Kimo Leopoldo Interview
“I don’t think tapping would be allowed if I saw him” – Kimo
At UFC 3 a man simply known as Kimo walked down to the octagon carrying a Cross preaching the word of the Lord. Royce Gracie preached Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 101 and submitted him at the 4:40 mark of the bout.
Despite the loss, the pony-tailed born again Hawaiian sporting a large “Jesus” tattoo across his stomach, earned himself a spot in UFC history as being the first man to make the Brazilian champion appear beatable. Kimo would go on to fight 5 more times in the UFC going 2-4 but failed to capture the momentum he had seized in his debut fight.
The self proclaimed brawler from Hawaii has recently become more known for his addiction problems and being declared dead than he has for his in ring accomplishments.
The once born again Christian looks to be born yet again and has his eyes set on going out the way he came in…..
StrLive: Kimo thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Before we start talking about the obvious, why don’t you catch us up on what you’ve been up to lately?
Alright. I’ve been trying to get a team together, coaching some fighters…not a school, just individuals and I’ve got a couple B movies I did. Just been trying to keep myself busy, actually just had couple operations I’m healing off and rehabbing.
StrLive: Who are some of the guys you’re training with?
I’ve got a couple unknowns, up and comers, Joseph Gonzales, he’s one of them. He’s a lightweight, he has one fight, 1-0 record. Right now like I said, I had a couple surgeries so I’m having to sit back right now and do the rehab. I’m the kind of coach, I got to get down there with you, get dirty with you, I can’t be telling you what to do. I got to get there on the mat and adjust you.
StrLive: Let’s discuss your time in the UFC….
It was a privilege to me. At the time I fought in the UFC it wasn’t really too established yet. It(UFC) was an up and coming sport, it wasn’t even really a sport; it wasn’t called no MMA. Thanks to guys like Royce Gracie and his brother that actually brought the show here from Brazil, that opened peoples eyes to a new style, a new art and actually evolved into what is now MMA.
StrLive: You mentioned Royce, what are your feelings towards him?
Well, when I see Royce…actually I did a show down in Manila called “Ring of Fire”, where we were actually coaches. Guys like Shamrock(Ken), Royce, Barnett(Josh), a few other fighters had actual teams…I had the alternates. It was actually the first time I’ve ran into him one on one and there was no ill feelings, it was all smiles…he was a class act.
StrLive: Were you ever offered a rematch against him(Royce)?
It was offered to me at UFC 4. At that time my manager…I was so new in my career that I didn’t really understand on how things went so I didn’t take the rematch. We tried to let Joe Son step up into the ring and most of us know what happened on that(laughs). After that I never got the opportunity to fight him and recently he took a fight with Matt Hughes and Matt just demolished him so it’s not even worth the rematch anymore.
StrLive: What’s your relation with Dana White like? Is there still a chance of seeing you back inside the Octagon one last time?
My relationship with Dana is not too great. I don’t know what the deal is. Dana’s a busy man, he’s got a lot going on and he’s got a total different perspective than the fighters do. He’s looking at it as a businessman and keeping it going and make some money, whereas I’m a fighter, I’m a laborer, my blood sweat tears are put into that ring.
As far me fighting again? If the fans out there will take the time out to go on www.fightengine.com and cast a vote and say “yea we want see Kimo fight again”, they can name any opponent they want me to fight. How many of you would like to see a rematch with Bob Sapp MMA style? If I get enough votes out there, that will give me the motivation and negotiating power to go ahead and put a fight together. If you guys watched me fight, I fought at UFC 3 carrying a cross and you didn’t see that happen again for the rest of my career. I’m a Christian but I made some bad choices and I didn’t live the clean life to represent it at that point(carrying the cross), but I want to go out the way I came in, carrying that cross but this time I’m going to need the help of the fans.
StrLive: Kimo let’s talk about the hot topic surrounding you at the moment. The guy who started the rumor of you being dead has come forward and admitted to it…
I don’t know his name, I’ve seen his picture. I did see an interview where he did a press conference after the fact and it was…actually it was TAPOUT radio that allowed this CLOWN, I call him a clown because he’s a joke…that TAPOUT radio would even give him the time of day and the space on their website too allow him to rebuttal, to give an interview that was mocking my interview, I don’t really understand that. Also as far as the media is concerned, I’m not talking about you guys, but the guys who did the quick reporting, not one of them has called me or got a hold of me to apologize in anyway whatsoever.
StrLive: What type of action are you considering taking?
I wanted to fight this guy, I was hoping this guy would be big enough for me to step into the ring and squash him. I saw he’s 150lbs, he ain’t worth my time. I was asked how do I feel about him doing this and I was kind of kind about my answer. I said “you know what he probably did it as a joke and it blew up pretty big and he didn’t expect it that way”,so I didn’t really think much about it until I heard his press conference clowning me. I think the guy has no respect, he’s a joke. I would love to see the guy, it don’t matter if he’s 150lbs…
StrLive: Maybe you can get one of the 8yr olds in your gym to fight him and make him tap out.
I don’t think tapping out is allowed if I see him.
StrLive: Moving ahead, let’s talk more about your career. What would you consider your biggest accomplishment and contribution to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts
My greatest accomplishment is to sustain and evolve along with the sport. I started when it was just, judo vs karate vs all different styles. It evolved into where it actually became weight classes, time limits, rules and I was able to evolve with the sport and maintain a career over 12yrs.
What have I contributed to the sport? If people followed me and listened to me and take some of advice or just learn anything from me, that would be like one of my greatest accomplishments. I learned hands on I was able able to go from basically brawling to getting technique and skills and getting the mentality to fight as a sport.
StrLive: If you could hand pick one opponent you would fight right now, injuries and all, who would it be?
Dana White. He has a legitimate chance against me right now because of injuries, because I’m a little older, he’s younger than me, and because anybody has a chance if they step into the ring. If he’s got the balls to talk all this smack come on in the ring. But in reality, as far as an opponent, I never picked an opponent. I always let my fans pick it or my camp pick. I’m a firm believer of, a true fighter, a true warrior, lives by the code “anyone, anytime, anywhere”.
StrLive: What’s your association with New Era Fighting? I heard about a reality show in the works. Is that still the plan?
A lot of things are still in the works. Until you sign a contract it’s all talk. I’m still associated with New Era , we had some setbacks, some things happened that weren’t too fair.
StrLive: You previously mentioned acting in “B” movies…where can fans see you act?
The movie I did, its called “In the Closet”. It’s a horror flick. I played the minion; we’re actually going to have a grand opening in Hawaii, we’re not settled on a date yet. They’re actually going to open it up in theaters over there.
StrLive: Any last words?
I want to give a shout out to Silver Star clothing. Luke over there at Silver Star who has always backed me when everybody else is clowning and making jokes. He’s always been there to support me. My Sensei Joe Morita who taught me and gave me the Bushido spirit and I want to thank my fans who supported me through the years and most important Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.
StrLive: I hope to see you back in the ring carrying that cross again. One of the UFC’s original legends Kimo Leopoldo. Good Luck.
Much respect and Aloha….