New KOTC Heavyweight Champ, Tony Lopez!
Last year, I was at the River Rage show at the Avi Casino in Laughlin, when a fighter that I really knew very little about started down the ramp to the cage. His record was 1-1, he hadn’t been in the cage in over 2 years, and was facing Kyle Kingsbury, who was undefeated at 7-0. Lopez made quick work of the undefeated Kingsbury with a TKO at 1:36 of the first round. Including that fight, Tony has gone on a 8-1 tear through King Of The Cage, recently capturing the Heavyweight Championship with a win over KOTC veteran, Wes Combs. About two weeks after winning his title, I sat down with Tony and got this interview.
ML: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule,Tony! Can you give me some of your background in MMA?
TL: Back when the first UFC came out, I was taking Karate, but it was more like a mix of everything, Judo, Kung Fu, Kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do, a little bit of everything. I watched the UFC and I was blown away, because what we were learning, is what they were doing in there. I said this is what I want to do, I can do this. So I applied for UFC 3 or 4, I think and was turned down. From there it was just find a place where I could fight or a school where I could train.
ML: How did you get hooked up with Thomas Denny’s school?
TL: That was back in May, when I fought Joey Beltran. That night, Thomas came up and asked if I wanted to come in and train. I said ok, I was looking for a place to train, and my wife was looking for a place for me to train and be stable at. I went down there and tried it out, took some classes, some cardio, and the training just fit.
ML: You’ve been on quite a roll lately!
TL: Yeah, the win over Wes Combs made it seven straight wins in the last nine months.
ML: Who do you see as your competition right now in the Heavyweight division?
TL: I don’t know if it’s a bad thing, but I don’t pay attention or like to know about anybody that’s heavyweight. They’re all competition, but I don’t see anybody as the one that’s going to stop me. I don’t train for a fighter, I train to fight, which is a big difference.
ML: Are you looking for a rematch to avenge you loss to Tony Bonello?
TL: Definitely! Definitely! I’ve talked to Terry (Trebilcock) and he’s working on it. I want to set the record straight, because if anything, it should have been a draw. We both went back and forth and we both got our hits in and we both looked like shit afterwards. But to get a Unanimous Decision, that was beyond me, I don’t see how that happened.
ML: What has been your toughest fight so far?
TL: It goes between Tony Bonello and Jon Brock, because those were the two fights that almost went the distance and did go the distance. Jon Brock went three rounds, with the exception that I finished it so it wouldn’t go to a decision. Because looking at the tape, even though I feel like I dominated, he could have pulled the upset because of the pressure he put on me and he kept the movement going. They didn’t quit on me and they kept fighting and kept trying. Those two were the toughest.
ML: Can you talk me through the fight with Wes Combs?
TL: The bell rang and we had some quick exchanges. He clipped me with I think a right that I never saw coming and after that I don’t remember much. I ended up on the ground, woke up, and my eye was swollen. I got pissed and popped back up and got his back and tried to do a choke, and from there went to some ground and pound, and the round ended. I got checked by the doctor in between the rounds and he said I was ok, so we go to the second round. Again, we exchange standing up, he grabbed my foot, so I pushed him up against the fence and took him down. More ground and pound, and I knew I had to finish it in this round because my eye swelled up even more, and I didn’t think the doctor would clear it again. So the final seconds of the second round, I got him with the Keylock.
ML: Do you prefer the KO or submission?
TL: I prefer the knockout way over the submission! A submission, I do it only when I have to. Not many people want to see two guys just grab each other, and then all of a sudden, there’s a submission and the guy taps. They want to see action and that’s what I want to put out there. I want to put on a good show and I think the more blood that comes out, the more the fans are going to love it.
ML: When do you see your next fight happening?
TL: I talked to Terry a couple of days ago and he said he was going to try for sometime in September. I’m not sure if it will be defending the belt or dropping down to 205.
ML: Is there anything you’d like to talk about?
TL: Well, since you brought it up, I see that Antonio Silva just won the EliteXC Heavyweight Championship, and I want it. I have two shows left for Elite and I hope they put me up against someone decent so that it could build me for a shot at him. There’s only one Heavyweight Champion and that’s me. I have to get him out of the way so I could show the world who I am.
ML: So, you’re officially calling out Silva?
TL: Oh Yeah! Before he even got the belt, my wife was looking at all of the EliteXC fighters, and she said, you have to fight him. He’s been in the K1, he’s in EliteXC now and he’s known. If you beat him, you’ll be known. So now he’s got a title, and now I really have to beat him.
The other one I really want is Kimbo. I wanted to be his first fight and Terry was trying to hook it up between me and him, but they went with Bo Cantrell. And it just bugs me that I didn’t get that shot and then Bo goes in there and just turtles up in the first 15 seconds. It could have been me in there and Kimbo could have been bye bye. Hopefully sometime next year. Maybe that could be the last EliteXC fight on the contract, first Silva, then Kimbo. Let’s see who the real King Of The Cage is.
ML: Who are your sponsors?
TL: Thomas hooked me up with Bloodfist, Toe2Toe, GT Motors, PC Medics, and 2Smooth Productions.
ML: Anyone else you would like to thank?
TL: My wife Katarzyna first, and of course, Thomas Denny, he’s really polished my game up, my friends and all of my fans.
ML: Thank you for your time, Tony!
TL: Thank you.