MMA4Real continues to be your #1 spot for North Carolina MMA. We were able to catch up with current Amateur Fight League Middleweight champion John "Big Dog" Bryant. John gives us his thoughts on a variety of things from what he loves about MMA, future plans, and in his opinion who the best middleweights in the world are. Let's get right to it:
Kelvin Hunt-John, tell us a little about yourself and how you got into MMA?
John Bryant-I was born and raised in Beaufort, NC and graduated from West Carteret High School. I attended Methodist College in Fayetteville, NC where I played football. I work at Oceanside Auto Sales in Newport, NC where I do auto detailing and reconditioning. I'm also a happily married father with a beautiful wife and four kids! Three boys and a girl. I got into MMA through one of my friends that orders all the UFC PPV's. I was over at his house and he was watching one of them so I sat down and started watching it too. Well it didn't take long for me to get hooked and I knew that this was what I wanted to do. Right away I ordered myself some jiu jitsu and submission wrestling instructionals off the internet, and started training myself. I didn't have any training partners at first, so everything I learned I practiced on my wife! She's such a good sport :). Next thing u know I'm signing up and getting my butt kicked in jiu jitsu tournaments and then I signed up for my first cage match in March of '07, the rest is history. :)
Kelvin Hunt-LOL! Your wife gets MAD props from me man! What's your favorite thing about MMA?
John Bryant-I like the competition. I'm a competitor at heart and MMA is definitely a very competitive sport. It allows me to test myself like never before, and it's something I enjoy doing. I also like the sportsmanship. I mean the fact that we get in that cage do what we have to do and when the fight is over we can hang out and chill. No hard feelings!
Kelvin Hunt-I can definitely relate. I know you mentioned played college football. Did you always know you were going to be a fighter, or were you more of a team sports kind of guy growing up?
John Bryant-I played team sports like most of the guys around my area, football and basketball being the main ones. But, I always had an interest in martial arts. I didn't know I was going to be a fighter,but I did figure on being involved with martial arts in some way or at least I hoped that I would.
Kelvin Hunt-You were crowned the Amateur Fight League middleweight champion with your last win. Give us your thoughts going into the fight, and your feelings after being crowned champ.
John Bryant-Well first I want to thank the AFL and Donnie Tinsley for giving me the opportunity to fight for the title, and also Brian Ward for taking the fight...
Well going into the fight I felt pretty confident in what I wanted to do. I felt like I was the stronger guy, and that I would be able to control the fight wherever it went. After being crowned champ I felt pretty good like I was taking a step in the right direction to where I want to go with this.
Kelvin Hunt-Good Stuff. You've been out of action since that fight back in November. What's next for you, and what do you want to accomplish in 2009?
John Bryant-Next for me is March 14th Total Cage Combat in Richmond,VA (tentatively)where I will be making my welterweight debut(oh yeah I can get down to 170lbs!).Then March 28th Southern Fight League in Greenville at the Convention Center where I will be fighting for their welterweight title. On April 18th I will be fighting for the Amateur Fight League either defending my middleweight title or fighting a welterweight bout, possibly for the title, but thats still up in the air.
I'm looking to turn pro by mid year, and start getting paid to do what I love to do. I want to go as far as possible in this sport and that means a step up in competition, so 2009 is my stepping up year!
Kelvin Hunt-I never would have thought you could make 170lbs. You have a busy schedule ahead of you! Where do you do most of your training, and what's the best thing about training there?
John Bryant-A lot of my training is done right in my backyard. I have a training area that I built with all the basics: weightlifting area, conditioning area complete with the bags and stuff and a makeshift cage where all the action happens! I train with a bunch of different guys so I also travel to train too. I also train at Elite Marital Arts Academy in Morehead City, NC with Master Russ Lewis and his wife Jen. Master Lewis(a high-level black belt taekwondo instructor and world, national, regional and state champion competitor who kicks butt!) is the reason why my stand up is so ever improving and one of the reasons why I am where I am today. Thanks guys! The best thing about training there is that Master Lewis pushes me and helps me to get better and keeps me sharp.
Kelvin Hunt-I admire your dedication in building your own training facilities. Most if not all of your fights have taken place in North Carolina. Give me your thoughts on North Carolina MMA, and the area it needs to improve most?
John Bryant-Well the only area I can really see that needs improvement now is the allowance of elbows and knees to the head. As of now only the pros can do it. It would be nice if the amateurs could too to get guys use to that type of fighting. Because when u go pro thats what it;s gonna be like and most fighters I know plan to go pro one day.
Kelvin Hunt-I feel you. I think it's more of a precautionary thing that those types of blows are not allowed with inexperienced fighers. John, none of your fights have gone the distance. How would you describe your style of fighting and what's your favorite way to win a fight? KO or Submission?
John Bryant-I like to stand and bang just as much as I like to slap on a sweet armbar or triangle. I try to keep my game as well rounded as possible. I always look for the KO, but if I can catch a guy slipping and sub him out,then thats what I'm gonna do. I try to finish all my fights and I'm always looking for a way to end it. I don't like decisions as they can go the wrong way, so I try to not let it even get to that. :)
Kelvin Hunt-I feel you. Plus, a guy that finishes fights is someone that everyone wants to see fight. What's something about John Bryant that most people would be surprised to know?
John Bryant-I'm a diehard Dragonball Z fan! So are all my kids! Saiyan Warriors!!!
Kelvin Hunt-See, I never would have guessed that! Who's your most favorite fighter of all time and why?
John Bryant-I have to Anderson Silva and Randy Couture. The Spider because I love the way he fights very technical, very swift and deadly, but also I like the fact that he's very humble too. He's not all bigheaded and arrogant like he could be. Randy is like my inspiration.. I've had people tell me I'm too old to be just getting into MMA. Then I look at what all Randy has accomplished at his age and I know as long as I take care of myself I can go as far as I want.
Kelvin Hunt-Nobody could argue with those choices. You fight at MW. What would your top five in the world look like in that division?
John Bryant-Of course hands down Anderson Silva is on top of that list. After that I don't really have any order, but i'd say right now Demian Maia is looking really good, Rich Franklin fits in there if he decides to come back to MW, Dan Henderson if he decides to come back fits in there too and i'll round it out with The Count Michael Bisping for now.
Kelvin Hunt-No love for Nate Marquardt! Haha! Well that's all I have John. Any words of wisdom or anyone you would like to thank?
John Bryant-Yes, train hard, but train smart..Thats the key to longevity in this sport!
I want to thank my wife who has been my biggest supporter, and fan in all this and who has been behind me since day one. I couldn't do it without her, love you honey! :)..Special thanks to Masters Russ and Jennifer Lewis at ELITE MARTIAL ARTS ACADEMY, thanks for training and sponsoring me guys! Thanks to my cousin Oscar who is CEO of KAYOTIC GEAR who also sponsors me,"get ya some Kayotic Gear this year!". Definitely have to thank my teammates Ed "Sandman" Jackson, Jeff "The Beast" Robinson (who's deployed to Iraq right now),and our newest member Mike "The Hammer" Hammon who along with myself make up the "East Coast Assassins" fight team. Also thanks to all my training partners and friends Brad Cook, Bobby Jacobs, Najee Muhammad, and Phil Estes and sorry to anyone I forgot I didn't mean to! In closing, thanks to MMA4Real for taking the time do this interview with me and for helping fighters like myself get out there. Thanks!
John, we here at MMA4Real would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share your thoughts with us. We wish you the best of luck coming up in March and represent North Carolina to the fullest! We hope to have you on again in the future.