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| | TUF 6 Q&A: One-on-one with John Kolosci
TUF 6 Q&A: One-on-one with John Kolosci |
In a show where itís sometimes easy to pick a winner, The Ultimate Fighter 6 has been quite surprising in some aspects. John Kolosci was one of those surprises when he stopped heavily favored Billy Miles in the prelims in Week 2. The run by Kolosci, a Portage, Indiana native, came to a halt when he faced show favorite Mac Danzig. What may have surprised most viewers, though, was that Kolosci chose to fight Danzig. However, all hope is not lost for Kolosci. As he informed MMA Madnessí Ryan McKinnell last week, heís far from done in MMA. In fact, heís just getting started.
MMA Madness: Well, John Iím just going to hit you with the tough question right off the bat. What were you thinking when you picked Mac Danzig as your opponent?!
Kolosci: [Laughs] Um, I guess thatís just kind of the way I am. I always am seeming to take the road less desired. I told myself before I even got on the show--Iíve watched previous seasons and there always seems to be ďthat guyĒ that no one wants to fight--I didnít know anyone who was on the show when I first got their but I knew there would be ďthat guyĒ. So I knew I was in the UFC now and you canít hand pick your opponents. I canít go to Joe Silva and Dana White and be like, ďHey I donít want to fight this guy because heís too tough.Ē So, I told myself when I got there I would fight the best opponent in the house so I could see where I was at. When I got to the house I knew Mac was the best. I wanted to fight him in the prelims but he was already taken. So, there was a lot of hype around Billy Miles when we first got on the show and I asked [Matt] Serra if I could fight him, and he made the match up. In the quarterfinals, I had the choice and that is the guy [Danzig] I had in my head--thatís what I was going to do, so I made my case and I got the fight. Iíll never second guess my pick; Iíll second guess my performance but never my pick.
MMA Madness: Well, I think that is something everyone will recognize and respect after all is said and done--your willingness to take the road less traveled, so-to-speak. I guess you sort of answered this question but, would you do it over again if you had the chance -- pick Danzig?
Kolosci: Absolutely, I would still pick Danzig. Even now, if the finales werenít set and they asked me if I could fight any of the 16 guys I would still probably pick Mac.
MMA Madness: So looking back at your performance what would you have done different in the cage?
Kolosci: First of all, mentally I wasnít all there. Everybody gets nervous before a fight; we all get butterflies. For this one I was just a little more nervous than usual. I think I may have over-thought everything -- constantly thinking of different situations, you know, ďWhat am I going to do in this fight?Ē What I didnít do in the fight is re-adjust. Like Mac said, I was telegraphing everything and you could see my nerves -- shooting from everywhere and not setting things up. I really wanted to work in the clinch and work takedowns off of the fence or on his legs. Also, when I was down on his legs I should have come back up to the clinch and thrown some elbows and punches; maybe step back and reset and start over and I didnít do any of that. I donít really remember much of the fight to be honest. I watched it yesterday and it seemed like I was watching a new fight. It just tells me that, mentally, I wasnít all there because I didnít remember anything from the fight. I donít remember hearing my corner at all either, so that stuff can really get to you and when youíre hell-bent on getting the takedown and it doesnít happen, that can really drain you mentally and physically as well. I also gassed really early and that was disheartening because I was in real good shape.
MMA Madness: Right. Well if nothing else it was a huge learning experience.
Kolosci: Yes. Iím definitely chalking it up as a learning experience.
MMA Madness: So you were talking about watching the show last night--Iím assuming youíve watched all the episodes. We, as fans, didnít really get to see you that much. How did you feel about your portrayal on the show?
Kolosci: Even from the first week and the shows you didnít see me on, I just kind of kept to myself. I didnít involve myself in house politics. I went back to my room a lot because there wasnít much to do around the house except sit around a table and talk, which didnít really make for good TV. I spent a lot of time in the hot tub to get away from everything and reflect. So I tried to stay out of the cameraís view in those respects. The shows I fought I thought I came across very good--very respectable, happy to be their, a guy who was going to take this opportunity for all that itís worth and do the best I can with it.
MMA Madness: Yeah, and that goes without saying--I think it is well-documented that the house is a lot more trying than people give it credit for. So, what were some of the things that just drove you crazy in the house?
Kolosci: Well, the most annoying thing is that you are completely locked out from the outside world -- no phone, no internet, no TV, no reading materials even. I mean Iím reading milk cartons and things like that because I really just like to read. [Laughs] The down time too -- I mean, when you get home from practice at eight oíclock in the evening and we are usually up until midnight, the novelty of the ping-pong table, the pool table, the foosball table -- those all wear off pretty quick. So that wasnít even fun anymore, so it was all a matter of staying busy and having conversations. I guess that is why we all got to know each other real well and we all became real close is because there was so much dead time. So when you run out of general things to talk about you start talking about personal stuff, so you really get to know each other.
MMA Madness: Well, you had people like Dorian and ďWar MachineĒ lose it a little bit on the show--what do you think separates you from them; how did you keep such a calm demeanor?
Kolosci: I donít know. I guess itís just human nature that everyone is different, ya know? In my head -- even though there was a lot of downtime and maybe I was getting a little upset -- in the back of my head I knew this was the greatest opportunity of my life. Itís actually bigger than just making it to the UFC because you get all of this TV time before, ya know? Itís also a great learning experience -- I get to train with all of these world-class coaches and teammates. There were a lot of positive things about it, plus it was only six weeks of my life. Yeah, it wore on me at times, especially after the loss because usually you have a strong support system of family and friends who can help you. Plus, you have your house that you can sort of cave yourself in at, but you didnít have any of that on the show. All in all, I wouldnít trade any of it for the world, because I got to experience things that no one else will ever get to do. It was one of the greatest things I have ever been a part of. The exposure, the UFC, it was just such a wonderful opportunity.
MMA Madness: Well, I guess that kind of answers what you liked about the house.
Kolosci: Well I can answer that too. What I took from this whole experience was learning what it takes to compete at this level. I mean, Iím training with Matt Serra, who was just kicking my ass every single day; he had a counter for a counter for a counterÖRay Longo showed me where my weaknesses are with my standup, so it showed me the work ethic for this job was way more intense than I had previously been accustomed to. Before, I would come into practice late and leave early. I never really put all I had into it -- I figured I could just get by being tough. At this level you canít do that, so when I came home from the show I sought out all new coaches. I got a new boxing coach and all sorts of wrestling coaches. I have a high level BJJ instructor helping me with my ground. They are all pushing me really hard and Iím absorbing everything and Iím working real hard every week. Training has been phenomenal since I got back. My new attitude mentally along with my new training has exceeded anything I have ever done in my past. Iím really just determined to compete and now I know exactly what that takes at this level.
MMA Madness: So Iím assuming you are back in Portage [Indiana]? Werenít you with Duneland Vale Tudo for a while?
Kolosci: I was in Duneland. That is where a lot of my friends train out of and I trained there for the last 4 Ĺ years. But now I train in Chicago and work with a lot of people their.
MMA Madness: Anybody we would know?
Kolosci: Absolutely. Iím training on my boxing with Montel Griffin [former WBC & IBF light heavy weight champion] and heís been training me real hard. Iíve turned a huge corner in my stand up, even in just the last month or so. Iím working at Gilbert Grappling for my wrestling and overall MMA. I would probably consider them my ďMMA team.Ē Dino Castillas has been helping with my BJJ at the POW Gym, so everything is really coming together.
MMA Madness: Right on. Well, getting back to the house; if you could have one item to bring with you into the house, what would it have been?
Kolosci: One item? Huh, probably just a huge book. [Laughs] Something that would take me six weeks to read!
MMA Madness: What!? So youíre just going to bring in a giant Websterís Dictionary?
Kolosci: Yeah, something like that. Absolutely. [Laughs] I love reading!
MMA Madness: Yeah, you can catch up on your vocab while Mac watches the birds!
Kolosci: Hahahahaha, exactly!
MMA Madness: Man, he was quite the character. So, who was your favorite character in the house?
Kolosci: Um, well me.
MMA Madness: Ok, ok. Someone else besides you John!
Kolosci: Besides me? Ok, Iíd have to go with Blake Bowman -- that guy was freaking hilarious. He did spot-on impressions of people; it was almost like watching TV. He really just kept us all laughing and he was just a real fun guy to be around. He was just a great personality who kept the mood light.
MMA Madness: Well that is interesting because a lot of people question him being there. People were saying he wasnít a ďreal fighterĒ, whatever that means. How do you feel about that?
Kolosci: Ahhhh, I donít want to say anything negative and again, I wasnít on that team so I donít really know what went on with them or whatever. I will say I think he came out good against Ritchie Hightower -- he threw some great knees but he did seem to get injured early, tearing his ACL, so that didnít help. So, maybe they saw him as a liability, I donít know. I like Blake; I still keep in contact with him to this day. Itís hard for me to say one way or the other about him being a ďreal fighterĒ. I donít really judge that stuff, that kind of stuff is really personal, so you can take it where you want to take it.
MMA Madness: You just mentioned the camaraderie of the show. Who else did you form bonds with in the house?
Kolosci: Oh man. I still talk to Matt Serra, Pete Sell, ďWar MachineĒ, ďRude BoyĒ, Danzig via e-mail, Paul [Georgieff], and Matt Arroyo. Basically just a lot of guys from Team Serra and some guys from Team Hughes, but yeah, we keep in touch through e-mail a lot.
MMA Madness: It kind of seems like this year, rather than some other seasons, that the team concept really shone through. What I mean is that, it seemed there was a real emphasis on the ďteamĒ this year. Would you agree with that?
Kolosci: Yeah, I do agree. You know, itís weird -- the first day we were there, everyone was bullshitting with each other, talking and hanging out, blah, blah, blah. But then when we picked teams on day two it was totally separate. We were on one side of the room and they were on the other -- it was just real funny how it started off. Then throughout the season, yeah we spent time in the house and hung out, but they kept us separated through the training schedules and what not. And then since they had the morning schedule they went to bed early whereas we stayed up. So there was maybe an hour or two a day where we could interact and hang out but yeah uhÖwe built a great camaraderie with Serra and they kind of edited that out. They didnít show how much fun we had together and how hard they trained us. Serra trained us harder than Iíve ever been trained in my life and in between that training there was just a whole lot of fun. There was a lot of joke-telling and personal stories, you know, personal speak. We just got along real well and formed a great bond with one another. I think that was one of the advantages we had with Matt Serra being one of our coaches. Well, first of all he is an actual coach not just a fighter like Hughes and the fact that Serra actually lived in the house and went through what we went through -- that was real important to have someone who understood what we were going through.
MMA Madness: Right. So, sticking with the teams -- what do you think is going to happen on Dec. 29th when the coaches face off and Serra steps in against Hughes?
Kolosci: Iím absolutely going for Matt Serra and I think he has a good chance at pulling this one off. I think he is more well-rounded. The only chance Hughes has, I think, is to do what he did against Lytle -- basically he is going to have to take him down and hold him down. I donít think heís going to be able to do that against Serra -- heís too slick on his back and I think heís going to get up and frustrate Hughes. I think his stand-up is better. I think a lot of people arenít aware of how much stand-up heís put in these last couple of years. Before Matt was just a guy who was constantly trying to just take you down, but that all changed -- just look at the GSP fight. He looked real good in that fight, real comfortable -- he wasnít trying to force anything or rush. I think he can knock Matt Hughes out or submit him.
MMA Madness: Yeah, I always go back to that fight and if you look at Serraís face after he gets the belt, it was almost like he didnít care. What I mean by that is that he didnít need a belt to justify him being a ďchampionĒ -- he knew it all along.
Kolosci: Yeah, Mattís a real cool, down-to-earth guy and Iím really glad I got to meet him, man. I really like him and Iím super glad I got to know him.
MMA Madness: Looking back on the prelims -- besides your fight -- what was your favorite fight to watch?
Kolosci: Probably the [Daniel] Barrera vs. [Ben] Saunders match. It wasnít the most technical or whatever but it had a lot of blood and action. Those guys showed a lot of skill and heart in that fight and it was real exciting to watch.
MMA Madness: Well in wrapping up, what does the future hold for John Kolosci?
Kolosci: Well, my next fight is December 8th at the Finale and thatís all I can say; I cannot disclose an opponent. So, thatís what Iím preparing for now and like I said I have all these new trainers and Iím in the best shape of my life. So, with saying that, I feel like Iím ready for the 8th and I look forward to putting on a good show.
MMA Madness: Well, I want to thank you John for the opportunity to chat with you. I know youíve had a long day. So take care, my man, and we look forward to seeing you compete in the future.
Kolosci: No problem. Thanks, Ryan.
The will to win is not as great as the will to prepare to win."
"...the way of the future...the way of the future...the way of the future...the way of the future..."