Exclusive Interview with UFC Connected’s Showdown Joe Ferraro (Part Two)

Note: If you haven’t read part one of this exclusive and candid interview with “Showdown” Joe Ferraro, you can read it here! http://lowkick.blitzcorner.com/UFC/Part-One-Exclusive-Interview-with-UFC-Connecteds-Showdown-Joe-Ferraro-13514

For those outside of Canada, Joe Ferraro for many years was a “jack of all trades”. One of the hardest working people around that has helped legitimize the sport in Canada and legalize it in the province of Ontario. Not only did Joe wear the commentary headset for events, he also owned his own fight clothing company, worked as a consultant, and manager. As a promoter, he worked in the early days with the likes of Georges St. Pierre, Rich Franklin, and Sean Sherk. To date, he is the only person in MMA media that is a Big John McCarthy C.O.M.M.A.N.D. certified referee and judge. Today, most of us know him as the host of the popular Rogers Sportsnet show “UFC Connected” and also the host of The Fan 590’s MMA show “The Showdown”.

In the first part of our interview we talked about the growth of our sport in Canada, the importance of being a John McCarthy C.O.M.M.A.N.D. certified official, and which fighter from his days working as promoter surprise him today. For part two I get a chance to talk to him about his famous interview with UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen, what needs to be done to help develop fighters on the grassroots level, and find out exactly why fighters “insult” him on his show.

How do you keep a straight face during interviews? I was watching your interview with Chael Sonnen yesterday. If I was in your position, I think I’d burst out laughing most of the time.
(Laughs) You always got to have that mindset. You got to be unbiased; you got to be extremely professional. There will be times when guys out there out say things that are so outlandish and it’s not just Chael Sonnen. Sometimes you want to call these guys on what they are saying, but you understand what they are trying to do, and I got other questions to move on to.

Sometimes people want me to air these twenty minute, forty five minute interviews, but we just can’t. We can only air three to four minutes per segment for the show. A lot of stuff hits the floor and I’m always saying to myself “did he just say that? Should I follow up with another question?” I did it with Chael regarding the Fedor stuff. He was saying Fedor’s real record was 3-2 and Wanderlei Silva’s fights in Japan were fake, both of which I disagreed with. But I do understand what Chael was trying to doing and what he was saying. I just sort of had to make a point.

I remember when Chael said this one time that he defeated everybody in the Middleweight division. This was during the show in Vancouver last year UFC 115. The first thing that popped in my mind when he made that comment, I was cage side at UFC 95 when Damian Maia choked him out. I knew he didn’t beat everyone in the division, but again I knew where he was going, we had to let it go because we were on live TV, and I had to get these next three points across.

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You have big dreams of one day seeing MMA treated as a “true sport” with a strong amateur development program and grass roots circuit. What do you think needs to be done to make this work? Do you think a system like Shooto’s would be suitable?
I don’t think we have enough time in this interview to cover this topic to be honest with you. I can only speak on what is happening in Ontario. Can’t really speak on what’s going on in British Columbia or Alberta or the Maritimes. Right now it’s the same as before, professional Mixed Martial Arts just got sanctioned here in Ontario. There’s a lot of politics involved and when I say politics what I mean is some of the people who work within the government don’t have the best interests of Mixed Martial Arts or the development of fighters. What they are doing is simply doing their job and according to their job there is a forty point system that must be met for amateur Mixed Martial Arts it to be recognized as a sport.

Look it’s a sport. We already know it’s a sport, forget this forty point system. We can match whatever they want, but if you don’t know someone in the government, or you’re not connected to the right guy it’s nothing will get done. I’m going to be honest with you Ryan, amateur Mixed Martial Arts should have been sanctioned, regulated, and considered a sport five or six years ago. We’re talking back in the Ultimate Fighter days, when TUF first aired on television. But because certain people are in charge and you don’t know them personally and because they don’t know you, they don’t want to listen to what you have to say. They end up bringing in other people that they know, that they’ve worked with over the years, and they got them taking care of it. I just sit back, roll my eyes, and hope this gets changes sooner or later. Because this isn’t happening the way it needs to happen.

This is akin to minor hockey in Ontario. They won’t allow minor hockey in Ontario, but they’ll allow the Toronto Maple Leafs or Ottawa Senators to play hockey. They’ll allow the Vancouver Canucks to come play here, but we can’t develop hockey players in a minor hockey system because the people who are in charge don’t believe minor hockey is like professional hockey, and don’t think it’s important to develop the kids. The blueprint is there, they just don’t want to listen, and deal with their own people. It’s a very unfortunate situation.

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If the development in our sport was done, the way it should be done, I can guarantee you; I can walk into Vancouver and talk to the likes of UFC veteran Bill Mahood (MMA pioneer /advocate in Vancouver). I can say “Bill, here’s a system we have here. Here’s why I think it works, here’s what they’ve been doing in Japan, and here’s what I think should be done.” I can explain to him why the development will work for a 14 year old boy until he turns 18 so he can get at least thirty Mixed Martial Arts bouts at the beginner, intermediate, and advance level. That way when they do turn 19, reach that age of maturity, and can fight professionally they aren’t entering the cage with a record of 0-0; they have thirty fights behind their belt. Right now the situation in Ontario, we’re just sitting there having to jump through hoops and red tape. Unfortunately, now this is now out of my hands, and the government doesn’t want to hear what I have to say. So I’m just waiting my time, for the right people to be in charge so we can get this thing going.

I have a set of some quick fun questions that I like to call my final flurry.
(laughs) Uh Oh.

We talked a lot about serious topics; let’s move on to something more fun:

Favorite meal before an event?
Anything that doesn’t have carbs, as long as I have guacamole, some salad, maybe a nice piece of chicken, or fish. That way I’m not sitting Octagon side with a full stomach and my body is too busy digesting as opposed to paying attention to the action in the cage. Something nice, light, fills me up with some protein, and guacamole. Gotta always have the guacamole.

Your dream main event?
Marco “The King of The Streets” Ruas in his prime versus Anderson Silva in his prime.

What would you be doing now if you weren’t involved in MMA?
Oh wow, I don’t know. This is all I know…I’d probably be in some sort of account manager involved in sales, marketing, or promoting. Those are some of my strong points; I absolutely love taking a look at a product, and getting it out to a mass market. Ya, I’d probably be some sort of account manager involved in sales or marketing.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Hanging out with my infant son, playing golf, playing ball hockey. You don’t have to do much to convince me to grab a stick and play run around the pavement or bring me out to the links. I’m really big into self-improvement. I’m reading non-stop, I’m listening to podcasts. I’m trying to further my business brand, always educating myself. You can stick me in a library or a book store all day and I’ll be happy.

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What’s currently playing in your iPod right now?
Bob Marley, Damien Marley gotta have that for sure. Some Eminem, some old school Hip-Hop from the Geto Boys. I have a lot of mixes from DJ AL3, the official DJ of the UFC, a lot of his stuff playing. I got a lot of rock too. Anything and everything, what I do is when I get in my truck; I plug in my iPhone, put it on shuffle, and just let it go.

An ongoing gag on your show, you always have fighters and personalities insulting you in a joking way. Where did this idea come from?
My producer Bobby Torrens, he’s a senior producer here at Sportsnet, and one of the best in the country. The first time we did an interview for MMA Connected, we wanted to do a bumper. “I’m such and such and you’re watching UFC Connected with Showdown Joe.” He told the fighter to actually talk trash about me and it caught me off guard and I was like “wow that was good.” Every so often when they get those done, we cut into commercial break, and I see the bumper I don’t know what to expect.

This goes back to UFC 100, when Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping were going back and forth. When he called Michael Bisping a “d-bag” and then when he recorded his bumper he said “Showdown Joe is a d-bag as well.” (laughs) It’s a lot fun. It’s crazy though because some of the fans think the fighters legitimately don’t like me. It’s a joke, it’s all in good fun, smile guys, enjoy it.

Thanks for the time Joe; it truly has been an honor. Where can our readers find out more about you, UFC Connected, The Showdown on Fan 590, and of course shoutouts you’d like to make.
Just check out showdown.ca, that’s my website. You can check out all of my stuff there, you can also go to sportsnet.ca/mma. All of our video content is up there, my blog is up there, and you can find my radio show there too. You can find The Showdown radio show in Toronto on the Fan 590, Fan 960 in Calgary, and hopefully we can get it in Vancouver soon. The podcasts go up on Mondays. Follow me on Twitter @ShowdownJoe, keep up to date on the all the stuff I’m doing, and reading.

For more on “Showdown” Joe Ferraro check out his website showdown.ca, sportsnet.ca/mma, and add him on twitter @ShowdownJoe.