Guy Mezger

Guy Mezger Q&A: Early UFC and Pride Memories, Controversial Losses and ‘Running with the Wolves’

Tony Reid – You competed in some of the earliest UFC and NHB events. What were you thoughts and feelings at the time about entering the contests and what are your thoughts and feelings looking back now at that time?

Guy Mezger – “When I originally got involved with the UFC it was due to my personal frustration with my kickboxing career really going nowhere in the United States. Kickboxing was a very poor paying second job. I was ranked number one by most organizations at the time but I couldn’t get a title shot because the promoters had the sanctioning bodies in their back pockets. I was offered my first world title for $1,000. I’m not kidding. And I had to sign a four fight deal for like, $1,000. That was my frustration. Then the UFC came along and I was watching the first one and when the Hawaiian’s tooth went flying out of his mouth in the very first fight I had that ‘Holy Shit! This is real!’ thought that everybody else had. Part of me was very excited about it. I have always been a competitor and enjoyed those physical challenges. Now I fight to get out of bed without every bone in my body cracking.

“Back then it wasn’t athletes fighting athletes, it was more of a spectacle, a gimmick and considered style vs. style. It was a great marketing tool for the Gracie’s. It worked very well for them. They were looking for a kickboxer at the time. They wanted me. I was the number one ranked heavyweight kickboxer at the time. I said I would like to see what this looked like live first. They flew me out to UFC 3 to see the event live. I witnessed it and it was pretty insane. I got caught up in the moment and said I would do it. I signed the contract and I realized what I was involved in and I didn’t have a good night sleep until after UFC 4. I was thinking Holy crap, what did I sign myself up for? Many of the guys that competed back then were very delusional. They wanted to prove that their style was better than other styles. They would exaggerate their records and they would talk about how excited they were to compete. Guys would say they had 20 plus kickboxing matches and I had never heard of them. If I had never heard of you, you didn’t have 20 plus kickboxing matches back then. It was a different time. I am not one that is very delusional. I am a realist. I was thinking “Am I the only one who is actually scared to get in there?” The nice part about the old school was there was no time limit. You had to finish the guy. The fight had to finish. You knocked him out, you submitted him or you plan wore him out and he gave up. There was something very pure, in a gladiatorial sense, there was something more honest about it.

“The advantage today is that we really have some great athletes. We formed a new type of athlete. Back then it was a wrestler vs. a karate guy. Now it’s athlete against athlete. There is a mixed martial arts athlete and he is getting a tremendous amount of respect which is nice.”

Tony Reid – What would you want people to take away from the early days of the UFC and NHB?Guy Mezger

Guy Mezger – “These guys were true warriors. Every one of them. Even guys that weren’t that good. People like to make fun if Fred Ettish. That guy has balls. A lot more balls than the guys have today. There is a referee to save you now. Back then the guys went in there understanding that they were truly taking their lives into their own hands. Now some of the guys it’s obvious that it wasn’t the best decision they ever made (to step into the cage). They were warriors. They deserve a lot of respect for being pioneers. People don’t get it. You might be thinking why in the hell did this guy step into the Octagon? I was basically a full time fighter. I had an advantage. Most of the guys back then were martial arts instructors or had full time jobs. Keith Hackney owns an air conditioning business. He was just a tough son of a gun. The athletes are better today because they have the opportunity to be better today. I say they but I guess I was a part of it too. I just forget how old I am. I fought so long that I feel like a dinosaur that has made it past the prehistoric age into the much more advanced stages because I fought so long.”

Tony Reid – What is your fondest memory of your time spent in the UFC and conversely what is your worst memory of your time spent there?

Guy Mezger – “There are so many great experiences that it’s hard to pick one. I have had such a blessed career and blessed life. I enjoyed the camaraderie that we had in the early days amongst the athletes that trained together, especially with our team, the first team, The Lion’s Den. Not only that but the camaraderie with the guys from the other camps. It was a fun time. For instance Egan Inoue, we fought, I knocked him out and I saw him out and we sat down and had dinner and drinks. I like him a lot. I told him I was sorry about the knockout. We sat down and it was a cool sense of camaraderie and respect. I enjoyed that very much. I’m not in the pits anymore but I would like to hope that still exists. Your time in the sun is very short amount of time. You should enjoy it and respect it.

“The worst time was just dealing with the jackasses from Semaphore Entertainment Group. I’m a pretty smart guy. I know this business inside and out. So much so that one of the richest and most successful businessmen in the world made me the president of HD Net Fights. I kind of know what I’m doing. I would sit and talk to the guys in the early days about the sport the fact that there are no rules and that there would need to be some kind of give and take to make it work. None of those guys had ever been in the fight business. The reason I had their ear was the fact that their local promoter was a guy whose cards I fought on a lot. I was involved in a lot of the meetings because I helped him with his shows. I’m giving them free advice and they are looking at me like I’m an idiot. They were successful in other business ventures but they blew the best opportunity they could ever have with the UFC. I didn’t like the fact that they had no respect for any of the athletes whatsoever. You should have heard how they talked about the fighters behind closed doors. It would make me sick to my stomach. One of the worst things that happened was Bob Meyrowitz came up to me after UFC 5, remember there were no time limits so I would have these guys down punching them in the face and telling they should give up. I would tell them to tap out so they wouldn’t get hurt. Well he said to me “This is the last show you are going to be on if you are going to be such a pussy.” Back ‘then I was a hot head. He said ‘Asking them to give up. What kind of bullshit is that?” I said “Bob, spoken like a man who has never had the guts to get in there. You have never been in a fucking fight in your entire life.” I said ‘There are no rules out there. Every morning I have to look at myself in the mirror to shave. I’m not going to look at that man in the mirror and be ashamed of that man because I did something against my personal views. I’m not going to mutilate another man for your entertainment.’ He smirked and I said ‘And if you ever call me a pussy again there isn’t enough fucking SWAT Team members here to keep me from whooping your ass.’ Seriously you could feel the temperature in the room drop to about 30 below zero. Their nuts shriveled up to the size of peanuts, they were such pussies.

“Well Bob used to hit on my girlfriend and this is a married guy, well my girlfriend was a very wealthy woman and she looked at him laughed and said ‘Listen Bob, I’m flattered but what do I see in Guy? It’s you, the typical Long Island guy who lies and plays around too much or Guy who is Captain America.’”

Tony Reid – You fought a who’s who in NHB and MMA and you were on the short end of the stick for more than one controversial decision during your career. Do you ever let your mind go to the place where you wonder what if?

Guy Mezger – “There are a lot of my fights that I would love to have as rematches. I never felt like I was ever really handled in a fight. If I didn’t get knocked out, every single one of my matches…Chuck got me and Wanderlei got me…there was never a unanimous decision against me, ever. That doesn’t sit well with me. There were a lot of those fights I feel like I didn’t lose. I would love to have those back. Even in the knockout losses I didn’t feel like I was being handled I just got caught and that happens but there is no reason to cry about it now.

“I used to think about it but not anymore. During my career I thought about it because it (the losses) hampered my career. Look, no one looked forward to fighting me. No one said ‘I got Guy Mezger. That’s an easy match.’ When I left Pride I left with three fights on the contract. I was so tired of the bullshit after the Nogueira fight. I knocked him down three times in that fight. He landed one upkick that hit me in the nose. He tried to take me down and couldn’t and then I actually took him down. How did I lose that decision? It was a good match but I didn’t lose it. I was so frustrated with Pride and all the corruption there. As everybody knows it got really bad at the end.”

Tony Reid – Even being a huge Sakuraba fan myself it was clear as I was watching that fight that you won.

Guy Mezger – “There was just absolutely no honor in that deal. I was recovering from a kidney disorder at the time. I had not trained in three or four months. They offered me the fight and I had to say no. They came back a few weeks later and with the amount of money they offered me I would have fought any fucking human being on earth for that amount of money. That was two weeks before the fight. I trained for two weeks after a three month layoff. I was sick. I was underweight. I did three IV bags of fluid and didn’t even have to go to the bathroom one time, that’s how dehydrated I was. I got there and the agreement was one 15 minute round and they had to render a decision. If it went to a draw there was another 15 minute round. We got there and said we were doing one 15 minute round and then a decision was to be rendered. I also broke my foot in training, I had a broken foot, the flu and had really not even trained. The justification for calling a draw was that I weighed 10 kilos heavier than him. I wasn’t. I weighed in at 90 kilos and he weighed in at 85 kilos. I just wasn’t true. They were just not doing to have him lose. I get it. They wanted him to fight Royce Gracie, they wanted him to beat me the King of Pancrase. It was just done so wrong. I don’t hold it against Sakuraba but I have a bitter taste in my mouth toward Pride. That was an unsettling thing for me and I would have loved to fight Royce Gracie. I think I would have beat him, too.”

Tony Reid – Being a guy who has fought so many guys at the top of the sport, most of them in their prime, is there a fight out there that hypothetically you would love to have taken?

Guy Mezger – “I would love to fight Chuck again. He is a good guy and a great warrior. I would have beat him I just got caught. I would love to go against Jon Jones. Right now he is the quintessential MMA athlete. To be honest, even in my prime I don’t think I would have beat him. He fights a lot like I would fight but he also has a six inch reach advantage on me everywhere. It would be a miserable experience. I got into the fight game not to make a career but to challenge myself. Like I said, I never felt like I was every really handled. Now there is a guy even in my prime that would probably kick my ass and that would be Jon Jones. I would love to take that challenge. Life is too short to sit on your last win. I want to take challenges and take chances. I would rather run with the wolves. Some ran faster than me but not many.”