Interview with Anthony Lapsley
December 8, 2008
The first time I met Anthony Lapsley was when I picked him up at Reno-Tahoe International Airport. I asked him on the phone what he looked like, so I could spot him at baggage claim, to which he casually replied “well, I’m black.”
This was my introduction to Lapsley’s unassuming style.
Whether intentional or not, “The Recipe,” as he’s known to his fans, has an around-the-way street style that might make the soccer mom strip mall committee hold their purses a little tighter. With a piercing stare, lean-but-imposing frame, cornrow twists, baggy jeans and Timbs, Lapsley is not the kind of cat you’d figure would call Ft. Wayne, IN his home. But if your assessment stopped there, you’d miss a whole lot more.
Lapsley is an Indiana state wrestling champion. He’s a dutiful son that takes joy in sharing his victories with his father, while also being a proud poppa to “a gang of kids” with whom he bonds over sessions of Xbox 360. He’s also the current King of the Cage Welterweight champion, a title that he takes very seriously.
In this round of Verbal Sparring, I talked with Lapsley about fate, family, and his “recipe for success.”
VB: You’ve had the title now for about three months. How does it feel to be the king?
AL: It feels good, you know. I’m enjoying it. I’m just itching to get back in there to defend it. I want to prove why I’m the champ. Its one thing getting it, but it’s another thing trying to keep it.
VB: What does winning the King of the Cage belt mean to you? Was it the feeling of accomplishment that you wanted it to be?
AL: It means a lot to me. It’s kinda quickened my career. I guess a lot of guys have been training to fight for 10-11 years, but I’ve been training and fighting all at once for three years. It’s where I want to be, but I can always get better and improve and learn more. I want to get championship belts wherever I fight, and wherever I step in the cage. This one’s put smiles on my kids’ faces; that’s what it’s all about.
VB: Let’s talk about the first and second fights with Aaron Wetherspoon. Did you approach things differently for the second match?
AL: The first fight, I was kinda nervous, because I was fighting for a major world title. But when we touched gloves, it all went away. As far as the fight went, it didn’t go my way; that was kinda crazy how the double knockout thing went down. But I felt comfortable with him. I’m never really worried [during a fight], because if I’m worried, he has the advantage. That’s how I look at it.
But going into the second fight, I knew what I had to do, and that was to finish it. Get in there and not play around. We stood up in the first fight, but this time I planned on taking him down and submitting him. Be clean and get it over with. Stay kinda pretty. I didn’t want to get hit too much. Gotta look real good for the ladies.
VB: You had told me that your dad had a dream about you winning the title last time.
AL: You know, he dreamed that I won the title in like 1:30. It ended up being 1:19. He called me right after I’d won. He was like “I dreamed you won the title in a minute thirty.” I said “well, I won in a minute twenty.”
VB: Did the first match prepare you for what to expect in the second?
AL: In a way, but I really didn’t like to look over that fight as far as preparing for the next one. Because I don’t like to pick over a fight and work around mistakes. Because hey, you go out there and perform and make it happen. I just knew what I had to do. And that first fight . . . it happened. I let it be in the past, and I just worked on different things to win that title. And it worked out for me
VB: Did you switch up your strategy so he couldn’t predict you in the second match?
AL: My strategy going in . . . I never like to work around how they fight. I just want to go out and show that my fighting style is the best that day. I’m hard to predict as a fighter anyway. You never know what I’m gonna do. I’m pretty well versed on the ground, standing up, and my submissions also . . . I put a lot in the pot. Whatever meal I come with, I’m gonna serve it. It’s probably gonna be a can of ass-whippin’.
VB: Tell us a little bit about your background – how you got into MMA, your upbringing, and how it influenced you to get into the sport?
AL: I started wrestling in my freshman year of high school and ended up winning States [championship] in my senior year here in Indiana. After that, I basically sat around for a few years, until like 26 years old. I was wheeling in and out of jobs. Getting into a little trouble every now and then. Nothing major, but not focusing on making a positive life for me and my kids.
I met Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes at a bar, and we got to talking. He’s a 16-time world champion arm wrestler, and a good friend of Gary Goodridge. Andrew and I exchanged numbers, but nobody called each other.
Two weeks later, I’m thinking “I’m tired off where my life is. Lemme find a career, do something. I know I have the ability to do it.” I picked up the phone to call him, and as I was dialing the number, he was calling me. At the same time. So I just looked at it like “that’s gotta be my calling.” It was such a coincidence, and that’s exactly how it went down. He said “hey you wanna fight this weekend?” I said “sure.”
VB: I’m sure you’ve seen a night-and-day change in your training since you first started out. What’s your approach and philosophy behind training?
AL: I try to work hard on my cardio. Because I let my fighting ability and natural talent take its toll . . . I’ve been traveling a bit to train. I used to train at Chris Lytle's gym in Indianapolis to prepare myself for a couple of fights. Or I go with Team Wolf-Pack and Chas Bowling. That’s a good wrestling and ground and pound gym. I’ve also been known to go down to Albuquerque and train at Team FIT, with Carlos Condit and Thomas Schulte. They’ve got higher altitude training there.
VB: Do you prefer to train on your own or is there a team you’re looking to build and join?
AL: As far as different skills and different bodies, I’ll travel for that and do the freelance thing, but my team is The Garage and Team Wolf-Pack. I’m a loyal person; I’m not gonna jump camps. Where I started is where I’m gonna finish.
VB: Tell us about your team / trainers / partners? Are there any guys in your camp / stable / team that fans should be on the watch for?
AL: It has the name Ft. Wayne Jiu-Jitsu, but we just call it “The Garage” on a personal level. We have a little two-car garage that we work out of. It’s me, Brandon Lee, his brothers Chris and Mike Lee, who are twins. They’re all jiu-jitsu experts. They all wrestle in NAGA tournaments. I would love to get [Brandon] back into fighting. He took off to focus on training people from the gym. We got a real strong guy named Logan. His jiu-jitsu is real sick. We got a guy called The Uncle. . . . We got Bobby Petras, who’s an ’85-pounder. He’s an ex-football player. And we’ve got a good named Jason Whitson. He’s a state wrestling champ from Indiana. He’s fought a couple of times and we gave him the name “Lil’ Kimbo.” He’s just a beast like that.
VB: How are you approaching your first title defense?
AL: I got the belt on my shoulder, and I’m trying to keep it, so I’m going to give it all I got, which I always do. But I’m working real hard to make sure I keep it. Like, say, if I get caught in something there’s no way I’m gonna tap, but I’ll make sure I give it the extra oomph to get out of it or survive. But I don’t see myself getting caught. I see myself controlling the fight, dominating, and walking out of the cage with that same belt on my shoulders.
VB: What are your thoughts about Joker as an opponent? Do you know much about him?
AL: No, I don’t know too much about him. I know he’s strong, and he’s a pretty good wrestler. I’ve seen a couple of his fights, but I’m not the one to study fights. He cuts a lot of weight because he’s bigger in size. He’s a good dude. We spoke at the last fight, he’s a nice guy. But we’re putting that all to the side when we’re in the cage. I’m sure we’ll hang out and chill afterward. You know how fighters are. We’re not mad at each other.
VB: Whatever happens in the ring happens, huh?
AL: That’s how it’s going to go down. It’s already written, so I just gotta make sure I got my bookmark where it’s supposed to be.
VB: For you, what’s the toughest part about fighting?
AL: The last couple pounds you gotta cut. Those last few pounds are the toughest part. I’m a pussy when it comes to being in the sauna. I hate being hot. I love all the training, I love to spar. I don’t cut that much weight, but you know. You got a day before the fight and you’re 4-5 pounds over. I hate that.
VB: What is your downtime like? What do you do for fun / away from training?
AL: I’m a video game fanatic. And that’s issuing a challenge to anyone that wants to play Madden or NBA Live. I love video games and spending time with my kids. I do the father thing. I got a gang of kids, so I gotta take care of ‘em. We’re deep. we got 2 girls and 4 boys.
VB: What are you playing now?
AL: Call of Duty: World at War just came out, so I’m playing that. I like Madden of course, and NBA live. I like Guitar Hero too. Kinda different for a brother, but I fuck with it.
VB: What is your best / worst memory in your MMA career?
AL: Best memory is winning that title. That’s the biggest step I’ve taken thus far in MMA. My worst memory was probably how I looked after winning the title. I hate to see myself on TV. I don’t know why. I’ve always been a shy person. Mild-mannered, kinda bashful in a way, but I guess I’ll get over it.
VB: As a fan, who are your favorite fighters?
AL: I like Genki Sudo. I like his performance, when he comes out to the cage and performs. He sells himself. He fights that way too. He’s a funny dude. I like Rampage, of course . . . Kimbo, until he got beat up [Laughs]. Nah, I like Kimbo; I think it was a lucky punch [that knocked him out]. But a fight’s a fight. Like Cobra Rhodes always tells me – it takes one drop of water on the mat; you can slip and fall and he can jump on top of you and he can finish it.
VB: Do you think Kimbo is gonna come back stronger when he gets in the cage or ring again
AL: Yep. As far as his mentality, after the fight, he didn’t make any excuses, he gave props to Seth, and he said he’ll be back. And I’m sure he’ll come back and not put on a terrible showing again. Once you lose, it gives you something to prove. Especially to have so much hype behind him and he went out there and lost. I feel bad for the next person that‘s going to fight him.
VB: Tell us about your sponsors and how they come through for you.
AL: I got sponsored by TapouT for my last fight, for ShoXC. Locally, I have Sports Massage One. They’re an orthopedic place in town. Dr. Berghoff – he’s one of the top orthopedic surgeons in America. They’ve advanced me some sponsorship money which helped me out a lot. And Roland Trudell out of Lexani RBP, they do rims. They put me down in Vegas at the SEMA car show. Dr. Burns made my mouthpieces in Ft. Wayne IN. Foss Development – they helped me out on my last fight too. All with the money they give, it helps me with my bills and it helps me get where I need to fly to do some high-end training. Biomet, they manufacture prosthetic knees and hips that Dr. Berghoff invented and patented– they’re like a worldwide, multi-million dollar company.
I appreciate all of them, and anybody that wants to come and step on board, I got plenty of room on my shorts, t-shirt, and banner.
VB: Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the mask. Where did you come up with that idea?
AL: I got the mask from my homeboy. He’s a local rapper named Vigilante. When he showed it to me, I thought “I’ll go to the cage with that.” It’s kinda branching off of Genki Sudo. I use it for all my professional fights and it’s just something that stuck with me. I like seeing myself walk out with the mask on, on TV. I transform into that killer instinct. If you see a guy pop out your bushes, you know what time it is. So when I’m coming out to the cage, you know what time it is.
And I’d like to say rest in peace to my boy “Killa” Mike C. He’s a fighter who passed. He was on my team and we were like best friends. He died in April and I just gotta give some props out to him and his family. I should add that to my name: ”The Killer Recipe.” Yeah.
VB: What should fans know about “The Recipe?”
AL: No matter what you heard, just believe what you see. I’m a good dude. I train hard, I work hard. Everything that I’ve got, I think I deserve because I’ve worked for it. I’m not one of those asshole fighters that think they’re above everybody. I like to have fun. I sit around and play video games and chill. Don’t ever be afraid to approach me. I like to smile and put smiles on people’s faces.
Also, I’m dedicating this fight to my dad. It’s my dad’s birthday on December 11th. He didn’t have a chance to come out for my last fight, but I’m definitely gonna make sure he’s out there for this one. I’m gonna give him the biggest birthday present, and that’s defending my title for the first time.