Welterweight UFC champion Robbie Lawler and his UFC 195 challenger Carlos Condit both came on The Fighter and The Kid podcast in a truly fascinating episode. For one, the fact that both men, now training to fight one another, appeared at once, in the same physical space, is unique.
Secondly, the conversation didn't just immediately devolve into two-dimensional, pre-fight trash talk. Instead, both men showed how thoughtful they were during an engaging conversation with host Brendan Schaub.
One of the more fun topics to listen to was hearing both Lawler and Condit - having both begun MMA training as children - describe what is special to them about MMA, and how and why they got into the sport. Lawler bugged his father to let him take martial arts for awhile, before he was enrolled in tae kwon do.
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After moving to Iowa, he begun wrestling. It was at wrestling practice where a young Lawler fortuitously came into contact with MMA legend Pat Miletich.
I always enjoyed competing, sports, but there's something great about one-on-one, and not having to rely on others," Lawler said.
"When I was a sophomore in highschool, Pat Miletich brought a bunch of fighters to the wrestling room, and I said, 'hold on a second - you're telling me this is wrestling, and kicking, and punching, all rolled into one? Where can I sign up?' So, by the time I was a junior in highschool, I knew that as soon as I graduated, that's what I was going to do, and I just went full-time in 2000."
From there, Lawler found confidence while working each day with world champions, and decided that he would make his life in the sport that wasn't yet even called mixed martial arts. "I was training with the best in the world, at the time," he remembered, talking about the likes of Jens Pulver, Matt Hughes, Miletich, Tim Sylvia, Jeremy Horn, and others.
"There wasn't a lot of money involved, but you could make a living and do what you love, so I was like, I can hang with these guys, at this point. I'm young. So, let's try to learn as much as possible.' So yeah, I thought, I'm all in."
Condit got his first taste for the martial arts like many children of the 80's, and early 90's - through action movies and cartoons. Condit tried sports like baseball and soccer, but found himself drawn to what he saw Jean Claude VanDamme and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles do, on screen.
"I liked sports where you put your hands on somebody," he recounted.
Then, a nine year-old Condit watched the UFC. "I saw Royce Gracie choking people out with his gi. I was like, 'wait a minute, this is real? This is like Bloodsport, but it's the real deal.' Ever since then, watched as much UFC as I could. We would go to Blockbuster video, go to special interest section, and get these old tournament videos....it was underground, back then," he said.
After watching it on screen for years, Condit decided it was time he began training like his heroes. Like Lawler, "The Natural Born Killer" also had his big moment as a sophmore in highschool.
"I was a sophmore in highschool, looked in the phone book and said, 'you know, I want to do this. I'm wrestling, now. I see wrestlers doing well. I want to see what there is to see,'" he explained.
There, he found coach Greg Jackson, and Condit was hooked. "I wasn't even driving at the time so I had to get a ride from my dad every time I went to practice," he said with a chuckle.
"I loved it...This was it. I had all my eggs in the fighting basket."
Listen to the full episode above, or at the fine outlets below!
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