Next up? Why, my interview with Shonie Carter—yes, “the” Shonie Carter .
My interview with Shonie was nothing short of amazing. Whoever said fighters don't have brains has never met this fighter. He’s smart, funny, kind, and tough. As an MMA fighter, Carter has an impressive total of 74 fights (yes, 74) with 47 wins.
According to his bio, Carter is a former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) welterweight champion , a UFC veteran, and a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter 4 reality show. Who could forget Shonie on that show? He is known for his flashy dress, colorful language, outlandish personality, and use of the "spinning" backfist in competition.
Did you also know he served in the Marine Corps before becoming a fighter? Or that he was an All-American wrestler, and participated in the Olympic trials?
Knoxville folks will be interested to know that he began his karate training (judo and traditional Japanese jujitsu) at Carson-Newman College.
After just one semester of studying judo, Carter enrolled in the Tennessee state championship in the white-green, brown, and black belt divisions. He ended up winning state titles in the white-green and brown divisions, and placed second in the black belt division.
Quite impressive. And the man is only 37 years old. Please enjoy a video from Shonie here. Watch it and learn how to do the spinning back fist a la Shonie Carter (with a little bit of a Matt Serra dig)!
B/R: What do you think is the hardest thing for MMA fighters who want to go pro?
Shonie: Make sure you have a back-up plan. It’s a hard biz to get into and be financially sound. And be sure to pay a bill or two or three. I like to watch my continuous residual income (royalty income that accrues for the owner of an intellectual property, such as art, books, lyrics, music, patents, etc.)
I’m an established veteran of a clothing line business, I’m working on a book deal and now a new fashion line. But more about that later!
B/R: What do you feel needs to change in MMA to make this sport better?
Shonie: Oh–I think a lot needs to be done.
Fighters need to realize they don’t always have to act tough. We’re professionals, so we should act accordingly. Put on a blazer and a collar shirt and a tie. Other pro’s do it, why can’t we?
We also need to have a coast-to-coast national sanctioning body with promoters to unify the rules so we can fight in all the states. That way, wherever you are – the rules are the same. Just makes sense, right?
Also, on the state levels, promoters need sit down and stop having minor rivalries over territory—come together in solidarity, and realize there’s enough pie for everybody.
Another thing – I don’t think a union for fighters or MMA will ever fly, as much as I’d like to see it, but something needs to be done to provide coverage for the fighter. Like health insurance, so if they get hurt in the ring, they’re covered.
If they suffer permanent physical damage, they get some sort of disability insurance; and then retirement benefits for the fighters. Not sure how to put that all together, but it needs to be done.
I’d also like to steal something from Japan—the yellow card rule. Yeah, that’s a great rule.
So just like in Japan, fighters will get the yellow card by officials if they stall, fail to initiate an offensive attack, don’t try to finalize the match or damage the other fighter, or hold up their opponent's body with the arms and legs to keep any action from happening, they get a yellow card.
A yellow card means they get a 10-percent deduction/fine of the fighter's fight purse, and that 10-percent will be given to a charity of the fighter’s choice. Like they have to announce their charity at the beginning of the event. That’ll prevent all that foolishness and chicanery.
Next, we need to start introducing open format scoring so that there are no surprises at the end of a match, and no guess work at the end of a round. You know what the score is. This would benefit the fighter so they know “hey, I need to get on it” when they see that score.
Some of these scores lately just are surprising. The criteria for kicking should weigh just as heavy as a body shot. Like, who knew kicks didn’t hurt or count?
With all due respect, because I like some of these guys, but seriously...kicks don’t hurt? These judges must have never been kicked in their lives!
Come on over here and I’ll show you kicks hurt (as he laughs!)
Even for my last couple of fights to…I’m still scratching my head on how I lost both of those back to back. I scored all the takedowns, and yet I still lost all three rounds!
If I had known all that work I was putting in to those takedowns and fighting wasn’t being effective, I would’ve come up with another game plan and switched up my strategy.
Shonie: Yeah. The Ohio commissioner wouldn’t return my calls—that’s just wrong! I think if a state AC has power over an event and the fighters, then they should be required to answer any questions a fighter has at the end of the event.
Like, show me the score card, and have the judges explain their rational—because as far as I’m concerned, the way that last fight went especially, it should be turned into a NC (No Contest).
Another thing we need to do to make this sport of ours better—let’s get rid of boxing judges in certain states. It just does not make sense to have boxing judges and referees officiating at an MMA event.
I mean, as soon as the fighters hit the mat, the refs are telling them to stand up. That’s not MMA, it’s boxing. We need refs and judges who are properly trained in MMA fighting and techniques.
B/R: Do you recommend MMA fighters train just before a fight, or all the time?
Shonie: All the way all the time. Who doesn’t train all the time?
B/R: Well, I’ve heard B.J. Penn, for example, takes off in between fights.
Shonie: Oh, you kidding me? No way. I take a break, but usually I’m still doing something. Golden rule is do something every day. Even if it’s grappling or whatever—do something. Hit a bag and run a mile or two. That’s my policy. Just move.
B/R: Do you feel MMA will ever go mainstream?
Shonie: I mean, I won’t say no entirely. I have a four and eight-year-old son, and I’d like to see return of the Carter Method Versions 2.0 and 3.0!
I remember fighting in a square cage back in the day, and it was like trying to get a sponsor—they were like, “What? You want me to advertise what? And where? You’re kidding, right? No way I’m getting involved in that!” (laughs again…)
I love this sport, but I’m hoping it hasn’t passed me by. I mean, these new fighters make their money prior to their time. I can still train at 37-years-old and be alright. I look at what I’ve accomplished in life, and I feel don’t know the true lineage of what I’ve accomplished yet.
These young fighters are braggadocios, you know that word? Hah. So like this one kid—he’s 2-1 as an ammy. Here’s Shonie driving a big Chevy around and wearing the nice suits, but for all he knows I got them off of Craigslist, or they were given to me. And this kid wants to start his own clothing line. Already!
They need to learn to pay their dues first.
So we’re close enough. It’s still full of controversy. I mean, GSP (George St. Pierre) getting an endorsement deal from Gatorade in Canada will probably help our sport go more mainstream and all.
B/R: I hear you’re going to be at the MMA Expo in Philadelphia this weekend. Will you be going in an official capacity, as a Celebrity to meet and greet, or as a fan?
Shonie: All of the above! I’m at the gate now—walking in!
B/R: Did you get a chance to watch Aoki vs. Hirota at Dynamite! 2009 and see that wicked arm break? What’s your take on the arm break, on Hirota not tapping, and on Aoki’s lack of sportsmanship?
Shonie: Ahh man, I heard about that. I haven’t seen it yet, but that sounded vicious!
B/R: What do you do when you’re not training? What does 2010 have in store for you next?
Shonie: I’m working on that book deal, and on getting my new fashion line setup. I’m talking about doing a different perspective than just a fighter, so none of that skull and cross bones stuff. Everything looks the same out there, but I look at it from a different perspective, you know? So you’ll see a lot of style in my fashion.
Also, I will get this book published this year too. Look, I don’t just sit around!
B/R: So unlike some fighters, you aren’t waiting around for just the next fight, you’re getting into the business side of MMA as well?
Shonie: For sure. I’m doing seminars—private MMA training where I take what I know and teach it to up-and-coming fighters out there. I’m cornering fighters—I can tape hands, hold focus mitts, and do just about anything like that.
You know I’m a certified national trainer, right? I can talk to you about anabolic threshold hydration. Fat to muscle ratio, and all like that. So I don’t sit still.
B/R: So where can potential clients go to see about getting information on working with Shonie Carter?
Shonie: I don’t advertise what I can do yet. I’m in the process of building a proper website where you can order online my personal fashion designs and see about my services and all. Just trying to figure out with the guys if we should do flash or not!
B/R: Of course, now that you’ve brought up flash—I just have to ask “the” question!
Shonie: Go ahead, go ahead!
B/R: Okay, are you going to offer the Shonie Shorts as part of your fashion line?
Shonie: Haha—even my friends ask why I’m wearing them. Those Speedos. Come on now! Seriously, 7-10 women approve of them. I’ve not yet had one complaint from a woman about my shorts! They like ‘em and that’s what I’m known for!
You know I wear a kilt sometimes and they crack jokes, but I tell them I’m not wearing them for y’all anyway.
What can I say—lots of humor, intelligence, and wit from a fighter, a business man, a trainer, and Mr. International: Shonie Carter.