Interview: Antonio Flores

“I’m going to put my hands on him until he goes down, somebody pulls me off or somebody wakes me up.”

Antonio Flores

Interview and Photos by: Barry Laminack

Some guys just look like a tough guy, and Antonio Flores is one of those guys.  Tattoos and scars and help to maintain the look, but beneath the rough exterior is a Will Farrel fan who’s perfect day consists of laying in bed eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pickles.  Rest assured though, when this ex-sniper steps into the cage, you’re getting 100% from the opening bell until the final bell.

I had the chance to sit down and talk with Antonio about his background and his upcoming fight at for the 170lb title against Brandon McDowell on October 16th. Are you a native Houstonian?

Antonio: No, I was born in Woodland, California, but I moved to Houston when I was 3 years old. Let’s get it out of the way, where did you get the nickname “King Kong”

Antonio: When I fought James White in the IXFA.  At first they started throwing around monkey boy and gorilla at the gyms a couple years before because of the way I train and the way I punch throwing a lot of crazy hammer fist and stuff.  When I fought James White is when it really came out.  I ended up just throwing non-stop hammer fist on him. When we talked before you mentioned that you have stepped up your training, talk about that.

Antonio: When it gets close to fight night, everything has to be fight pace. So my last two weeks I do everything full speed.  I’ll work with as many guys as I can get, for example one day at 4oz I had 12 guys working with me.  So I do 5-minute rounds with a new guy every minute and I do that for 5 rounds.  I’ll take a minute break and then do my conditioning drills that are 4 different exercises, 45 seconds a piece. I do them twice which comes out to a 6 minute round. I do five round of those too. Some guys believe in running to build their cardio and some guys don’t.  As a fighter and a trainer/coach, where do you stand on the topic?

Antonio: I think you have to run. The reason is it’s an aerobic exercise.  A lot of guys don’t understand that the running is your recovery. So whenever I throw a lot of hard punches, the running is going to help my recovery that much quicker. I can do all the drills, but if you don’t run, you’ll be just that much off of being that much better if that makes any sense. You’re known for your striking, so how much do you still focus on that in your training versus your ground game?

Antonio: I still focus on it a lot because that’s my forte’ and I love using my hands.  I still work on my ground, but I don’t work to much on submission because I don’t fight like that. Maybe I should but that’s not my style. I know the way I fight and the way I like to fight so I make sure I work a lot of defense on submission and takedowns.  I’m not going to submit anyone. Unless there is a light shining down from god showing me and telling me to take the submission, then I might, but otherwise I’d rather just pound the guy out. Are you belted under anybody?

Antonio: Yeah, I’m a brown belt under Dave Phillips. Has the transition to training at a Gracie Barra school helped you with your ground game?

Antonio: Yeah, it’s helped me get the rust off since I haven’t really focused on it.  Levi and Raul have really been helping me out. Those two have been taking their time out of their day to help me. We know you are a striker, but how would you classify your style as a fighter?

Antonio: Controlled rage. I want to hit.  One of the things I put on my shorts and one of the thing I live by as far as fighting is concerned is a quote from Bruce Lee, “psyche your opponent mentally and physically by inflicting pain”.

I’ve lived by that for so long. Once I read that I was hooked, and that was years ago when I was in my teens. Is that what got you into MMA?

Antonio: Not really, I was boxing before when I was in high school. Later I started learning some Muay Thai and then did some Tai Kwon Do. I didn’t really like that too much.

Also I was a sniper in the military and we did a lot of ground stuff.  I was gone forever and when I finally got back at the end of ’04 MMA was exploding.  At that time I was just weight lifting and stuff and my buddy said, “hey man, there is a fight do you want to do it?”

I was like, “f*ck it, let’s do it.”

I thought I was going to just go in there and beat this dude up and come home.  The first round I survived on pure strength. If you watch the fight, my arm looks like ti was broke, but I just muscled my way out of it. I didn’t really train for the fight. I kind of hurt hi in the first round and in the second he got me in a choke and I didn’t know what the hell it was so I just tapped out. When you’re not fighting, what else do you do?

Antonio: Well, I teach, but I’m pretty much a homebody. I like to be at home and hang out with my 4-year-old son.  I love to eat and watch movies man, that’s it. What’s your favorite movie?

Antonio: Right now I like The Other Guys.  Before that it was Anchorman and The Land of the Lost.  Will Farrel is the man, I can watch him all day long. So you’re a comedy guy huh? I would have taken you for an action flick guy.

Antonio: I like a good action flick every once in a while.  I just like to sit on my bed with food and watch movies. I’ll have some cereal here, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich here, a pickle and some Doritos and just watch movies. How many hours a day do you train?

Antonio: I try not to go over an hour and a half. If you are training 2-3 or 4 hours a day, you’re not doing something right, because a fight isn’t going to last 4 hours. If you can get in some intense training for an hour or an hour and a half you should be good to go, but you have to do everything you do at 100%.  I want to keep throwing 100% behind my punches until the fight is over.

When I’m training, I tell everyone that if you’re not going to hit it at 100% then don’t hit it.  Just wait until you recover enough to hit it 100%.  That’s how you develop power.  You keep doing that and now you can punch 100% the whole fight. Before you trained at Gracie Barra, where did you train your ground game?

Antonio: With Dave Phillips.  He travels like a mad man. A lot of people don’t know Dave here, but he’s one of those black belts but when he goes to another gym the other black belts don’t want to roll with him.

Nobody wants to roll with Dave.  He doesn’t train very hard, but we call him the drunken master because he can be wasted man but when it’s time, he’ll take you out! What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Antonio: I always get that I look mean. I don’t think people know how nice I am and how willing I am to help anybody; I don’t care what it is. What would you be doing if you didn’t fight?

Antonio: Probably working a desk job as a computer operator.  I’m good with them but that’s not what I like doing.  I can’t sit still.  I have an aggression problem that I have to let out, and MMA lets it out.

Even when I was younger when I would get mad, I would have to hit something solid. I’m lucky that I’ve never broken anything. I’ve punched brick walls.  I would just get to the point where I would get so mad that I would have to hit something. I would look for something like a car door or the drunk or something. I stop hitting the windows because my hands would get cut.

But then I got turned on to boxing and that took care of it.  This keeps me calm. What was it like fighting in Mexico? Was the sport there much different than it is here in the US?

Antonio: No, it wasn’t much different.  It was cool, just a different kind of crowd; they were just a little more aggressive. This is going to be your first fight in Houston right?

Antonio: Yeah. I would go to Louisiana because they would pay just a little bit more than they would here.

I’ve also always fought for Scott, so when he told me he was coming to Houston I was like perfect, my first fight in Houston.  It’s not that I didn’t want to fight for the other shows, but to me, the pay has to be a little incentive.  Some of the stuff they offered just wasn’t worth it. So are you excited?

Antonio: Yeah.  I had a good crowd in Louisiana and I’m not even from there.  So now I get to fight here and I want to let everybody know that I’m from here and I’m here know.  I want to let the 170’ers here know that I’m here and don’t forget about me. What do you know about your opponent, Brandon McDowell.

Antonio: I don’t know too much about him. We’ve fought on a couple of cards together, but I don’t know too much. He’s got a BJJ base and has like 50 or 60 fights. Does that worry you, that he has that much experience?

Antonio: Not really? A fight is a fight. I just make sure I’m in the best shape that I can be. I’m not worried about the experience because I’m comfortable with my self. Do you have a prediction for the fight?

Antonio: Knockout or TKO, because I’m not going to submit him and I’m not going to let him submit me.  I’m going to put my hands on him until he goes down, somebody pulls me off or somebody wakes me up. It’s been a while since your last fight, are you worried about ring rust?

Antonio: Nah, not really. If you could fight anybody you wanted, who would it be?

Antonio: I would like to fight Robby Lawler. He’s got the same style I do. He goes in there to knock you out. He’s not trying to look pretty, he’s not going for the take down, he’s just in there to put his hand son you.  I would like to fight him because we’ve got the same style. Before we go, is there anybody you’d like to thank?

Antonio: Yeah, I’d like to thank the guys here at Gracie Barra The Woodlands, the guys at 4oz fight club, Sam Hoger and the guys out there at his gym.  Sam has really taken me under his wing and shown me some finer point on certain things.  Also the guys out at Evolution Boxing, a gym I used to have.  All those guys are real motivating and I want to thank them for all the support they give me.