Listen to Phil Baroni talk for only a few seconds and you know instantly why his nickname is the "New York Bad Ass."
You might get the impression he eats nails for dessert and wrestles Rottweilers for laughs. The truth is nothing that extreme, but Baroni has a lot of anger inside that heavily muscled body of his.
And these days, most of that anger is directed toward Frank Shamrock, whom he will fight in San Jose, Calif., on a June 22 pay-per-view card.
Baroni, who has a 10-7 mixed martial arts record and victories over stalwarts such as Yuki Kondo and Dave Menne, doesn't think much of Shamrock, and he makes that point very clear and very quickly.
"He's (an expletive) little fraud who tries to pass himself off as a fighter, but anyone who knows the business knows he's (an expletive expletive)," Baroni said.
And that was before he got warmed up.
Baroni said he is angry that Shamrock began criticizing him even though Shamrock has largely avoided significant competition for many years.
Baroni had a four-fight losing streak from Feb. 28, 2003 through Feb. 5, 2005 while competing in the UFC, but he notes gruffly, "I was fighting real guys and he was fighting (expletives)."
Shamrock, 34, was one of MMA's early stars and had wins over quality fighters like Bas Rutten and Tito Ortiz by 1999. But he's fought only four times since 2000 and has not met a high-caliber opponent in his prime since then.
Still, Shamrock remains a legend in MMA and drew a then-North American record crowd of 18,265 to a fight against Cesar Gracie in San Jose's HP Pavilion on March 1, 2006.
It doesn't sit well with Baroni, who describes himself as a "real man" and believes Shamrock is fooling an unwitting public.
"I think he is a scum bag," said Baroni, who was a two-time All-American wrestler at Central Michigan. "I am not going to hold any punches. The guy is a hypocrite. I think he is a fraud, and everyone who has ever dealt with him who I know of does not like him. I mean Javier Mendez, who was his old trainer, all the guys at AKA that I have trained with over the years, Dana White, UFC president, who is a personal friend of mine – Everyone I know who has dealt with the guy thinks he is (an expletive expletive) and a (expletive).
"Judgment Day is June 22. I want to see what he is about. Wait till he steps in with the real deal. I am the real deal, and I am going to throw punches with bad intentions at his (expletive) head and put him to sleep."
Shamrock said he isn't about to respond to Baroni's rants, though he couldn't resist throwing in a little dig.
"Well, it is what it is," Shamrock said. "I am a professional mixed martial artist, and I am a professional fighter. Phil is a professional idiot."
Baroni seethes at the thought that Shamrock is something as a fighter that he is not. Baroni goes on at length about paying his dues and fighting anyone who comes along. He was not, he insisted, run out of the UFC despite consecutive losses to Matt Lindland and Evan Tanner twice and Pete Sell.
And when Baroni went to Pride after leaving the UFC, he immediately started a winning streak. In his last fight, on Oct. 21 in Las Vegas, he earned a first-round submission over Yosuke Nishijima, using a kimura, which is a type of an arm bar.
But Baroni, who is primarily a slugger, doesn't want to be typecast as a submission specialist, though he said all pro fighters need to understand all aspects of the game.
"I've been a professional MMA fighter since 2000. I should know how to do that," Baroni said. "Just because I don't choose to fall on the ground and roll around like (an expletive) doesn't mean I don't know how to defend myself there."
Baroni quickly points out he's not concerned about a submission victory over Shamrock. He's coming to inflict as much pain as possible. Having never been knocked out, Baroni plans to attack early and see how long Shamrock can last.
He doubts Shamrock will engage. He expects Shamrock to try to make it a ground fight.
"Frank is not that stupid. He is not going to trade with me," Baroni said. "He is not going to box with me. He is not going to kickbox. He is not going to do anything with me. If he does, I am going to kill him. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. He will not stay on his feet.
"He does not have the (expletive), the testicular fortitude to get in there and bite down on his mouthpiece and grit with me. There is no way he will do it. So I am not even – that is not even in my mindset of him trying to stay on me. He has nothing for me on his feet at all. His game plan is to be wrestling around on the ground like (an expletive)."
Shamrock, who admits to not having fought top competition recently, chuckled at all of Baroni's taunts.
He said he believes Baroni is only helping to sell tickets but said Baroni is not a legitimate threat.
"I do not mind Phil at all," Shamrock said. "I think he is a great marketer and promoter and obviously speaks very well. He is a mid-grade opponent, and he looks good, sells tickets. I think he is wonderful. I have got nothing against Phil. I think he is hilarious."
- Phil Baroni
- Frank Shamrock