Kickin with Tyler East
Last December, we witnessed one of the closest 5 round, championship fights we have ever seen! A 4-1-0 Tyler East challenged the heavyweight champion, Tony Lopez, who was on a 14 fight win streak, and in his home town. The fight ended in a split decision, with Tony retaining his championship. The fight was so close, both fighters found out they would go at it again, this time, in front of Tyler’s home crowd in New Mexico, in front of a national television audience on HDNet.
I caught up with Tyler recently, and got his input on his last fight with Tony, his training, and the recent assault on him by former team mate, Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett.
ML: What is your fighting background?
TE: I was a high school wrestler, three time state champ.
ML: Coming into your last fight against Tony Lopez, you were 4-1-0 and relatively new to professional fighting. Did you think you would get a title shot so early in your career?
TE: I didn’t. I knew you had to really prove yourself to get a title shot, and I was really grateful to get that shot. I think I showed them that I did deserve it though.
ML: You really did show that you deserved it though. You went 5 full rounds with the champion, and it ended up being a split decision. Tell me about the rematch.
TE: I’m so glad that they gave me the rematch! I really hope to please the fans and HDNet. I’m coming to fight and I know Tony is too, so it’s going to be another good one.
ML: How do you see the fight going different this time?
TE: I’m going to train my game and go my pace, not Tony’s pace or play his game. I felt like I played his game a little bit and they think I was gassed in the last fight, but I’m just a heavy breather. We all know Tony could go 100 rounds at his pace. But if I really push him at my pace, I believe I’ll come out with a dominant win over him.
ML: How surprised do you think he was when you started throwing him around the cage the way you did?
TE: I think he was very surprised. He thought I was a young boy, and I think he thought he was going to dominate. I heard him say that he was going to knock me out and it was going to be a sweet knockout, but I think he underestimated me a little bit. I think he was very surprised when I dominated him with my footing and my punching. He was very surprised!
ML: How did you see that last fight going? Do you think you did enough at the end to sway the judges in your favor? A lot of people had the fight 2 rounds a piece going into the 5th round.
TE: I personally thought I had the win. And after watching the fight again, I believe I won the fight. The commentators were saying they thought I won all 5 rounds, and in my head, I won. But in reality, I lost. It’s a loss on my record and it’s a loss to me.
ML: How do you feel the elevation will play into this fight?
TE: I think it will be a huge factor! It takes months to build up the red blood cells that I have, and with Tony being at sea level, I don’t think he’ll be able to last the 5 rounds he normally does. I don’t think he’ll have the lungs he normally has and with me training here all the time, I think it will be a huge factor in my favor, and hopefully I’ll win.
ML: Which was a tougher loss, Tony Lopez or Boban Simic?
TE: It’s tough to say. I was dealing with some personal issues at the time of the fight with Boban Simic. I had just gone through a hard break up with my girlfriend and I wasn’t training, and I wasn’t doing the things I was supposed to be doing. So I wasn’t at the same level I was when I fought Tony Lopez. That one is a hard one to take, and I’d love to have a rematch with Boban as well.
ML: Can you walk me through a normal day of training for you?
TE: I get up around 7:30 or 8:00 and go to the gym and do a full workout with weights. Then at 11:00, I’ll go run three miles, and I’ll bleed my lungs. What that is, is I’ll run 40 yards, turn around and hold my breath and run the 40 again, and I’ll do ten of those. Then I’ll eat and rest until 5:00, then go to the gym and go through the competitors class. The on the weekends in the gym, I usually do a one on one class with either Tom or Arlene Vaughn.
ML: You’re still really young, do you think you can dominate the heavyweight division in King Of The Cage?
TE: I don’t know, because there are a lot of good guys coming up. But I’m going to give it my best, and I’ll show who I am, and show I will give it my all. Hopefully someday, dominate the heavyweight division.
ML: Now, you’ve had a lot of attention lately because of an altercation with Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett at your gym. Can you tell me what happened and set the record straight?
TE: I walked into practice and Coach Arlene told me we would be sparring 10 rounds today. So I geared up and Krazy Horse came in and geared up as well. So we pair off and I pair with Krazy Horse, and I tell him, I’m a lot bigger than you, let’s work on placement and technique, instead of working on power. He kind of talked to me a little bit and kept saying “Huh? Huh?”, like he couldn’t hear me. I said let’s just work on placement and technique today. So we started sparring and he started to tag me up, and I said, I don’t want to go hard on you, you’re a lot smaller than me. We started sparring again and he did the same thing, trying to go his hardest on me, so I went hard back on him, and he fell down. So he got up, went and put on his clothes and left the gym.
So I finished my other 9 rounds of sparring, and I was sitting on the mat on my knees, just trying to catch my breath. I was a little bit tired, and I had my back to the door. He came back into the gym, and I didn’t see him coming because I had my back him. Now he pulls out the pipe and started hitting me. He hit me like eight or nine times before anyone got to him. Then my team mates got him off of me and the police were called, and they came and arrested him.
ML: Do you think anyone saw this coming from him? From what I saw of him since his release from prison last year, he was a changed person. He said he fit in with you guys better than any other team he had trained with and said he felt like he belonged and was welcomed by your team.
TE: We all knew he had some issues in Florida, but our team accepts everybody, and we think everybody deserves a chance. And you get that chance until you prove you don’t deserve it anymore. That’s what happened. We gave him the chance, and he showed us that he doesn’t deserve it anymore. We knew he had a past, and it looks like he couldn’t get away from it.
ML: What do you do to relax, when you’re not training?
TE: Most of my life is training. But when I’m not doing that, I’m kicking back watching movies, or hanging out with my friends, and staying active. I’m not big on staying inside, I love to be outside. Anything that keeps me proactive and busy.
ML: Anybody you would like to thank?
TE: Full Tilt Poker, Fat Boy Grill, Monarch Masonary, and Damage Control Mouthpieces, Tom and Arlene Vaughn, my team mates at FITNHB, and my parents.
ML: Thank you for your time, Tyler!
TE: Thank you.