Not sure if we’re finally getting some love or all our stalking has paid off, but we’ve had the opportunity to speak with yet another StrikeForce vet, Bobby Southworth. A man who has been around plenty of MMA circuits and not only is he bad ass, but a very well-spoken and nice guy! Let’s get right down to it;
Jason Przewoznik: I want to start by touching base with Bobby Southworth as a human being, and not a fighter, so let’s lay some groundwork; Who is Bobby Southworth? Where were you born and raised? What led to your passion to fighting in the sport of MMA?
Bobby Southworth: Bobby Southworth is a regular guy, like anyone. I was born in Madison, WI, but I grew up in Santa Cruz, CA. Grew up playing basketball, football, and hanging out at the beach surfing. ….I used to love watching Kung Fu movies and always wanted to do Martial Arts. My parents are pacifists, so that wasn’t going to happen. When I was 26 my friend showed me a tape of the first UFC. I was hooked on Royce Gracie, and it just so happened that Cesar Gracie had an academy nearby. I started training in BJJ and fighting just kind of found me.
JP: Interesting, you mentioned BJJ as your start – Is that what you’d say is your discipline or major fighting style? What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses as a fighter?
BS: My main style is definitely BJJ. However early in my training I realized that the game was evolving and I would need to incorporate striking into my skill set. That’s “basically” how I ended up at AKA with Javier Mendez.
JP: So you ended up with AKA, a very well known Striking Academy – especially with Reigning Heavyweight Champ – Cain Velasquez coming from them [who is by far one of the most feared strikers in the game]. What was that like; Moving from a technical fighter to developing a well-rounded striking game as well?
BS: Working with Javier was a great experience for me, in many ways. I had basically no striking experience. He took me from nothing to the North California Golden Gloves Finals in a matter of months. Also, coming to AKA where there was basically no BJJ program at the time, and running a program for 5 years gave me ALOT of teaching experience; In boxing and kickboxing as well. I trained over 60 champions from white to purple belt in my time as Head BJJ Instructor there. Teaching is really my first love. The only reason I started fighting was because I wanted to teach BJJ. I wasn’t a Black Belt, Gracie, or even Brazilian. I had worked for the Gracies for several years. I started fighting to show people that I had legitimate fighting skills. The rest kind of snowballed as MMA’S popularity grew, and that wasn’t until 10 yrs after I started teaching/training… and 6 yrs after I started fighting at just under 30 yrs of age.
JP: Nice, MMA is all about being well-rounded, which you’ve accomplished in a fairly short amount of time! Now on to the good stuff. I noticed you’ve been shuffling around through various MMA circuits including PRIDE, UFC (TUF), and StrikeForce — what would you say was your greatest experience? Which circuit allowed you to let loose as a fighter?
BS: I’ve fought for a lot of different promotions. I’d have to say fighting in PRIDE 13 was definitely a high point. Not from the accomplishment (as I lost), but from the glamour!! There’s nothing like fighting in Japan in front of 35,000 people; With great names like Igor V., Sakuraba, Hendo, Renzo Gracie, and Wanderlei Silva on the card. ….In terms of accomplishment, I would have to say winning the STRIKEFORCE Light Heavy Weight World Title over Vernon “Tiger” White and defending that title were a great experience. I think STRIKEFORCE really allowed me to let loose as a fighter.
JP: Fascinating that you’ve been to all the TOP promotions – must be really exciting. I gotta say, after watching the video from your fight with Irvin (link to fight) – besides the fact of him falling from the cage to an immediate injury – it was pretty funny. What are your thoughts on that NC decision and that fight in general?
BS: The Irvin fight was an unfortunate situation for both of us. First he came in 6 lbs overweight and couldn’t make the cut. Then the pin had been left out of the cage door and when I pushed him into the cage, we both fell out. I didn’t agree with the NC ruling. I had hurt James with a big left hook, and on the take-down his weight was on his right leg. He claimed injury to the left. He was asked if he could continue and chose not to. I felt I should have been given the Win. His injuries were a result of my offense “Inside The Cage”, though CSAC rules state different. So, it was unfortunate financially for me, and physically for him with the injury.
JP: That IS a shame. It’s all about experience, though and the rules of the game can always be shifty at times. Though, moving on to a more positive aspect; Where are you now? What are your goals for the future in MMA?
BS: I relocated to San Antonio a little over a year ago with my girlfriend and newborn daughter. I’ve just opened the first AKA outside of California here and it’s going well.
…As for my future in MMA, its difficult to say. I train regularly and spar with UFC vets, Pete Spratt and Aaron Rosa. There are also pro boxers I train with here as well. I JUST CAN’T SEEM TO GET FIGHTS. I did have a decent offer from MFC a year ago. I am the full-time caregiver for my little girl, and the timing just wasn’t right. So, the deal didn’t work. IF there are promoters out there, I’M ALWAYS DOWN TO FIGHT!!
JP: Well, hard work and some more public relations; we hope to see a change in that! I’m sure Knockout Lounge well do the best we can to push that word out as well! I will have to ask this one, does being your age have any faults in the MMA world?
BS: I’m not sure if my age is a factor for me, it may be for promoters. I think we’ve seen a lot of fighters in MMA compete well past their “prime” years. In my opinion its “Consistency of Training” that lets this happen. MMA doesn’t have a “season” and the older fighters who are having success train consistently. They may back of the intensity, but they are definitely in the gym. I’m one of those guys. Always training. Whether its with my students, other MMA fighters, boxers, or putting in road work and S&C. I do my best to stay sharp.
JP: Fair enough, great way to look at things!! Do you think starting ‘late’ hindered your progress as a fighter at all?
BS: I don’t think that starting “late” has had any effect on my career. I’ve fought on the biggest stages and in front of some of the biggest crowds. But, I definitely feel the “late” start of MMA’S popularity has effected me. If it had been more popular earlier in my career, I think the financial rewards would have been greater. There just wasn’t much money in the game back in the day.
JP: That’s true, another good point. Now, as a fighter for the past few years, what would you say are some of your greatest highlights? Who was your toughest opponent? Do you have any favorite fights of yours?
BS: I’d have to say my best known highlight is the Season 1 KO of Lodune Sincaid, after that hellish weight-cut. It’s probably my favorite as well. I think the best and the toughest fighters I’ve faced would be a toss-up between Belfort and Babalu. My favorite fights would be defending my IFC LHW Title by TKO’ing Floyd Sword and DEFINITELY winning the STRIKEFORCE LHW Title by grinding out Vernon “Tiger” White in a dominant 5 round performance
JP: Must’ve been a great opportunity to be the first to take on the vacant LHW Title!! Speaking of Titles and ‘commercial’ MMA – who is your favorite UFC fighter? Why? Is there anyone you look up in the UFC? Is there any fighter you would love to have a shot against? Why (Dislike? A good challenge?)
BS: Picking my favorite UFC fighter is a tough one as there are many, for different reasons. For work ethic and just plain mental toughness I’d have to go with my teammates Jon Fitch and Cain Velazquez. Cain is up there for God given ability along with BJ Penn. I’ve never seen 2 people assimilate and incorporate the different aspects of MMA as well or as FAST as these 2. For grit and no quit mindsets I give it to Chris Leben and Chris Lytle. For being the vanguard of MMA’S future Bones Jones. For dynamics.. Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. For being the definition of the words Warrior/Gladiator.. Dan Henderson. And of the course for accomplishments and class.. Randy Couture. This sport is so dynamic, exciting, and constantly evolving, it’s hard to settle on one fighter. At Least For Me.
JP: I’ve never seen someone break it down like that especially with me agreeing with all you’ve said! Got to LOVE the respect given to fighters who really deserve it, especially my favorite fighter of all time, Randy Couture for all of his accomplishments.
BS: ….As for who I’d like to fight, I’m in no position to call out anyone for any reason. I’m only one fight removed from being STRIKEFORCE LHW World Champion and the only man to ever defend that belt. But my current relevance in the game is questionable. That being said I’d like to fight the best competition I can, for the challenge, and to regain relevance in this game!!
JP: I hope to see things pick back up for you! Now, I have to throw this one in there as it became a trademark question for our website thanks to our writer Craig Nelson – Who is your favorite superhero and why?
BS: I was a big comic book collector for a long time. Two of my favorite heroes (and there were many) were…..
…. Batman and Daredevil. For the same reasons; They were normal guys who used hard work and smart minds to become “Super”. They were always down to fight and you just couldn’t break them… They’d always get up and come back for more until the fight was won!
JP: I’ve always argued with my writer, Matt about Batman not being a superhero. When it’s put in that perspective, I guess I could completely see his side! What a great way to lay that down! You seem like a very down-to-Earth person with a lot of fight and respect in you. I hope to see your career pick itself back up and get you back in the cage!! Now, you’ve stated you’re looking for sponsors/promoters – Are you looking to fight anywhere? Stay Local?
BS: I’m still looking for fights. I feel like I’m still improving as a fighter and can hang with the young up n comers. I’ll fight anywhere. It doesnt’ have to be the biggest venue. I just want to compete. I still have that fire… Ya know.
JP: Great, we will see where we can push this around to get it recognized and hopefully get things rolling again. Last question I got to throw out there is; Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout-out or any special thanks to?
BS: I’d definitely like to give a shout out to Pete Spratt and Rodrigo Pinheiro. Since moving to San Antonio they’ve been great to me. I needed a place to train. They opened the doors of the gym to me, and it’s been very instrumental in helping me stay in shape.
Also, I’d like to give a shout out to to Integrative Martial Arts. I’ve opened the first ever American Kickboxing Academy outside of California, and its inside the facility at 12066 Starcrest Suite 200 San Antonio,TX 78247.
JP: Awesome! Well, Bobby – It was a GREAT pleasure speaking to you and letting the fans, promoters, and everyone else know who you are and your background. I hope to see you get back in the cage and wish you the greatest of success! I’d also like to thank Kelly Reilly for pushing me to contact you.
Note to promoters: If there’s any interest in having Southworth Fight for a card, please email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit zinkin.tv.