Phil Baroni's 11th-hour search for redemption

by Shaun Al-Shatti | source:

"I was caught up in the lifestyle, or whatever that was, and not being a professional athlete," reflects Phil Baroni, now 36 years old. "In my free time, to say the least, I wasn't getting better at mixed martial arts. I was f---ing getting better at everything else, like gambling and smoking, and drinking. I was getting really good at drinking and gambling. Those are two things a professional athlete shouldn't be good at. I should've been recovering and training, getting my skills better. Instead I was getting better at being a degenerate."

"I underachieved... I didn't realize what I had in front of me. I was young and dumb. I took for granted a lot of my opportunities and my gifts. I really was a big letdown to the UFC, and to a lot of people who thought I was going to be something. I didn't live up to what I was advertised as. I f---ing blew it."

"My wife, she works in Las Vegas. Before he died, Smokin' Joe Frazier was in there. The guy was at the bar, he was by himself," Baroni recounts incredulously. "Smokin' Joe Frazier is by him-f---ing-self. That guy fought the Thrilla in Manila, and the whole world watched him. In his day he was an icon. And he's in the bar by himself.

"That's Joe Frazier. So where the f--- is Phil Baroni going to end up? What could happen to me? I've dedicated my life to this sport, but I'm forgotten."

And so Baroni has packed his bags, venturing out of the Nevada wastelands, back to San Jose to reunite at the American Kickboxing Association (AKA). There, studying the championship ways of Daniel Cormier, Cain Velasquez and Luke Rockhold on a daily basis, Baroni has re-sculpted his life for one last run. Within those walls, at long last, he has become a professional athlete.

"I feel blessed by God right now," Baroni finishes with a smile. "My body is still good. I had my both my knees done, I had my shoulder done, my neck, everything. But I'm good now. For the first time, I'm really not in pain and I'm training ... I feel like I'm a freshman in college again."

"And I didn't accomplish the things a lot of guys still competing at my age have accomplished. The Rich Franklins, the Dan Hendersons; when they're done, they'll have their legacy. They'll have accomplished a lot, and they'll be able to fall back on their career within the sport to make money. What the f--- will I do? Move back to f---ing Massapequa, f---ing hang out at the barbershop and talk about the glory days when I fought in PRIDE?"

"I want a different ending to this f---ing story. I can be the first welterweight champion of One FC. I'm hoping winning that title really means something. That's why I'm really pulling for this organization, that's why I'm training hard. I'm putting all my eggs in this basket."

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tags: Phil Baroni (detail)  One FC   


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Recent Comments »

StretchPlum site profile image  

8/30/12 2:00 AM by StretchPlum

The real bottom line is that he needs a real job for the 2nd half of his life. Does he have one?

FrankShamrocksBraces site profile image  

8/30/12 12:33 AM by FrankShamrocksBraces

Very good point. I'd also add that in other pro team sports, you have mandatory minicamps, practice sessions, etc. whereas in pro MMA, the onus is solely on you to make sure you're prepared & in shape.

Roger AK47 site profile image  

8/30/12 12:26 AM by Roger AK47

I really like Baroni. I do think it is now do or die in this upcoming fight. I'm not sure how good it looks for him. He got stopped by the guy who Estima just submitted in his first mma in 3 minutes. It is a must win, if he doesn't it's time to call it a career.

Koga site profile image  

8/30/12 12:02 AM by Koga

Agreed, this is the same old story.9/16/11 1:57 PMKoga Member Since: 3/12/02 Posts: 3056 I hope yoshida gets a better opponent at the next one fc, this was a mismatch.Baroni's fans will be ok, in three months baroni will be will yet another camp and announce again that he is really serious about mma for the first time, eva.

MarcusRenatoBlackBelt site profile image  

8/28/12 6:01 PM by MarcusRenatoBlackBelt

Phil Baroni, the New York Bad Ass, F0RMER UFC Welterweight Champion, Former Pride Star, Team Hammerhouse, OF COURSE is a huge star. He is a fighter that has fought all over the world that you are on a website for fans of. Are you kidding me ?

cripplersc site profile image  

8/28/12 5:50 PM by cripplersc

Bump the thread

crowbar site profile image  

8/28/12 4:50 PM by crowbar

Blast from the past.From: Vernon White Date: 25-Jun-02 07:34 PMMember Since: 01-Jan-0170 Total Posts Edited:26-Jun-02 02:32 AM, Edited:26-Jun-02 02:26 AM, Edited:26-Jun-02 02:2I'm making this thread in responce to you talking trash about me, saying that I had my chance to fight you but didn't, and that I would be your easiest opponent yet. I am not the one that is out there losing in toughman shows or posing in gay bodybuilding magazines in daisy dukes. So I don't see why you have a problem with me. Like Ricco Rodriguez said, You have a lot of mental problems. If you are in some sort of roid rage and want to fight me, we can definitely make it happen. We both walk around at 200lbs so this shouldn't be a problem. If fighting in a different weight class is your excuse for not fighting me then dont run your mouth in my direction. I have to warn you, I am not an Atlantic City Bathroom, I will hit back and hit back hard. If Suloev can dominate you standing, then I will knock you the F%$k out. Just make sure you wear those cute little daisy dukes!

choochgas site profile image  

8/28/12 4:34 PM by choochgas

WTF? I admit that I've lost track of Phil's career the past few years, but... he actually faught Nick Nolte?!? How the Hell did I miss hearing about that!

zedlepln site profile image  

8/28/12 3:12 PM by zedlepln

Best soul searching evah!!

Hong Kong Phooey site profile image  

8/28/12 3:11 PM by Hong Kong Phooey

 NYBA Fan no matter