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.
R.A. the Rugged Man
Rapper R.A. the Rugged Man, née Thorburn, current Harlem resident, former Suffolk County habitué, one-time Jive Records artist, is one of the best kinds of badasses there is in that he has no real idea how much of a badass he is. Or to put it another way: he has a pretty good idea of exactly what kind of a badass he is. Not in any traditional measure that would matter to anyone who fights for a living but in the very general way that true men of measure make their way through space: He says what he means, he tries to mean what he says, and if Floyd Mayweather, one of the aforementioned people who fight for a living, wants to engage in another 22-minute verbal throwdown with R.A., well, he's invited to step up. So whether it's been his time in the cage with MMA great Shonie Carter, his feuding with Mayweather, or the dumb shit he's done in the holy name of the sacred art of self-sabotage (supporting McCain-Palin, trying to fuck his label and in return getting fucked by his label, hard), R.A.'s been there, done it, and lived to tell about.
And so he does. And on the way there? A genius pick of all picks for an MMA walkout song.
Fightland: So I have it on good authority that you actually have some training under your belt. True?
R.A. the Rugged Man: Well, I never trained in my life, for MMA. I boxed for a bunch of years. That was my shit. I tried wrestling in high school but I had been there like for three weeks and there was some match and the coach pulled that strategy scam where they match up the worst guy from our team with their best guy, just to get him out of rotation, and that was the first match I ever had. I was like 13 and the guy I went against was like a senior. Seventeen years old or something. I got destroyed. Twelve seconds. I cried in the fucking locker room, man. That's why I don't fuck with wrestlers to this day.
Join the club. Though in all fairness I have yet to cry in a locker room. But first matches, unless you are a phenom, are like pride: they hurt. But I'm surprised when you fought Shonie Carter [50 MMA wins under his belt] that you didn't find yourself in similar straits.
[Laughs] Well that's because I did very good against him. I mean he's like 5'8" [5'9" – editor]. I'm 6'2.5" and had been about 265 pounds. And I also just spent a lot of time running from him. He was calling me a "running chicken" but I figure with an 81-inch reach, I could jab his head and stay away from him. We also only went for one-minute rounds. And had pads on. But they sent me over a limo and we did it in Matty Serra's cage out on the Island. But yeah, fuck that, stay away from that guy was a good move I think. But it was good sparring. I also filmed my video for "The New People's Champ" in the Gracie gym in Jersey. Ricco Rodriguez showed up. Good time.
But wait … 268? You're not 268 now, are you?
No. I'm 230 now. But you know I got that heavy from just eating shit and not exercising. It got so bad and the reason I finally did something about it had to do with the fact that it was destroying my voice. I mean I never even drank a glass of water. I literally did not know the names of vegetables because I did not eat them. But then the acid reflux was getting me and destroying my voice. I couldn't even talk.
Well, you did okay against Mayweather, the undisputed heavyweight talking champ.
Oh man. That was funny. I was on some show on Sirius satellite radio, on Eminem's channel, and I was saying that Mayweather is talented but avoids challenges and he won't take fights he thinks he might lose, and he called in and we got into it. But I'm right, you know? And the sad thing is he would have won some of those fights too. But it's all about getting in the ring at the right time. And he hasn't really done that and it's too bad. Bad for the fight game. This is why [UFC President] Dana White's sort of a genius. I mean he gets shit on for not paying fighters what boxers get paid, but boxers get paid so much money that boxing cards can have only one big fight on the card. And if that fight stinks, well, you feel robbed. But this last UFC card? Well, there were a lot of good fights on it. Something for everybody.
In the 50 Cent vs. Mayweather feud tell me quick: Who's right?
That's tough, man. Floyd is sensitive and insecure and has a really big ego. And with 50, well, you might have two really big egos there and, well, who knows? I heard it had something to do with some girl, but I'm going to have to side with my tribe here and say that 50's right, whatever the beef is. But then I see that they made up. Then I see that they're back at it. So, who knows? The reality of it is if you think you were going to make money on Mayweather fighting a tough fight, well, that's not going to happen.
Okay, the reason why we're here: the best walkout song ever?
So easy: Big Daddy Kane "Ain't No Half Steppin'"
Which is exactly what you can't do in the ring or the cage. Not if you want to stay awake.
Check out these earlier 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.