JS: Hi Nate. I wanted to kick off by asking you about your recent decision to sign with BAMMA...what are your thoughts on potential opponents? What free agents out there at the moment interest you?
NM: Well I've already stated that the guys I wanna fight most are the guys that talk crap. I'd say the biggest possibility would be Paul Daley, Hector Lombard or Ben Askren. Honestly though I would be very pleased to fight any other world class fighters out there at 170.
JS: Do you believe welterweight is your optimal fighting weight?
NM: Yes I do. Right now I'm back up to my old weight and I can tell you I don't feel as good. I felt great at 170.
JS: And what made you believe BAMMA is the right promotion for you? What had Tom "Kong" Watson told you about BAMMA? How have you found your dealings with the organisation thus far?
There were several things. They offered a very good contract which was fair. They also promote and treat their fighters well. They have some big news for American fans coming up that I'm not sure if I'm allowed to talk about.
I could see myself fighting with BAMMA for a long time. Tom Watson told me that they treat him well and they can get top level opponents. Tom just beat Murillo Ninja Rua. Thus far everything is going well, I'm excited about my future with BAMMA.
JS: Will you be in attendance at BAMMA 7 in Birmingham, England on September 10th?
NM: Yes! Scouting potential opponents and meeting the fans.
JS: Joey Villasenor, your teammate has also signed for BAMMA. It is not inconceivable that you two become the number one and two within their welterweight division. Would you fight a Jackson's teammate for a belt?
NM: Definitely Joey and I could become the top two in the division. That's a problem that I am looking forward to having. He's been my teammate since 2004. Joey, Keith, Rashad, Diego, Greg and I all made the Jackson's team what it is today and I'll never forget our brotherhood.
JS: Ok, and what can you tell us about your Jacksons stablemate Eric Perez, who also features on the BAMMA 7 card?
NM: Well I haven't trained with him much. I believe he trains with the lighter weight guys mostly and I've only seen him spar a few times. He seems like a really nice kid though.
JS: Are you excited to actually fight in the UK again when you make your BAMMA debut later this year? Have you ever spent any sustained period of time in the UK following your two previous fights in London?
NM: Yes very excited! We spent about a week after one of my fights there. We hung out with some friends including my ol' buddy James Zikic.
JS: Sounds great. Ok, following the recent Versus 4 incident, did you appreciate Ariel Helwani affording you the opportunity to broadcast your version of events on his MMAHour?
NM: For sure. He let me tell my side of the story and he was very fair.
JS: OK. I don't want to dwell on the issue because it's firmly in the past, but I just wanted to briefly touch upon the reaction from the MMA community to your departure from the UFC back in June.
You are renowned for being a true gentleman, amiable and respectful, so it must be hurtful when less considerate fighters scramble to pass comment and judgement on their fellow fighters?
NM: Definitely yes. There are a lot of people who are quick to pass judgement even when they don't know both sides of the story. They should not judge unless they've been in that situation or if they are an expert on the issue.
It's even more sad when fellow fighters openly pass judgement when there is a clear discrepancy on what happened.
JS: I believe you have been in Hawaii? Was it a holiday or a business trip? I presume you didn't pay BJ Penn a visit? What do you make of BJ's overstated comments since the incident?
NM: Yes I went there on vacation and to watch the fights at Kalapaki Joes. I was planning on stopping by his gym but we went to Kauai (a different island). "Cry Baby J" is an idiot to speak the way he does. I don't know how a pothead is going to go and be so judgemental over medication prescribed by a doctor.
I'll assume CryBJ has glaucoma and gets his weed from a "doctor" and I won't pass judgement on him for that.
JS: Other fighters were quick to jump on the bandwagon with their input: What did you make of Dan Hardy's quip about you always having a job as a male stripper if you were banned from fighting? Is it a case of a fighter on a losing streak looking to gain publicity off the back of your name?
Or is this verbal retaliation for some of the comments you have directed towards him in the past? Is it the same deal with the relatively unknown/inexperienced Ben Askren?
NM: Hahaha! I actually hadn't heard about Dan Hardy. Well I guess I would take that as a compliment. At least he didn't say "a job as a punching bag" or "a mattress" as I'm sure one may say of him if he were to lose his contract after his recent losses.
Ben Askren? Oh, you mean that little goldilocks I saw on twitter? Yeah I didn't even know who he was until he messaged me. Listen. All these guys are trying to build themselves up by talking badly about me and that will probably never change.
Some guys make a name for themselves by talking and others do it by fighting. I've always felt fighting is the best way.
JS: Absolutely, and what about Paul Daley, another man who has been vocal about his desire to fight you under the BAMMA banner? Does it interest you fighting him given his recent two defeats? If you did fight him, would you outwrestle him or would you feel comfortable standing and trading with him?
NM: Honestly his last loss does take away from the interest in fighting him, but he's still one of the best and I'd still like to punch him in the face! I am confident I would beat him wherever the fight may go. Obviously I would have a wrestling advantage but I am also one of the best on the feet.
JS: What do you make generally of this recent phenomenon of fighters taking to Twitter to air controversial opinions? Is it fast becoming the people's online octagon in which words seem to count more than action?
NM: Yeah a lot of these guys are really outspoken. Let's just remember that fighters aren't fighters because they are intelligent, smart or wise. There are intelligent fighters with good morals, but the guys on twitter, fb and elsewhere that are very ignorant, opinionated and closed-minded are the most outspoken.
JS: I recently spoke to Tom Watson and he vehemently defended you and your integrity as a person/fighter...what does it mean and how does it feel to have your training partners, the men who know you best, support you?
NM: Well that's just it. You find out who your true friends are. You find out who your brothers are and who is looking out for themselves. It does Tom no good to defend me but he does because he knows my character and he's a loyal guy. It makes our team even stronger!
JS: Ok, moving onto life outside the cage, can you briefly explain your relationship with MC Hammer? Has he significantly enhanced your social media presence? Do you have Hammer's back if there is ever a showdown between him and Jay Z?
NM: Hahaha! Yeah of course I have his back against anyone. He is a very important part of my management. He is one of the main reasons we chose BAMMA actually.
Without getting into details, Hammer guided Alchemist and ultimately me toward a specific type of deal and BAMMA quickly stepped up and here I am! He's the man. He is very wise and I really look up to him. It's not just a publicity thing, he's the real deal.
JS: I'd like to see you enter the cage to the tune of "Can't Touch This" whilst doing the Hammer dance. That would be a fitting tribute to your business partner. And finally, you have recently appeared in a mainstream MMA movie, "Warrior"...was it an enjoyable experience? Any funny off-camera anecdotes which you can divulge?
NM: It was amazing. I made friends with some really cool people like Bryan Callen, Yves Edwards, Joel Edgerton, Gavin and Greg O'Conner, Tom Hardy, Anthony Timbakis, Frank Grillo and all the stunt guys. Yeah there were a bunch of funny things that happened as there always is if Callem is around!
Actually the biggest thing was a situation I'm not very proud of. There was a guy at a sandwich shop that was very rude to my wife and I spiked a 6" sub on his chest. Everyone on the movie teases me to this day about it!
JS: Haha, that must have been one brave sandwich-artist...okay, well thanks for taking the time to talk and I look forward to meeting you in the UK.
NM: No worries at all, looking forward to it.
Follow me on Twitter @jonathanshrager