This is the second part of an exclusive MMAFightline interview with UFC Fighter Matt “No Regard” Arroyo. In this part, Arroyo discusses why the UFC prevented his participation in The Amazing Race as well as a new television program that he is currently developing.
MMAFightLine.com: Let’s talk about Gracie Tampa. Are you the head instructor for the South Tampa branch?
Arroyo: Yeah, there are 3 of us – me, Rob Neagle and Rob Kahn. The North Tampa branch was doing so well, and there is really no one in South Tampa doing what we are doing, so I figured we would do a satellite school off of the main one. There is nobody down there so we may as well be there, and I always wanted to teach. I’m going to be doing that a lot longer than I’ll be fighting so I may as well start building the school now, and we’ve only been open 3 months but we are doing really well. We are way past the break-even point. New people are coming in every day. The publicity I got off of TUF was pretty much priceless for a business like that. We are open Monday through Friday 10:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. I teach a couple of days per week. Right now it is just jiu-jitsu and wrestling, but we are going to add striking in once we get a few more people and a little bit more demand for it. I love it. I get to wake up and teach jiu-jitsu. It’s unbelievable. Teaching is my job now. If I could pick my job that I would want to do, this is it, so I am happy.
MMAFightLine.com: I heard you and Allen Berube tried out for The Amazing Race but the UFC would not allow you to go on the show. What were the reasons behind the UFC’s decision?
Arroyo: When you sign The Ultimate Fighter contract not the UFC contract but the TUF contract, you are not allowed to do a reality show for 2 years after your stint on TUF.
MMAFightLine.com: Did you talk to Dana at all about it?
Arroyo: Yeah, we tried to bring it up to the source but we were told absolutely not.
MMAFightLine.com: Did you hear back from The Amazing Race before the UFC told you that you could not be on the show?
Arroyo: No, the UFC got wind of it before The Amazing Race made a decision. I know for a fact that Pilgrim Films and Craig Piligian – he is the guy that produces TUF – he and the CBS guy had their differences, so I am pretty sure they caught it before it even happened. I’m pretty sure that we would have gotten on if none of that had happened.
MMAFightLine.com: Are you guys going to try again in 2 or 3 years?
Arroyo: Yeah, definitely. But I think now that everybody knows about it, the other guys are going to try it now, and they may take our spot.
MMAFightLine.com: I also heard that you and Allen Berube were in the process of producing a local MMA TV show here in Tampa.
Arroyo: Yeah, we are going to try and do something like that. We were going to put it on Public Access, but now we may just make a pilot and try to sell it to one of the networks.
MMAFightLine.com: Is it going to be a news show?
Arroyo: It is going to be a lot of things. It is going to be news, instructional, and almost like a Saturday Night Live type of thing but for the UFC. I could do a lot of impressions of the UFC fighters. If you dress me up right and get the right people, I’m telling you it is going to be freaking hilarious.
MMAFightLine.com: Who do you like to impersonate?
Arroyo: I’ve got George St. Pierre down pat.
MMAFightLine.com: I’m sure he has “da riddum.”
Arroyo: Yeah (laughs). I’ll go through the list: BJ Penn, Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell, Rampage. The problem is making me look like them. I’m not going to shave my head like Chuck Liddell.
MMAFightLine.com: What else is going on in the Tampa MMA scene?
Arroyo: All these organizations are coming up from everywhere. We’ve got the WFC, the RFC, the XFC, Bonecrunch. I remember when it was just the RFC and there was no competition, but now it seems like other organizations are taking over. It’s fairly new fighters, but when you get to the main card, those are some talented guys. There are some talented guys in Florida. The Ultimate Fighter is seeing that and taking a lot of guys from Florida now. California and Las Vegas are the Mecca for fighters but now you have Florida stepping up, and you’ve got Gracie Tampa, ATT and Franca’s gym.
MMAFightLine.com: Rumor has it that you are fighting in the spring. Do you know who your opponent is?
Arroyo: Yes, I’m going to Vegas this weekend for UFC 81, and I’m getting my body scanned for the video game. We are going to a sponsorship party where all of the fighter’s sponsors are going to be there along with Joe Silva. So, I want to really talk to him this weekend and get something in stone for the next time I’m fighting.
MMAFightLine.com: Who would you like to fight?
Arroyo: I don’t want to pinpoint anyone. If it’s going to be someone from the show, I want to fight Tommy Spear or War Machine or someone tough like that. I would rather have someone that is coming off of a win. You really have nothing to gain by fighting someone that just came off a loss. If I beat him and he was just coming off a loss, then he wasn’t tough anyway. If they beat me, then I just lost to someone coming off a loss. So I want someone who has a win. I think War Machine would be the perfect fight for me right now. War Machine – he is tough as hell. He just had a great fight and he is hot right now. Our records are pretty close; he doesn’t have a lot more experience than I do. Tommy would be a great fight stylistically. He wants to put me on my back, and I want to be there anyway. Of course, there is always Mac Danzig, but I heard he went to 155 now, so that would be tough to match up, but maybe sometime in the future. Maybe, if he starts doing poorly at 155, maybe he will come back to 170. If I could drop to 155, I would try but I’m too tall man. I’m 6 feet tall and I don’t have an ounce of fat on me, so I would be losing muscle and who knows how strong I would be the next day.
MMAFightLine.com: Is there a chance that your fight will be on the Ultimate Fight Night in Denver in April?
Arroyo: There is a chance, but I heard the card is pretty full. There are about 9 or 10 fights already. That is what I’m going to talk to Joe Silva about tomorrow night, and if he says be ready if anyone gets injured, then we will call you up and throw you in. So I need to be ready and be in shape. I’m not one of those guys that will take a fight last minute if I’m not in shape. There are a lot of guys that do it, and it works sometimes but the majority of the time if they don’t get TKOed the first few seconds they are gassing out the second round. I’m all about preparation. The next Fight Night is in May so that’s what I’m shooting for. The April Ultimate Fight Night is pretty full.
MMAFightLine.com: So right now you are on the TUF Contract not a regular UFC Contract?
Arroyo: Yeah, it’s basically the same contract they’ve had since TUF Season 1.
MMAFightLine.com: Are you locked into a certain number of fights?
Arroyo: Yeah, its 3 fights a year with an option to renew each year – 3 years and 3 fights a year. After that, you renegotiate. If you actually make it that long and you have a good manager and agent, you are probably going to get a nice contract. All those guys from TUF 1 are getting out of their contracts 3 years later. So Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin are getting nice contracts and making real money. They can fight once and make more money then most fighters can in a year.
MMAFightLine.com: Does the UFC pay for any of your expenses?
Arroyo: The ones you are fighting in – they fly you out and one corner man. They put you in a hotel, one room and two beds and $500 cash for anything you need because they fly you out 4 days early – you have to do interviews and all the public relations. Anything else is on you. When you want to go and just watch a UFC they give you 2 free tickets, which is actually worth a lot of money. The last one I went to was UFC 79 and I had front row seats. That was $1,000 a piece; they just gave me $2,000 right there. They take care of the guys they want to, and the guys they don’t want to, they don’t.
MMAFightLine.com: Who do you think are the top 5 guys in your division?
Arroyo: GSP, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra. John Fitch is looking like he is up there and maybe Kozcheck or Diego. It’s a stacked division, man.
MMAFightLine.com: Who are you picking in the GSP v. Serra fight?
Arroyo: It’s tough to say. I think they are rushing Matt Serra too quickly. I don’t think – well, I know that he is not healed. Herniated discs take more than 2 or 3 months to heal, and to start training the way he has to train to go 5 rounds with GSP – they are rushing Matt too quickly, and he is not going to be able to get in shape. If it gets past the second or third round, it’s bad news for Serra. I think Serra has the skills to beat GSP again. Everybody says it was a fluke. I talked to Matt about it a million times. This was the first fight where Ray Longo took him to different gyms in the City and he said he had over 100 rounds of sparring, stand-up and kickboxing with the best kickboxers in the area just going round after round. He never felt comfortable with the stand-up. After that, he said he was completely comfortable standing with anyone. GSP was coming in with 1 shots and Serra was coming in with combinations.
MMAFightLine.com: How does Matt Serra feel about the interim title that was awarded to GSP?
Arroyo: I think he thinks it’s bull****.
MMAFightLine.com: I think pretty much everyone thinks interim titles are bull****.
Arroyo: Yeah, its horse crap. He’s the Champ. There is no interim champ. I think it is bull**** how they are favoring GSP. I mean you can favor him and think he is going to win, but as an organization, the UFC, the first time and again, is favoring GSP and they are even putting it on in Canada like they are setting the stage for him to win, and he is not even the Champ. Matt is the Champ. They should be doing stuff like that for him. They should be looking to do it somewhere near New York or New Jersey. You know, he is the Champ. He has the belt. Every person they put up against him in TUF – they didn’t give him any chance in the world to beat them. I’ve rolled with him a bunch of times and his jiu-jitsu is amazing. It’s just phenomenal. The way he passes guard and gets position, his balance, and he is a great coach. I think his jiu-jitsu is better than GSP’s. I think his stand up is just as good. He is shorter, but he knows how to use his height to get inside and get his power shots off. If Matt Serra is healthy, I am picking him again. I think he has a mental advantage as well. He knocked the guy out his last fight.
MMAFightLine.com: Who are your favorite fighters? Who do you love to watch?
Arroyo: That is a good question. BJ Penn, without a doubt. He is good to watch. I always want to see him on the ground.
MMAFightLine.com: Who are you picking in the Anderson Silva vs. Henderson fight?
Arroyo: I’m not going to predict that one. Henderson can get caught and knocked out like that. I think if anyone can control Anderson Silva, it’s Henderson. I would give it to Henderson by decision.
MMAFightLine.com: Who do you pick: Couture or Fedor?
Arroyo: I’d give it to Couture man. I’ll never root against that guy again. Just like I said before, I think if anyone can control Fedor, it’s Couture. Who knows if that fight will ever happen. It’s going to take a good wrestler with good submission defense from the top to beat Fedor. I don’t see anybody finishing him though. I see someone beating him in a decision.
MMAFightLine.com: I heard you play a mean game of basketball. Do you have any other interests?
Arroyo: Yeah, all sports. I used to play baseball. I love basketball – one on one especially just because I have too much pride to lose to anybody. Actually, I still have to play a kid here. He is a short white dude who says he was a D-1 basketball player and you can write this – he keeps challenging me and challenging me. I think I will smash him. But he says he has been doing it his whole life, and he smashes everybody, so we are going to do it.
MMAFightLine.com: Sounds like something for You Tube.
Arroyo: Yeah (laughs).
MMAFightLine.com: Any other news you want to get out there?
Arroyo: Just the school, man. Come out for a free week. Try it out. I know you will like it and see what jiu-jitsu is all about.
MMAFightLine.com: Any sponsors you would like to plug?
Arroyo: Sprawl, MMA Warehouse, Cage Fighter, Revitalabs, and Stagr.
MMAFightLine.com: Any words for your fans?
Arroyo: Yeah, man, just keep watching. Hopefully, I’ll keep finishing people with submissions. I’m getting a lot of comments on My Space from you guys, and I appreciate it all. It’s good to see Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu being used right in the cage and the fans appreciate that, so I’ll keep doing it.
MMAFightLine.com: Thanks, I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to talk with MMAFightline.