Dominique “Fallen Angel” Robinson (19-5-2-2) is one who hopes his travels to Japan will also ultimately open up a road to the UFC, a road that has been blocked in his career thus far.
Road blocks have not stopped him yet though and he has dealt with a fair share. Whether it be multiple surgeries keeping him sidelined at different points throughout his career or fighting with severe injuries, the “Fallen Angel” keeps coming back stronger and more hungry each time he steps into the cage. This weekend at Pancrase 278, Robinson will seek to get his hand raised in front of the crowd in Tokyo, while looking to impress everyone watching on UFC Fight Pass. Just a few days ahead of the fight that could open up that elusive road to the UFC or a shot at becoming King of Pancrase, Dominique took out the time to answer a few questions while enjoying beautiful Tokyo, Japan.
Matthew Wells: Let’s talk about your upcoming fight this weekend. This will be the second time you will be fighting for the storied Pancrase promotion in Tokyo, Japan. What’s the experience like fighting overseas?
Dominique Robinson: That question is a double-edged sword of sorts. As far as the experience, it’s great. I love geography, history, and culture, thus, I always have a great experience when it comes to the interactions with the locals and also my fellow fighters that are fighting on the same cards and the stories we are able to share with one another. When it comes to the promotions, it seems more gets done “wrong” overseas than in America because, as everyone knows, the “rumors” of them being partisan to the locals is true. This sometimes comes out in the form of referees, sometimes judges, sometimes both. Accommodations are another thing that gets tampered with so it can be a very disadvantageous and frustrating experience.
MW: Your previous opponent Eiji Ishikawa didn’t want any part of the striking game against you and made his game plan known early: clinch often and work for takedowns. The action was slow and stalled, with no breaks from the referee, ultimately resulting in a decision loss in which you took virtually zero damage from your opponent. How frustrating was it to lose in that manner, and do you expect your opponent to bring that same style of fight to the cage to grind out a win this weekend?
DR: I expect all opponents to take that strategy with me if they are smart. The most frustrating part of that fight was that I won. Clearly. On tape and in person are two different things. Minor details can’t be seen like the damage being done or the rules being broken. To be exact, I was hit ONCE in that fight; when he asked to touch gloves during Round 3 and punched me instead. The rest of the fight was him grabbing the cage in order to keep me there. The outside ref, my corner man Josh Barnett, Tri Villegas, and the crowd, as well as myself, were telling the inside ref he was doing it with no actions being taken. The plan when we realized this was to just do damage to his zero damage so I destroyed his body on the inside and after the fight he was purple on the legs and ribs and limping and told me before the decision was read that he was “Sorry” and that “All I can do is hold, you are too strong, you win,” yet I lost. Oddly, my homie Will Chope, as well as Victor Henry lost fights I believed they won as well so you tell me. Also, the fight doesn’t tell the tale that I was flown in less than 40 hours before the fight itself.
MW: Talk a little bit about your shoulder surgery and the recovery process before training camp for this fight.
DR: Surgery was ROUGH, my man. I fought 8 years of my career, as many know by now, hiding a severe injury from being hit by a car. My spine was damaged and I had about 30% usage of my left arm and was in constant pain, every day, literally. I’ve had double spine surgery, my knee, my wrist, and I flew through them like nothing. This shoulder surgery was another animal! It is the roughest thing I’ve ever been through and very painful, the truth of the matter is that they found out it was damaged along with my neck long ago, thus, the longer recovery period…I’m not even 100% through rehab yet but I have dream to chase so it is what it is.
MW: The previous fight had a lot riding on it for you. A potential shot at the UFC was hanging in the balance if you were to come away victorious. Have you spoken with anyone with the UFC about the potential to get that call again with an impressive win?
DR: …and a title shot with Pancrase was on the line as well! Yes, I’ve had 2-3 meetings with Dana White, Joe Silva, and Sean Shelby since then, all very positive. Let’s just say they are on high alert and I have to contact them each fight I win.
MW: Boxing has had a very heavy influence on your mixed martial arts career. The world lost a legend recently with the passing of Muhammad Ali. Talk a bit about the influence Ali had on your career in and outside of competition.
DR: “The Greatest” in my mind was always “Sugar” Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali. As an avid boxing fan, mainly old school boxing, I loved them both. Unlike most I think that I loved them more for the person they were than the fighters they were. To stick to the topic at hand of Ali, he was a great, great person. You listen to the stories of him, to listening to his interviews, and furthermore interviews or short stories of people who have met him, they are all positive. The spirit of a man can be heard clearest from his interactions with his fellow man is my belief. What I took from him most, and the Robinson family is a believer of this also, is that you die standing, never on your knees. You stand up for what you believe in no matter what it cost you. Realistically, I’m not in UFC, Bellator, or OneFC long ago, not because of my skills, but because I stood up for myself and many other fighters who promoters were doing wrong long ago and got blackballed, hence, why refs, judges, fighters, athletic commission people, EVERYBODY in the game that truly knows me respects me but I still can’t get that moment I’ve searched for.
MW: What’s your favorite Muhammad Ali quote or moment?
DR: LOL! Damn he has soo many! I love him saying, “If you even dream of beating me you better wake up and apologize!”
MW: The combat sports world lost another legend in his own right as well recently with the passing of Kevin Ferguson aka Kimbo Slice. What are your thoughts on the impact Kimbo made on the mixed martial arts world?
DR: People hated on Kimbo but folks are just that type in this generation. Being from the South and growing up in varying degrees of hardship, I’ll tell you, what kind of person do you have to be to hate on a man that was in the hood of Florida, which isn’t a joke, literally fought his way out of it, take up Dana’s challenge to do TUF, make his way to UFC, and capitalize on any opportunity to make money to feed his family? Those people need to evaluate themselves.
MW: There will be a lot of eyes on this fight as it will be streaming on UFC Fight Pass. Will this be the best Dominique Robinson we’ve seen on June 12?
DR: There were many challenges in camp, I’m still not 100% from surgery, and it’s been a challenge since arriving here, so I won’t give the cliche’ “Best camp ever” or “Best I’ve ever been” lies all these guys give. Technically, I am the best I’ve ever been thanks to my coaches Jerome and Jeff Mayweather at Mayweather Boxing Club, John Wood at Syndicate MMA, and all my training partners, who I’d like to give credit to now. Also, I’d like to say thank you to my man Sean at Sean Early Physical Therapy for getting me through as much rehab as possible in the short amount of time we had for such a serious injury. My man Dr. Dumler who is a friend and sponsor who keeps introducing me to new sponsors of great character like himself. Trent Cotney, who jumped on board in one conversation between us two. He is a man of character and we related on many levels and I am truly grateful for him coming on board #TeamRobinson at the time he did because life has been throwing everything at me on a financial level lately and I look forward to him and I building our business and personal relationship (check out that resume I sent homie! lol). Also, my man Phil Palmer is a dude that looks out for me and is a great friend and does beyond what our sponsorship is. I have many others that people can check out ontherealfallenangel.com where they can also purchase my new walkout tee. I’d like to thank SUPER thank my sponsor and friend Kim Mason of Beyond Beauty by Kim, I literally would not have made it through camp without her, Goon Mama Tri Villegas who takes care of us all and the other half of Samsara Management Crystal Galasso as well, the pair are the best management team in the game. My mom, son, Gma, love you all. My ninjas James, Clement, Spilly, Patrick what it do! Follow my social media all at @fallenangel510. See that’s how you give hood shout outs! Thanks for the interview my man!
Pancrase 278 takes place June 12, 2016, at the Differ Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan and will stream live on UFC Fight Pass.
For the latest MMA news, live event coverage and more follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter.
Brad Pickett, “I owe a lot to this sport, it’s helped me out so much”
As Saturday looms closer, a new championship belt lies in waiting. Not just a new title, the first title bestowed from a young and growing promotion. Rise of Champions hosts its fifth event Saturday, in which new amateur and pro champions will be crowned.
Saturday is a great opportunity for the young promotion. Co-owner and former UFC veteran, Brad Pickett doesn’t look to compete with the bigger promotions like Cage Warriors or ACB, let alone the UFC. To his luck, Rise of Champions 5, doesn’t have to. While the UFC does have an event scheduled for the upcoming weekend, it happens to be the somewhat rare occurrence of a Sunday night show. Though, it does make sense, with the North American market free from the anaconda like stranglehold the NFL (American football) maintains for nearly 5 months of the year. Nonetheless, the Sunday night cards are strewn from the norm. Which is essentially what ROC looks to provide.
The regional circuit in Europe holds a good portion of quality promotions and Pickett wants to add ROC to that list. “I just want it to be a really recognizable name. Like for (people to say), ‘Oh, that’s a good show’. You hear that name and go, ‘that’s a really well worked, a really good show’.” It seems for the retired UK MMA legend, he couldn’t be happier. In describing what it meant to run a promotion, he said, “I just feel great to be a part of it. I owe a lot to this sport, it’s helped me out so much, and I just like to put back what I’ve learned over the years with my coaching but then also later, run a promotion, give guys a good platform to grow and showcase their skills. For me, in a way, I feel it’s my duty to do something like this and stay within the sport”.
The other co-owner, Mickey Papas and he began the promotion together, while Pickett still competed in 2015. Papas and Pickett have a long-standing relationship stemming from early in the former Bantamweights career. “My relationship with Mickey started off like this; I remember when I was fighting in Cage Rage back in the day, I knew nothing on the floor really. I was just like a stand up fighter. I knew a little bit but I was unversed, and then I remember going to do some Jiu Jitsu and then also bumping into Mickey. Mickey was more Pankration, which I thought back then, the wrestling side of MMA was more important than just Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the gi… he’s been one of my coaches ever since, even when I (went) out to America, I trained in America for a lot but also I’d come back in and train here. I had two teams, I had ATT and Team Titan.”
Upon further discussion of his promotion, Pickett revealed an aspect of his promotion which separates ROC from the rest of the popular regional promotions. “I like the fact when I have a pro main card of 4-5 fights and the rest of my card is amateur fights. Where shows like Bamma and Cage Warriors are predominantly only pro fights.” He continued, “I want to keep to my emphasis of young talent. And also in my pro fights people like Mike Ekundayo (an undefeated fighter coached by Pickett at Team Titan) who is the main event… I’m still trying to promote younger, unbeaten talent to help build themselves”.
Through his MMA journey, the retired fighter took many personal experiences while competing and coaching under a litany of promotions. He depicted one odd story in which, “I remember one of my fighters fighting on the show getting quite a bad cut on his eye. I remember seeing it backstage where I had other guys fighting on the show, later on the card, (guys) that I’m cornering. He’s just sitting back there and I said, ‘What’s going on, are you going to get stitched? The doctor going to see you to get you stitched up?’ He goes,
‘No, no, they gave me these steri strips’.
‘What do you mean they gave you steri strips?’,
‘They gave me steri strips to do it myself’. And I’m like,
‘You’re taking a piss’…
I went and complained, and they said, ‘Oh no, there’s one doctor, he’s by the cage side. He can’t come back and do the stitches. There’s a hospital just down the road why don’t you leave and go there?’ and I’m like you’re expecting one of my fighters to leave your show looking like he does with a massive gash on his face? It’s just like loads of things like that, it always happens.”
Having experience in the regional circuit, at the time that he did, Pickett was exposed to a lot. When asked about the preliminary conception of Rise of Champions, he explained it as so, “I’ve been to a of lot good shows in my career and I’ve been to a lot of bad shows. I’ve been to the best shows in the world as well. So for me, I knew that I have a very good insight on how a show should run, in front of the camera and more importantly behind the camera, because you get a lot of promoters who know how it should look for the camera but don’t know how to treat the fighters backstage or how things should run. Me (having) competed at the highest organization for many years, I know what that means.”
Pickett continued, “And it’s not a case of always about having money, it’s about proper organization, doing things well and at the end of the day knowing that, the fighters are the stars of the show. Where at some shows, they’re treating the fighters like cattle. (They treat them) like, go in fight and see you later, who’s next? For me, I am very much against that. Also, I felt the emphasis of my shows is to try and help grow and nurture, young developing talent… when I was doing it, it wasn’t really a career path for anyone, but now it’s a legitimate career path for young and aspiring athletes to be able to go out there and earn life changing money.”
As a self-critical person, Pickett believes ROC’s first four events turned out well, although he sees room for improvement. “I do believe they always can get better. One thing I can’t complain with, is the fights. The fights have always been really good, and at the end of the day that is what matters. There is no point of having this glitz and glamour, and spending thousands and thousands of pounds on lights, cameras, and just having complete dud fights.” Without much of a pause, he continued, “I do all the matchmaking myself. I do believe I know what are good fights and I put on some really good fights on my show. That’s what I am happy with. If the show keeps growing, then I can add a bit more glitz and glamour. A bit more on the production and things.”
One aspect he wishes translated better to the broadcast, is the ROC fighter ceremonies. “I do like a Pride thing, where there’s a ceremony before the start of the show where all the fighters come out in front of the audience, (all the fighters) on the under card. Then midway through the whole event, there’s a pause, a break and then we have another ceremony for the main card fighters.” In this certain structure, he believes the ceremonies not only add to the spectacle of the event but excite audiences for the fights to come. “It gives the (fighters) a bit more time in front of the crowd. And where, you may go (to) see Joe Blocks fight, but then you just see these two other guys come out and think, ‘Man, these two guys look like they’re gonna have a great scrap. I wanna watch that fight as well’… if you can get people interested in other fights on the card, it’s a win. That’s why I’m trying not to just make a good fight, I’m trying to make a good event where people go, ‘this is good, I would love to come to this show next time no matter who’s fighting’.”
While ROC does not occupy all his time, the hectic nature balancing multiple jobs earned Picketts attention as soon as he retired. He claimed, “Its weird, I’ll be honest with you, it was so much easier when I was a professional fighter. All I had to do is concentrate on myself, get up in the morning, train for a couple (of) hours, relax, (then) train a couple of hours in the evening and that’s it. It was so much easier. Also, I earned great money when I was fighting towards the end of my career. But now, I have to go back to the hustle… it’s not always about being financially rewarding but that obviously is important, I have a kid. I’ve got a house, a mortgage to pay. So that is important but, it also is to try to do what I like doing as well”.
It is evident, even from afar, that retirement hasn’t worn out the rugged mentality training and fighting gave him. Besides co-owning a promotion with his friend and business partner, Mickey Papas, Pickett hosts a weekly podcast (The One Punch Podcast), has a beautiful family (with an adorable son you can catch on his Instagram account), coaches fighters, trains average citizens, and travels for seminars. Yet, he finds time for all of it.
I imagine it would be hard to find another human like Brad Pickett. His youthful exuberance, tough mentality, and pragmatic nature make him an impossible character to clone. Speaking to him and feeling those qualities, only magnified the respect and admiration I had for the man. The MMA community is lucky to have Brad Pickett, and even luckier to keep him inside of it.
Rise of Champions 5, takes place this Saturday, February 16th at the Brentwood Leisure Centre, in Brentwood, England.
Jonas Magard, “This is all I do. I don’t have anything else”
In the late hours of this upcoming Saturday night in the Greenwich Mean Time Zone, a new Bantamweight champion will earn his crown. A little over 300 feet from the A12 in Brentwood, England, inside the Brentwood Centre, is where it will all happen. The medium sized venue will host Brad Pickett and his Rise of Champions promotion, for their fifth event and second with the venue.
An important event, ROC 5, represents something greater to a few different people involved with Saturdays show. For the promotions co-owner Pickett, it represents an opportunity to capture American audiences on a UFC-less Saturday while being broadcast exclusively on the world-leader’s streaming service, UFC Fight Pass. Although the former UFC contender has a lot riding on the success of his shows, ROC 5 may mean less to the owner than to both his main event fighters. Currently, the ROC 5 main event is set to determine the promotions first ever champion when Denmark’s Jonas Magard takes on London’s own, Mike Ekundayo.
Both young, talented, and riding unbeaten streaks, this main event represents a major stepping stone in their careers. In the case of Jonas Magard, “It’s just a new opportunity to do something, to put my mark on things. With or without the title I just want to fight. He’s in my way to something bigger”. His words echoed his demeanor. While the Danish Amateur MMA Champion, wanted to behave excited for the opportunity, fighting under the ROC banner, his attitude simply would not allow him. “I can’t wait to see how they put on the show and stuff, I think it’s going to be fun. But again it’s just me and him, it’s not about the show… I have not been training to fight at that event. I’ve been training to fight that guy and if it’s that’s event or if it’s in the backyard, it’s the same for me”.
Not only was the young Danish fighters’ mentality impressive but his record as well. At 8-3, Magard owns 7 stoppages, 6 by Japanese neck tie. The same submission he defeated Michail Chrisopoulus, with a little less than half of the opening round remaining, in his most recent appearance at ACB 75. And the same submission in which he holds the record for most finishes.
His journey to this point could not be described by the meager word, easy. After training for a year and two amateur fights in his home of Jutland, Denmark, Magard decided to make a change. “I went to Copenhagen to try to train there, in one of the bigger gyms and they just opened their arms and welcomed me. So, I thought why not move? I was 19 at the time. I didn’t really know anybody in Copenhagen”. He continued, “the first couple of times I was over there, I would live with some of the guys from the gym. I would have an amateur fight coming up, so I’d stay there for a month… I would still have my address and live back in Jutland, but I would just go over there do my training and my training camps”.
Magard travels quite a bit for his MMA training. In his current situation, Magard splits time between Rumble Sport in Copenhagen, Denmark and All Powers gym in Manchester, England. “I think a lot of fighters, they get too comfortable in their own little circle of fighters and in their own gym, where I like to just go out, get the best training work whether it is in Denmark or wherever. I don’t care about traveling or getting pushed as much as I can”.
He’s made a routine of being uncomfortable, something he does not think can be said of his opponent, “I think he hasn’t been battle tested, the same way as I have. Yeah, he’s a good opponent, he’s a guy I have to beat. He’s undefeated… but you know, I don’t think he’s been battled tested as he’s going to be now, with me (in) this fight, it’s just different”.
“I’ve seen his opponents and his opponents are okay but, they didn’t have a lot of fights either like he don’t. Not even as an amateur. As an amateur, I fought the guy who just fought for the Cage Warriors title, Alexander Jacobsen, he had like 125 boxing matches… I fought the guy who is going to fight for the Cage Warriors flyweight championship, Sam (Creasey)… I had the hard fights as an amateur, I don’t think he had the hard fights, that’s the difference about over here in Scandinavia. We get battle tested,” he continued to elaborate, “in amateur, people don’t get built up, people are getting hard fights. I had two fights the same day, for the Danish MMA amateur championship… I’ve been facing guys who I know come there to win, who’s just not there to be food… this is all I do, I don’t have anything else, I don’t have a day job I’m going to everyday and that’s the difference. I’m a professional, I live off this, I live for this, this is all I do. He has not met anybody like me before, who has the experiences I have.”
Magard believes the experience he earned through his MMA journey is what separates himself from his opponent. Outside of MMA, the Dane fought two shoot-fighting matches and one professional boxing bout. “He is a good fighter, he is a good strong fighter but I know the guys over here, there stronger side is not the ground. The wrestling in England, people want to punch each other in the face they don’t want to wrestle. I come from a place where people like to wrestle. And during this fight camp, I’ve been training with the (Danish) Greco Roman Olympic silver medalist [Mark Madsen]. I’ve been training with Martin Kammpman the former Danish UFC fighter… I eat I sleep I breathe MMA every day and I don’t want anything else. That’s going to be the difference in this fight one hundred percent”.
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