Anthony Leone will be fighting at Bellator 83 against former Bellator champ Zach Markovsky. We sat down with Leone to talk about the fight, his goals and more.
How’s it going today?
Things are going great. Just got done with a training session and just preparing for the last couple of days.
You are scheduled to fight Zach Makovsky at Bellator 83 in about two weeks. How’s training camp changing now that it is winding down?
It’s really good. I’m really just getting myself some fine details in now. Sorry, I’m on the treadmill right now. Just fine details in and a lot more pad work. And this is my last week hard. We’ll go till Friday pretty hard and just worry about my weight next week.
This fight is at 135lbs. Do you have a big cut from your walking weight, or do you tend to stay in the 140s?
Yeah, I wish I was one of those 140 guys, really. I actually started my career at ’55. I’ve only had like 3 fights at ’35, most of them were at ’45. So unfortunately I’m… I did the Jiu Jitsu World Games like a month and a half ago at 162, and I just made weight for that. So I’m one of those heavier guys.
So the weight cut to fight in this weight class is not a fun process for you?
No, man. It’s really horrible. It changes your whole outlook on everything.
Zach is the former bantamweight champion. Safe to say this is one of your biggest fights of your career?
This fight, yeah. Every fight is definitely big. You know, everybody says it. Every fight’s really big in your career. But definitely this one has some type of cloud over my head where I have a picture of Makovsky on my refrigerator. I wake up every morning and I see that guy, and I really… I haven’t thought about a fight more than I’ve ever thought about this one.
What was going through your mind when Bellator offered you this fight as your fourth fight with them?
Oh, I was excited. I found out maybe August or September that they were thinking about it and I was in Thailand training. I was like let’s just get this contract, let’s do this. What an opportunity, you know?
Makovsky is likely the favorite in your fight according to the odds makers. Does being the underdog have any effect on you?
I was probably, the majority of my fights that… Well, I was probably the underdog. So it really doesn’t bother me. I hope my friends bet on me – and family – and make a lot of money.
Looking at the two of you on paper, you are very similar as far as styles are concerned. Because you both like to go after submissions, do you think this could turn into a stand-up brawl instead of a test of whose grappling is better?
Not sure. We’ll see what happens. I don’t want to give away too much of our game plan that we’ve been working with as a team. Usually though, when you do see two grapplers fight, you don’t really see too much of the ground game. And same thing with strikers, when you see two strikers fight – high level strikers – you might see a little bit of ground game.
Will this fight be a tournament qualifier for next season?
I’m not really sure. We didn’t really talk about specifics like that.
I know you’ve competed against Georgi Karakhanyan for a chance to fight in the tournament before. Would that have been as a bantamweight as well or featherweight?
That was at featherweight, actually.
What are your goals for 2013?
Right now, my main goal is to beat Makovsky, and really when you have a fight coming up your mind is focused and you’re very one-directional-minded. So basically thinking about Makovsky. But it’s definitely to keep training as hard as I’ve been training these past years, staying focused, and just a continuous growth, and martial arts getting better.
Where can the fans find you at?
I have actually a website. LeoneMMA.com. That’s one place. And then Facebook, I think it’s Leone MMA. Sometimes I’m in Ithaca, New York training at Team Bombsquad, sometimes I’ll be in Phuket, Thailand training at Phuket Top Team. So if you want to come down to one of these places, come on down.
Phuket is pretty large. What part do you tend to be focused at?
I’m sure everybody’s heard of Tiger Muay Thai. That’s actually a huge freaking gym. I can’t believe how big that is. It’s really like a college or something. But Phuket Top Team is on the same road, and it’s called Chalong Road. And there’s actually like four MMA or muay thai gyms there. It’s huge. The whole street’s just covered with muy thai fighters, any type of fighter. It’s really crazy. That place is really blowing up there. And that’s where Phuket Top Team is. Pretty good coaches there. Really good coaches, really good guys that are really trying to get better and improve, so it’s awesome. It’s awesome to have both gyms to train at.
Any sponsors or people you want to thank?
Yeah, my sponsors. My sponsor Grips. Check them out. My manager and never stops working – he’s an animal. Primo Bellarosa, my muy thai mma coach – he’s the man. He really helps us out here. All my teammates. I think there’s a lot of teammates to mention, so they all know who they are really. My brother, my mom, Phuket Top Team, Olavo Abreu the Brazillian jiu jitsu coach there, Rodrigo Praxedes another jiu jitsu coach, family, friends, love you all.