Friday, March 26, 2010

Q & A With Dan "Punkass" Caldwell & Tim "Skyscrape" Katz

Dan "Punkass" Caldwell and Tim "Skyscrape" Katz from Tapout stopped by the Topps offices today and were nice enough to answer a few questions for us.

Back when you started Tapout, MMA was nearly unheard of in the mainstream and not nearly as popular as it is today. What has been the biggest reason for MMA's increasing popularity in recent years?

DC: It goes back to the gladiator days. People just love to watch a fight. It appeals to the most basic human instincts. It's man versus man and let's see who wins. It's as pure a sport as you're going to get. You don't have to know the rules to get into it. You can turn on a fight and watch it and understand what is going on. There are rules, but it's really only the fighters who have to understand them. The reason why baseball and American football haven't necessarily caught on overseas is that there are so many rules and if you don't understand them it's hard to get into the game.

TK: Yeah, like in football for example, if you don't get all of the first downs and all of penalties and everything it takes away from your ability to enjoy the game. But a fight is simple. It's easy. If a fight breaks out on the street, you're watching. Hell, if a fight breaks out in the stands at a UFC event, everyone is going to turn their heads and watch.

Do you think MMA will continue to gain popularity over time, or will it eventually level out and remain a niche sport?

DC: I think that 10-15 years down the line we'll see MMA highlights on ESPN just as often as we see basketball or whatever. By then, we'll see kids who have been training in MMA since they were 5 years old fighting and the stuff they will be able to do will blow away what guys are doing now. We haven't seen guys who have been training in MMA as a complete sport for 20 years yet. We see guys who have been wrestling for that long, or boxing, but they haven't been folding all of those elements into MMA for that long. It's even been only in the past 2 years or so that you're starting to see gyms that teach Tae Kwon Do or something like that are now offering MMA training. We're on the ground floor of MMA right now, and as you see kids that have been training in MMA like kids train in football or basketball, you'll see the sport evolve.

What is your take on the fights this weekend (UFC 111)?

TK: Well George St. Peirre is a freaking monster. Everybody wonders why Dan Hardy is getting a title shot, but it's because he's been knocking everybody out. He'll have to avoid GSP's takedowns to win.

DC: I don't know if he'll (Hardy) be able to avoid takedowns. He'll probably have to figure out a way to survive on the ground.

TK: And in the Mir/Carwin fight, Mir is going to try to takedown and submit Carwin because I'm not sure Mir can stand up and trade punches with Carwin.

(For Dan) You are a big collector. What are your favorite cards to collect and which cards mean the most to you?

DC: I've always liked the pioneers. Babe Ruth. Ty Cobb. I recently purchased the 1909 American Tobacco Ty Cobb with the red background. I love Jack Johnson. I have just about every single card of his that was ever made. Jackie Robinson. The pioneers. The guys who maybe didn't know it at the time they were doing it, but they paved the way in their sports and made them what they are today. You know, maybe to them they weren't out to change anything, they were just making a living and making something of themselves. It was pure then. That's what I like, the purity of those early guys. To bring it back around to MMA, that's where we are right now in our sport. People will look back on MMA in 100 years and look at the guys who are fighting today the same way we look at Ty Cobb or Jack Johnson. That's why I love where we're at in our sport right now. I'm just trying to soak it all in. This is our sport in it's purist form, and I'm really enjoying it.

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