The Triangle Choke: Shamar Bailey Interview
An interview Shamar Bailey as he prepares for Saturday's fight with John Kolosci at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers
Shamar Bailey has a unique story. He doesn’t come from a rough background, he wasn’t a street fighter, and in fact he wasn’t even involved in competitive athletics until his senior year in high school. However, since given the opportunity in Mixed Martial Arts, Bailey has made the most of it. Since turning pro Bailey has compiled a 9-1 record. The devout Christian who was home schooled was recently signed by Strikeforce and will make his Strikeforce debut on November 7 on the preliminarty fight card of the CBS-televised Strikeforce: Fedor vs Rogers event. He spent some time talking about his background and the opportunity in Strikeforce with ProFighting-fans.com Editor-in-Chief Scott Dryden.
Check back with Pro Fighting Fans for the complete Strikeforce: Fedor vs Rogers results as we will be posting them in real-time on Saturday night.
SD- How are things?
SB- Things are going great. I’m in a great place to be right now.
SD- You recently signed with Strikeforce. Speak about how that came about.
SB- My name has been on the radar of both Strikeforce and the UFC. My managers have pushed my name up to the bigger organizations. I do everything for a purpose. I don’t fight local to just have a big name locally or in the Midwest. I fight with a purpose and that is to get to the next level. My manager put my name out there to Strikeforce and they seemed to jump on it quicker than the other organizations. I signed a four fight deal with them back in March I believe.
SD- Talk about your upcoming opponent John Kolosci.
SB- Kolosci is from The Ultimate Fighter Season 6. He is a tough guy. I don’ t really think he is outstanding at any technical aspect of fighting, not to take anything away from him as he is an overall tough guy. I think we are going to see a clash of styles even though we are both wrestlers. He likes to push guys against the cage and rush his opponents. We are preparing for that. Everybody has a game plan until they get hit. I have a game plan and we will see what happens when we clash.
SD- Where are you training for this fight?
SB- I’m training in Indy with Chris Lytle and Jake O’Brien. I have expanded my training to also include Golden Gloves Boxing Gym which includes boxing, muay thai but now that we are closer to the fight I’m back into the gym focusing on MMA.
SD- I have interviewed and spent time watching Roger Bowling train. He is your only defeat and also recently signed with Strikeforce. Would you like to see that rematch?
SB- I would love to. I think it will happen. I’ve got nothing against Roger; I think he is a cool guy. Not to take anything away from him as a fighter but we were both in the same cage, we were both in the same fight and we both know what happened. He rushed me and I slipped. He hit me a few times and the referee stopped it. I believe the ref stopped it too soon. I would love to see that rematch and I think he would too just to know for sure. He thinks he is the better fighter and he needs to know that. I believe I’m the better fighter and take that slip away and it would have been a different fight. We are both entitled to our opinions and hopefully we will find out soon in the cage at Strikeforce.
SD- You have an interesting background, speak about that.
SB- I grew up in a Christian home. My dad is a Pastor; he has always been an Assistant Pastor. I was home schooled for most of my life. My parents were pretty strict. They were very careful about the environments they placed us in. The focus was more on academics than athletics. They would give us assignments in the morning and we had to have them completed by the end of the day. My dad was a chemical engineer and Vice President of Operations in his company, my mom was a college professor. We grew up in a real strict, rigid structure. To be honest with you there was no real room for error. My senior year of high school I realized that although academics are important, I was born to be an athlete. I respectfully asked to go to public school to try the athletic side of me. I had one year to try my hand at wrestling and went undefeated during the regular season. I lost on the route to the state championships.
SD- Speak about your collegiate experience and the tryouts for the Olympics.
SB- Obviously my success in one year of high school fueled my hunger to compete collegiately. My dad being a pastor said I had to go to a Christian College which narrowed my choices for wrestling. I found a Christian school in Wisconsin which was coached by Ben Peterson who was a Gold Medalist. I graduated there (Marantha College) with a four year degree in Ministry. At that time my focus wasn’t on Ministry but wrestling. I was invited to the 2005 world team training camp. That is also where I met Mo Lawal for the 1st time. I trained with him and Daniel Cormier - they are both in Strikeforce now as well. Based on my performance there I was invited to train at the Olympic Training Center full time. They only have like 30 residents. I was being recruited to be the Assistant Director of the Community Outreach Program in Indianapolis, so I had to choose between the two. Being a Christian, I prayed about the decision. To me both things were very important in my life. My prayer was God, I’m going to take this position and have an impact on these kids. If you want me to be an athlete down the road then please open that door. They were saying there was an urgent need for someone to take over this position. I turned down the Olympic Training Center and worked with the kids. That is when I started training in Mixed-Martial Arts just to stay in shape.
SD- Are you still involved with the inner city youth?
SB- No, they were a non-profit organization. They promised me a salary and wanted that to be my full time vocation. They were not able to meet their financial obligations. It kind of hurt me financially to be honest with you and put me in a bad spot. I tried to stick it out for about a year but I just couldn’t pay the bills. I was eating oatmeal and eggs for every meal. Sometimes I had to choose between eating and putting gas in the car. It was a tough way to live for about a year. I finally said I couldn’t do it anymore. Fortunately the fire department was hiring and I got this blessing placed right in my lap. Three thousand people applied for forty positions and I was one of the forty chosen.
SD- I assume this is the same fire department that Chris Lytle works for?
SB- We both work for the same fire department but not the same fire house.
SD- Speak about the Strikeforce opportunity long term in the Welterweight Division.
SB- I believe this could change my life. It is a great opportunity. It is something we all work for; it is the culmination of hard work. People that have big goals in the sport do not train to have the big name in their home town. We train to gain recognition on a national stage. Strikeforce is doing great things right now and I want to etch my name there and be promoted as the fighter I am and can be down the road in this organization. That all starts on November 7th, I need to come out and make a statement; get Scott Coker and the match-makers to say hey this guy is for real. I think I bring not only skill in fighting but with my background as a firefighter and ministry can take me very far if I can do my part in the cage.
SD- How has your family taken to you fighting?
SB- (laughs) They have come into it slowly. At first I told my mother I was boxing, and then I said I was boxing and wrestling. Then they saw this special on the news about Ultimate Fighting my mom asked is that what you are doing. I was like I cannot lie that is what I’m doing. Now they watch it after they know the results. My dad has been to one fight. I’m actually getting with my sponsors to see if we can get him to this fight. He doesn’t make that much money anymore being a full time pastor.
SD- Thanks Shamar.
Photo courtesy of Roger Bowling