Toyo Tires Driven to Perform: MMA Edition

Toyo Tires Driven to Perform: MMA EditionDUB Magazine and Toyo Tires have teamed up to bring you the Toyo Tires “Driven to Perform” MMA Edition. Toyo Tires has been a proud sponsor of the UFC and supporter of mixed martial artists for several years. Read up on champions and legends in the sport, known as “The Spider,” “The Natural,” “Ace,” “The Prodigy,” “Sugar,” “The Axe Murderer” and “Rampage,” and why they are Driven to Perform each time they step into the Octagon.


Toyo Tires Driven to Perform: MMA EditionAnderson "The Spider" Silva
Date of Birth: 4-14-75
Height: 6'2"
Weight Class: Middleweight, Lightweight
MMA Record: 23-4-0
Fighting out of: Curitiba, Brazil
Titles: The last Cage Rage Middleweight Champion; former Shooto Middleweight Champion; and current UFC Middleweight Champion.

For the past three years, Anderson Silva has cut a swath of destruction through his weight class, leaving foes and fans, alike, thinking, “How do you beat this guy?” Although he started out as a Muay Thai fighter, Silva has beaten MMA’s who’s who in the middleweight division in almost every way possible: he’s knocked out iron-chinned Chris Leben; he’s grounded-and-pounded elite grappler Nate Marquardt; he’s outstruck top striker Rich Franklin; and he’s submitted Jiu-Jitsu black belt Travis Lutter and Olympic wrestler Dan Henderson. At this point in his career, the questions left for Anderson Silva to answer are about what his place in mixed-martial arts history will ultimately be, and what challenges in the sport he has still to conquer. DUB quickly caught up with UFC’s reigning middleweight champ in the midst of his intensive training schedule to ask him about what his plans are for the upcoming year and his next fight. (At the time of the interview, Anderson was prepping for UFC 97 on April 18, so the Portuguese-speaking Anderson couldn’t go into too much detail, given his rigorous training.)

What is your strategy for fighting Thales Leites at UFC 97?
Are you concentrating on anything in particular to get ready for him?
I don’t adapt my training to my opponents.

Whom are you currently training with?
I train with the same guys: Antônio Rodrigo Minotauro Nogueira, Rogério Minotouro Nogueira, Josuel Distak, Daniel Woirin, Rogerio Camoes and Andre Galvao.

Please describe your weekly training schedule.
I train everything every day.

If you defeat Thales, who do you think is next in line for a shot at your title?
That’s not for me to decide. I will fight who ever the UFC puts in front of me.

Who is the most difficult match up for you out of these contenders: Demian Maia, Nate Marquardt, Yushin Okami? What other tough opponents do you see in your weight class?
There are a lot of tough guys in my weight class. They all possess their difficulties.

Do you want to stay at middleweight, or would you move to light heavyweight?
We will have to wait and see. But, I want to stay in my weight class and defend my 185-lbs. belt.

Do you still train with undefeated UFC light heavyweight Lyoto Machida, and would you fight him if Dana White made it a main event or title fight and paid both of you generously?
There is no chance of Lyoto and I fighting.

How do sparring sessions go with Lyoto?
Our training is as usual; we are friends and train together whenever he is in Rio.

Do you consider yourself the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?
I don’t think I am the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Maybe some day, when I retire, I will be able to look back at my career and think that, but I can’t consider myself the best yet; there is always something to improve on.

How do you feel about the possible champion vs. champion matchup with Georges St-Pierre, if he moved up to middleweight to fight you?
I train to fight the best in the world; if it happens, we will have to wait and see.

It’s been said that you are interested in fighting Roy Jones Jr. in a boxing match. If you eventually run out of challenges in MMA, would you be interested in such a fight?
It’s been a personal wish of mine to do an international boxing fight some day. Maybe one day it will come true…who knows? For now, I am focused on the UFC and defending my belt.

Many fighters teach at gyms or academies in addition to fighting. Are you currently an instructor at an academy? If so, could you tell me more about the school, what you are teaching, etc.?
I am not a full-time instructor, but I am always at the gym, and I love teaching and coaching my teammates.

What people and sponsors would you like to thank? Do you have a website you want your fans to check out?
I would like to thank my sponsors: Silver Star, Sinister and Nutrabolics.

Photos: Carter Gibbs for Sinister Brand Clothing


Toyo Tires Driven to Perform: MMA EditionBJ "The Prodigy" Penn
Date of Birth: 12-13-78
Height: 5’ 9”
Weight Class: Lightweight, Welterweight
MMA Record: 13-5-1
Fighting out of: Hilo, Hawaii
Titles: First non-Brazilian to win the Black Belt division of The World Jiu-Jitsu Championship (a.k.a. The Mundials) in Featherweight class; former UFC Welterweight Champion; and current UFC Lightweight Champion.

If there is one mixed-martial arts fighter that you could call “The Kobe Bryant of MMA,” it has to be BJ Penn. Both athletes have shown freakish abilities at a young age: “The Prodigy” won the Mundials (the Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu World Championships) after training for only three years, while “The Black Mamba” jumped from high school straight to the NBA. Both have reached the absolute pinnacle of their chosen professions: Penn has previously won both the Lightweight and Welterweight Championships in the UFC, while Bryant has won three NBA Championships with the L.A. Lakers. Both have an indomitable belief in themselves and their abilities.

But, above all, what these two superstars have in common is that they are arguably the most talked-about athletes in their respective sports. Their fans consider them among the greatest competitors in the game, yet their haters accuse them of being vastly overrated, selfish and egomaniacal. But, although, Kobe’s greatest controversies appear to be behind him, BJ is right in the middle of the biggest one of his career. Dubbed “Greasegate” by MMA fans, Penn is embroiled in a dispute stemming from his loss at “UFC 94” against the organization’s current Welterweight Champion, Georges “Rush” St-Pierre. According to Penn, St-Pierre had his trainers illegally apply Vaseline to his back, shoulders, and chest, allowing him to slip out of Penn’s submission holds and inflict severe damage on the Hawaiian, while fighting on the ground.

On MMA forums, such as Sherdog.com and The Underground (mixemartialarts.com), fans debate endlessly about whether this significantly affected the whole outcome of the fight or is just an excuse by Penn to explain his defeat. DUB spoke to BJ about his career and how this current controversy may affect his immediate future in The Octagon.

What motivates you to fight?
I was just into fighting my whole life, and I love the competition of this sport.

What is the ultimate goal for you in MMA?
To get perfection for yourself—self-perfection in your technique and how you prepare.

It has been said that, unlike most fighters, you don’t really have to fight for a living because you come from a wealthy family. How accurate is that statement?
Haha…the whole thing is, like, a joke, you know? My parents came from humble beginnings; they’re real hard workers, so they’ve done real well for themselves. But we’re not riding around in limos or flying around in jet airplanes or anything. You gotta earn my dad’s respect in the house; you can’t just sit around and do nothing.

What would you like to say about the “Greasegate” controversy with GSP (Georges St-Pierre)?
If I didn’t think that it was intentionally done, we wouldn’t have filed a formal complaint with the [Nevada] Athletic Commission.

How did it affect your game plan during that fight against St-Pierre?
I had practiced a lot off my back with a new partner every round; people trying to ground and pound me. I wanted to show [St-Pierre] that there’s no reason to take me down because when you get me down, you’re not going to be able to do anything. I’m just going to kick your butt from off my back. That was one of my game plans.

You are often in the conversation when MMA fans discuss the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. In your opinion, who are the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world?
I’m not going to include myself, but Fedor [Emelianenko], Anderson Silva, you know, GSP was; I had a lot of respect for him, but if this comes out true and he did cheat, I’m not going to have the same amount of respect for him as I did.

Love you or hate you, you’re always one of the most talked about fighters in the sport. Why do you think that is the case?
I think they can see that I’m passionate. So, if they’re with me, they’re passionate about it. If they’re not with me, they’re still passionate about it.

Perhaps your exposure on TV in shows, such as “The Ultimate Fighter” or “UFC Primetime” has affected how fans see you. Can you describe your experiences on those shows, and whether they depicted you accurately or not?
I thought the “Ultimate Fighter” show was pretty accurate. Some stuff was editing, but it wasn’t too bad. But the “Primetime” show, I didn’t feel that it was that accurate. We were training real hard. We got a bad rap for that one. We did a lot of good things when “Primetime” was out there filming. Too bad the things that made it on air were some of the bad things: profanity and stuff like that. I could say 100 “I love yous” and one “I hate you,” and the “I hate you” would be on there in a second.

Although, you may want a rematch with GSP first, what do you think your next fight will be and when?
I could see me fighting Kenny Florian pretty soon.

What are your thoughts on Florian as an opponent?
He’s got good striking, good takedowns and good Jiu-Jitsu. I think he’s a very good opponent.

Any final comments for your fans, or maybe even your haters?
I just want to thank all the fans of MMA, whether you are a fan of BJ Penn or not, and to check out BJPENN.COM. To all my fans, I want to thank you for all the support through the years. And if you’re a hater, I got nothing bad to say except if you got a problem with me filing a formal complaint against someone that is accused of cheating, what does that say about yourself?

Photos: www.bjpenn.com

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