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Sparring With JayTan

Interview with Chance Williams

January 13, 2009

What’s in a name? For Chance Williams, aka “King of the Streets,” his origins are. Because like many MMA fighters, Williams is a former street brawler who saw mixed martial arts as a legitimate use for his natural fighting ability. And like most of those same fighters, Williams’ goals are simple enough. He wants to earn enough money to provide for his family – for his father to pursue his poker prowess, for his ex-Marine grandfather to retire and watch Ohio football, to support his sister and mother, and for him to train harder.

When I spoke with Chance recently, he was not at a loss for words, especially concerning his upcoming rematch for the King of the Cage Super Heavyweight championship on December 11th.

VB: Where are you training these days?

CW: I got my own personal gym outside of Globe, AZ. It’s like 40’ by 40’. I’ve got five or six guys that come and we train together. And I’ve got my own trainers that come in to help me. When I’m down in the valley, because I work in Mesa (AZ), I’ll hit LA Fitness and run my ass off on a Friday and Saturday. Then do shadowboxing and stairs and the bike. I’ll hit a little bit of the weighs while I’m down here, but while I’m up in Globe, I’m doing the grappling and the mitts and sparring, and the whole nine yards.

VB: Let’s start at the top here. Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into MMA?

CW: I got into MMA about four or five years ago. At that time I was hustling on the streets. I wasn’t no gangster, or no bully or nothing. I just used to do things that people shouldn’t do. Or, at least, that I shouldn’t do. But I don’t want to get into that. That ain’t me no more.

I was in Globe. King of the Cage was coming to do a show. I was playing pool and Sean Ramage walked up to me and he said “I heard you’re a fighter around here.” Now I’ve been fighting all my life. Before I fought, I used to fight in backyards in Tucson. But I try to be as humble as possible, so I’m like “nah, wrong guy.” A little while later, Ted Williams comes over and says the same thing. I went “well, kinda fight a little bit.” He says “would you be interested in a fight?” I said “hey man, money talks.”

So I showed up out there at the fights, and I was with my family. He was like “hey, you wanna fight tonight?” I said “I don’t know.” He said “well, I’ll give you $800.” I said “shit, money in the bank! Let’s get down.”

Little did I know that I was fighting Edwin Dewees. UFC veteran, he’s fought Rich Franklin, he’s had over 50 fights or something.

VB: They were making you earn your money that night.

CW: Yeah. So I went out and fought. I flew across the cage, hit him with a couple good shots. At that time, my wind wasn’t there, I wasn’t training. I was just a street fighter. I took him down, gave him my back, and he rear-nakeded me. I was like “oh, okay.” Which was fine with me at the time, because I still got paid. It was something that was just fun.

VB: That answers one of the questions I try to ask – about how somebody’s’ upbringing affected their decision to go into fighting. It sounds like it was very clear-cut for you. It’s something for you to focus your energy on and get paid for it.

CW: I was in the hustle game, I was on the grind. I would sleep three hours and be up for twenty. When I got introduced to fighting, I saw a way out. So I got paid, I was like “Wow. I was in there for a minute and a half. I lost, but I still got $800.” I thought to myself “What if I won? What if I could keep winning? What if I was the baddest man alive? What if I could do it?” I talked to my dad, a couple of my uncles, my sister. She’s a big influence in my life. She said “you need to do something better [than hustling].”

Not only that, but if I can be successful and take care of my family, anybody that needs help, that’s what I want to do. I’ve made a little money; I haven’t made the big change yet, but I want to. I’m not an average fighter, man. I’m still waiting for the world to see that.

I know you probably hear that a lot. I know everybody says “I’m the best.” I’m not the best, but I’m a freakin’ fighter man. I get down. You want to box, you want to throw down, you want to grapple? Let’s do it.

VB: What school did you go to?

CW: I wrestled in Globe High School, in Arizona. Then I moved my senior year, but mostly Globe High School.

VB: And then in college and the All-American days?

CW: I played for Pima Community College. I had rides to ASU, Ohio State, U of A, Kent State, Colorado. I had these rides, but I just couldn’t get the grades. When I was in high school, I had the girls take care of my homework. I remember a distinct time in my senior year when I did my work. I did the damn report, and the teacher handed it back to me. She said “this isn’t your handwriting.” And I really did it!

VB: Because she was used to seeing the girl’s handwriting.

CW: Yeah. I had to get my girlfriend at the time to rewrite it and hand it back in. I’m like, you gotta be kidding me.

VB: That shit comes back to bite you dude.

CW: It’s the little things that let us learn.

In high school, my senior year, when I was 17, I found my Grandpa dead. He was 49 years old. Changed my life tremendously.

I was at school one day. I went to lunch. I had about 4 friends with me. And my house was right by the school. I drove by my house, and I saw my grandfather’s truck. I was gonna pull over, but I don’t want to show up with my homeboys and all that. So I took off and we got something to eat somewhere else. I came home at 2:30 after I dropped my girl off, walked in the back door and he was laying there dead. I’ve never been scared like that in my life. I tried to do everything I could. They said he died between 12:30 when I drove by and 2:30 when I found him. It’s just like “why didn’t I stop? Why didn’t I just pull over and say “what’s going on?”

VB: Obviously, you couldn’t have known any better.

CW: Oh yeah, of course not. But for a long time, I lived with regrets. I fight for him, I fight for my Grandma, I fight for my Mom, I fight for my Dad, my uncles, my sister, who overcame life in general. And I just want to show them “you know what, I can get you guys something too. “ I want to give them the best life possible. That’s why I do the things that I do.

My Momma says “life every day like it’s your last.” It’s the Word of God. If I could take one thing back in this world, I’d take everything my sister’s been through and put it on myself. She has a good life now, but she’s been through some things. She’s the strongest woman in the world. As strong as I am, I could never walk in her shoes.

VB: Do you go to her for advice a lot?

CW: Oh yeah. If I need something, if it’s down to the nitty-gritty and stuff, if there’s one person I can talk to, it’s her. And the cool thing about it, she won’t sugarcoat it. She won’t tell me what I want to hear, she’ll tell me what I need to hear. Her name’s Memory.

VB: Has she been to any of your fights?

She’s been to a couple, yeah. But she won’t go see me fight no more. She doesn’t want to see me hurt nobody.

VB: Tell us a little about how you feel about your last match with Mike Bourke, and how you’re approaching this match.

CW: First off, I don’t doubt any fighter in the world. But I see Mike Bourke and I’m like that show on the NFL Channel – “C’mon, man!”

I’ve been hit in the back of the head 50 times. I hit him once! If you see the fight, we went out and exchanged. He hit me good; he hit me with a nice right hook. And I was gonna clinch him. So when I started running him towards the cage, he fell down. He cheesed up, like a cheese puff. I was like “you gotta be kidding me, bro.” But I’m like “alright, I’ll take it.”

So I was throwing the elbows, throwing the hammerfists, throwing the regular punches. I throw an elbow and I throw another backfist, and he was looking right at me when I threw the backfist. And right when I throw the backfist and he turns his head, and I hit him in the back of his head. What am I supposed to do? The dude moved his face! I can’t tell you what he’s gonna do with his head. I’m just throwing the damn punch. “Hey yo, stop the fight” “Alright, stop the fight and give him a five-minute break, and let’s get down.” I’m still ready to fight. It’s like 40 seconds into the fight.

If I’m in Mike Bourke’s position at that point, I get hit in the back of my head, I take my five minutes. Get ready, get my composure, go win this title. From my position, I was like “well, hey, I hit him in the back of his head. You better get ready. He’s gonna get his wind back, and we’re gonna get down. And I’m gonna do my thing.” Then they say the fight’s been called. I’m like “you gotta be shittin’ me.”

VB: That’s a crazy trip, because you’ve got this opportunity to win the title. . .

CW: He didn’t want to fight from the get-go. I’m telling you the truth. I took the fight on seven days notice. They got me out there with three days to get my medicals up. I’m like “yeah, I’m taking the fight. Let’s get down.” At that fight, I was like 332. I came in heavy. He was at like 260-something. He used to be like 315 or something, right? He gets up there and we’re like “you wanna get the fight, you gotta get over 265. Drink something, eat something. You wanna fight, let’s fight.” He’s like 262. He’s like “I don’t know if we’re gonna fight man, but if not, maybe next time you can lose the weight or something.”

God bless the guy, but if you’re not there to get down, don’t get down. Check it out; we train for fighting, right? It doesn’t matter who we fight, where we fight, how we fight. Just fight.

That really bummed me out man. I came home and thought “why was I overzealous? Why was I overanxious to hit? ‘Cuz I was really taking my time. Why did I throw that one punch? I had dreams about it for a month. Because its one punch. You’re one punch away from losing the match; you’re one punch away from winning it. Anything, you’re one punch away. It was that one punch that ruined me getting that title that night. I should have walked out of that darn ring with that title on my waist. That’s what’s gonna happen on the 11th. I’m telling you.

VB: Yeah, you’re gonna have another shot coming up soon, so you’re one punch away from getting the title again.

CW: I’m gonna handle business. That’s all that matters, you know that I mean. I’m gonna do my thing and keep it in God’s hands after that. I’m gonna go in there as a soldier and try to knock his block off. If he gets me, cool. God bless you, Mike Bourke. Don’t let me get you first.

VB: What’s the hardest part of fighting for you?

CW: Finding people that want to fight. I’m always ready to fight. My thing is that if I can’t pay my doctor’s bill with it, then I’m not going to do it. If I break my hand, I’m out for three months or something – out of work and stuff like that, I can’t do it. As long as you can pay for my doctor’s bill, I’m great. No matter where you go, you’re not going to see a doctor for under fifteen hundred bucks. The training? It’s hard, but just do it. Just gotta roll with the punches, man. That’s life, man.

VB: Tell me about your sponsors. Who are the guys that help Chance Williams and why?

CW: Paul Corso and Mid-State Pipe & Supply. We call him “Dupper.” That guy has helped me out so much when it comes to fighting and sponsorships, it’s not even funny. He’s like three sponsors. I owe him a lot. Booyaa Fight Gear, they’re good people man.  Mike Romero’s a great guy. They’ve given me clothes and stuff like that for the longest time. Wicked Ways Tattoo. Darren and Roseanne, they handle all my ink and if I need anything, all I gotta do is ask. Sacrifice Fight Gear – I’ll be wearing their shorts out there. I also just got Bloodsport MMA. They’re based in Mesa, AZ. The biggest MMA store in the U.S. They sell all kinds of gear.

VB: As a fan of MMA, who are some of your favorite fighters?

CW: My favorite fighter by far is BJ Penn. He’s got the swagger, the talk, and the culture. He’s vocal, and he has the fighting to back it up. And also Mark Hunt, although he don’t fight [MMA] no more.

One of my best friends, his name is Quicc. He’s 100% Samoan, so BJ and Mark Hunt are a couple of his favorite fighters, so we watch them a lot. And Junior Assuncao. He was supposed to fight out of Arizona; he’s out of Georgia now. I hung out with him for awhile. He made me feel like he was my own brother. You know who else, man, is really out here, but nobody talks about him anymore? Del Hawkins. He’s got over 200 fights.

VB: What would you say is your best and worst memory in your MMA career?

CW: Worst memory is when I got that diabetes attack [during a match with Adam Padilla]. I hate that. The worst thing about it was when I got that look on my Dad’s face. He looked scared. Him being so scared scared me.

Best memory? They’re all good memories. I love fighting. Every fight is different. Who doesn’t want to go in there and win another fight? Who doesn’t want to try something different? Who doesn’t want to win another title? Who doesn’t want to fight on PPV, or in front of 10,000 people, or 5,000 people, screaming your name?

Fighting in general is a memory to me. When I look back ten years from now, when I was an MMA athlete, and I was one of the best, everybody knows who I am, and people are saying “that dude was good. That dude was one of the best.” That’s going to be my memory!

VB: What do you do away from fighting? You play pool a lot, obviously.

CW: I play pool like a muh’; I’m unbelievable.

I like fishing. I like going out in the outdoors. I like riding the quad. I got a YFZ 450 I take out. I got a nice custom chopper; I like to take that out once in awhile on the harsh. I like playing poker sometimes. Spending time with my sister and her husband. He’s doing an Ironman pretty soon, so I do stuff with him. I like spending time with my family, long walks on the beach [laughs].

The “King of the Streets” has a chance to become “King of the Cage” on December 11th, when he rematches against Mike “Rhino” Bourke for the KOTC Super Heavyweight championship.

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