Fighter Spotlight: James “Dr. Jekyll” Chaney

By | October 16, 2011 at 11:56 pm | One comment | Fighter Interviews

After the success of working with Dominique “Fallen Angel” Robinson, I had the honor of communicating with his roomate, James Chaney – who is also a Pro MMA fighter, and a member of The Goon Squad! What struck me about James Chaney, besides him being roomies with Fallen Angel, is his persona; great guy who is not to be messed with in the cage; so I had to eventually reach out to him and get his story on the web as well! I hope you enjoy!

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Jason Przewoznik: James! I heard a lot about you without even knowing who you were at the time. We finally had the chance to sit down and I want to thank you for your time this evening! So without wasting anymore time, I wanted to get right into this with the usual; I’d like to know James Chaney as a person, putting fighting aside in the meantime. Tell me a little about how you grew up and a little bit of your family history.

James Chaney: My family’s history is obscure and subject to some controversy. My understanding is that they came to America from Ireland to escape the law. Pretty vague, possibly complete bullshit, but it’s what I was told. Even in the context of modern times I don’t know much about the people who precede me. That’s all just as well, I have no need for pride in the old and the dead.
I’m the second oldest of eight children in a train wreck of a divided family, four brothers and four sisters. My mother had 2 of my sisters and I very young. She was a single mother completely financially responsible for my sister and I working at a pizza parlor in a nasty little city in Oregon called Klamath Falls. The type of place where everybody seems to have just said “fuck it…” and fallen into vice. Despite all of this my mother took care of us very well, put herself through school, and became a nurse. She’s a very strong woman; I like to think I inherited her will. This is the legacy that I do know; this is where I came from.

JP: That’s very interesting! It’s great to hear stories such as this that involve single parents not only raising their children to the best of their ability, but also pushing much further in her life at such a young age. Hats off to her! My mother, though may not share a similar story, has always pushed to see me succeed and raised me on her own as well, so I appreciate hearing these kinds of things. Are you still close with your family at this time?

JC: I’m closer with some than others. I’m at least peaceable with everyone. My father and I are pretty close now. My 21 year old little sister Whitney and step brother Skyler are some of my best friends in the world. A lot of my brothers and sisters are so much younger than I, that I assume a role a little more like that of an uncle. I grew up watching them, feeding them, changing diapers, all of that kind of thing. That makes for a much different type of relationship than the one I have with Whitney and Skyler. A little more distant perhaps, but no less affectionate. For the most part I love my family a lot.

JP: That’s great! Already off to an interesting start and it’s the upbringing and mindsets like the fighters like you that has inspired me to run KnockoutLounge.com! Everyone has a story that needs to be heard, and I enjoy being the one to share that with the readers and promoters in this fight game. Let’s take a quick deep breath, haha – and move towards that direction; What inspired you to jump into the fight game as you were growing up?

JC: I saw MMA for the first time when I was fairly young. It caught my interest right away and not very many things do. I’ve never liked sports at all. They’re boring to me, additionally when I was born I had some cerebral problems that affected my motor skills so I was never much of an athlete. I dragged my feet, I struggled a lot with doing anything with my hands, and I spoke out of the corner of my mouth a lot. I could always fight though, it’s in my nature to fight, and it’s a damn good thing cause lord knows I caught a lot of shit for aforementioned cerebral issues. I loved the purity of  MMA, since I was young I always wanted to do it! When I was living in Idaho, I happened upon Trevor Prangley and Derik Cleveland’s branch of the Lion’s Den. I fought for the first time when I was 19. I didn’t intend to make MMA my life, but then I never intended to make anything my life. It’s been one of the only consistently good things in the world to me. I reached a point when I’d more or less done everything I could do in Northern Idaho. I was living a mundane life working a shit job, I was training at a place where nobody had nearly the same enthusiasm for training as I, and nobody would fight me in the area anymore. More or less on a whim I just called it;   …fuck it, quit my job, packed up, and moved to California.

JP: Even more I didn’t know about you, the condition you had growing up is also an inspiration to those involved in this sport. I’m the same way in that aspect; I was never a sports guy – I was always bored with their concepts, whether the rules or the lack of motivation to be involved in them; nothing ever caught my attention like MMA did. Now, you stated you up and left to California, is this where you met Dominique Robinson (Fallen Angel) ? Care to share how you guys met and became roomates?

JC: Dominique and I met in training at some shitty little Jiu Jitsu school I won’t even mention the name of. I was surprised at how well we got along. From the outside he and I couldn’t be more different, virtually everything on the outside is a stark contrast. Despite that on the exact opposite side of the country he grew up poor watching the same cartoons, playing with the same toys, and developing the same views. I grew up around people who looked and talked like me and I can’t relate to or get along with hardly any of them. Dominique invited me to live in his home when I was in a shitty spot down on my luck a bit. He said to me once “Whatever we do in this sport, we do together” and since that day we always have. For a long time it was just James and Dominique versus the world. We shouldn’t have had the success we did with such Spartan training conditions, but we pulled it off! Dominique is my brother, we have a rare synergy and we’ve become family. His victories are mine and mine are his.

JP: That’s awesome man! The both of you have such strong minds aside from the MMA life, and to bond as well as you did as a brotherhood where you got eachother’s backs through the ups and downs of the sport and life in general is definitely a good look! You two have GREAT records, great persona, and though your mentalities may be ‘frowned’ upon, you’re about as real as it can get and hold nothing back! I love it! Now, the two of you are involved with the Goon Squad; I’ve asked Dom about this, but I’m going to ask you, your side of things; What is The Goon Squad to you?

JC: The Goonsquad is more a brotherhood than anything else! It’s us guys out there that don’t have the advantages of a great team to train with, but with our limited means go out there and do people in anyway. Thankfully now Dominique and I train with Kirian Fitzgibbons and all of the great people at the Combat Sports Academy in Dublin, California. The Goon days of sparring, doing DVDs, and holding Thai pad in the daycare of the local fitness club are thankfully for the most part behind us. Those times taught me a lot though. After doing that for so long by comparison going to a place like the CSA is incredible. The facility is beautiful and the coaches are extremely good and help everyone. I’m grateful to have access to such incredible training and Dominique and I are both getting better every day. The Goon days are special though. With just me and our friend Tomas Fierro training him, Dominique completely dismantled John Gunderson and David Kaplan. These memories are some of my favorite. We had nothing, but each other and with my help he still managed to destroy these people.

JP: Nice man! Nice! Same way he laid it out is how you did. It’s a family who came up in rough times and really pushed your true potential out through the strong bonds you shared. I’ve said this a lot through your two interviews, but VERY INSPIRING!! …I got to head in this direction and ask it, Dr. Jekyll, what’s the concept behind that nickname. I know Dominique had a great story behind is, and I’m sure you have a message behind yours! What inspired your name?

JC: Dr. Jekyll… Trevor Prangley gave to me after my first fight. I’m kind of soft spoken, I’m baby faced, and maybe I don’t look like much of a fighter. My first fight I went out from and brutalized my opponent. I threw and took bombs, I slammed him all over the place, and I broke his arm in the second round. No one expected that kind of aggression from me. Also my hair is crazy as all hell. Coincidently, apparently I’m related to the old actor Lon Chaney who I understand played Dr. Jekyll a long time ago.

JP: Haha, it’s the crazy hair man! Again, wasn’t surprised you had a story there! The brutal babyface, Dr. Jekyll!! Being ‘apparently related to the actor who actually PLAYED Dr. Jekyll is pretty interesting, too! It’s in your blood, but you’re not just an ACT, you’re a pretty intense fighter after watching your fights – you don’t give up! You mentioned the DVDs prior when talking about the Goon Squad, Dominque mentioned them as well, am I understanding correctly that that’s where you both got your ‘start’ in training?

JC: I trained Jiu Jitsu at the Lion’s Den a few years, but yeah striking until recently, I developed on my own. Me and Dom mainly just sparred and studies DVDs together, until recently…

JP: Nice man, as mentioned before as well, I followed DVDs too, mainly boxing – I’ve never actually signed up for a gym, though it’s in my near future plans, it’s crazy how much you can learn from a video! …Now, I was browsing Sherdog while doing my homework on you and seen your record is 4-1, is this correct? Is this your pro record?

JC: 4-1 is my Pro record…9-1 is my Amatuer record.

JP: That’s a great record in both cases! You and Dom are BEASTS!! (Haha). Where do you train now? What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses in the fight game? I’m sorry about this, but we first communicated when I watched the video of your fight [in which you won], when the guy ‘stepped on your face’ – I don’t know why I laughed so hard, but that’s when we first had communicated via facebook…just figured I’d throw that out there, haha…

JC: Haha. I train at Combat Sports Academy under Kirian Fitzgibbons. Also, I laugh every time I see my face get stomped every single time I win, something super fucked up has to happen to me first (LMAO!). My strengths in a nutshell.. I’ve got solid Jiu Jitsu, an iron head, and a mountain of moxy. My weaknesses… I use my iron chin way too much, I’m unfocused, and I do no strength training.

JP: Very good qualities, though! The focus and any of your other flaws you’ve mentioned do not seem to show too well with your record, but on paper it’s great you can pin-point what you can correct when you’re in the cage! Many fighters think they’re the best without any flaws, or even put themselves down too much, you keep a great balance! In your fight experiences, do you have any memorable fights, dissapointments, or glory fights you’d like to share?

JC: Every one of my fights are memorable, at the very least all end dramatically. Lets see though, a memorable one… I fought for a title up in weight at 190, the dude cut from 210 or something crazy like that while I was 177 in a leather jacket, jeans, and a pair of boots… Fight starts, straight off the bat the dudes absolutely fucking tearing me to pieces. I’m a mess; a cut under both my eyes, cut on the bridge of my nose, and I can feel a chunk of tooth in my mouth.. 10 seconds left in the round I’ve got him in a mounted armbar my corner screams to me “HAMMER THE FACE”; I looked my corner man in the eye and spat my tooth in his face. To this day I don’t know why I did that… I pounded 3 or 4 times and dude survives the round. Second round he’s still throwing heat, I double him over with two hooks to the body, slam him, and finish with the rear naked choke. I looked like some horror movie shit after the fight was over, it was probably my best come from behind victory.

JP: Haha, that’s crazy man! But, also proves your nickname defines your fight-persona! Ruthless! Where are you at now in your career, man? Do you have any upcoming fights, or future goals that you’d like to share with us?

JC: I’ve got a fight coming up on November 5th in the Sacramento area at the Thunder Valley Casino. Word is if I rack up a nice little 6 or 7 fight win streak, I get a shot in the UFC. My career is finally starting to look pretty hopeful! I’ve got a great team in CSA and great management in Phenom Marketing and management. Ricky Vazquez and Tim Carrier have put me in a position where I get to fight about as much as I want to fight, which is an unbelievable change in circumstances. Before going through them finding a fight was almost impossible. I’m very grateful, out of the blue everything took a big 180!

JP: Thats awesome!!! I faintly communicated with Ricky at Phenom… He has a great roster and seems to know what hes doing!! …Potentially landing a shot at the UFC is great, as well! …I hope that word is the truth; it would be great to see you when the UFC robs me to watch the fights! Now, your fight November 5th, who is your opponents and how confident are you coming into this fight? ..Also what’s your current win-streak at now?

JC: I’m coming off just a single win, the fight is at the Thunder Valley Casino, near Roseville. Its kind of close to home, which is a nice change. The opponent is Billy Carothers, he’s 2-4. It’s a really ugly record, but the kid’s better than his record makes him look! He’s fought nothing but tough people! That having been said I don’t expect a lot of trouble from him, with a fight like this you just gotta try and look impressive!

JP: Very true! Well, I hope you take the win!! Matter of fact.. I KNOW you’ll take it!! …and the next 4-5!! I dont want to take too much more of your time, but we will definitely be in contact post fight!! I need to ask our trademark question before I wrap it up, though! Who is your favorite super hero and why??

JC: Favorite super hero would probably be Spawn, that’s a tough one though I like a lot of super heroes.

JP: Nice! Michael Jai White was my hero when he played in that movie! The comic books and action figures were all over my room when I was a kid!  Why is he your favorite, though?

JC: I like Spawn. He was a government assassin who was betrayed and murdered and came back from hell to fuck shit up as part of a deal to see his wife again. Its super dark, the artwork is awesome, and the characters are awesome, I dig it.

JP: Completely agree my man! …Thanks for answering that one! Haha. Do you have anyone you’d like to give a shout out to, or any special thanks before I let you go?

JC: Huge thanks to Tri and Dominique, without them I would never make it in this game! They’re with me making it happen every day. I’m lucky to have such great people in my life!
Kirian Fitzgibbons and all the great people at CSA are a Godsend they’ve reinvigorated my enthusiasm in the game and I’m happier in everyday life knowing that I get to train at an incredible school. Ricky Vazquez and Tim Carrier of Phenom management for giving this fiscal mistress of mine the potential to one day be a legitimate career. Frankie at the UGC and Brant Wilson who made a cool ass shirt for me a little while ago, check them out at  http://theundergroundclown.com/. Jon Motsenbocker at www.Cageradio.com who was cool enough to give me a blog spot on his site. My cutman Phil Mondello, Madbeatings, Doctor Dan at Main street chiropractic, Doctor Larry Callaway at The Specific, El Bastardo, Klutch.

And by request of one Joe ‘Suds’ paul a shout out to the whole #sugararmy @BIGBILBAR7MMA@joesuds@leash_b@briNOLA (she goes by Sugar Tits in real life, I honestly have no idea what her real name is), @nolegirl151@Kyle_Chris_MMA@trevlocks, and @thomasj92 !

JP: Haha, Sugar Tits. Classic. Great man, thank you for your time! Definitely lucky to be surrounded by such great people and I wish you the best of successes. With approval of Phenom, I will definitely be in touch with you for a post fight interview after November 5th, and if there’s anything else you’d like to get off your chest, you know how to reach me!

 

Jason Przewoznik is the owner of KnockoutLounge.com. KnockoutLounge.com was created to provide a haven for up and coming Mixed Martial Artists to share their stories and their careers with the fans; Supporting ALL fighters on the rise in a not-for-profit community.
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One Comment

  1. Sabrina S. (5 years ago)

    Great interview — but James neglected to mention that his other nickname, aside from Dr Jekyll, is Sugar Lips.

    Love, Sugar Tits

Comments → Sabrina S.

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