A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to cover the Intimidation Cage Fighting event, Shattered. In case you missed it, you can find my live blog, complete with pictures provided to me by the ICF, here.
I was fortunate enough to talk to a number of the fighters after the show as well as Steve Stanton, the ICF Promoter and Denver Cavins, the Executive Producer. Check after the jump for a lot of the fighters' thoughts on their fights and info on the upcoming shows from the ICF.
FT: How long have you been with Team Vision?
O’Donnell: About a year and a couple months. I’ve been a pro fighter a few months. I started MMA with them [Vision], did my amateur fights then started pro in under a year.
FT: What made you get into MMA?
O’Donnell: I always loved fighting. I come from a broken home, I didn’t have any parents and stuff, and I was always a small kid so I always had to deal with a lot trouble, a lot of bigger guys. Fighting is a natural high and I love it. It’s a rush, everybody thinks it’s crazy but it’s worth it. Walking away a winner, with respect, that’s worth it. I just love the rush, that’s why I do it.
FT: How did you feel going into the fight?
O’Donnell: I went into the fight with an injury and a sinus infection, but other than that I felt good, I felt confident. I expect my feet to get me by always – they usually do. Footwork is the key, getting in and out.
FT: What’s next for you?
O’Donnell: Next month (February) in D.C., I think the 27th – I’m supposed to be fighting out there, it’s supposed to be a tough guy, I’m looking forward to that.
On his fight prep:
My nickname is “IDK” (I don’t know). I never know anything about my opponents. I just go in there and deal with it because I think it’s bad for you to plan for one thing and then you get in there and it’s something else. I just like to step into the ring and just bang it up as I go. That way I don’t train for one specific thing, I keep my head open to MMA - period.
FT: What did you think about your fight?
Muldrow: I won, so obviously I’m happy about that. I wish I could’ve been a little bit more aggressive on my feet, but I’m an amateur so that’s how it goes. Just got to be happy with the win.
FT: What did you think about your opponent?
Muldrow: He was tough. He’s a real cool guy. We talked before the fight, we’ve known each other for a while being at shows around here. Just really, really good on the ground, so I was really worried about submissions.
FT: Was keeping it standing up a big part of your gameplan?
Muldrow: [Laughs] Hell no! He had a big reach advantage, and he had tricky timing, which I noticed pretty much right out the gate. Really, I was just trying to capitalize on being able to take him down and then control him on the ground. Not really going for a big knockout or anything like that?
FT: So when you do you think your first title defense will be?
Muldrow: Me and him [Egner] actually talked, and I want to say it’s April 11th – we’re doing a re-match at US Bank Arena.
FT: You train with Team Vision and it was a big night for you guys. What do you think about the wins?
Muldrow: It didn’t surprise me at all - Rod Housley is the guy that owns the gym. He molded that gym and he molded the perfect way as far as everybody’s attitude and everybody is helping everybody out. On top of that, we’ve got good teachers, good technique. For us to come out here and win like that, it’s not a big surprise because that’s what we train for. I think we train better than anybody else in the city.
FT: What’s your training background?
Muldrow: Wrestling. I’ve been wrestling since I was little – I wrestled in college, it’s kind of a natural progression [into MMA].
FT: What made you want to get into MMA?
Muldrow: It’s the competition bug. Once you win a national championship in wrestling, you want to keep going, but there’s no money in wrestling.
FT: The man behind Team Vision – tell me about tonight, what did you think about the fights?
Housely: We did awesome tonight, we went 7-0. Whether we win or lose, we have great team morale. Everybody’s there, together. We usually win every fight, we usually go 7-0, 6-1, we don’t lose all of them.
FT: Tell me a little bit about Team Vision.
RH: Team Vision is, as far as I’m concerned, a small hole-in-the-wall gym, but it’s the best gym anywhere because the guys – it’s family. When guys are in trouble, it’s their home away from home, that’s the way it’s always been. A new guy could come into the gym tomorrow and be welcome just like a guy that’s been there a year [the whole time Vision has been open], and it’s never been like that anywhere I’ve ever trained.
FT: Tell me a little bit about your own combat sport background.
RH: I’d never even done any martial arts. I started taking karate with my kid and I got into mixed martial arts. I went 10-1 as an amateur, really enjoyed it, trained at a couple different schools. I’m 2-2 as a pro currently and I’m 41 years old, getting a little bit too old to fight, so I enjoy the coaching, the training, the leadership and the morale more than anything about it. I think fighters are the best guys in the world. They’re nice, cordial, not arrogant, my guys are great.
FT: Team Vision has a great fan turnout – talk to me about that.
RH: Everybody loves a winner, so when guys come out, they want to see winners and we win every time we compete. I’ve got one guy, 49 years old, he drives an hour-and-a-half, four days a week to get to my gym. I’ve got some guys who drive an hour three times a week to train at my gym and they have gyms closer to them, so we bring fans from all over.
FT: Victor O’Donnell had a big win tonight, you’ve got pro fighter Roger Bowling – how many guys are planning on taking pro?
RH: That’s the great thing about mixed martial arts. I think anybody that sticks with the sport – you don’t necessarily have to be a great athlete, not that that will hurt you, but as long as you work hard everyday in the gym – the guys who are putting their mat time in, in the gym are the ones getting better, so absolutely. Anybody who puts their mat time in at the gym could eventually go pro in the sport. Because if you’re not very quick, you could make up for that with your ground technique and you can do so many different things to get better and our guys work so hard. My gym is actually 24 hour a day access. There are guys in their at 11 at night, 5 in the morning, Sundays – Dustin Winterhalt [ICF Pro Welterweight Champ] worked out Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, that’s just how it is.
T.J. Ball (New ICF Amateur Light Heavyweight Champ)
FT: How did you feel going into the fight?
Ball: I felt really good. I had a lot of good cardio. Had some good people on my team [Vision], and Rob Radford from Boxing4Fitness, that’s Rich Franklin’s hands coach. Man, I felt phenomenal, I had a lot of great guys taking care of me. He [Oiler] was a tough, tough opponent. I pounded and pounded on him for three rounds and I began to wonder if he was ever going to quit, it was a good fight.
FT: What did you go into the fight weighing? (I asked this because Ball was built like a tank – I figured he had to cut down from 235-230 before the fight)
Ball: About 224, I weighed in at 204.
FT: How long have you been a fighter?
Ball: I’ve been boxing with Rob [Radford] for four or five years and he kind of turned me on to MMA – so probably two years or so for MMA. I’m just taking it one fight at a time, I don’t want to fight too much, I just want to learn.
FT: Is going pro in the future for you?
Ball: They [ICF] keep talking to me about it, so that’s something I’ll talk over with Rod Housley and Rob Radford and see where I stand. Those are the two guys I look to the most. I train with Roger Bowling – he’s a fu**ing animal, a beast – it’s a phenomenal team at Team Vision. Everybody at Team Vision is tough.
FT: So how’d you feel about the fight?
Oiler: It was a tough fight, I had a couple submission attempts. With that first ankle-lock I messed that up, I should’ve cranked him a little bit harder. He’s a tough dude, super-strong, I knew that coming in and I didn’t really have an answer for his strength. I tried a couple submissions. I made a couple mistakes, but that kneebar, I knew I had that kneebar [before Ref Dan Christison stood them back up for what he ruled was an illegal kick by Ball to Oiler’s spine]. But that was my mistake, because I should’ve had him on the other side (of my body) because I would’ve had his leg trapped. He didn’t even hit me in the spine, though (with the illegal kick). It is what it is, the fight game is like that.
FT: So 185 is the future now?
Oiler: 185 is the future. These 205’ers are too big for me, I’m only 5’9”. I weighed in at 200, walking. I didn’t cut, I came in at what I was walking around at.
FT: When do you think your next fight will be?
Oiler: April 11th at US Bank, at 185 pounds, that will be my pro debut.
FT: How’d you feel after the fight?
Hendrickson: I feel good. I didn’t put on my best show and I came out on the bad end, but overall, the team did well, everybody had good fights.
FT: What did you think about the show?
Hendrickson: Promotion was great. As far as the sound, the lights, the big screens – as far as production value, it’s the best show I’ve fought in.
FT: When do you think you want to fight again?
Hendrickson: I’m looking at a couple months. Enough to get another training camp together, try to do the weight cut a little better. I’ve been running on about 1,000 calories a day for the last two weeks trying to make this weight and I didn’t have much energy left.
FT: What’s the plan now?
Hendrickson: Back to the gym on Monday. If they (ICF) have us back, we’ll be back. Had a good time.
FT: Split decision win tonight – I would probably call the fight between you and Corey Zimmerman Fight of the Night – what did you think about the fight?
Nguyen: I give it up to my opponent, he was a really tough dude, showed a lot of heart and a lot of guts. He really came out and showed a lot of tenacity. Apparently I got him a couple good times, but he recovered and kept fighting. He told me afterwards he was fighting tired, so anyone who has ever fought knows when you’re fighting tired, it’s hard.
FT: I’ve seen you at grappling tournaments before – you were really trying to work a lot of submissions tonight – is your background in BJJ?
Nguyen: Well, I’m very fortunate, I had a little background in high school wrestling then got into BJJ. When I was a kid, I got a little bit of traditional martial arts, so I don’t have an extensive background in just grappling or striking, I did both before I got into MMA.
FT: When do you think your next fight might be?
Nguyen: I don’t know. I’m going to take some time and enjoy this win and celebrate and get back to the gym and start training. Maybe in March. I heard they’re having another show in March, so maybe you’ll see me then.
FT: Tell me what you thought about the fight.
KA: It went well. I hope every fight from now on ends up like that. As far as the promotion itself, I liked it. Seemed like everyone was comfortable in their seats, I thought it went well, was pretty well laid out.
FT: What’s your record?
KA: It’s now 2-0.
FT: What made you want to get into MMA?
KA: Ever since I was little, I was into the traditional martial arts, like karate and then I got into jiu jitsu, and then I saw Ken Shamrock in the WWE and he started doing all these weird holds on all these guys and I wanted to know what he did and I started to do stuff in Dallas and now I’m in Lexington. I’ve got a great team and they gave me all the tools that I needed to do what I’ve always want to do.
FT: Do you want to go pro eventually?
KA: Eventually, I would like to go pro. I don’t think the team I have will let me waste time doing anything else. Hopefully, I’ll get another fight shortly and it will snowball after that and I can get into pro fights.
FT: Give me your thoughts on the fight.
WT: It was a lot of fun, man, no feeling like it. My opponent did really well, we traded some bombs and tried to put on a good fight for the fans and I think we did that, so it’s a lot of fun.
FT: You landed some big leg kicks in there – what was your gameplan going into the fight?
WT: Just to do whatever he didn’t want to do. If he wanted to stand with me, I was going to try to take him down, if he wanted to try and take me down I was going to try and stand and it just turned out I was having too much fun standing, so that’s where it stayed.
FT: How long have you been with Performance Edge?
WT: A little over two years now.
FT: Is this something you want to do long-term?
WT: No, this was it for me, one and done. I’m officially retired, this was my retirement fight [Laughs].
Denver Cavins (ICF Executive Producer)
FT: What did you think about the show?
Cavins: I thought the fights were great. Victor [O’Donnell] went in and did exactly what he should’ve done, and he just fought last Saturday. He has a hurt leg and he still went in there and knocked a guy out in less than a minute. He’s the real deal.
As far as production goes, we’re going to keep taking it up a notch. We sold out every printed ticket we made, and we quadrupled our online ticket sales from last time. We only advertised with 100 posters, the web, and we did 12-14 spots on SpikeTV, that’s it. So, April 11, we’ll be doing a full ad campaign. We’ll probably have a TV show on for six weeks, doing fight build-up. Kind of a reality show. We’re not showing past fights, nobody wants to see past fights, so we’re going to build these guys up, build up their profiles, let everybody know who they are. Obviously, April 11th as US Bank is a big deal.
FT: So tell me about the April 11th show – you announced tonight that Dan Christison is going to be in the main event – what other details can you give me?
Cavins: We’re trying to finalize Dan’s opponent, looking at some big names. Same with Chad Hinton – we’ve almost got his opponent wrapped up, but we can’t say who it is yet. There are going to be six pro fights, and we’re looking to do fifteen fights total. But that can be an issue with the venue, because we have to be done at US Bank at 11pm. We might do eight pro fights and four amateur fights, and the amateur fighters will come from our March 14th show here at Turfway, ICF: TurfwaR. The amateurs that win that night, we’re looking at getting four 135 pound fighters for two matches and the winners of those matches would get to fight on the April 11th card.
FT: I noticed that the UN-Civil War show in Louisville got moved to June 13th – what happened to the date during Kentucky Derby week?
Cavins: The WWE kicked us out, a conflict of interest. They didn’t want us….ICF is obviously a threat to their business, I don’t know [Laughs]. We had it for April 30th, the Thursday night before Derby and we were ready to go, but WWE has first right of refusal, so we couldn’t get that April date at Broadbent [Arena in Louisville]. The venue is great, and it will be a great first show in a different city.
FT: How soon after the April show do you want to get back to US Bank Arena?
Cavins: We have an August date held and a December date held right now. Obviously US Bank is a big, big deal and we’re going to bust our asses to sell that out.
Steve Stanton (ICF Promoter)
FT: What did you think of the show tonight?
Stanton: We had a good time tonight, we packed about 2,200 people tonight, definitely a sell-out.
FT: You had a lot of things working for you tonight: a lot of great fights, great production, a great crowd – looking forward, what are you thinking about the show at US Bank Arena on April 11th?
Stanton: I’m excited – of course, we’ve got a show before then here at Turfway – Turfway is my home, and US Bank Arena is my new home in Cincinnati. If April 11th goes good, we’re planning on going back in August and December, we’d like to do about three shows a year there, and now we’ve got Broadbent Arena in Louisville, that’s a good deal, too.
FT: What did you think about the fights tonight?
Stanton: Man, every fight was sick, they were all good. The thing about me is I like every fight to be evenly matched. Sure, there were a couple quick knockouts, anything can happen, but if you watched most of the fights, it was really even.
FT: Who ended up being awarded Fighter of the Night?
Stanton: John Hayes. Those guys banged for three rounds. Sure, there were a couple quick knockouts, but the crowd loved seeing him bang it out for three rounds.
FT: What did you think about the two title fights? [Egner vs. Muldrow and Oiler vs. Ball]
Stanton: Matt Egner is a hell of an athlete at 155, a great guy for the ICF. Steve Muldrow is a tough kid, a great wrestler. I’m proud to have him as a champ, but I don’t play favorites, I love all my fighters, I’m happy for all of them. George Oiler is a tough damn dude, and T.J. Ball is a beast, he’s a tough guy and we’re glad to have him as a champ.
George and T.J. will both be making their pro debuts on April 11th. [Oiler will be turning pro at 185.] I’ve signed Oiler, Victor O’Donnell, Jeremy Pender, and I’m talking to a few other guys, but I’m not going to say anything until it’s legit.
FT: Jami Miller wasn’t able to fight tonight [Miller was scheduled to be in the lone female fighter match-up of the night] – do you think she’ll make it on the March 14th card?
Stanton: If I have to get two or three girls here, surely one of them will want to fight her. She’s a tough girl, a muay thai girl, I’m excited to get her on a card. I felt really bad for her. The girl [Miller’s scheduled opponent] waited until today to call me and let me know, but I’m not going to say anything about her. I guarantee that March 14th people better come and watch this, it’s going to be sick. She’s pretty, too, that doesn’t hurt anything.
FT: Are you going to be doing a women’s fight at the April 11th event?
Stanton: I’m looking a pro fight, to have one women’s pro fight on the card.
FT: Big announcement with Dan Christison at the main event at the April 11th show – how long do you think it will be until he has an opponent?
Stanton: I’ve got a couple big guys in mind, but I’m not going to say anything – a couple former UFC guys – again, I just don’t like saying stuff unless I know I’m going to deliver.
I’ve got Chad Hinton signed with me, one of the big horses in my stable, good guy, a good gym, and I’m excited to get him a former UFC fighter [for April 11th]. I’m the luckiest promoter in the world, I’ve got great fighters, great fans, what more can you ask for?
I had a great time at the show, a lot of great fights. My apologies to the fighters I didn't get a chance to speak with.
ICF has some great things planned for the future and I'm happy to be along for the ride.