During my journey through the fascinating and constantly exciting world of mixed martial arts, few stories have served to humble and inspire me in the manner that my good friend Lyle Beerbohm’s has. If you’re not familiar with this undefeated mercenary of the cage with the unforgettable neon fight shorts, allow me to supply a brief summary of what “Fancy Pants” is all about.
Lyle was a star wrestler in high school before completely losing focus on his athletic side upon graduation and immersing himself in the nasty world of drugs. Crystal meth was his drug of choice and it was just a matter of time before Beerbohm found himself incarcerated inside of a state penitentiary due to his addiction to the unforgiving drug. It was during his stay in prison that Lyle had the opportunity to watch a new television show that was being called “The Ultimate Fighter”. From that point on Lyle knew what he had to do with his life to right the ship.
Beerbohm began training in mixed martial arts the day he got released from prison, literally. It was on the drive home from his time spent behind bars that Lyle begged his father to pull over and allow him to check out a local gym. He hasn’t taken a back step since.
Now sporting a professional record of 12-0, Beerbohm has made a name for himself as the type of guy that doesn’t like allowing the judges to do their jobs very often, having finished nineteen of his twenty total amateur and professional bouts. Did I mention that Beerbohm has yet to see defeat? Mark that down; Lyle has never lost a fight in his life, whether it be in a cage, ring, or prison yard.
Unfortunately for Beerbohm and “Fancy Pants” fans, his promotional debut with Strikeforce against Duane “Bang” Ludwig was stuck on the preliminary portion of the “Strikeforce Challengers: Villasenor vs. Cyborg” broadcast. Luckily for you, FiveOuncesOfPain.com was able to catch up with Beerbohm recently to get you guys the play-by-play on the fight along with much, much more in this very exclusive interview with on of the sport’s fastest rising talents.
FiveOuncesOfPain: There were a bunch of people that were unable to catch your most recent bout with Duane Ludwig due to it not being aired on the main card of the June 19 Strikeforce Challengers series, would you mind briefly taking me through that fight from the point you two touched gloves to the bout’s conclusion?
Lyle Beerbohm: I was really confident going into that fight with Duane. I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life; mentally and physically. The ref said fight, and we met in the middle of the cage, we didn’t touch gloves. I got right down to business. I threw a low leg kick that landed, faked another leg kick then shot in for the takedown. It took me a second to get him down, but I got the job done. Before we even hit the ground I had already passed his guard. He underhooked and I gave it to him, then I went for the D’arce choke. He knew it was coming and wound up getting to his feet. I wasn’t giving him any room and I think he got frustrated so he kicked me in the head while I was on all fours. All that did was wake me up a little bit. He got docked a point, but I didn’t want to rest so we started fighting immediately. I tried kicking him in his head but he blocked it. Then I shot right in for the takedown. Duane had a good sprawl, so once again it took me a second to get him down. Once I brought the action to the canvas this time around I ended up in his butterfly guard. I did a little ground and pound and ended up passing his guard. He got his underhook in but I knew what he was gonna do this time around. I gave him a little room and he tried to get up. We ended up in a scramble and from there I took his back and Beer Naked him. That was that.
FiveOuncesOfPain: Can you explain the intricacies of the “Beer-Naked Choke” to me?
Lyle Beerbohm: The Beer-Naked Choke is something I taught myself. Well, at least the way I do it. I have your back like I’m going for a rear naked choke, but then I flip to the other side so I have the back of your head in my armpit. Then I say gimme your lunch money. I go for the finish and that is the only thing I’m thinking about as I constrict; finish, finish, finish! You’re going to see me catch a lot of people with that choke. I catch people in that thing all the time, and it’s nasty. It just clicked probably two or three months ago. One day it just clicked for me, and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me!’. Then I went back out there and I did it again, then to another guy, and another guy and it just clicked for me.
FiveOuncesOfPain: That’s awesome. So people from your gym know it’s coming sometimes and they can’t do anything about it?
Lyle Beerbohm: Nope, they can’t. Maybe it’s my body style, I don’t know what it is, but you can’t stop it [laughs].
FiveOuncesOfPain: It sounds like it’s almost like a strength choke from the way you describe it. Like once you have it in position you can just pull until you nearly pop the head completely off of the shoulders.
Lyle Beerbohm: Yeah, it kind of is. As long as you have it underneath the nose, where it’s right around the lips, you’ll be giving me your neck.
FiveOuncesOfPain: Hearing all of those different bones snapping and popping in the back of your neck and inside of your face is never a comfortable feeling.
Lyle Beerbohm: Right, and when I was fighting bang I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get the choke around his neck before I realized that he had ahold of my glove. So I told the ref, ‘Hey, he has my glove’, and as soon as he let go of my glove he tapped out. That choke just gets so tight, and I was only going probably 60 or 70% with it. As soon as I had him in that position my entire corner jumped up because they knew the fight was over.
FiveOuncesOfPain: So what’s next for you? Any word as to where or who you’re going to be fighting next?
Lyle Beerbohm: I’m going to be fighting at “Arena Rumble” in Spokane, Washington on September 12. It’s being put on by the owner of the Spokane Shock which is an Arena Football team. They get around 12,000 to 15,000 people to their football games and they’re expecting about 5,000 to 10,000 people to show up to this fight, so that should be really fun. There’s some other really good fighters on the card as well like Jeremy Horn and Trevor Prangley, so it should be a real fun night of fights.
FiveOuncesOfPain: Who’s your opponent going to be for that one?
Lyle Beerbohm: I’m not really positive yet. I just signed the contract so Strikeforce still has to approve my opponent.
FiveOuncesOfPain: Oh, alright. Are you expecting to fight on the October Strikeforce Challengers card as well?
Lyle Beerbohm: I was told that I would be fighting on the October card as long as everything goes good in September for me.
FiveOuncesOfPain: You’re always been the kind of guy that wants to fight the best guys out there. I know you were recently willing to step up and fight Gilbert Melendez on a weeks notice, you were recently trying to line up a fight with Jorge Gurgel, and I know for a fact that you would jump at an opportunity to face off with Josh Thomson. Do you feel like you have a problem getting some of the fights against the top guys out there because you may be too big of a threat?
Lyle Beerbohm: Well, to be honest with you, what I don’t understand is how this upcoming fight between Billy Evangelista and Jorge Gurgel may have title implications when Evangelista is coming off of a loss. I have nothing against Billy, he’s a tough guy, but I’m coming off of an impressive victory right now.
FiveOuncesOfPain: Tell me how you have been able to see yourself evolve as a fighter since you first jumped into the sport fresh out of prison back in 2007?
Lyle Beerbohm: Well I used to get kind of nervous before some of my fights, but not anymore. Well I wasn’t nervous during my first few professional fights, I just wanted to go out there, fight and win. Then I started kind of nervous before my fights right around my fifth fight or sixth fight, but now I’m back to, ‘I’m just gonna go out and fight, and win’. Right now my skill level is where it needs to be, and so now I have all of the confidence in the world to be completely honest. I know that I’m not ever going to quit in a fight, I’m going to give you hell, and I’m going to break you. Especially now, because I now that I have the skills to back it up. So now, I’m just a wrecking machine. I have all of the confidence in the world and I have the skills to back it up so I can’t wait to fight the best.
FiveOuncesOfPain: Yeah, I could totally see how there would come that point during your fifth or sixth win in a row where you start worrying about protecting that unblemished record. You had to think about that undefeated record before you would go out there to fight.
Lyle Beerbohm: Oh, for sure. And then you get these people that are talking like that. “Dude, maybe you shouldn’t take that fight”, “Oh, don’t fight Rafaello Oliveira. Dude, he’s undefeated and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”. I stopped listening to all of that talk a long time ago. I learned more from that fight alone, than all of my other fights. I came home after that fight, and that’s when I really started to step things up. I’m a completely different fighter now, even from when I fought him. He taught me a lot. When it comes to a fight, I don’t really care. I’ll fight whoever, really, when it comes down to it.
FiveOuncesOfPain: It seems like any time we hear about Lyle Beerbohm, it’s nearly impossible to not hear about the “Fancy Pants”. I know your mother is the woman behind the fancy pants, are there any plans to possibly market the fancy pants in the future? Maybe somewhere where fans could pick up their own autographed fancy pants memorabilia?
Lyle Beerbohm: Oh yeah, already on top of that. If you want a pair of Fancy Pants my Mom will make you a custom pair for 50$ Hit me up at [email protected]
FiveOuncesOfPain: So is it just the “Fancy Pants” or can your mom have the ability to make shirts and other custom “Fancy” clothing as well?
Lyle Beerbohm: Oh yeah, my mom does embroidery. It’s a little more expensive when you have to embroider stuff, but she can custom make anything you want. If you want any type of “Fancy Pants” gear, she can make it. I also have some brand new signature “Fancy Pants” shirts that are available as well. I’ve already sold quite a few of the customized “Fancy Pants”. My mom’s having fun. She’s seventy years old and she’s not doing much other than making a pair of “Fancy Pants” a day and she’s happy. She’s having a lot of fun doing it.
FiveOuncesOfPain: Oh yeah, she’s probably having a blast doing it. I’m sure she enjoys staying busy.
Lyle Beerbohm: Absolutely. I try to stay as connected to the fans as possible. I talk to all of these guys all the time. I talk to people on Myspace, send out autographs if the fans really want them, I love this sport and the countless loyal fans that support it.
FiveOuncesOfPain: There’s another guy out there at lightweight that’s known for rocking some pretty fancy pants in his fights by the name of Shinya Aoki. What are your thoughts on Aoki, and is he someone you may want to meet in a “Battle of the Fancy Pants” some day?
Lyle Beerbohm: I’ve always thought that I match up well with him. Just because of the simple fact that my submission defense is really good. Especially when he tries that rubber guard or that high guard he does. I think I would match up really well with him. It would be a really fun fight. I’d love to fight Aoki.
FiveOuncesOfPain: Do you think the rules in Japan benefit his style to some extent due to the fact that elbows are not allowed?
Lyle Beerbohm: I’ve always been a fighter first. If there are rules, I can adjust to them, if there’s no rules, I’m good there too. Whatever it takes. If I’m allowed to throw elbows, I’m throwing elbows. If not, then I’m dropping heavy punches. If I’m allowed to kick a downed opponent, then I’ll kick you in the face. If we can head butt, we can head butt, I’ll do whatever it takes. It doesn’t really matter to me when it comes to rules, I can adjust to whatever.
FiveOuncesOfPain: You’ve told me in the past that you were actually selling before you even began using drugs and then things started to spiral out of control rather quickly. Would you say that you discovered that you have a naturally addictive personality, and that you sort of replaced that addiction with MMA upon your release?
Lyle Beerbohm: Oh, 100%. In the past I used to put all of my time and energy into getting that drug. In the beginning I had a rich girlfriend so I didn’t have to pay for anything because I always had her money to spend on it. Once her and I broke up I was left with this raging addiction and I was left sitting there wondering how I was going to get money. I was never a thief. That’s never who I was. But when you have that big of an addiction you just have to feed it. I just went with the flow. I did a lot of things I regret during that time. I would spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week thinking about different ways I could come up on some money. I would think of anything I could do. You’re always moving, hustling, you’re always doing something. So now, I put all of my time and energy into fighting. I’m always thinking about fighting. I’m always watching fighting. I’m always at the gym. You know, when it comes down to it, MMA saved my life. It’s completely cleared my head after so many years of just existing in this fog. Say I go to practice tonight and break my neck; I wouldn’t go back on drugs no matter what. I’ve got my head back, I’ve got my life back. I don’t need MMA like I did when I first got out of prison. I live my life now, and I don’t “need” it. I love life, it’s really amazing. Mixed Martial Arts is really the ultimate reason that I’m able to live my life this way now. It’s done that for me.
FiveOuncesOfPain: It has to feel just absolutely amazing coming from where you were just a few years ago, basically rock bottom, to the point you have today. You’re the father and son you always meant to be, you have a bright future in front of you. Do you ever have to just pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming?
Lyle Beerbohm: It really just feels amazing. My entire family supports me. I have a really great girlfriend now that I’m about to marry. I mean, my life couldn’t be better.
FiveOuncesOfPain: You really did a 180 with your life, and now you’re living as positive as possible. Competing in a sport you love, you have a tight relationship with your family again, your a great father to your children now. What would be your message to someone in your shoes before you went to prison. From someone that’s been there and done that, what would you tell a guy that’s living the kind of life you used to?
Lyle Beerbohm: At one point in my life I was sitting around and I was thinking, ‘I never want to quit doing meth. I don’t care what happens. I’m never gonna quit’. So what I would tell that person is just this: never give up. Never give up, because I was under the table, I was down, and I just never gave up and eventually I cleaned myself up and turned my life around. I would just say that it’s never too late to change your life. It really isn’t.