Team dos Santos’ number one pick Shamar Bailey (11-3) is one of the more experienced competitors on Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Lesnar vs. Team dos Santos.”
The Strikeforce veteran was picked as the very first fight of the season, and fortunately for him, he subdued Team Lesnar’s Nordin Asrih winning a unanimous decision and earned himself entry into the quarterfinal round.
Currently on the show, Shamar is training and sizing up the competition, waiting to see who will emerge as his next opponent. The Indianapolis fire-fighter is looking to move one step closer to securing himself a spot in the finals and earning that UFC contract.
ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) caught up with Shamar this week to talk about his time on the show, his wild and crazy roommate “Stripper Ramsey“, the beef going on between his coaches and how it is affecting the team.
We also discussed Shamar’s involvement with the ministry, his religious upbringing and how his father who is a pastor views Shamar’s career choice as an MMA fighter.
PRO MMA NOW: Hi Shamar, thanks for speaking with us at ProMMAnow.com. It’s been awhile and a lot has changed since we last spoke over a year ago. First of all, congratulations on your first win over Nordin. How hard was it to have the very first fight of the season or do you think it was better to just go ahead and get it over with?
SHAMAR BAILEY: Its my pleasure to be back and thanks for the congrats on the win. As far as being the first fight goes, yeah there was a little bit of pressure – but that’s what we signed up for so I was game. Winning the first fight actually ended up working in my favor because I was able to scout everyone else out and relax for a while.
PRO MMA NOW: I saw where Dana White recently came out and said it was a mistake for them not to have an elimination round to get into the house this season. What are your thoughts on him saying that and do you agree?
SHAMAR BAILEY: I agree with Dana White that we probably should’ve had to fight to get into the house. The UFC tried to give us the benefit of the doubt but in the end there were quite a few mentally weak guys in the house which surprised me. I think you even see guys celebrating when Dana announced to us on the first day that we didn’t have to fight to get into the house. I was a bit disappointed and that’s why I wanted to fight first.
PRO MMA NOW: When you first learned who the coaches would be, which team were your originally hoping to get picked for and why?
SHAMAR BAILEY: When I heard who the coaches were gonna be, I definitely wanted to be on Junior’s team. I just felt like I would have better chance at a good experience on the show with his coaching staff, and from the looks of things, I was right.
PRO MMA NOW: Alright, so speaking of coaches, let’s go ahead and talk about what is going on between coach Lew Polley and Junior dos Santos. From what you could tell, why was Junior so upset and do you think he had a legitimate reason to be upset with Lew, from your perspective?
SHAMAR BAILEY: In regards to the friction between Lew and Junior, we really had no clue any of that was taking place for a long time. Misunderstandings happen, so I could understand if Junior might get frustrated with Lew and vice versa. But this a business called fighting. It’s bound to happen and you work it out. Junior was head coach as he made sure to establish and I would expect him to work things out with any and all of his coaches.
PRO MMA NOW: So, why do you think Junior was having such a problem, was there something that happened they did not show on camera? Because honestly, from what I saw, there was nothing that seemed too outlandish or anything. Why did he have such an issue with Lew and do you think he was jealous of Lew because he was getting close with some of the fighters and getting a lot of air time (that seems to be Lew’s take on the whole thing)?
SHAMAR BAILEY: Yeah. It’s very confusing to me why Junior was so upset. Lew did everything Junior asked him to do. Which included running practices due him. Junior even told us as a group that Lew would run practices for him since he spoke better English. That reaction just didn’t make sense to me on Junior’s part.
PRO MMA NOW: How did their bickering affect the team and did you guys realize how serious it had become?
SHAMAR BAILEY: As I mentioned earlier, the back and forth between Junior and Lew didn’t really bother us cause we were pretty oblivious to it for the most part. They kept it under wraps which is props to them.
PRO MMA NOW: We asked Ramsey about the whole thing and he pretty much sided with Junior, saying that Lew was just there for the cameras and what-not. You were roommates with Ramsey — and we know how close you guys were (ahem, ahem, how about a little lotion on the back) — why do you think Ramsey felt that way about Lew?
SHAMAR BAILEY: Yeah I’ve seen my roommate Ramsey’s take on the interactions between Lew and Junior. Yes Ramsey and I unfortunately got to know each other a little bit more than I would have liked due to the lotion incident. (laughs) But I definitely disagree with Ramsey saying that Lew was only there for the camera. I think Ramsey is entitled to his opinion but when you make a public statement, you have to be careful. Lew was always making sure we were ready for our fights, mentally and physically. He always told us what we needed to work on to get better instead of just saying, “good job”. He was a real dude through and through. Everybody is gonna act a little different while they get used to cameras being everywhere, including Ramsey. But to say Lew was just there for the cameras and disregard everything be did for us is pretty errant in my humble opinion.
PRO MMA NOW: Talk about rooming with Ramsey and getting to know him. He seems like a real character. And did you catch much flack from your friends about putting lotion on his back?
SHAMAR BAILEY: Rooming with Ramsey was cool. He’s a young kid and likes to have fun in his own way (as you may have witnessed in recent episodes). I respected that because that’s who Ramsey is. At the same time, I like to enjoy life in my own way, which doesn’t include running around naked and looking for the affection of other men. As long he respected that, we were cool. And yes, I am still getting slack for the lotion incident. I hear about it still at all the gyms I train at, I get prank calls at the firehouse all day about it as well. (laughs) Its all good though. We are gonna have fun with it and do something special at weigh-ins for my next fight. So be on the lookout for that.
PRO MMA NOW: You come from a pretty religious family, right? I believe your Dad is a preacher. How do they feel about your MMA career and is it something they had to get used to? Have they been to see you fight?
SHAMAR BAILEY: Yes, my pops is a pastor. He and my mom are pretty supportive of my career as long as I’m using my talents to reach out to others and not just for my own benefit. There was a time where my parents weren’t too crazy about me fighting. But I always believed I was supposed to be doing this and it didn’t take long for them to get behind me. I’m very thankful for that. My mom watches my fights on DVD or DVR. I try to fly my dad out to my fights. He’s a competitive person as well.
PRO MMA NOW: Now, you also have a degree in ministry. Have you been able to tie your MMA life into your spiritual or ministry life or do you keep those separate? How do you handle those two aspects of your life?
SHAMAR BAILEY: That’s a good question. Yes I do have my college degree in ministry. I personally believe that ministry and my fighting career go hand in hand. When you consider the amount of fans, the young kids, the business opportunities etc that stem from being successful in this sport, its not just about you. There are so many people that we as fighters have an opportunity to have a positive impact on and I believe that’s what ministry is all about. Not just preaching behind a pulpit on Sunday morning. But pointing people to God and doing your part to help make this world a better place.
PRO MMA NOW: Is ministry still something you would like to pursue in the future, and if so, how?
SHAMAR BAILEY: I am still interested and open to ministry in a more full time capacity once my fighting career is done. Whether it be preaching or perhaps a community outreach center that uses MMA for troubled youth to enforce structure and discipline in their lives, I’m game.
PRO MMA NOW: Have you been watching the show with Chris [Lytle] and the guys at the fire hall? Chris must be really proud of you.
SHAMAR BAILEY: Yeah both my guys Chris Lytle and Matt Mitrione have been very supportive of me being on the show and happy for me. They both want me to succeed and hopefully you will see the three of us on the same card someday real soon.
PRO MMA NOW: Well, we’re about halfway through the season now, so I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. I’ve got a feeling with your experience and everything, we’re going to see you in the finals — but I guess we will just have to wait and see, right? What can fans expect the rest of the season?
SHAMAR BAILEY: Ha ha. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I do feel like I’m one of the best fighters in the house but time will tell, as far as what the fans can expect, the fights keep getting better. The drama in the house gets outta control. And there may be a few shockers in how a few fights this season play out that may actually create some controversy among the fans. Time will tell but get ready to be entertained, most definitely.
PRO MMA NOW: Thanks Shamar. Is there anything you want to add that we didn’t talk about — and is there anyone you want to thank or shout out? Also, tell the UFC fans out there where they can keep up with you.
SHAMAR BAILEY: Thank you for taking the time to interview me & ask such good questions:) special shout to all my fans friends and family. Also coaches and training partners spread throughout Indiana, Chicago, and Arizona. Follow me on Twitter @ShamarBailey and on www.shamarbailey.com. God Bless.