On June 20, 2010, World Extreme Cagefighting travels to Canada for the very first time with “WEC 49: Varner vs. Shalorus“.
This week, ProMMAnow.com had the opportunity to speak with 23-year-old Anthony Leone (8-0), who will be making his WEC debut on the historic WEC 49 card against Brazilian fighter Renan Barao (21-1).
I asked Leone if he was intimidated by Barao’s 20-fight win streak. We talked about how Leone got his start in MMA, where he trains, who he trains with, and what it is like being a pro fighter in a state where MMA is still illegal.
ProMMAnow.com: Hi Anthony, thank you for speaking to us today at ProMMAnow.com. It was just recently announced you have signed a four-fight deal with the WEC. Congratulations on that. Can you tell us how this deal came about for you?
Anthony Leone: They actually offered me a six-fight deal. The WEC called Thursday and said they needed a 135-pounder for the upcoming show so me and my manager jumped at the opportunity.
ProMMAnow.com: How did you get started in MMA and what has been the driving force to get you to where you are today in the sport?
Anthony Leone: I got started in MMA in 2006 and then really focused on it in 2007-2008 when I went to Hilo, Hawaii to traiin. The driving force is pretty much a given. I want to be the best in the world and I love what I do.
ProMMAnow.com: Where do you live and train and who are some of the other stand-outs at your gym we should be on the lookout for?
Anthony Leone: Right now I live in Cortland, New York, and train with Team Bombsquad. There’s so many good guys at the gym always, a few names are Kenny Foster (7-1), John Franchie (WEC vet), Pat Audinwood (9-0), Pat Bennett, Mike Massenzio (UFC), so many more good guys to. I think our win percentage is something like .825. Oh and my little brother Andrew is making his pro debut in Singapore June 16th. Look for him to make some noise in the future!
ProMMAnow.com: What has it been like to be a pro MMA fighter in one of the last remaining states where the sport is still illegal?
Anthony Leone: (Laughs) Well it did suck until I got to the WEC. But all kidding aside it really hurts us financially. We can’t really sell tickets or rep any local sponsors cause we’re always fighting so far from home.
ProMMAnow.com: Your first fight in the WEC is scheduled to be against Renan Barao (20-1). Has that fight been signed yet and how much do you know about Barao?
Anthony Leone: Yeah its pretty much a done deal. The WEC was just waiting for me to hand in my Medicals. I know a little bit about Renan, watched a couple tapes with my coaches and training partners.
ProMMAnow.com: His 20-fight win streak is pretty impressive. Is that intimidating to you? Why or why not?
Anthony Leone: Yeah it’s quite impressive but in the least way is it intimidating. I train with guys day in and day out that have great records. You have to have a great record to be in the WEC. I expect to face the best in the world every fight and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
ProMMAnow.com: It looks like you both favor the ground game. Do you think this will be a technical chess match on the ground with you two, or how do you see the fight going?
Anthony Leone: I think the whole fight will be very technical either standing or the ground.
ProMMAnow.com: This card will be the WEC’s first ever event in Canada. How do you feel about fighting your first fight in the WEC taking place at this historic event; what does that mean to you?
Anthony Leone: I didn’t even know that. That is pretty awesome. Either way I am very excited to be fighting with the WEC.
ProMMAnow.com: What is your opinion on the current WEC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz? Do you feel you could handle someone like that at his point, or do you feel you still need more time to develop?
Anthony Leone: Thats a great question. We will have to find out someday.
ProMMAnow.com: Anthony, thank you for your time and best of luck in your WEC debut. Are there any sponsors you want to thank you would you like to send any shout outs?
Anthony Leone: Love for all Team Bombsquad, my family, all my friends down at 631! Thanks.