When a Fighter gives up – Profile on Bob Sapp

This is a blog that has been sitting idle in the dark recesses of my mind. It has been pushed forward and inspired to see the cold light of day by a few events that have happened recently. Mainly a very recent interview I saw on ‘Mma hour by Ariel Helwani’. His guest on the show was Bob Sapp.

Here are three brief points as to why this blog was hidden in the deep recesses of the mush that passes as my mind for so long and why I didn’t do it sooner.

Number 1: I don’t like to ‘fighter bash’ and if you’re going to talk about Sapp you have to do that. Sapp and derogatory comments are like Siamese twins perpetually joined together.

Number 2: I like Sapp. Before & after our fight I talked to him…Well actually it’s more like he talked AT me! Way more than I would usually talk to an opponent or even a family member come to think of it! He’s not a bad person.

Number 3: I don’t like talking about things I’m not sure about, but after hearing the Mma Hour interview I felt like the final piece in a Jigsaw had been placed to complete the puzzle. I’m not saying I’m 100% right, how would anyone really know? But I believe I’ve got it fairly spot on.

So that’s some of the reason I haven’t done this blog sooner. Now back to the reasons I’m doing it now and the interview that kick started it.

I was interested in listening to the interview with Sapp as he takes a lot of flak (and quite rightly so) about the way he’s been fighting or not fighting as the case may be. I wanted to see how Ariel approached all this and wanted to hear Sapp’s responses.

What I’ve attempted to do in this blog is amalgamate 3 things… my experiences and conversations with Sapp, the evidence that is watching his fights and what was said in the interview with Ariel. The results are written before you.

Right here goes…

Sapp has beaten some great fighters and had some great fights in his career. At the start of his career he would’ve been getting paid VERY big money to fight and after listening to his interview on Mma Hour you can clearly hear how much value Sapp puts on money… Money is a massive, MASSIVE motivation for him. I don’t think I have to make this clear but I’ll write it any way. Sapp’s not fighting for the love of the sport.

After a fall out with K1 and thus not fighting in Japan there’s no doubt his money would have dropped off significantly. I think we need to try and remember how big of a star Sapp was in Japan. He was huge, the biggest! His face was plastered over lunch boxes, mouse mats, music (he sang songs and did music videos, released Albums that people actually bought over there) you name it Sapp’s image was on it. Even with all the ‘celebrity’ status he was enjoying back then in Japan, he did actually seem to put more effort into his fighting. Some might say not that well but if you compare it to now, back then he had the warrior’s heart of someone from the film 300. He turned up to fight, even winning when he’d been knocked down in some cases (e.g. his fight with Ernesto Hoost)

Let’s fast forward a little. Sapp has his issues with Japan. We then don’t see him for a bit, and then all of a sudden after disappearing for a while he’s back on the Mma scene. At this point Sapp has to face the fact that he’s not getting offered the money that he’s used to… not even close, but it is money none the less. As these facts are slowly sinking in I can imagine Sapp picturing all the hard training, all the punishment that he’ll have to endure, the sweat, blood and the pain he has to go through just to get that Win and collect what he now sees as a small amount of money. (Well it is in comparison to what he used to get paid in his hay day in Japan). As a fighter I can tell you that with all the hard fighting comes hard training, it’s unavoidable. A lot of people don’t realise the hardest part of a fight isn’t the actual fight itself; it’s the months of preparing for it… the training! Sapp knows this too which is why I think he came up with a plan from this point on.

A thought occurs to Sapp, a ‘loop hole’ of sorts. I think Sapp thinks to himself ‘What if I forget the training, blood, sweat and tears part, fast forward to the fight then simply give up & collect my cheque. I don’t care anymore I’m passed caring! Even though I’m not getting paid much I can do a lot of these sort of ‘give up’ fights, receive almost no damage before moving on to the next one and the next one and the next and so on’. After watching his last ten or so fights, talking to him and listening to his interview I’m pretty sure that this was and still is his thought process.

I realise you’re probably thinking to yourselves ‘Wait a minute James, you fought him’ and this is right I did and I will say this, I was totally disheartened to hear him talk on the Mma hour interview as it would seem clear that my DOUBLE LEG OF DOOM that I thought ended the fight due to it giving Sapp a crippling injury… Was in fact, I’m pretty safe in saying, Sapp just deciding to bloody well give up.

Now I fought Sapp at the first SFL in India back in March of this year. This fight was talked about and agreed at least 6 months before it happened; meaning Sapp’s ‘tap tour’ wasn’t in full swing as it is now. Myself and Sapp seemed like a good idea because in India they are into their WWE. As me and Sapp look like big wrestlers, it was thought that this would help the WWE fans relate to Mma and help in the cross over.
That’s why I felt bad for the SFL, because the fight was such an anti-climax!! I also felt bad as I was proud to be part of the SFL and in doing my bit to bring Mma to India. That fight didn’t show the new fans what Mma is all about. Quite the opposite in fact.

That’s the thing you see, Sapp is thinking about himself. He’s not thinking about MMA and how it might reflect badly on the sport. He’s not thinking about the fans or the organization that’s trying to make things happen. He’s thinking he’s not getting paid much (for him) so he can’t be assed. Like I said earlier Sapp’s not a bad guy, a little over bearing at times but not bad. But this is beside the point. Sapp’s made his mind up on which path he’s going to take and that path is no good for Mma no matter how much of a nice guy he might be.

So we’ve got Sapp not being assed because Mma so hard, training is so hard and the actual fight, guess what? Is so hard. He turns up leaving his pride and dignity at home, gets beaten, takes the loss and is then on a plane en route to the next one… and so it goes.

About Sapp… I don’t know him well by any stretch but I have talked to him about his past- the NFL, films, his future plans etc. etc. and this is the impression I’ve got of Sapp. He’s a man that’s been around, he been to the apex of the mountain. Sapp’s definitely got a big ego, he will even admit it. When he’s making these choices i.e. not fighting in fights, he’s getting a lot of abuse from fans all over the world and everyone who watches his fights. I’m sure some people that don’t even know him or what he does get an unexplainable urge to throw things at him due to the dark stormy cloud of abuse which must hang over his head, which is a collective mixture of karma and negativity . This can’t be pleasant even for a sado masochist, so instead of focusing on the fight he focuses and talks about the ‘YouTube numbers, the attendance, the promo’ he does before the fights. He’ll pretty much talk about anything that moves the concentration away from the fight and at the same time feeds his ego with talk about still being some a massive draw to his fights, even when he’s knows he’s going to lose all of them.

Sapp didn’t expect a tough interview, not because he didn’t review Ariel’s style of interview but just because HE CAN’T NOT do an interview. It keeps him in the public domain; it allows him to talk about himself. Interviews are attention, not everyone gets asked for interviews and Sapp feels it give him importance to do one. Sapp has to give interviews as it’s what ‘celebrities’ do and in Sapp’s mind he is as big a celeb today as he once was in Japan.

Having heard the interview I felt sad for Sapp, the constant laughing he was doing, I actually heard as crying (ahhhh) But at the same time I love Mma and he’s not in any way helping the sport.

The last thing I have to say on all this is that in the interview (which if you haven’t heard, is below) I thought Ariel was very patient and tried every which way to talk Sapp to give him a chance to get his side across but Sapp was in show mode. I believe Ariel did get one thing wrong though. He mentioned quite rightly that it was the promotions that were at fault for booking Sapp as they know what he’s about and that Sapp is just turtles up, gets his cheque and goes home paying no price. Where I feel Ariel got it wrong in this statement was where he said Sapp goes home paying no price. That’s wrong… Sapp does pays a price just like (and forgive me for wandering just ever so slightly off topic for a second ) I believe porn stars or prostitutes or any female working in the sex industry pay the ultimate price. How much is your pride & self-esteem worth?? Every time Sapp does what he does, he pays with little piece of his soul! I know that sounds dramatic, but it is true! It’s worth bearing in mind that Sapp’s persona is his own creation. He is a ‘joke’ because he chooses to be a ‘joke’, the fact that others now come along and call him a joke means nothing to him as he already gave himself that title way before everyone else started saying it about him. He’s self-aware, he knows what everyone thinks about him but he thought it about himself first so as long as he’s making money, he’ll keep doing it.: But it’s not without consequences as no matter who you are or how thick your skin is, it hurts when you’re talking to someone and you can tell they don’t rate you as a fighter. It hurts when your explain to people what went wrong, it hurts when you’re lying in bed at night trying to sleep going over and over the fights.

You could argue that ‘Sapp doesn’t care he’s made up his mind so it’s different in his case’ and it is to a point, but I’m telling you 110% he cares. Whether he admits it to himself or not, he cares. I could hear it in his voice sometimes when I was listening to his interview

So what’s to be done? Well whether it hurts or not, Sapp is going to taking these fights no matter what. Ariel was right when he said that it has to be known that we all get it now, the shows over move on folks nothing to see here. Now that we’re all aware of what the score is with Sapp, any promotion that deals with him has to be accountable in some way. That means the Fans have to make it clear to whoevers putting the show on that it’s not going to fly and it will tarnish the Mma organisation. In basic terms now it’s out there and we’re all talking about it, having Sapp doing his thing on a show damages the organisation more than it helps and we all need to take note of that.

One last thing, seeing this is a blog about Sapp that I’ll share with you as it was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had. It was after we fought on the SFL show back in March. After the fight Sapp got on the same bus as me as we headed off to the after party. We were seated quite far away but he might as well been sat in my head as all I seemed to hear was his voice and laugh… that fucking laugh!!
Anyway we get to the door of the club. There’s an Indian lady waiting to talk and interview all the fighters about their fights etc. So the lady starts interviewing us all… but she doesn’t get too far because anyone who knows Sapp will know, that if there’s talking to be done then he’ll be the one doing it!
That’s right you guessed it… HE had the microphone and was interviewing each fighter about how their fight went and how they felt etc.!! As Sapp got inevitably closer to talk to me my thought process was ‘WTF!! This is to going happen’! The person I’ve just fought is going to be the person interviewing me about the fight!!’ Cue surrealism… I tried my best to talk Sapp through the fight he’d just had with myself, mentioning it was a shame it finished like it did due to his injured knee. He then tried to give me credit for the DOUBLE LEG OF DOOM that led to said injured knee. I explained to Sapp (my interviewer) ‘while that was true, no one likes to win like this and it’s was a bit of an anti-climax’ I can’t remember what he said back but it was bigging me up in some way. I then realised that I was arguing, some would say, his argument and he was arguing mine! My head was going to explode at this point and I wondered if I’d actually consumed mushrooms at any point.



** Now the second reason I wanted to do this blog goes back to something I noticed in Sapp’s fight with Pudzianowski, which got on my nerves such a massive amount that I wanted to point it out. First watch Pudz first loss against Tim Silva. He gets tired, he turns a deep shade of red and then throws himself on the floor and taps shortly afterwards. Now watch his first loss against me. In the second round of that fight I go for a double leg (no doom in this one- I hadn’t quite mastered that technique yet) I don’t really get the double leg very well. But guess what!?! Pudz has had enough and does a ‘Tim Silva special’ and doesn’t really resist the take down. The choke I got him with- while it was tight – wasn’t on completely, yet he taps. This is why you’ll see as I get up that I’m shocked.

Ok now let’s watch the Sapp fight, Sapp turtles with Pudz standing over him (like the fierce but honourable Polish warrior he wishes he was) landing punches. Sapp taps, surprise and what does Pudz do? Carries on punching… Why? Because he’s a bully. He knows he was going to get the Win; he just wanted to do what comes naturally to him… I.e. Bully. It’s so clear to me that when it’s put on him, he falls to the floor, doesn’t want to know and taps. When he’s got it ‘in the bag’ he wants to do extra damage just for the sake of it to make him look like the big man. Just thought I’d highlight this as I hate weak behaviour like this. Please let me know if you think I’ve got it wrong.




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