Juggernaut: A massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path.
Standing at six foot tall, weighing around the 260 pound mark, and notorious for his knockout power and never say die attitude inside of the cage, it’s not very difficult to figure out how Mike Wessel earned himself the nickname, “The Juggernaut”.
One of the special cases of the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter that features nothing but the big boys, Wessel put his already existing contract with the UFC on hold in order to participate in TUF 10, and reap the countless benefits the show’s exposure can bring to a fighter with his level of skill and potential marketability.
Heavy.com recently had the opportunity to catch up with Mike in what turned out to be an extremely revealing conversation that deals with the outcasting of Zak Jensen from the social infrastructure of the house in a scenario that plays straight out of the novel “The Lord of the Flies”, his true feelings on Rampage and his nonexistent coaching abilities, and Kimbo favoritism.
Heavy.com: Do you feel like Matt Mitrione was playing up his supposed injury for the camera time, was he genuinely feeling sorry for himself, or do you think he was looking for an excuse to get out of having to fight Marcus Jones?
Mike Wessel: I think it was a combination of all of those. He did it for more camera time and he did it just to create some drama. When I look back on the show, he really wasn’t that influential other then snitching on the team. I think his whole shoulder injury was so that he wouldn’t have to fight next. I think he believed that they were going to have whoever fought next, fight Marcus [Jones]. He did not want to fight Marcus. We could all tell. And the supposed shoulder injury, you could just tell, all the coaches and everyone were just like, “This is bullshit. This is just ridiculous. He’s acting”. We’re all fighters. This is what we do. We get sore, we get tired; just stop being a wussy and do it. I don’t think Matt really wanted to train that much. I don’t think he really trained like we did on the show, back home. I think with guys like Matt and “Big Baby” Marcus, who are former NFL players, the gyms that they go to, the coaches kiss their butts, because they want to make sure they don’t lose them. They’re high profile. But you really need coaches to push you like that because that’s the only way you’re going to get better. Like when Marcus was done training, Marcus was done training, because he was tired or whatever. He’s never been pushed like they were pushing him on the show. With Matt, it was just a situation where he just got caught snitching, and he knew they were going to make him fight next, so he had to come up with something else to get out of fighting.
Heavy.com: Right, but this is the same guy that’s always been walking around the house talking about well he feels like he matches up with Marcus.
Mike Wessel: Yeah. He was bragging and talking abut how he was the most powerful guy there, and he is a talented guy. Matt was very fast with his hands, and plus he’s a left hander, so that makes him that much more difficult for someone to fight. But I definitely think that he knew that Marcus was ten times better on the ground than he was, and he knew that he would maybe have to go to the ground.
Heavy.com: You said that Zak was a friend of yours; Did you guys train together prior to the show?
Mike Wessel: No. I met Zak in Seattle at one of the first TUF 10 meetings before the show. He hung out at the table with us all day, and then he hung out with us that night. Then when we were in Las Vegas, Zak hung out with me the whole time. So I got to know Zak, and Zak doesn’t really have the personality that all the rest of us have, or that attitude and mentality that all of the rest of the guys at the house had. That’s kind of my background of knowing Zak, but I never really knew how he could fight or any of that.
Heavy.com: Sure, but being kind of humble and reserved doesn’t always seem to reflect on how a fighter can perform.
Mike Wessel: It doesn’t, but their team would talk to us and they’d be like, “Dude, he’s just horrible”, or whatever they would say. Now, I’ve never had any experience so I can’t speak from my experience, but this is what they would say. They would rip on him from day one, to, now it’s week three, and they were just constantly on his ass. Wes Sims was just on his ass. Everybody was making fun of him. Everyone would tease him. Our team didn’t really start getting into teasing him until the end of week three or four. So he had already had his whole team ripping on him for that whole time before that. It’s because he’s just such a nice guy, and because he’s just so non-confrontational, he just doesn’t stick up for himself at all. He was kind of treated like a bitch. Like someone that didn’t belong there.
Heavy.com: Do you think he basically turned into the house scapegoat, or a verbal punching bag? It seems like a lot of the guys were using him as a vent for their own personal frustrations in the house.
Mike Wessel: Oh yeah. That’s definitely what he was. When someone can’t defend themselves, he’s an easy target. He made himself an easy target. Like just when he talks, he’s just socially awkward where he says stupid things where you’re like, “Really? What are you thinking? Why would you…..?”. It wasn’t just that he was an easy target, he egged it on himself too. What people don’t understand is that when you’re in that house, you’re so secluded, and there’s just nothing else to do, so when there’s an easy target like that…..
“The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away” – Ralph, Lord of the Flies, Chapter 5: Beast from Water
Heavy.com: It’s almost like a prison mentality I’d imagine.
Mike Wessel: That’s exactly the way it is. It’s a prison mentality. We’re going to find the weakest link, and make him our bitch. It was just a bad situation. You could tell that it was just eating him up, but he would just never stick up for himself. here were times when we’d be sitting around playing cards during week three and Wes Sims would be laying into him, and I’d be like, ‘Guys, just knock it off. It’s annoying me now’, because it was just so stupid. But yeah, he was the outlet for everybody to take their frustrations out on, because he was just such an easy target. In that house it’s like seventh grade girls. It’s like the girls are trying to compete over being the most popular, or the coolest, and they’re going to step on everybody else to get there. All of us at the house are normally really good guys and under normal circumstances, none of us would have did what we did. Because of circumstances in the house, you start to just steadily lose your mind and just come unglued, so you do things that you normally wouldn’t do.
Heavy.com: There’s a term for that; it’s called cabin fever. You can go stir crazy being surrounded by the same people in a confined place for a long amount of time.
Mike Wessel: Oh yeah, we described it as Lord of the Flies, like the book, or the movie. He was our “Piggy”, like in the book “Lord of the Flies”, because to all of the fighters he was just so obsolete, and so nonexistent that we didn’t care about his feelings. In a normal situation we might not care for him, but we wouldn’t be rude to him.
Heavy.com: I’m just waiting for the episode when he gets held down in his bed in the middle of the night and pelted with socks filled with bars of soap.
Mike Wessel: Well if would have caused problems with the team it probably would have happened. He just wouldn’t dare cause any problems because he was just so scared of everybody, and when you’re a fighter you can’t be scared of anybody. A lot of people ask me, “Would you fight Fedor?”, and I tell them yeah. Would it be a smart fight for me? Probably not, but if someone handed me the contract, I’d say, ‘Yeah’. I’m not scared of Fedor so I’m not going to back down, because that’s just the mentality of a fighter. We’ll fight anyone at any time. We don’t care.
Heavy.com: Well yeah, if you had two or three months to mentally psyche yourself up, or out, to fight a guy like Fedor, it’s different. On the other side of that coin, I’m sure if Fedor jumped up in your face and started mouthing off to you with that strong scent of Vodka on his breath, you’re going to hit him.You can’t be worried about what may happen to you if you do. If you’re worried about the potential negative consequences you can suffer in the cage, you’re in the wrong f***** business.
Mike Wessel: Exactly. I couldn’t have quoted it better. You’re in the wrong fucking business. That’s how Zak was in the house. He was in the wrong fucking business. Even if I was to jerk off in the shower and someone was to call me out on that in person, especially with the cameras there, I would just accuse them of doing it, or laugh it off. Instead of saying, “Yeah, I did jerk off in the shower”, he pulled the, “Oh, I blew my nose”. So he egged it on more by not just being a man and saying, “Yeah, I did it. Who cares. Fuck you”. It wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s just one of those things, but he made it worse on himself by not responding the right way.
Heavy.com: What are your feelings on Rampage and his team not being in the cage after the losses of his last two guys?
Mike Wessel: I was talked to and told that I wasn’t allowed to have a confrontation with Rampage. The reason I get pissed off at Rampage is because he’s supposed to be a coach, and I used to be a coach as well. When Demico lost the way he did, Rampage started feeling sorry for himself. You could hear him saying things like, “Do I have bad luck?”, and, “I can’t believe he tapped out to that bullshit”. I remember he said something like, “I would never lose like that”. Really Rampage? Really? You’re going to act like that big of a douche because one of your guys lost, even though he fought good? Demico went in there and surprised a lot of people, and lost, but who cares. Everybody loses. What did you do after your last loss Rampage? You went on a fucking cocaine rage and stayed up all damn night before you were driving your monster truck with a big logo on it through white fucking suburbia. Running from the cops where they had to shoot out your fucking tires. Then Dana had to come down and bail your ass out and send you to England so the media wouldn’t eat your ass apart, so you would still have a fucking career. So I think Demico is handling his loss perfectly.
Heavy.com: What do you think about Quinton’s recent comments in his blog where he goes on to say, “My team and I had great chemistry and we got along great. Rashad and his team didn’t even like each other”?
Mike Wessel: Here’s the thing, all of the guys on our team are still talking. I still talk to most of the guys from my team all of the time. All of us have stayed good friends. Even Matt Mitrione has sent me a couple texts from time to time. We all got along. Our team chemistry was true. We all really cared about one another. His team may have gotten along together fine, but everyone was not on the same page. Not everybody liked the way they were treated by Rampage.
Heavy.com: Oh yeah, I could understand that part of it. He did it again on the last episode with Wes Sims, just leaving him in the cage afterwords by himself after the loss. It really makes my stomach sick that he treats his fighters like that. It always seems like it’s all about Rampage inside his little bubble. When he goes on to tell Rashad that he’s never been knocked out like Rashad was by Lyoto. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Seriously? I definitely remember you being slumped unconscious face first over the ropes in PRIDE with blood pouring out of your head like a water faucet after Wanderlei Silva smashed your head with a knee’. Then he goes on to tell Rashad that he never quit in a fight. I’m thinking, ‘I don’t know man, I cold have swore you wanted out of that fight with Shogun when you were looking over at your corner basically begging them to stop the fight while Mauricio was soccer kicking you in the face over and over’.
Mike Wessel: Yeah, but that’s the thing: Rampage easily forgets about his past, but so does everybody else because everyone is such a big fan of Rampage. That’s the thing, before Rampage came over from PRIDE, a lot of the newer fans don’t know the whole story.
Heavy.com: I heard Kimbo’s wife and crew were present during the bout between him and Roy Nelson; What can you tell me about that?
Mike Wessel: Yeah, we walked out, and we were like, “Who the fuck is that?”, because I didn’t know who these guys were. There was like three big black guys, and what I was told was his wife. There was a female there and a little kid. They were like, “Yeah, that’s his wife and one of his sons, along with his posse. That’s Icy Mike, his promoter and manager. Other people knew who they were. Justin Wren was telling me who all of these guys were. I was like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’. I was furious! Not at Kimbo, but at the Spike team for letting that happen, because ‘You’re not going to let me talk to my wife who is having surgery for cancer, but you’re going to let Kimbo, because of who he is, you’re going to let Kimbo’s posse come watch him fight? Are you fucking kidding me!’.I don’t care if anyone is mad at me for saying that, because its bullshit. Everyone has their own things going on, but because it’s Kimbo, everyone wants to kiss his ass. I don’t know if it was in his contract or what. I really don’t know who to blame, but I just don’t think that it was right. Here we’re told we can’t do anything, and then Kimbo comes out, and there’s his posse. It was awkward when those guys walked past us because they were pissed off that Kimbo lost. It was just a really awkward moment. It was an awkward passing that they were even there, for one, and for two, that they were pissed off that Kimbo lost. It’s like, ‘Look, you can be behind your boy all you want, but you’re fighting a guy by the name of Roy Nelson. They all may have thought he was a big piece of shit or whatever, when truly he’s one of the most highly regarded mixed martial artists in the business.
Heavy.com: So do you think that’s what they though when they came down to watch the fight, that it was going to be Kimbo just beating the crap out of some fat guy?
Mike Wessel: Oh, I guarantee you that’s what they thought. I guarantee you that his manager Icy Mike doesn’t have a fucking clue about what Roy’s all about, but if he had a clue about MMA, he would have gotten Kimbo some fucking training. I was sitting on the back porch with Kimbo and he was talking to me and a few of the other guys, and Kimbo was like, “Man, I have to learn what you guys do. I have to do what you guys are doing”, and this was after he lost to Roy. So I asked him the question, ‘How many times have you practiced Jiu-Jitsu? How do you train?’, and he says, “I did one practice about three months ago”. I said, ‘You don’t fucking do it every day? I do it sometimes twice a day’. He goes, “No man”. So that just goes to show that all of the people around him are all about the money and not about the fucking sport. If they wanted Kimbo to have any kind of longevity, after they got that $500,000 for the Seth Petruzelli fight, they would have gotten him some Jiu-Jitsu. Now supposedly he’s training out of ATT in Florida, and I don’t even know if they’re training him down there, because if Kimbo doesn’t want to learn Jiu-Jitsu, Kimbo’s not going to learn Jiu-Jitsu.
Heavy.com: Well if he said he only trained Jiu-Jitsu once three months ago, the story goes that he was down at ATT and pulled out a strap after being caught in an armbar, and started waving it around the place like a cowboy at the OK Corral.
Mike Wessel: Yeah, Kimbo told us about how somebody armbarred him and he got pissed, because he took it personal. I was sitting right there when Kimbo told the story about how he went to his car to get his gun. He said, “Man, I took that shit personal”, and me and Justin Wren were like, ‘You can’t take it personal. Everybody taps. Everybody gets caught. Especially in practice, but that’s why you learn in practice’. We were like, ‘Why did you take it personal? Holy shit!’, you know. We’re just dumbfounded by the conversation. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? You pulled a gun out at the gym?’. That’s when I was just thinking, ‘Really? This is really how you roll?’. But you know, back in his hood or whatever, that’s the way it was. That might be the mentality he grew up with, but that’s how a lot of pro athletes can get into a lot of trouble, because their background gets them into trouble. They start doing stupid things and they don’t realize that, “Hey, I’ve got a lot of money now, and maybe I shouldn’t hang out with these people, or do the things that I used to do, because now I have an opportunity to get away from all of that”. It’s just funny to me.
Heavy.com: Did he mention who the guy was that submitted him?
Mike Wessel: No, I don’t even think we bothered to ask. We were just so shocked that he pulled a fucking gun out at the gym.
For more Mike Wessel, check out his exclusive TUF 10 blog.
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