Fittest Guys in America
Special, exclusive interviews with nine of the 2008 MF 25
Jimmy Smith & Doug Anderson - TV Co-Hosts
On your show Fight Quest, you travel the world to study different fighting techniques. Which style of fighting was the most demanding?
DA: The hardest for me was when we were in the Philippines. The first day, they put me through this initiation ritual that lasted seven hours of intense muscle-destruction workouts. By the end, even my toes were cramping up — there was nothing left in my body. I kept thinking, 'Dear God, let this shit end.'
JS: Not only was the style really brutal, but I was about to fight a guy with a stick, and Doug goes up to me and says, "You know, he killed someone in a knife fight two weeks ago."
DA: The guy I fought in the end, he comes up to me afterwards to shake my hand and says, "Good fight. I wanted to give you this sword. You know what's cool about this sword?" And I go, "It's really nice and sharp." And he says, "I've killed people with it!"
JS: When we fought, we fought in front of these marines and their commanding officer. And they all had machine guns on them. I beat one of their guys with the stick, and I thought, "We need to get out of here!"
DA: We had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. There were no safety barriers. They did a pep talk before the final fights and got everyone together. The guys we were supposed to fight didn't speak any English. The producers told them, "Alright guys, this is for TV. We know you can kill these two. Just take it easy, OK?" And we get out there and it's mayhem. When I first started, I was like, "What the fuck did I get myself into?" By episode six, I thought, if I made it this far, I can probably handle anything [Discovery Channel] throws at me. Until Shark Week comes along.
How about you, Jimmy? What was the most physically demanding country?
JS: They're all so tough. One of the hardest workouts, because of their mentality, was Israel. I lived on a military base and trained with the Israeli defense force. The base I was at was the fitness headquarters for the IDF. They did a lot of drills to see if you were special-forces material. "Run up the mountain 15 times." And if you can't, you're not going to make it. There was another drill where there was an X in the middle of the floor, and you have to hold onto the X while 30 people bum-rushed you. I'm holding onto this X in this dog-pile and thinking, "What the hell am I doing here?" Another time, there were these two heavyweights and we each got a number: one, two, and three. Each time a number was called, the other two beat up on that person. Well, I was No. 2. So, they call out: "Two!" And they just wailed on me. It wasn't so much a martial art; it was more about how much you can take.
How long have you been practicing martial arts?
DA: Since birth [laughs]. Only two years for me. I started a little bit when I was in the military and that's what got me interested in it. I trained for a year before I got on the show, and I only had one fight going into the show.
How much time do you have to learn all these fighting styles?
DA: We only have five days to learn everything and then recuperate. We're driven through hell, it's extremely emotional — and in the end, we're actually expected to learn something and be able to fight competitively.
JS: We say all the time that it would be easier to get off the plane and fight. You don't condition yourself in five days—you just hurt yourself. In Japan, we did knuckle-busting stuff, climbing up stairs on our knuckles. Your knuckles don't get tougher in five days, you just rip your knuckles up!
So why do you guys do the show, then?
DA: For me, it's personal. I have too much pride to walk away from anything. I like challenges. That need to feel I can conquer anything. There's nothing you can put in front of me that I can't handle.
JS: That first episode we did [in the Philippines], I remember thinking to myself earlier the day of the fight, "Is this gonna feel like a fight, or is this gonna feel like a TV show?" I'm an MMA fighter—about four years professionally, six years training. Am I going to have to act like this is a fight. Man, it felt like a fight. And once I got that feeling, you want it again. It's like a cagefight, every single time.
Jimmy, what does that do for your MMA career. Because if you get injured from Fight Quest...
JS: I had to take a year off from cagefighting. We had two weeks on, two weeks off. That's not enough time to come home and train because I'd come home and ice everything that hurt, which was a lot, and rehab myself and get over the jet lag and then we're off again. My striking was still good, but my timing was off. But mentally, if you can step into a ring with five heavyweights in a style you don't know and survive? You're not scared of anything.
What's advice you can give readers on how to survive a bar brawl?
DA: One tip if you get into a fight? Hit 'em in the balls! The key thing is to keep your hands up. Keep them glued to your head and it's really hard for someone to hurt you. It's pretty basic, and it'll keep you alive.
JS: Most people on the street can't fight. Last time I saw two people fight, I was laughing. They were [motions flailing arms] windmilling it! It doesn't take more than two to three days a week at a halfway decent kickboxing gym for you to be able to beat 95% of people on the street.