MMA Legend Don Frye Sounds Off
MMA Legend Don Frye Sounds Off On Whiners, Comebacks, And What It Takes To Be A FighterAfter recently signing on to coach the Tucson, Arizona-based Scorpions in the International Fight League, MMA veteran Don Frye sat down for an interview to discuss the future of his IFL squad. The man who defeated icons like Ken Shamrock and "Tank" Abbott is rarely at a loss for words, and here the Arizona native talks about his training philosophy, what it takes to be a pro fighter, and the possibility of a comeback in the IFL.
First off, how do you feel about being a coach in the IFL?
Don Frye: I’m excited about it. I’m glad that there’s an organization that’s finally putting the fighters first instead of using them as a piece of meat and tossing them aside. We’ve needed this for a long time.
What do you think of the IFL’s team concept?
DF: I think it’s a real good concept and I think it will hold the interest of people longer than just individuals. Every fight means something here.
What do you love about fighting?
DF: It’s a pure sport. Everything is pure. There’s no bulls--t, no politics, no favoritism. You just get in there and fight. Once you’re in the ring it’s who’s got the biggest balls and the most talent.
Let’s talk about your team in the IFL. I know you’re an Arizona guy, are all your fighters from Arizona, too? Will you all live there and train together?
DF: That’s what we’re sitting here doing right now. We’re putting the finishing touches on the team. I’m going to bring in a couple of outside guys, but we’re requiring them to move to Arizona. No prima donnas are going to come in and be a separate identity. Not on my team.
What’s going to be your training philosophy with these guys?
DF: Never quit. On my team that’s not a hope, it’s a requirement. If you don’t have that attitude to start with, pack your bags and get the hell out.
How is it going from fighter to coach? Any chance of seeing you back in the ring in the IFL?
DF: Yeah, there’s always a chance of me getting in the ring again. I don’t give a damn who I fight. As long as the check don’t bounce.
What’s the difference between wrestling and MMA as far as the demands mentally and physically?
DF: I think it’s pretty similar. When you’re wrestling and you’re in the practice room it’s a street fight for two and a half hours. Every day it’s like that. You get hurt and you push through it. It’s the same with MMA.
You’re a family man, but you’ve kept coming back again and again to fighting. How does your family feel about that? Do they worry that you can’t stay away from it?
DF: My wife wants me to quit. She doesn’t like it. The kids, they don’t know. I don’t let them watch. They’re five and six, so they’re too young. All they know is that I go away for a while and when I come home I bring them gifts. They like that.
You were voted one of the top five favorite MMA fighters of all time in a recent fan poll. Why do you think you’re such a favorite with the fans?
DF: Top five? I should be number one. I think the reason the fans get a kick out of me is because I don’t quit. I go in there and get it done and then I go home. It’s a blue collar job and that’s how I do it.
You did the broadcast for a King of the Cage event with Rampage Jackson a few years back that was great. Is broadcasting something you’re interested in long term?
DF: Yeah, I just wonder why nobody else feels that way. I’d love to do it. A lot of people tell me I should do that again, but none of those people own a fight company.
You gave up your career as a firefighter to become a pro fighter after you competed in the UFC. What happened there?
DF: There was a lot of pressure from John McCain then and he put the heat on the firefighters’ union. I was paying my dues to the union, but when McCain put his boot in they sided with him. So I told them to shove their union up their a-- and I went to make some money.
Ever wish you had stayed a firefighter, even just a little?
DF: Yeah. I mean, it’s a great job. All the guys around you are good guys. It’s an honorable profession, but I think the union office screwed it for everyone else.
What do you like to do when you’re not training?
DF: I like to hang out with my daughters. When you’re fighting or training it’s a twenty-four hour thing and you submerge yourself in it, so I lose my family for that time. That’s part of it and that’s my chosen profession, so I don’t whine about it. But when I’m not training I commit myself to my family.
What have you learned about the fighting lifestyle and the mental side of the game that you can pass on to these guys?
DF: Quit whining. There’s no whining in the fight game. If something bad happens, and it usually does, you can’t stop and whine about it. You accept it and move forward. You can’t stop the fight and lick your wounds. I can’t stand that. You have to keep going.
After getting poked in the eye by Gilbert Yvel, no one can say you didn't live by those words. Was that your most memorable fight?
DF: (Yoshihiro) Takayama. That was the most exciting fight.
I can't argue there. That's probably still one of Pride's most famous fights. What was going through your mind when you two were standing there banging on each other?
DF: Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch.
Don, it’s been a pleasure.
DF: Thanks, partner.