Last Saturday, Tommy "The Duke" Morrison stepped into the Octagon for the first time ever, but this was not a normal mixed martial arts contest. Morrison drew a lot of criticism for allegedly "changing the rules" at the last minute for his bout with John Stover, which Morrison ultimately won by knockout in the first round. Here, Morrison explains that the fight was never to be anything more than a hands-only stand up striking match. He also refutes the claims by his former "attorney"/agent/publicist Randy Lang that he is HIV positive. Read on to see what Morrison has to say on these and other topics.
SN: Hi Tommy, how are you doing?
TM: Pretty good, considering the circumstances.
SN: Okay, what happened with this fight last weekend?
TM: It was a f*cking fiasco, I've never been involved in anything like that in my life. I had no idea what the rules were, no one was telling me. I walked into the cage and I didn't know if this guy was going to be kicking me, headbutting me, elbowing me. The guy charged at me and threw me all the way across the cage, smashed me into the fence, and grabbed me in a chokehold. The guy rams me into the cage and I looked at the referee like "what the f*ck?" The referee was like "hey that's part of the rules." I got out of that one, and put him in one. He's wide as a Volkswagen, and I wrestled around with him for about 45 seconds trying to get to one side or the other. Then I spun and he ran into the fence, he stood back up and I caught him with a straight right to the solar plexus and that took the wind out of him. Then I hit him with a left hook/uppercut to the nose, and his nose just disappeared. He turned sideways holding his nose and just froze, so I ran toward him and hit him with a right hand that dropped him like a ton of bricks. His nose was messed up, there was a huge puddle of blood.
SN: What was the delay in you getting to the cage and why were people unhappy?
TM: They had me set up in a VIP room at the hotel, and I was warming up in there. It was just a little ride up to the casino on a golf cart, and when he got into the ring, they radioed us and told us to head over in the golf cart. For the last month we've told everyone that it was going to be a strictly hands only striking match, and then they started promoting it as an MMA event, which I thought was pretty bad on their part. I did two or three different interviews and it was in the papers, and it stated in our contract that it was strictly hands only. They really thought this guy was going to beat me, he was one of their boys on the reservation. If an MMA guy came into a boxing event and beat a boxer, they would have booed him too. From what I understand they booed everybody.
SN: How did the boos affect you, if at all?
TM: I knew what was going on. If I had been out there in the crowd and that was my friend and I was drunk, I probably would have booed too. I just went out there and did exactly what I said I was going to do. At the press conference I said I would even feel more comfortable if they would agree to let me fight in 10 ounce pro fight gloves because I was concerned for this guy's safety. They told me to just go through with it. Now the guy doesn't have a nose.
SN: It was reported that you came to the cage looking reluctant and barking at your entourage. What happened there?
TM: I was pissed. People don't have any idea, and if they could see what went on in the last hour and a half before I got in the ring, they would be amazed that I got in there and did what I did. I was so proud of myself for overcoming all those obstacles and not knowing what I was dealing with.
SN: Also reported is that you were badly out of breath during and after the fight. (Note: Tommy's publicist and fiancée, Lisa Woodard, reported to me prior to speaking with Tommy that part of the problem here was due to Stover rushing Tommy and slamming his forearm into Tommy's windpipe.)
TM: You can't wrestle around with a 340-pound man for two minutes and not be breathing hard. What do these people expect? Do they expect me to walk on water? Do they think I'm super human and run on nitrous oxide and not oxygen? What the hell? Why am I always the butt of everyone's criticism? I just don't understand it. Jesus! Eleven years it's been and people act like I just f*cking retired last week. Nobody's fair to me, and I'm just sick of it.
SN: You mentioned before the fight that you were worried about fighting with the smaller gloves because of your concern you may kill someone. How did that feel?
TM: It felt dangerous. They're going to have to regulate that sport because if boxers start crossing over, big heavyweights who know how to punch, those guys are going to be dead. It was very dangerous. I wasn't excited about it. I didn't hurt my hand or anything, but you can't throw full power in those things because you'll break your hand every time if you have any power at all.
SN: And a big deal was made over you being allowed to wear boxing shoes. What benefit is that in the cage?
TM: There is no benefit, it's just what I'm used to. As a matter of fact I would have had better traction if I had gone barefoot, because it was vinyl flooring, and it gets wet from sweat and they have to towel it off. There's no advantage, it's not like I'm kicking him.
SN: Do you think you will ever participate in an MMA event again?
TM: I'm not too excited about doing another one and I'm damn sure not going to do another one for the money they paid me. I'd do it again if they make it worth my while. I proved my point, I'm not the one who opened my mouth. They really thought this guy was going to beat me.