Don Frye is the last of a dying breed. A true cowboy from the old days, “The Pedator” seems to have had the misfortune of being born about one hundred years to late. Every time I speak with Don I get the sense that he would have been right at home riding into town on the back of his trusty stead with his six-shooters at his side and getting into a good old fashioned brawl at the local saloon.
One of the original pioneers of this amazing sport, Frye was laying beatdowns on guys in the UFC back in 1996. He won the UFC 8 tournament and the Ultimate Ultimate 96 tournament before making his way over to the PRIDE organization where he became an absolute superstar in Japan while waging war with the likes of Ken Shamrock and Yoshihiro Takayama.
After a recent loss to Ikuhisa Minowa at Deep in August of 2008, Frye was self admittedly ‘feeling sorry for himself’, wondering if there was any point to continuing on with his fighting carer at forty two years of age. However, it didn’t take long for one of the toughest men to have ever walked the planet earth to decide that it was time to ‘be a man again’.
There is much more on the line than just another victory in the mixed martial arts legend’s upcoming bout with Rich Moss at this Saturday evening’s Shark Fight 4 event taking place in Lubbock, Texas. The fight with Moss has fifteen long years of history behind it, and has been brewing and building for the last ten.
Tomorrow evening’s bout with Moss may very well prove to be the most personally significant fight in Frye’s prestigious career. Moss and Frye have both been longtime students to Judo master Steve Owens. With Owens having touted Moss as his best student for countless years running, Frye is out to show that he is the best student by laying a beating on his longtime friend and rival in Texas.
In an exclusive interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com the future UFC hall of famer discussed the ‘sibling rivalry’ that has been building up between him and his opponent for Saturday night, hopefully having the chance to one day knock Fedor Emelianenko ‘on his ass’, his role in the new Michael Mann film “Public Enemies” and who would win in a fight between the stars from the film, Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.
Cory Brady for FiveOuncesOfPain.com: I know the last time I spoke with you after your bout with Minowa in Japan you were considering leaving mixed martial arts, what were some of the factors behind your decision to return to the ring?
Don Frye: I quit feeling sorry for myself. I got beat and I felt sorry for myself for a while but finally it became time for me to be a man again. If you get bucked off of the horse you have to get right back in the saddle. Otherwise if you get scared you’ll never ride again.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How are you feeling physically heading into your fight with Rich Moss?
Don Frye: I feel like a million dollars baby! I almost look as good as Miss America.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Who are some of the key people that have been helping you to prepare for this one?
Don Frye: Well, I’ve been training with Rocco Santoli, my boxing guy, and Steve Owen. Steve was training me up until he found out that I was going to be fighting Rich and then he pulled out of training me. Steve was Rich’s sensei too, and that’s kind of what started the whole fight. I know Rich, you know, I like Rich, he’s an acquaintance of mine. I’ve been training with Steve for fifteen years now and I got tired of hearing about how Rich is his best student. I’m like ‘Bullshit, I’m your best student!’, and now I’m going to prove it. We were a couple kids, a couple of brothers always trying to compete for the attention of the father. This fight is a sibling rivalry.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So it’s a battle to determine who the best student is once and for all then, huh?
Don Frye: You’re damn right it is.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So how long has this fight been building?
Don Frye: Probably for about ten years. Like I said, I was with Steve for fifteen years, and after five years of hearing about Rich Moss I got tired of it. Now after fifteen years I’m really tired of it!
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: I know Rich is a National Judo Champion, but how do you feel you match up with him in mixed martial arts and what do you expect for him to bring to the table?
Don Frye: I think we match up really good but unfortunately for Rich, I have about thirty pounds on him and that’s going to help me out. Rich is a man. He’s man enough to step up to the plate. He knows that I have thirty pounds on him, but he’s still going to show up to fight. He’s not making any excuses, and win or lose he’s not going to make any excuses. Luckily for me he was dumb enough to sign up for an MMA fight instead of a Judo fight [laughs].
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So outside of the weight differential, what do you think will be some of your key advantages over Moss in this fight?
Don Frye: Well, my boxing’s better than his, my wrestling is better than his, I’m better looking than him, I’m more intelligent. I have a wide variety of advantages over Rich Moss. Well, except for the Judo. I just need to be careful,not to get hit with a fancy Judo throw. I have to stay the hell away from those because he’s really good at that stuff.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So you’ll give him the edge in the Judo department at least?
Don Frye: I’ll give him the edge in the Judo department, yeah, but this is MMA [laughs].
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Do you have any kind of idea as to how many more fights you’d like to have before stepping away from the game or are you just taking things one fight at a time right now?
Don Frye: Well hell, for every fighter out there, every fight they take is potentially their last fight, so you just have to shoot from the hip. I’d like to stick around for a couple of more years unless I strike it rich in Hollywood in the movie department.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Is there anyone that you would really just love to beat the crap out of before you hang them up for good?
Don Frye: Yeah, everyone I lost to. I want to get revenge on them bastards.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So you’d like to possibly get in there with Gary Goodridge one more time?
Don Frye: Yes I do, yes I do [laughs]. Him and that big British kid James Thompson. You name it, if they beat me, I want to fight them. The same thing goes with anyone that I’ve beat. If they want a rematch, I’m man enough to give them a rematch.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Yeah, the fight with James Thompson was amazing.
Don Frye: Amazing for him [laughs].
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: I thought it was a good fight though. It’s one of my favorite heavyweight battles to watch.
Don Frye: Yeah, how come?
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: It was just such a brutal fight. Even though you ended up on the losing end of that one, you did damage early, then when he had you rocked you stayed on your feet for over a minute while he was hitting you with everything he had, and you still kept firing back. That was the fight, to me, that really showed how tough of a son of beach you really are.
Don Frye: Well thanks partner. I didn’t mean to turn away, I just thought I heard the bell [laughs]. Hell, I was hearing bells for at least a minute before the ref stopped the fight, so when the bell rung I just thought the round was over [laughs].
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Now on top of your other roles in films such as Miami Vice and more recently, Big Stan, I know that you are appeared in a film with Christian Bale and Johnny Depp called Public Enemies. Any word on when that film is set to release?
Don Frye: It comes out on July 1. That’s going to be a hell of a movie. I’ll tell you, Michael Mann can make a movie like nobody else. This one will be almost as good as the movie “Heat” that he made. I just can’t believe that I actually got paid to watch Johnny Depp and Christian Bale act, you know. I got to hang out with Stephen Lang the whole time and work closely with him. Really, this is a hell of a movie.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Could you ever have imagined growing up as a kid that you would one day be appearing in big budget blockbusters alongside the likes of movie stars like Johnny Depp and Christian Bale?
Don Frye: Well yeah, but I thought I’d be appearing with stars like John Wayne and Robert Mitchum, you know. Then they both died on me [laughs].
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Did you have a chance to meet either Christian Bale or Johnny Depp, and if so, how were they in person?
Don Frye: You know, they’re both really good guys. I talked with both of them several times and they’re really down to earth, good old boys just earning their way as they go. There has to be something with the whole Christian Bale incident (the incident on the set of Terminator Salvation where Bale was recorded yelling at a crew member), there’s got to be more to it. Someone probably got up Christian’s ass and then the other boy walked into it and Christian just took it out on him. They were all really polite to me. They knew I was just a bumbling idiot out there stumbling my way through there, but they all understood and they treated me as a professional.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Who would win in a mixed martial arts bout, Johnny or Christian?
Don Frye: [Laughs]
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: It would have to be a catch-weight possibly? Are they about the same size?
Don Frye: Yeah, they’re about the same size but I’d have to go with Christian probably, because he’s British and those British are a bunch of tough bastards. You know, Johnny Depp, he’s a tough old Kentucky boy, but he went and ran off to France, and you know that if you hang out in France and drink their water for too long you’re gonna become kind of a sissy.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Who are some of your favorite fighters to watch in MMA right now? Is there anyone that you really look forward to it when they fight?
Don Frye: Well I like watching Fedor. Me and everybody else on the planet likes to watch Fedor fight. Hell, I’d like to watch him fight me. I’d like to watch Fedor get knocked on his ass fighting me. I also like watching B.J. Penn fight. B.J.’s a good old boy. I get a kick out of that guy. Another great fighter is Melvin Manhoef. He’s a great athlete. I like watching Melvin fight all the time. That boy’s tough as nails.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Yeah, you just named one of my favorite fighters. He reminds of a kickboxing version of a young Mike Tyson.
Don Frye: [Laughs] Yeah, he’s a tough little bastard.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Out of Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez and Shane Carwin, who do you think stands the best chance of becoming the future of the heavyweight division?
Don Frye: Well I’ve never seen Shane Carwin or Cain Velasquez fight so I wouldn’t know anything about them. Brock’s only had three fights. I mean he’s the heavyweight champion of the UFC and he only has three fights? C’mon guys. That just shows the status of the business right there.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Alright Don, thanks for your time. Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Don Frye: I want to thank GLC 2000. It keeps my joints moving. If it wasn’t for that GLC 2000 I’d be curled up like a webbed spider in the corner somewhere.