With his MMA career in the rear-view mirror, at least for now, James Vick has been keeping plenty busy.
Vick, who fought 14 times for the UFC, hung up the MMA gloves in early 2021 on a five-fight skid. But earlier this year, he kept the competitive fires burning with a move to boxing. And Saturday, he returns to action with his first karate match for Karate Combat.
“I started doing karate about five or six years ago, and I already had a couple years of taekwondo before that,” Vick recently told MMA Junkie Radio. “I really fell in love with traditional martial arts. It became pretty much my favorite combat sport that I’ve practiced and do on a regular basis.
“Back in June, I went and cornered my sensei for his fight there, and the atmosphere was amazing. It was probably one of the best productions I’ve ever seen with the lighting and the graphics and everything. It was amazing. … I thought, ‘I really would love to do this.'”
So do this, Vick shall, when he takes on Jorge Perez at Karate Combat 36, which takes place at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando.
Vick said he thinks Perez will fight him in a way similar to some of his past MMA opponents. The Karate Combat rules allow for a version of ground-and-pound – but only for a referee’s five-count after the fighter is grounded.
“I think my opponent’s game plan is going to be the same as all my (past opponents),” Vick said. “I’ve had lapses in my defense. I’ve had defensive problems, and I’ve worked my defense religiously over the last year. I’ve had several boxing fights and I’ve worked a lot of boxing defense, and I don’t think this guy is going to be landing a bunch. … He has real karate and high-level technique, but I think he’s going to come swinging wild like he’s done in his previous fights.”
Vick said the decision to get back into fighting of some kind was an easy one. In the boxing ring, he went 2-1 earlier this year. Karate will be a new adventure.
But the 35-year-old said it came kind of naturally.
“I love competition, period. It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’ve had some injuries where I couldn’t grapple as much as I want to, so that’s why at this moment, I have no interest in MMA, to be honest with you. … But I’ve been a competitor my whole life. It’s not just a switch you can cut off.
“I get a lot of criticism for being knocked out in the past, but I’m perfectly healthy. I’ve had three fights this year – no problem at all. I’m being cleared to fight. I have no issues. I just want to compete.”
Check out Vick’s full interview in the video above.