LOWKICK’N WITH AARON WETHERSPOON
Last year in August, I attended the King Of The Cage “Rapid Fire” show at the Soboba Casino. I had been watching Thomas Kenney fight for a few years and was a fan of his and was really looking forward to seeing Thomas getting a shot at the KOTC Welterweight title. He was facing a pretty tough guy that I didn’t know much about other than he had a really exiting fight against Jeremiah Metcalf two months earlier. Needless to say after the fight with Thomas Kenney was over (finishing Thomas off with several knees that eventually knocked him out), I knew who he was… the new KOTC Welterweight Champion! Not only did Aaron win a new championship belt that night, but he won over an arena full of fans.
After the fight at Rapid Fire, Aaron took a few months off, and returned at KOTC Destroyer in December of 2006, taking Dave Terrel to a unanimous decision after 3 rounds. After that fight, it seemed like I couldn’t attend a King Of The Cage event, where Aaron wasn’t fighting. After Destroyer in December, Aaron had three more fights over the next six months, making quick work of Bryson Kamaka with an eleven second TKO at Caged Chaos in March. He showed us that he has a good ground game as well, submitting LaVerne Clark in the first round at Sinnister in April, and then losing a close decision to Mike Pyle in June. A lot of us were surprised at the loss and wondered if fighting so often had taken its toll.
He was scheduled to fight again at the end of July at KOTC Undisputed with a rematch against Jeremiah Metcalf to unify the Gladiator Challenge and King Of The Cage Welterweight belts. But two days before the event, the doctors would not clear Aaron to fight, and the fight was off. Now we knew that something was wrong, and he was going to have to take some time off to recover.
So I gave Aaron a call and asked for an interview, wondering if I’m going to be interviewing a fighter who is considering retirement, or someone who let the injury get to him. What I got was a fighter who is more dedicated, focused, and determined to be the best fighter at 170 pounds in the world! So with all that said, let’s catch up with King Of The Cage Welterweight Champion, Aaron “Slam” Wetherspoon.
ML: How have things been going since we last saw you in June?
AW: Everything’s all good now. I’ve had some injuries that I knew were somewhat bad, and I let them go a little bit too long, longer than what I anticipated, and they got worse and forced me to take some time off, and the time off has been excellent. I was fighting a lot more often than what I should have been. So I’ve been focusing on the little things that have stopped me from taking my game to the next level. I think when people see me again, they’re going to notice that my game has stepped up again. Sometimes people forget that I’ve only been at this for two years and I’m just barely getting comfortable being in the cage and using a lot of things that I do use in practice now. I’m a lot more comfortable with them, so if people thought I was exiting back then, I’m going to be doing a lot more things now.
ML: But in those two years, you’ve accomplished a lot. You’ve become King Of The Cage Welterweight Champion, and collected a record of 8 wins and 2 losses…
AW: I think my last fight (against Mike Pyle) more than anything matured me. Under the conditions, now that we know there was something wrong, besides that, fighting someone that was at that level, it matured me as a fighter. It was a good thing that it happened, although, with the situation, I didn’t like my performance that I put out there. But I still went out there and fought to the best of my ability at that point of time, and just got beat by the better man. But if anything, it matured me. It matured me and it made me take leaps and bounds. Sometimes I’m a hard head, sometimes something has to happen to me for me to get that respect. I was fighting so much that I was going into fights and just wanting to get them over with, as opposed to being exited about it. Now I’ve had some time off, I’m exited to get back in there, I’m exited to shut the naysayer’s up. I know there’s a lot of talk that’s going on and to me it’s like, this is a great opportunity for me because I’m falling in love with training again.
Now it’s like I’m not worried about getting ready for somebody, now I can fill in a lot of holes in my game that I’ve seen, and people are going to see a whole different aspect of me. The next time you guys see me, you’ll know I’m ready for the next level. A lot of things I’ve been working on, I’m getting a lot more comfortable. I’m looking forward to displaying a lot of things I’ve been working on.
ML: When do you get to go back to training full time?
AW: We don’t know yet. The doctors say that I’m making excellent progress because of the shape I’m in, and the shape I always keep myself in, I’m healing faster than they anticipated. They don’t want to rush it, but at the same time, I’m working on all the things I should have been working on. You know, things I’m forced to work on because it’s all I get to do now is the little things. I don’t get to do a lot of things that are my characteristic, but it’s like working on my technique a lot more, making things cleaner, crisper. Foot work is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and I’m working with a new guy on my foot work, just not coming straight in, but coming in at different angles, attacking using my strength and me being small as an asset. A lot of people are taller than me, which I have the cardio to keep moving and provide a lot more offense than I have been doing. Now I’m a little bit more confident in my ability, so things are going to be a lot more different now.
I feel like I’ve fought under some rough conditions, that people don’t know about, that I don’t bring to the table. I don’t mention things when I’m winning, so I don’t mention things when I’m hurt. I just know that under the conditions, I perform pretty well. Now I’m looking forward to getting out there and doing it again. I’m missing it a lot, and that’s the thing, I miss it, I’m exited to get back in there. I can’t wait to fight again!
ML: You’ve had what, five fights in the last year?
AW: Yeah, I’ve already had five fights in the last year, and it’s obvious that I got burned out a little bit, to a certain degree, but I love it so much! I know it was a rookie mistake and people are saying you need more experience, you need more experience. So, you know, so rushing the fights was something I wanted to do, but I won’t be doing anymore. I’m going to take my time in between fights and focusing a lot more on training and becoming a complete fighter. Not only that but doing what I know I’m capable of doing. Go out there and lay everything on the line. Now I’m getting more confident in things I’m working on, and the other aspects of my game that people haven’t seen that only make my striking better.
I’m a striker and I love KO’s and that’s my thing. And now I’m working on taking them out of position in order to provide more KO’s and stuff like that. I’m in love with all of the things that I’m working on. I’m working on all the bad things that I didn’t want to work on in that point of time. So, it’s like now, I’m going to start taking a little more time in between my fights just so I can get a little bit of rest, work on a lot of other things, and build that excitement so that I’m exited. The last time I was really, really exited for a fight was Thomas Kenney. There was a lot of build up to get ready for that. I think my fight with ProElite, I was exited, but I didn’t get exited until I got there. When I got there is when I realized it was a really, really big deal. It wasn’t just another fight, ‘cause I had just fought a month before that. I just don’t think I gave myself a fair chance to get exited for that fight, and you can’t do that against somebody, a ten year veteran that has the experience that he has. He’s a great fighter, and it shows that he beat me with a great game plan.
It wasn’t a physical thing, he was an extremely smart fighter, and that’s something that really, really impressed me. Sometimes at this level you don’t see that, you know, there were a couple of times where I did rock him and he stayed composed, and he stayed in his game plan and you don’t see a lot of that at this level. If I hit somebody, I know when they’re hurt. That was just one of those things, where you get in there with somebody that’s mature in the game, a ten year vet, and that’s maturity, and I’m looking to mature so that I can display everything I know I’m capable of doing.
ML: Is that a rematch you would like?
AW: Oh definitely. Oh definitely. I honestly feel that I’m preparing myself to be one of the best welterweights in the world. And before everything when you start, it’s just up in the air, you hear people talking you’re this and that, and I’ve never looked at it like that. Now I’m getting a lot more comfortable, a lot more confident in my ability to say, hey, the next year and a half I’m going to be one of the top, if not the top Welterweights in the world. I’m willing to work on a lot of other things that I wasn’t willing to work on before. And now it’s like, you know, you need those types of things. I’m hard headed, and sometimes I don’t do things the way they should be done, and that stuff happens, it helps me redirect and get refocused on the things I need to.
I mean the biggest thing with a lot of people is when they fall off, can they get back up? But I know what happens when I fall, I have no problem getting back up, and I always end up being better than I was. So it’s provided that focus for me. I feel like I am one of the best Welterweights in the world, so eventually our paths are going to cross again, definitely. It’s not one of those things where I’m sleeping at night and I keep tossing and turning. I think eventually if he is what he thinks he is, and I am what I think I am, our paths are going to cross again, and the outcome will be different.
ML: What would you like your first match back to be?
AW: I think if anything, I owe Jeremiah a rematch. I’ve beat him and we’ve talked before, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. It’s very unfortunate what happened to him. I hear down the line that he and another guy from Gladiator Challenge are going to fight for the belt and he’ll get a chance to get his belt back. But I promised him a crack at the Welterweight belt and I want to give it to him, and I think it would be great for the fans to see it. I’m not in the business of picking my opponent, and the best thing with King Of The Cage and me being King Of The Cage Welterweight Champion, is that I don’t pick my opponents. And Terry knows, I’ve never said no to any opponents.
I mean, you give me a name and the proper amount of time to get ready for him, and I’ll lay it on the line. I’m not one to protect my belt. I want to bring legitimacy to my title. I want people to look at my resume and say, well he’s fought everybody. I’ve always welcomed any challenge, anybody that want’s a shot at the Welterweight belt. I have a lot of associates in the business, but at the same time, it’s a business, and my business is being the absolute best and challenging myself. One thing that I do realize about myself, and a lot of it’s mentally, but I always get up for bigger fights, when I feel that I’m threatened. I remember when I was going to fight Bryson Kamaka, despite his record, a lot of people are saying if you get this guy started, you know I’ve seen that fight against Thomas Kenney, and I saw what he could do, and I got exited for that fight, and I looked forward to that fight. He was a threat. Thomas Kenney was a really, really big threat. It was one of those things where I took him extremely serious. Now it’s like you can’t take any breaks. Nowadays, everybody’s looking to display their skills, or looking for the upsets, so you have to be on your game constantly.
You can’t take a day off, and I’ve been guilty of doing certain things like that. And a lot of it’s not having an appreciation of the sport or the game you’re in, and being away from it is something that I needed. I have an appreciation for the sport, I feel like this is a gift. The situation that I’m in, despite I feel that I’ve earned it, but it’s still a tremendous gift that can be taken away if I’m not willing to put myself out there. I want to be a fighting champion. I don’t want to be somebody that, you know, holds the belt for years, but the people that he’s been fighting, people are like, what’s going on here? If anything, Terry shouldn’t have a hard time, you know as long as there’s people out there that want to fight me, I’m going to say yes. I know down the line, I’m going to rematch Jeremiah Metcalf. It’s very unfortunate what happened to him and I’m going to give him his fair chance at coming after the belt, whenever that happens. I feel that I’m in a position now where I’m extremely confident, and there’s not one that can compete with me.
ML: Now that you’ve had some down time so to speak, what have you been doing, now that you can’t train full time?
AW: Honestly, becoming a lot smarter, thinking, preparing myself, because there’s a lot of things you want to do in the cage, but if you don’t prepare your self for that, and not only that, but seriously, seriously getting back to the grappling aspect of my game. I’m from Iowa, so I have a grappling aspect, but I’ve spent the last couple of years just focusing on my striking and getting it there. And I think now it’s getting to the point, although I haven’t really exhibited my striking the way it could be, and people are going to be seeing a lot more now. Also incorporating everything, not just being one dimensional and everything else, but becoming a threat in every position that I am possibly in. The conditioning to follow what I feel I can do, because I’m constantly on the attack. I think the best defense is offense. I have a great chin, and I stay in great shape. Now I’m starting to display a lot of different skills, and not being so one minded about what I’m doing and mixing things up and doing things to progress the fight.
I don’t want to be one sided and say, ok I’m just going to stand and bang. Because a smart person isn’t necessarily going to do that all the time, and I understand that. Sometimes, the ego gets the best of the fighter, but there are some people out there that are extremely smart with their approach to the game. Mike Pyle was one of them, and he took me off of my game with the way that he thought and he stayed with his game, and that was extremely smart of him. I didn’t mix things up and I made it easy for him to defend me because I wasn’t using my kicks, just my punches. I was just going straight out punching him. When I felt I had connected a couple of times, and I felt like I was close, I got a little bit gun happy. I love to swing it out, I love to brawl, I love to go out there and do that, but you have to be smarter. You have to be able to think a lot more, and become a thinking fighter, and not having anybody matching wits with me. Out thinking them and always keeping them on the defense.
ML: What’s your background in fighting?
AW: It was basically on accident. I was just getting out of body building and power lifting, and I was looking for other things that interested me. There was a guy that was doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and he was always going to the gym, and he knew I had a wrestling background because I was from Iowa. But I was really big at the time and I was coming down from power lifting and I was about 220 at that time but I could still move. So I went into his class and I still had a little bit of it. My conditioning wasn’t where it needed to be, but I was still rolling and everything else and he invited me to come back. The first move I learned was an arm bar and I was just taken away by that. But I was still leaning more towards the striking aspect of it. When they said that a fight was coming up, I wanted to know if this stuff was really going to work and there was only one way to really test it, and that was just to fight.
I don’t think I really gained an appreciation of the sport because my first fight was 0:45 and the next was at 0:39. Then I had my first fight for King Of The Cage and I ended up loosing. And I was still doing a lot of the things I was doing, I just got out of a marriage, I was 23, and I was still out partying. This wasn’t something that I knew I wanted to do, I was just like whatever. I didn’t have an appreciation for the sport because I had two fights and they were over pretty quick, but then I lost my first fight, and I didn’t want to feel that feeling anymore. And I said from now on, if I lose, it’s not going to be because I wasn’t prepared or because I didn’t train.
When you go against somebody that tough and can handle a barrage, which is basically what happened in the fight. And he’s been through that before, you know that element. It got to that point where I wasn’t training like a fighter, and I enjoyed that feeling in the ring, but I never want to feel the feeling of a loss again. From that point forward, I went on a six fight win streak.
When I went to No Limits and found Colin Oyama, that’s when things basically changed. He’s formed me into a much better fighter. I don’t think I appreciated my first coach that I had, and he tried. I was athletic, but I just wasn’t into the Jiu Jitsu thing. I was sick of grappling, I wanted to learn more striking, and I was kind of gravitating towards that. Once I lost and found Coach Oyama and No Limits, they basically changed me. I think I’ve made a lot of progress over the last couple of years because of them. I’ve been an obedient student, but they’ve all had a pivotal role in helping me as a fighter, and now I’m just getting it. I think because of my athletic background, I was able to conform to a lot of things that they teach you. Now I’m starting to eat like a fighter and train like a fighter, not just an athlete.
ML: Have you ever thought about dropping down or going up in weight class?
AW: With what’s going on right now, my diet has to be super clean, and I’m doing my best to clean it up. I can say I don’t have the best eating habits that most people have. I’m blessed genetically, because I have a lot of muscle and I eat pretty clean, but coming from a body building background, I didn’t want to conform to eating clean like I was used to. People don’t realize how clean you have to eat as body builders. I was eating brown rice and chicken, fish, and everything else, and I didn’t want to go back to that. I wanted to eat my burgers, my burritos, a protein shake here and there. Now I have to back to eating really, really clean, and my body’s losing a lot more body fat than what I was expecting. Right now I’m maintaining about 6% body fat and I’m still coming down. Depending on how I feel, I know for now, I will be a light Welterweight but I may make my way down to Lightweight.
It all depends, I have some things I want to work on and the game moves so much faster there, it’s ridiculous. You think I’m fast? It’s something that we’ve talked about, and I think right now I’m strong enough and fast enough to compete with the Welterweights. It’s all up in the air, because me, honestly, I don’t like cutting weight. I think with the diet that I have right now and with the strength that I have, I can always compete in the Welterweight division. I think a lot of people say, what about the height? I think a lot of fighters in MMA don’t use height to an advantage, they really don’t use the jab, or they don’t use other things to nullify that. If I’ve ever looked bad against a taller guy, it’s always been my fault and because I didn’t listen to my coach, and I didn’t move enough. I think a lot of it is movement.
I’ve always been used to fighting taller people. They give me a much bigger object to look at or to face, as opposed to somebody that’s little that I have to chase. I haven’t used a lot of my weapons I have to nullify the tall people’s strengths, which you will see when I come back. I’m a lot more comfortable in different positions and aspects of the game now, and people are going to see a huge change in my game, and I’m exited about it!
ML: When can the King Of The Cage fans expect to see you next?
AW: I have one more trip to the doctors, and then after that, I’m going to take six to eight weeks to get ready for the fight. So probably around December or so. I want to make sure everything is taken care of and I don’t want any reoccurrences.
ML: Thank you for taking your time to do this interview, Aaron. Is there anyone you would like to thank?
AW: I want to thank Rockstar Energy Drinks for always coming through with their checks. Biogenetix, they always take care of me and my supplements, and Trinity Wheels.
Again, I’d like to thank Aaron Wetherspoon for taking his time out of his busy schedule to give me an interview. Don’t forget, you can see Aaron and the King Of The Cage Middleweight Champion, Keith Berry, doing a free autograph session on Saturday, September 29th from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Frank And Sons Collectibles Show. located at 19649 E San Jose Ave, in City Of Industry, Ca 91748. We will also be having one day only specials on DVD’s and also selling tickets to the October 7th Soboba show. Make sure you stop by and say hi!
Thanks for reading!