Caros Fodor might credit MMA for rescuing him from the self-destructive path he had embarked upon after returning from a tour of duty in Iraq, but he will be the first to admit that he initially got into the sport for all the wrong reasons.
Fodor is now a Strikeforce and UFC veteran who recently secured a contract with ONE FC, but competing in the cage was the furthest thing from his mind when he first walked through the doors of Matt Hume’s AMC Pankration.
“When I returned from Iraq in 2003, I was drinking a lot and getting into a lot of fights. Me and some friends decided we should train to help finish these fights faster, so that’s how I found AMC,” he said.
The transition to civilian life had proved traumatic for the former Marine, but instead of enhancing his ability to cause carnage on drinking binges, taking up MMA led Fodor to completely abandon his nihilistic lifestyle.
“After I started training, my whole attitude changed and I started to grow up. I began competing in the local shows and now here I am. To be honest, MMA saved my life. If I hadn't found it I would most likely be in prison now or worse, so I am very grateful for the sport and the people I found through it,” he said.
Next up for the 29-year-old is a debut bout for Asia’s biggest MMA promotion, taking on Yang Seung Ho on the undercard of ONE FC: Champions and Warriors at the 15,000-seat Istora Senayan Stadium in Jakarta on Sept. 13.
The Korean, who is also fighting for ONE FC for the first time, has a perfect 6-0 professional record. Fodor is not expecting an easy start to his Asian MMA career.
“I have looked him up and I am expecting a tough fight because he is undefeated and I am expecting him to bring his A-game. He is a pretty well versed fighter and seems like a gamer, so it should make for a good fight for the fans,” he said.
Even for an organization that has a well-deserved reputation for being ruthless when it comes to cutting fighters, the UFC’s decision to dispense with Fodor was particularly harsh. Every major MMA website had him beating Sam Stout on his promotional debut, but two of the three judges saw it differently.
It should have been a hard fought win over one of the most seasoned fighters on the UFC lightweight roster and the double blow of first losing out on the decision and then being handed his walking papers still rankles the former Marine.
“I thought I had done enough to win that fight because I knew it was close, but I thought I would take the decision. I was very bummed for sure. I thought I would get at least one more fight,” he told MMAWeekly.com.
It was a setback that ultimately opened up an exciting new opportunity for Fodor, competing on the biggest stage in Asia as part of a lightweight division, which is starting to stack up with the likes of Kamal Shalorus, Lowen Tynanes, Ariel Sexton and Eddie Ng all currently in contention.
As Fodor prepares for his first ONE FC fight, he says he is particularly excited about the prospect of being able to utilize soccer kicks and knees to the head of a grounded opponent for the first time.
“ONE FC was my first choice after getting cut. I love their rules, which allow for some very exciting fights and I'm looking forward to taking advantage of them. It's going to be a great experience and I am looking forward to seeing different parts of the world,” he said.
The 155-pound belt is currently the property of leading Asian lightweight Shinya Aoki and Fodor, who went 5-1 during his stint with the now defunct Strikeforce, is hoping to work his way into contention for a shot at the champion.
“Aoki is the champ, he is a legend already in the sport. I match up with him like a lot of fighters do and obviously I would try and keep the fight standing, but I do believe I have what it takes to beat him and very much want to challenge for the title. I know I will have to work my way up there, but my ultimate goal is to be the ONE FC lightweight champion,” he said.
Fodor was reluctantly thrust into the limelight a couple of years ago when it was revealed that his adopted brother Ben was masquerading as self-styled superhero “Phoenix Jones,” patrolling the streets of Seattle at night, complete with costume and cape.
Both brothers have very strong amateur MMA backgrounds, but Ben chose to use his skill set to become a vigilante rather than a professional fighter. Caros does not exactly condone his younger sibling’s crime fighting activities and says that, apart from a shared interest in martial arts, they have little in common.
“I love him. He is my brother. However, we are opposite people all around. Outside of fighting we have nothing in common, which is why we have taken different paths. Compared to other brothers, I would not say we are that close, but if he ever needed me, I would be there for him.”
Ben is set to return to competitive MMA action in November after a three-year absence, but, while his Phoenix Jones alter ego might have made him the more famous of the two brothers, he has a lot of work to do if he wants to emulate the sanctioned fighting exploits of Caros. The UFC veteran has a 7-3 record and has been fighting for major organizations in the U.S. since 2010.
Ben’s street fights might get millions of views on YouTube, but Caros has dished out some serious violence of his own, albeit in a competitive sporting capacity. He has racked up no fewer than nine first-round wins in the professional and amateur ranks, most notably a 12-second demolition of Strikeforce veteran Justin Wilcox in 2011.
Fodor doesn’t go the distance too often and after getting on the wrong end of a highly debatable split decision in his last fight, he will be looking for the finish when he makes his ONE FC debut on Sept. 13.
“The fans should expect some exciting and aggressive fights from me. I am coming off two losses and am hungry and looking forward to smashing some guys on my way to title contention.”