UFC old guardsman, Ultimate Fighter alumni and MMA coach at American Top Team are just few job titles owned by veteran mixed martial artist Din Thomas. Not only did he follow in the footsteps of so many who came before him, retiring from MMA to become a teacher, coach and mentor to young fighters, the elder statesmen has also been venturing off the beaten path of a traditional post-fight existence. Thomas been dabbling with improv acting and sports broadcasting for several years; but just within the last 12 months, podcasting and even stand-up comedy have been added to his lengthy resumé.
The modern landscape of self-promotion proves difficult for fans to navigate at the current saturation level. With the staggering number of active or retired fighters, coaches, analysts and referees who have their own internet, satellite or terrestrial radio show, one can get lost trying to keep track of it all. Beyond those mediums, the amount of podcasts that exist are more abundant than all of the other platforms combined.
It seems Tyron Woodley and Din Thomas have figured out a way to carve out a niche for themselves within the overpopulated quasi-radio market.
“Tyron (Woodley) and I have been together for quite some time and we talked about doing a podcast for a long time. We just never really pulled the trigger on it; which is weird for a guy like Tyron, because he’s such a hustler,” Din Thomas told MMA Latest News.
“One day we just decided we’re just going to go on ahead and do it. We needed to come up with a name and I gotta (sic) give a shout out to Jessica Eye who helped develop the name for us.”
The name is certainly a memorable one. Do a quick iTunes search for “The Morning Wood Show with Deez Nuts” and it will stand out among the crowd..no pun intended. Do not get it twisted though, Din Thomas primarily wears his coaching and mentoring hat at the moment, because his broadcast partner just happens to be on deck for a shot at the UFC Welterweight title against Robbie Lawler on July 30th.
“He’s in a really good place. Probably the best place I’ve ever seen him mentally”, Din Thomas said of his protégé “Just really positive and cerebral about his approach and I’m really confident going into this fight that he’s gonna (sic) do his thing.”
Tyron Woodley was named challenger for the Welterweight Title after an October 2015 bout with former champion Johny Hendricks was scrapped due to a botched weight-cut that hospitalized “Bigg Rigg”. But the often murky 170lb title picture quickly became a rollercoaster of emotions for Woodley, as he saw the possible match-up with Robbie Lawler all but dissolve before his eyes.
First, Carlos Condit lost a close decision against Lawler, prompting legions of fans to call for a rematch. That was soon forgotten, however, when Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson made Johny Hendricks look like a pedestrian in a spectacular first round stoppage. Even “what-if” situations formed roadblocks when talk of a GSP return clouded the airwaves. Conor McGregor even entered the discussion when he was set to fight for the lightweight belt. Exhausted yet? Imagine what was going through the mind of Tyron Woodley and his team.
“If there is such a thing as ‘divine intervention’ then this was a prime example of it. In my opinion, I never thought that they would give Tyron this fight. Because I felt like, he has been on the shelf waiting for a fight, any fight. I said ‘if they wanted to make this match they would’ve made the match before’.”
Robbie Lawler employs a strategy that is anything but a secret; yet and still, few people have been able to do anything about it and none have done so during his championship reign. This is what makes him dangerous. He hits like a truck and can defend takedowns with the best; everyone knows it but no one can stop it. The UFC Welterweight Champion is indeed a formidable enigma, one who is extremely difficult to strategize against.
“In a broad spectrum, he comes out and does the very predictable thing. He gets in your face and he throws bombs. And he’s a tough guy. He doesn’t run and he’s always dangerous,” said Thomas.
Sure, Din Thomas has dedicated his full attention to Woodley’s fight preparation, but the work-hard play-hard balance is in full effect. A jack-of-all-trades these days, Din has branched out from quick witted radio style banter and taken his humor to the stage, as he recently made his debut in stand up comedy.
“I’ve been terrified of doing stand up. I mean, I’ve been doing improv in front of crowds for the last 4 or 5 years. But it always terrified me to try and look out at a crowd and make them laugh,” Thomas shared with MMA Latest “And, I got this opportunity, filming Looking For a Fight with Dana and Matt Serra.”
What Thomas refers to is a comedy show in early June that was called All Star Comedy: UFC Edition in which he and Matt Serra shared the stage with the likes of veteran stand-up comics Adam Hunter, Bryan Callen and the great David Spade. The show took place at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles and excerpts from it will be featured on UFC’s YouTube show, “Lookin’ For a Fight”.
“I was pretty successful. I mean, it could’ve been beginner’s luck. That’s why I’m doing it again in Vegas on July 7th.” [LA Comedy Club, Stratosphere Hotel at 8PM. Click HERE for tickets ] “I’ll be opening for the great Adam Hunter.”
Din is a big proponent of encouraging fighters to follow his example and that of his peer Matt Serra who has also taken to podcasting, TV and stand up comedy in his post-fight career.
“Shout out to Matt for that. Matt deserves it. He was born for it and he’s built for entertainment,” Thomas said of his former octagon foe. “One thing that fighters have to understand is that your fight career is short, you have to do other things, because your fight career is not going to last forever.”
Thomas speaks as a man who knows that expectations versus reality eventually reveal unforeseen challenges to fighters when it comes time to hang up the gloves, often before they are ready and willing.
“You have to be able to set yourself apart; use your notoriety to catapult into other areas. If you’re not doing that and you think your fight career is going to last a long time, you got another thing coming,” Din advises the younger generation, “I’m hoping that people can hear my message on this. Sometimes I have to tell guys, and I have to be honest. I say ‘look, you might want to start looking at other job opportunities or go back to school.”
“And I gotta give some props to Tecia Torres, who’s one of my higher profile fighters, and she’s still in school trying to get her Master’s. Not that she’s developing a ‘fall back plan’ this is a ‘when it’s over plan’.”
Din Thomas certainly knows how to stay busy in the fight game after-life. He is more prominent and perhaps more renowned than ever before, especially among the younger generation. He is undoubtedly hoping to paint his masterpiece on the 30th of July, as coaching Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley to a world title will be one of the greatest accomplishments that Din Thomas or any coach could ever strive to achieve.
Exclusive: Alexander Gustafsson eyeing summer 2018 return- wants title shot next
Top light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson hasn’t fought since an impressive knockout win back in May, against Glover Teixeira. “The Mauler” is currently on a two-fight winning streak, and for many people, is seen as one of the most logical names to fight for the title next.
Currently absent from the Octagon since May, speaking to MMA Latest, “The Mauler” explains why he’s been on such a long layoff. “I have had an injury in my shoulder,” Gustafsson told MMA Latest. “I had a surgery a couple of months back where they put in a titanium plate to keep my collarbone in place. But that plate was taken out last week so I am back to training and slowly but surely getting better with all the rehab. I’m excited to be back in the Octagon soon.”
After so many obstacles, Gustafsson details when we can expect him back in the cage. “If everything goes well with rehab, I’ll be back in the octagon in the beginning of the summer – right in time for the next title match!”
Volkan Oezdemir was calling out Gustafsson for a European number one contender fight, Gustafsson explains he was never interested in the fight. “No, my prior goal and my only interest is the title fight,” Gustafsson said. “If Volkan wins against DC he will probably be my next opponent.”
The title fight is “absolutely” what Gustafsson believes is next for him and don’t expect to see him in a number one contender fight first. “As I said previously, the title fight is my number one interest.”
With Daniel Cormier and Volkan Oezdemir fighting for the title at UFC 220, Gustafsson shares his thoughts on the matchup. “It’s an exciting matchup – DC is the more experienced fighter and he is a more complete fighter than Volkan,” Gustafsson said. “DC has also been in this situation before, Volkan has not.”
Back in July, Jon Jones failed his second test for PED’s after beating Daniel Cormier to regain his light heavyweight belt. Before the fights with Daniel Cormier, Jones went to war with Gustafsson back in 2013. Gustafsson shares his thoughts on Jones’ second failed test. “Disastrous is my first thought,” Gustafsson explains. “But for the sport, it is good that the truth is out. I wish Jon good luck in his rehab and he is one of the most talented fighters in the UFC.”
Gustafsson was also asked if he eyeing a rematch with Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones before the end of his career. “Of course, I feel good and I’m motivated,” Gustafsson said. “I would like to get the opportunity to match up against both DC and Jon before I retire.”
Exclusive: Aljamain Sterling discusses upcoming fight and more ahead of UFC Fresno
Alajamain Sterling is set to meet late-notice opponent, Marlon Moraes, at the UFC’s return to California. UFC Fresno is headlined by a featherweight fight between top contenders Cub Swanson and Brian Ortega.
Sterling was originally supposed to meet Rani Yahya before he was forced to pull out. Although the Moraes is a bigger fight, it doesn’t seem to matter much to the Brazilian Jui-Jitsu brown belt.
“I don’t really give a sh*t honestly,” Sterling told MMA Latest. “I just want to fight, make money, whoop ass, and get paid, you know? That’s honestly all I really care about right now at this point in my career and I’m fighting to pay the bills. This what I chose to do and I have to keep the ball rolling. That’s honestly the way I’m looking at things right now and it is a bigger fight for sure. But at the end of the day, it’s another man standing in front of me trying to do the same thing, separate me from my consciousness, or detach a limb from my body.”
Sterling also shares his thoughts on his new opponent, Moraes. “I think he’s a great opponent,” Sterling said. “I think a win over him puts me in a position to fight for a number one contender spot or challenge for the world title.”
Another bantamweight who was also looking for a replacement opponent was Jimmie Rivera, but was a fight with ever a realistic possibility? “Yeah, it was,” Sterling said. “But it takes two to fight, so Rivera didn’t want the fight and here we are.”
So why did it take so long for a replacement to be booked? “Well if you look at the landscape of the top ten, top fifteen of the division, everyone was pretty much booked up,” Sterling explains. “So there really wasn’t no one readily available to fight, so that kind of left me to either take a stay busy fight or just kind of wait and see what happens.”
Sterling also discussed who he believes is next for him with a win. “Well it really depends on the landscape of the division right now,” Sterling says. “TJ’s (Dillashaw) talking about trying to fight Mighty Mouse, I don’t know if Mighty Mouse is going to take the fight and hopefully he, TJ, he’s fighting within our division so we can keep this division going. Right now this is the hottest division, I think, in my personal opinion. So for him to try to leave the division to go take a fight at a weight class when he didn’t clean out his weight class yet, that doesn’t make much sense to me. So hopefully the UFC keeps him rolling and keeps him active between the 135-pound division. I think TJ’s actually a really great fight for me stylistically, but right now the man I’m worried about is Marlon Moraes, he’s a tough opponent, has the legs kicks, and I can’t sleep on this guy.”
Speaking of TJ Dillashaw, Sterling was also asked if he watched the TJ vs Cody Garbrandt fight at UFC 217. “Oh definitely,” Sterling says. “I would have been, I’d be a fool not to watch that fight. I thought it was a great fight, I thought skillset was very close, I thought TJ was more well rounded. I think a lot of people called me crazy because I was saying TJ had a chance of touching him on the chin and knocking him out but if he didn’t it would be a five-round decision win for TJ. But he’s a very durable fighter, uses his brain, and he implements a great gameplan everytime he goes out there. I think the only reason he got dropped at the end of that first round was because he got a little frustrated and wanted the action to kind of pick up a little bit and in the second round he changed gears a little bit and he started to dictate the pace a little bit more. Cody’s just a big counter-fighter, counter-striker, hits hard, he’s really fast, and he’s athletic, but outside of that his skill set, if we’re looking at the skillset side of knocking people out I’m going to say his well-roundedness is not really all there, I’m not saying he can’t do it, he can’t do it all, but when he fights he primarily just strikes with his hands that’s pretty much it.”
Finally, Sterling gives his prediction for his fight Moraes. “I’m going to go out there and push the pace,” Sterling explains. “I’m going to put in work and cash out B.I.W.C.O. I think that second round I’m going to push the pace, get him, get on his legs early, fire those kicks, fire those punches down the middle, I’m going to be moving. I’m going to be moving, grooving, I’m just going to go out there and do my thing man, so I’m, we got to figure out what our skillsets are, what we bring to the table and I’m just going to, we’re just going to pull up a chair and see how we’re going to have to work this out.”
Will Fleury discusses incident on “The Fighter” and upcoming bout on December 16th
Earlier this week footage from EFC’s “The Fighter” emerged on social media. The video showed SBG’s Will Fleury being struck with countless illegal blows to the spine and to the back of the head. At first glance viewers would look and see the first strike then await the referee to stop the action and warn the other fighter. Unfortunately, that did not happen, at long last, the fight was stopped, however, instead of a disqualification win for Fleury. It was ruled a no contest. The video bodes the question to what the referee was doing as well as raising the awareness of fighter safety.
Following all the in cage drama, Fleury was forced out of the show after being told he was concussed despite no medical tests being done on him. With everything said and done, Will looks back on the situation with frustration after all the errors made by EFC.
“The situation was a mess on a number of levels. There was huge potential in the show if they’d let me fight on. But they’ve made a series of inexcusable errors that have led to this ridiculous situation. I think they wanted to brush this all under the carpet and pretend it never happened. They basically treated me like I was a problem that they didn’t want to have to deal with.”
When looking at the in-cage issues Fleury does not blame EFC, as it was, of course, the referee’s fault. The manner in which they went about removing him from the show amongst other things is something he found speculative though.
“The EFC is a promotion, their goal is profit, not fair sport. In fairness, they can’t be held accountable for the referee’s incompetence. But, how they decided to deal with it afterwards was very questionable.”
Currently, in MMA, fighter safety is one of the most talked about things, from weight-cutting to late stoppages. Ireland, in particular, takes extra precaution with the introduction of Safe MMA. In his bout, Fleury’s safety did not look like it was in the best interest of the referee. Fleury recalls meeting the ref a week later and showing him the footage only to be taken back and annoyed at the referee’s response of not seeing any issue.
“If your role as a referee is to ensure fighter safety, he clearly failed miserably. Honestly, I think he’s just not competent for the job. I don’t know how long he’s been involved in the sport for but I met him at a show a week later and showed him the video. He didn’t really think any of the shots were to the back of the head, I got so angry, I couldn’t talk to the guy. Also, It was called a no contest because my head was moving apparently that doesn’t make sense either”
Considering his health was at risk due to the referee’s actions, Will is feeling fit and well with no issues coming out of the fight.
“Yeah, it honestly seems fine. I genuinely felt fine right afterwards and in the days after too. I was winning challenges in the house 16 hours after the fight. looking at the footage is very grim tho, who knows what sort of damage its done in the long term, hopefully very little”
For those who don’t know, Will is scheduled to fight Gordon Roodman on December 16th. Not exactly pleased with the new fight offer, he is glad to finally be able to showcase his abilities but doesn’t see this fight as any consolation for what happened.
“I wouldn’t say pleased. But it gives me a welcome outlet for my frustration and I finally have a platform to show just how good I am at whooping ass. No, It’s not really a consolation. I don’t think they give a shit about what’s fair. They just reckon they can make money from me. You can expect a 1st round TKO/KO”
Will has a very close friendship with teammate Ben Forsyth, having fought before he detailed how they became friends afterwards. After mentioning how it’d be cool to fight on the same card as Ben he details that getting those ever so scarce fights at the higher weight classes come first.
“Ben contacted me about becoming less of a twat so I gave him some advice and things blossomed from there. Yeah, that’d be great but our number one priority for both of us right now is just getting the fights.”
Will then went on to detail the hardship in getting fights on the regional scene.
“Yeah, it’s a serious struggle especially when you’re known to be a good fighter and people are trying to look after their records. there’s also just not that many guys. I’ve fought twice and I’m already the best Middleweight in Ireland. If it were up to me I’d have a lot more but still, that shows you how few guys there are. and if anyone has an issue with me being the best Middleweight in Ireland make 84 and I can prove you wrong”
For those who haven’t seen the footage mentioned above, here it is. Be sure to keep an eye out for Will in his upcoming bout a few weeks from now.
EFC was approached for a comment on this footage, however, have unfortunately not responded.
This is how my time on TF1 ended. 15 elbows, 11 directly to the back of the head, 3 to the spine with the other elbow after the referee tries to stop him. I had been dominating this fight up to this point and was keen to continue (I have to full fight footage proving this). I was told I couldn’t. The fight was declared a no contest rather than a DQ as I was “moving my head”. I was then booted out of the tournament because I was “concussed” (never did any tests to prove this and I was winning challenges in the house 16 hours after this happened) I was the best fighter in that house by a considerable distance and would have smashed any of the other 10 contenders if given the chance. I proved it in every training session and every legal moment in any of my fights. I’ve been denied the chance to earn a decent contract and get my title shot. I’m Will Fleury. I win shit these fucks have disturbed the natural order and I will restore it. #Bullshit #TF1 #irishmma #EFC #mmanews #mmafighting #trykeepmedown #rawbastard #resilientbastard
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