Thursday, April 3, 2008
Interview with Blake Bowman
Blake, what have you been up to since the Ultimate Fighter?
I had the surgery of course. The rehab for that was tough and very time consuming. Coming right after The Fighter House, it was just more adversity. I got in a depression. I had just been stuck in a house for 6 weeks, now I'm stuck in a house and in bed for 3 more. It really sucked. But I did what I had to do to get better. Since then I've been teaching at a new gym called Defkon One/Gracie Barra VR in Villa Rica Georgia. The people there have been very good to me and it's a great facility. My training time is fairly limited since I teach 4-5 hours a day, but it has been a good experience.
Last year you had surgery to repair your ACL. How much longer will you be out of action?
I have some fights in the works for May and June. Nothing is confirmed yet, but I expect to be back on a smaller show in June at the latest. I have to put together a couple lower profile fights to help get my confidence back up. Not only did I lose badly on the show, but I also wasn't able to walk for a while after the surgery. Everyone kept saying I was healing very quickly, but it was frustrating and slow. That takes a huge toll on you mentally as a fighter and just as a person.
Have you had any talks with the UFC (or anyone else) about a potential fight down the road?
My last talk with Joe Silva, he encouraged me to fight smaller shows. He said he never saw what I can or can't do. I'd looked like I had heart, but just couldn't evaluate anything. "Put together four or five decent wins," he said. "I'm pretty sure you could fit in well at the WEC after some confidence boosters and skill polishers." That's always nice to hear. Joe has a reputation as a ball buster.
Where are you training?
As I stated earlier, I am teaching and training at a new gym in Villa Rica Georgia. I will also train locally with some friends like the Assuncao brothers, Rory Singer, Jeff Bedard and Roan Jucao. Those guys are all really good, local and have a lot to offer me. And they've all been very good to me since I first got around the game.
How did you get started doing MMA?
Haha..THAT I can answer.."why" is a little harder. I was just a fan. I saw UFC 34 and I wanted to be Matt Hughes. I put out a message on mixedmartialarts.com and Cam McHargue responded. I became friends with him before I was ever training with AFA/Team Praxis. I became known around the GA scene before I ever competed or really trained for that matter. Cam and Matthew Waller owned a ring that got rented out to basically anyone doing a show. I'd go and help set up/break down the ring and really kinda learned the in and outs of the sport. At first I just wanted to grapple, but eventually turned into wanting to do MMA. Cam got me a fight on short notice, I got the shit kicked out of me and realized I needed to train more consistently. I didn't start training more than twice a month until Summer of '05.
Is your family supportive of your MMA career?
Yeah. My dad doesn't like it, but he doesn't criticize me for it. I think he's just less a fan in general of the sport. He's an old school boxing fan from a long time ago and boxed a little in the Army. We all know boxing vs. MMA, heh. Everyone else though is gung ho. My mom also knows Cole, Micah, Bubby and some other guys that I use to train with. She started watching TUF because of Cole, not me, lol. She's actually a big Nate Diaz fan. Go figure.
Who were some of the people in MMA that you look up to?
Before the show, I really looked up to Matt Hughes. The way that he treated me and the rest of the team showed that he's just a regular guy. I guess we all are. He makes mistakes, he makes jokes, he makes REALLY good baby back ribs. But he's very supportive of his guys. I've always been a big fan of Jens Pulver too. Aside from that, Genki Sudo is a big inspiration for me in general. I like a lot of his philosophies and his overall outlook on life in all 4 dimensions. And after living with Mac, I really admire him and a lot of things about his life. We share similar politics and social beliefs. He works his ass off too. Always. Even when he doesn't feel like it. I know everyone in the sport does, but he made me work my ass off too, even after I was hurt.
I read somewhere that you and Cole Miller are pretty tight. How happy are you to see him competing and having some success in the UFC?
It's fucking awesome. Cole is the one that really urged me to fight in the first place. I cornered almost all of his amateur fights and quite a few of his pro fights. I cornered him against Garcia at UFN back in September. This is his dream. Everyone wants to see their friends succeed. Cole and I came from the same place, the same school, and we have the same dream...so it's that much better to know that he made it to the end of the same road I'm walking. He's a big inspiration in my life and my training actually. Him and his brother Micah both actually. We're often referred to collectively as "Team Miller."
Your fight with Richie had to be disappointing. It seemed like you had the advantage on the ground if the fight went there. Not to take anything away from Richie but the reason you lost the fight was because you blew out your knee not his punches right?
Of course it was disappointing. I knew I could have done better and while I'm laying there getting an MRI all I can think is "would have, should have, could have." Had I tried to get the fight to the ground, I am confident that I would have gotten a submission. But the fight goes the way it's going to. Unfortunately, I still get people sending me messages in my myspace and email telling me what a disgrace I am to the sport because of that fight. It's always hugs and handshakes to my face of course, but that's how people are. They don't care about editing.
That episode was basically "Joey's gone, Dorian is crazy, Blake is a comedian and has no fighting experience." All three things are false, but whatever. And the reason I lost was because Richie hit me until Big John stopped it. It was a TKO from punches, not injury. I may have fallen because my knee blew out, but I lost because Richie pounced and finished me off. Whether it's a blown knee, a 4 punch combination, whatever....if your opponent drops, your job is to finish. Richie did his job. He's tougher than he got credit for. Not "better" so to say, but he's tough and he puts on good fights. He's still pretty new to the game too. He'll develop and win some fights in the future I'm sure.
Coming into the start of that season who did you think was the favorite to win it?
After how the UFC was treating him, I was expecting to see Jon Fitch in there dominating everyone, haha. But after evaluation day, everyone kind of felt Mac was the guy to beat for sure. There were some other good guys though...but Mac was favorited..for sure.
Did you see Tommy Speer doing as well as he did and advancing to the Finals?
Tommy and I became pretty close. He's a robot that punches a time clock at the cage door. The only thing he cares about is making the ref stop the fight for some reason. He wants to slam and grind until you break. He's got a lot of heart and is very young. His skills are still developing but heart and determination can take you through times that just skill wont. Unfortunately for him Mac had heart and skill.
Have you spoken to Mac since he won the contract? I know you and him are very different and had a unique realtionship on the show.
As I said earlier, Mac and I see eye to eye on a lot of things and hung out together a lot in the house before and after the "skinny hick from Alabama" skit. I talk to him weekly since the show. We usually bullshit about stuff. He sent me a pic on my phone of him knelt in front of the house from the show while he was out training with Gray. Looking all gangster. He's one of my good friends actually, but people ignore that and believe the edited "reality" of television.
Do you keep in touch with any of the guys from the show?
Yeah. I still talk to Fiore and Pena (coaches) I myspace with George,Kolosci and J-Roc. I talk to Mac, Tommy, Rude Boy, Paul and Ben Saunders on the phone often.
Out of everyone in the house, excluding Mac, who do you see having the best career in 10 years?
Like I said, a lot of those guys are young in years and experience..so I see a few of them using the show to better themselves and making waves this year or 2009. But I'd say probably Ben Saunders and Matty Arroyo.
Were you disappointed that Matt Serra got hurt and had to cancel the fight with Matt Hughes?
Of course. That was so built up. Those guys really don't like each other. Not like "build it up to sell tickets" but "Hughes would stop talking if Serra entered the room" don't like each other. That's all we had to preoccupy ourselves in the house outside of training and swimming and eating. So we were all pumped about it.
If that fight had taken place who do you think would've won?
I just think that Hughes is a bad match up for Serra. I mean, maybe that's bias because I consider Matt Hughes a friend now, but he's strong, good positioning. He'd outpower Serra and in later rounds, No one can turn it to 11 like Hughes. Like I said though, I'm a long time fan. So maybe I'm being a little biased.
Who's your pick in the Serra-St. Pierre rematch?
I don't want to sound like a Serra-hater. I like watching him fight. May sound bad picking against him twice in a row; but St. Pierre is just the future of the sport. Everyone gets caught, everyone stumbles. But Georges is evolution of MMA in action.
Thanks again Blake. Is there anything else you'd like to say to your fans?
I'd really like to thank everyone for their support. I felt bad after the show, the loss, the hate mail, and surgery...but I got a huge flow of people with kind words calling themselves fans...saying they liked seeing me and hope that I heal and come back stronger and they can watch me again. That meant the difference in my opinion. I had support of my family and friends, but it was those outside my life that still showed faith and support that really pulled me through the tough times. Anyone that is on the myspace, feel free to add me...I'm at
I save all my messages I get from people. When I don't want to train or go do the extra rehab, I'd read them and realize that I better get my ass off my shoulder. This is bigger than me. I have people that want to watch me do what I want to do. It doesn't get any better than that. So THANK YOU to everyone and thanks for this interview.