By: Nick Portella
Good day fight fans! Today we will sit down with veteran fighter Tony Horn. Tony will be competing April 8 at Strike Off 9 — Let’s have a seat and see what’s going on with him before he returns to active competition next month.
Nick: What does it mean (for you) to be a fighter?
Tony: For me, it’s a challenge for myself. I get to show and prove to myself that despite my age, I can still get out here and do what the younger guys do… TO AN EXTENT, LOL.
Nick: At what age did you begin to train martial arts?
Tony: I actually dabbled in Martial Arts when I was about 13, but didn’t have the focus or discipline that I needed back then. Prior to retiring from the Marine Corps, I became involved through the MCMAP program. This lead me to training and competing in MMA.
Nick: What belts do you have and in what disciplines?
Tony: No belts, at least I don’t consider myself belted. I was training with a Jits Instructor when they were apart of our gym, but due to my work schedule, I couldn’t meet some of the time and training requirements to move up as others in the class did.
Nick: What is your amateur MMA record?
Tony: Honestly… I can’t even remember… It was something like 8-12 I think. My pro record is 6-7.
Nick: What camp are you training out of and how long have you been there?
Tony: I’m from Crossroads MMA.. we’ve been together for a little over three years now and we actually formed from the combination of three other gyms; EMIT MMA, The Kennel and The Cave.
Nick: With your fighting style do you prefer to keep the fight on your feet or take it to the ground?
Tony: I prefer the ground, but because most of my opponents are usually a lot bigger than me, I usually end up standing.
Nick: What would you say your biggest strengths are, and what’s the thing you need to work on the most?
Tony: Strengths… I’d say my kicks and power… but with power you need GREAT conditioning. I think mine is ok, but for what I like to do I have to push myself to make it better. Normally, if I can outlast out, I can beat you as long as I use good sound basic fundamentals.
Nick: What’s your favorite strike/submission to use in any fight?
Tony: That’s hard to say. I feel like when a fighter picks one particular strength to zone in on, he limits himself. I think I train with a great bunch of fighters who all have their specialties. I try and learn more than I teach. When I see a guy who seems to have perfected a specific technique, I lay my favorites aside and work on his. That’s what makes fighters better. If I HAD to pick something, I’d say the Head and Arm Choke would be my favorite.
Nick: People talk about the next generation of fighters all the time. Do you feel that you represent the next generation of fighters in some ways? Do you feel any pressure to represent that next generation?
Tony: Nooooooooooooo… not at all, do I do that…LMAO.. Maybe the “Past Generation”
Nick: With cutting weight and fighter safety always being a priority. What methods of cutting weight do you use? How much weight do you usually have to cut before a fight? Do you feel the weight cut has a major impact on your strength before a fight?
Tony: I don’t usually have a problem with weight cutting because I stay close to my walking weight. I cut to 205 once….and it was the BIGGEST mistake I’ve made while fighting. I had NO power, and no endurance. Every punch/ kick that my opponent threw felt like he was hitting me with a sledgehammer. BTW… THAT opponent is one of the promoters for this event: Najim Walli. LOL. Great guy, great friend.
Nick: How does it feel getting back in the octagon? April is right around the corner.
Tony: This is actually my 14th fight coming up. My record of 6-7 isn’t that impressive, but the fact that I’m twice the age of most of my competitors are half my age…and I’m still here… Well, that makes me smile!
Nick: Do you have a career goal to sign with UFC or Bellator? If not why? If so which one and why?
Tony: No… I’m now 52 and I doubt that either promotion will be doing a seniors league and it’s hard to convince promoters that I am still able to compete.
Nick: Most fighters at some point are branded with a nickname. Do you have one currently? If so what is it? Who gave it to you?
Tony: “Father Time” …… When I began competing as an armature back in 2001, I was the oldest ammy fighter in VA. I picked it myself kind of as a throw back at those who laughed at my age….until they saw me in the cage. I honestly don’t think I fight like a 52-year-old.
Nick: With the USADA tightening up on fighters with pre-fight testing and several suspension being handed out, how do you feel about fighters getting banned for non-controlled substances?
Tony: I agree 100%! Banned and Non-banned substances are what take away from the sport and make people think we are simply barbaric human cockfighters. When you see a fighter on PED’s on a controlled substance, you watch him take punishment that most men who are natural would never be able to withstand. This brings an unfair disadvantage to the honest guy and can sometimes cause unnecessary injury. If you want to be a fighter, be a clean fighter. If you can do it on your own, then maybe this isn’t the sport for you.
Nick: You understand that marketing is important in this sport. Do you plan on one day having your own brand?
Tony: That would be great, but honestly… I don’t have the time to put into it. This is a young man’s game. Young men who have the physical and mental presence to compete and grow and (no disrespect) lack of responsibility to be able to go forth with endeavors like that. When you’re my age with 4 kids, it’s hard to shift priorities around. The kids HAVE TO come first. To make it the way I would have liked to in this sport, you have to be able to focus and make THIS your priority. This is a total lifestyle change that some can do and others aren’t ready for.
Nick: Since you have made this journey what advice can you give to new fighters wanting to make this a career?
Tony: #1… Don’t rush your career from amateur to pro. I went pro sooner than I should have only because of my age. If I’d had it different, I would have had more ammy fights to expose myself to different fighting and training styles. I would have given myself the opportunity to travel to a few different places and compete in other events that would have helped my career.
Nick: Do you have any plans for after your fight on April 8? I love getting the news that isn’t out there yet.
Tony: Well….. I kind of have to leave that one a secret for now, LOL!
Nick: Who is your favorite MMA fighter past or present?
Tony: Randy Couture and Anderson Silva. Randy because of his age, drive and spirit toward the sport and his opponents. He was an ambassador and people always tried to downplay him because of his age..but he always showed that age is not a factor, but your training is.
Nick: If you could have one dream fight with anyone, who would it be? Why?
Tony: Herschel Walker! Because I think that at one time, the possibility was there for that fight to happen and I was mentally prepared to battle with a monster like him. Win or lose, it would be a great opportunity and bragging rights.
Nick’s Take: I would like to thank Tony for sitting down with me to talk. The man has experience in the cage and in life and I think he is a great role model for the up and coming fighter.