The walkout song is a time-honored tradition in MMA. It's also a delicate balancing act. The perfect song has to pump a fighter up while settling his/her nerves, appeal to the crowd without appearing to pander. "My Walkout Song" is where we ask MMA fans who also happen to be famous musicians what makes for great pre-fight music and what song they would choose to accompany their walk to the cage.
The only child of an Albanian father and a Jewish mother, Queens native Action Bronson is New York personified -- a lifelong lover of hip-hop and former student of the culinary program at the Art Institute of New York who took to rhyming after years in the family restaurant. Consequently he's become know as the "foodie rapper," famous for tracks with titles like "Jerk Chicken," "Ceviche," and "Roasted Bone Marrow."
Before Bronson heads down to Austin for SXSW in March and his debut LP for VICE/Warner Bros. Records drops later this year, we asked him about his lifelong love of music and mixed martial arts and what song he would choose to get him pumped up for a fight of his own.
Fightland: You’re a longtime MMA fan, right?
Action Bronson: I’ve been watching since the beginning, since the very first UFC. I got all of them on DVD.
How do you feel about the development of the sport, from the days of a guy wearing one boxing glove fighting a jiu-jistu …
Wait, who is this?
What’s your name?
Hey, what’s up, Josh? I thought it was Chris from Vice.
No, this is Josh from Vice.
Oh, Josh. You sound like fuckin’ Chris.
Nope, this is Josh, but … So how do you feel about MMA today compared to how it was back in the day?
I like the way it’s turned out with all the different classes, and there’s a lot of good athletes competing against each other. Early on it was just a free-for-all fuckin’ whatever – 500-pound dude fighting a little dude. But it was entertainment. But I like the way things are right now.
Do you train?
I don’t. I’m out of shape right now, but as soon as I get into shape I’m going to start training, for sure.
Have you trained in the past?
Yeah, I’ve trained in the past, for sure. I’m just injured right now, so I haven’t trained in years, but I will be training as soon as I get back to health. I did boxing, jiu-jitsu, a little bit of old-school karate.
What is it about MMA that you like?
Honestly, I grew up fighting with dudes who liked to fight. It’s in our blood. And I like good fights, good grappling, good technique, submissions. I like artists, you know? A good jiu-jitsu guy is like art to watch.
Is there a relationship between battling people with words through rapping, is it a similar thing, a similar fascination with MMA? Does it come from the same place?
Nah, honestly, I don’t battle people. I don’t go at human beings with my raps. I’m not a battle rapper; I make songs. Fighting is a totally different temperament. Anybody can get in the studio and lay some fuckin’ songs down or say some stupid shit, but it takes a real fuckin’ man to get in there and give it their all.
So what song who you choose for your walkout music?
Song: "Ambitions az a Rydah"
Song: “Love Is a Battlefield”
Artist: Pat Benatar
Those seem like two totally different songs. Do they put you in the same place mentally or is it two different kinds of hyped-up spaces?
The Benatar one makes me feel like I’m an 80s star, like I’m an 80s fuckin’ punk rocker. My first show ever I came out to “Love Is a Battlefield” and I killed. I love that fuckin’ song. “Ambitions az a Ryda” just makes me feel like strapping up with all kinds of weaponry and just driving around in the Beamer.
What makes a great walkout song?
It’s personal, whatever song gets you hype. It could be a fucking Justin Bieber song that gets someone hype for a specific reason. You just never know. For me, it’s that Tupac beat. It hits me. And the Pat Benatar, that entrance where she goes, “Woahoahoahoahoah -- We are strong!” You know? The whole build-up, and the fast-paced rhythm of the song. It feels like I’m drivin’ on a cliff. It feels like a Rocky movie montage.
Check out these other installments of our "My Walkout Song" series:
The Mixed Martial Arts of Victorian London
Before BJJ, there was Bartitsu.
Jonathan Maicelo: The Last Inca
Peru's up-and-coming boxing star.
Kron Gracie on Jiu-Jitsu, Skateboarding, Older Brothers, and Famous Fathers
The ties that bind are strong.
Joel Tudor on the Art of Surfing, Fighting, and Style
A surf icon helps MMA keep its sense of tradition.
Japan's Karate Kid: Kyoji Horiguchi
Japan's brightest MMA prospect.