our team members and if it went down to where Randy had nobody else, then he could have crossed over to help coach our team and then the fights would have went off anyway, but I am not the one running the show and there were things that went on at the set that I did not agree with, and I was vocal about, but you have to suck it up in the long run and do what you are told is basically the attitude.SOG: Did you see the tapings of the show before they aired, or are you seeing them for the first time like everyone else.
BS: No, I am seeing them for the first time like everyone else. None of knew the thing with Thackers bed (Editors note: For those that did not see the first episode of TUF, Southworth is referring to an incident where Chris Leben basically urinated on the bed of fellow competitor Jason Thacker), because obviously the guys that were in the room did not stop Chris from doing that and were too ashamed to say anything because they did not do anything to stop him, but many of us did not know about it until we saw it on television or some of us would have said something and there would have been a lot more drama in the house a lot sooner. I know that Nate Quarry would have said something to him, and I definitely would have said something to him because I think that is wrong, but you know people make mistakes and do stupid things, and hopefully they learn from it. That is all you can hope for.SOG: What I was getting at, is when you see the comments of the guys by their selves, such as the things that Dana White is saying, does it kind of hit you like, man I did not realize they felt that way.
BS: Definitely, when some one is one way to you while you are there and then you see that other side of their personality that you did not see while you were there it is definitely going to shock you. You know Dana, Randy, and Chuck are in a rough position. Dana is the president and he has to make tough decisions. It is the same with Randy and Chuck as coaches. Everybody wants to be liked, but when you are those positions, it is very hard to accomplish all those things. Not everyone is going to like you and at the end of the day all you can hope for is that you did the best job that you can. At least it appears that Dana, Randy, and Chuck are those type of people. I do not take things like that personally, I am not a grudge holder. The whole experience of the show was a learning experience for me. I found out a lot of things about myself while was there. Things like whom I'm not and who I thought I was and I took as much of the positive from that as I can. That was my real goal and a lot of people do not understand how hard of a situation it is to be thrown into a house with 15 other guys. Everybody wants to beat each other up, there is no television, there is no books, magazines, no music. You do not get to go anywhere, all you do is go to the gym, the challenges, and then back to the house. It is a very stressful situation that can bring out the beast in a lot of people.SOG: I was going to mention that there is probably a lot of viewers that watch that have never had to deal with roommates. I know from experience in the NAVY that no matter how much you like some one, how good of friends you think you are, when you are put into a situation like that eventually you are going to want to kill them.
BS: Definitely. There is a lot of things they are not showing. They do not show that a lot of the guys there are complete slobs and that like Forrest, Nate, Alex, and myself did most of the cleaning and cooking. Even after we cooked meals for the guys, they would not even help clean their own plates. There was a lot of tension in the house. Who drank all the milk, who did this, who did that. All that stuff. It is the same stuff magnified by 15.SOG: Your last fight on the show, they had picked you when you had just fought a few weeks before, but on this particular episode Leben used that as his excuse for not wanting to fight, that he had just fought.
BS: They picked me, because everyone in the house knew I was injured. We thought my hand was broken after my first fight and I did not say anything because they said if you are injured they would kick you off the show. You know not all of us had the same type of injury that Nate Quarry had, so we tried to keep it hush hush. You could only see one knuckle of my hand. It was so swollen that I could barely make a fist. Everyone in the house knew that. I was sitting around the house soaking my hand in an ice bucket three hours a day. They picked me because they knew if I got in shape I would beat them. They knew it was their best chance to get me out of the way and it was a good strategy. It was a good decision by him and everyone said I picked Lodun because I could beat him, but that is exactly what Stephan said. He said he did not think he could beat me if I got in shape. I think Stephan is a good fighter and no one will ever convince me that I lost that fight. Everything he did I negated and I did more offensively then he did. On the ground, on top, on bottom, stand up. It did not matter that he was coming forward throwing leather. I think he hit me three times in the fight, all the others were being blocked or were just plain misses. The he did land that spinning back kick and that was it. I hit him 25 or 30 times at least solid, which is a testament to Stephan's chin. That guys has some whiskers on him, but you will never convince me that I lost that fight. I just hope to get a rematch, not for revenge, but to set the record straight.
As far as Leben goes he had more of a lay off then I did before I fought Stephan. What can you say, Chris is a big talker, and for all of his talk he did not put his money where is mouth was. To hear him talk up the level of his skill, I thought he must be talking about a different guy after watching him fight.SOG: I saw him complaining that all Josh did was hold him down the entire fight, and I see other people complaining about that as well.
BS: Everyone, with Chris included, is complaining that Josh held him down and dried humped his leg. Josh must be pretty good at dry humping because he was holding Chris so tight I thought he was having multiple orgasms. So that is all I have to say about it. Josh did not hold him down. Chris held Josh on top of him. If you watch that fight, Chris is doing nothing to get to his feet all he is holding onto Josh for dear life. That is not a guy dry humping you. It is a guy that is working. Trying to make space, trying to strike, trying to pass, trying to generate offense and the other guy is doing nothing but holding him for all his might. You have to give Chris the benefit of the doubt. He did have a big whole in his hand, but listening to him talk he made himself out to be rounded enough to compensate for that. If he could not strike, he could do other things. When we played that prank on Chris, I was at the point to where I thought he was a lot of talk, but then I realized that he is a little more mentally unstable then I realized.SOG: Now after the fight, Dana comes into the locker room and when you lose I understand that you want to be by yourself to reflect on things, and when Dana White entered, I did not feel you were being disrespectful to him in your comments about not needing a pep talk.
BS: If you listen closely, because sometimes on the show when I am trying to make a point, they dub down what I am saying. I told him Dana, please can I get a minute, I do not need a pep talk right now. Please, you have been the one bright spot on the show, can I please get a minute. Then he popped off to me and that is just the way it went down. I did not mean to disrespect him. I asked nicely for some time alone and he took it as a sign of disrespect. You know when some one makes a request and puts a please in there and he takes it as a sign of disrespect that is between him and his maker. There is nothing that I can do about that. That is between him and God. I did not try to disrespect him. I started yelling back because he started yelling at me and if you watch again I tried to make amends and he kept yelling. I was not going to continue a yelling match, and I know in my heart I was in the right. People who are in any kind of relationship where there is going to be heated moments, I think it is a testament that we were able to get past that. We talk with each other even to this day. Those eight weeks were a very intense time for me. The more tense times you did not even see on television. You have to understand that there are a lot of things that go into reality shows that bring tension like having 25-35 year olds being treated like kids.SOG: Knowing the way fighters pull out of scheduled UFC fights, do you feel that the guys on the show may get that call to fill in as a replacement.
BS: I feel that the guys you see competing on the show will be in the Octagon. I am sure that Dana, the Fretita brothers, and the producers will be keeping that in mind and hopefully will make that call.SOG: What is your prediction for the Randy Couture/Chuck Liddell rematch?
BS: Well, me and Chuck are friends and we have been even before the show. I am definitely pulling for Chuck. Randy and I had some friction on the show. Before I went on the show, Randy was my idol. I never idolized anyone, even when I was a college basketball player, I idolized Randy Couture more than I did Michael Jordan, but things happened on the show so I am pulling for Chuck. I would like to see Randy win, because of what he is doing for the sport and he gives hope for us guys in our mid thirties. It gives us hope, but Chuck is my friend and I want him to beat Randy. It is a hard fight to call. Chuck can beat anybody.SOG: Is there anything you would like to say before closing.
BS: I would like to thank Dana White and the Zuffa organization, everybody at SPIKE TV, Pilgrim Films, Frank and Lorenzo Fretita, all my sponsors Tap Out, Sprawl, and KTFO. I would like to thanks my employer the Bay 101 Card Room Casino in San Jose. San Jose is the place to play. Game Notes
First of all I would like to thank Bobby Southworth for the opportunity to conduct this interview. Bobby admitted that he used to pay a lot of attention to boxing, until he began his MMA career and was even an amateur boxer at one point. He also feels strongly that MMA is the future of combative sports and as boxing becomes more corrupt that MMA has the best chance of replacing boxing in popularity. He does say he tries to watch as much as he can, but with a full time job, a family, and training he does not get to watch boxing all the time. He feels that the heavyweight division is a joke, and that a Bernard Hopkins fight is a joke and that it is hard for him to watch boxing. He does say that he feels that there is a big of audience out there to support MMA, boxing, and K-1. I wish Bobby the best of luck in the future and hope everything works out for him.
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