Wes Sims: The Only Difference Between Evan Tanner And Me Was That He Died

Wes Sims is one of MMA’s old school bad boys. Whether illegally stomping Frank Mir into the canvas, raising hell in Japan with his friends in the Hammer House, or power bombing random jabronis, Sims is anything but boring. At 6-10, he’s one of the tallest men in the business. Now the legendarily combustible Sims is back in the UFC, in the combustible Ultimate Fighter house. Sims talked with Heavy.com about how he is like Evan Tanner, Kevin Randleman’s street fights, and his experience as one of America’s homeless.

Heavy.com: So, what made you decide to leave a regular life behind and become a cage fighter?

Wes Sims: That’s a complex question.

Heavy.com: I know, man.

Sims: I’ve got way too many answers for that. With my personality, it just fit.

Heavy.com: Did it all start with meeting Mark Coleman?

Sims: I was a basketball player, but I always wanted to be a pro wrestler. My doctor was Mark’s doctor and he hooked me up with Mark. I had seen the UFC, like the first five, and I was like ‘Wow.’ That’s some crazy shit there. When I met Mark and thought ‘fuck it, I’ll give it a swing.’ He was getting ready to fight Ricardo Morais so he was ready to give me a shot. He needed a big boy in the gym with him. I went over and worked out and it was crazy. We just hit it off and we trained together ever since.

Heavy.com: I’ve seen video of Coleman and Kevin Randleman training and it’s absolutely wild. They are slamming each other and banging into walls and stuff…

Sims: We trained pretty hard. There were a lot of injuries in those early days. Broken nose. Broken fingers. Broken toes. Nothing severe, thank God, but there were a lot of injuries.

Heavy.com: You’re going in there as a basketball player, going up against two national champion wrestlers. You must have spent a lot of time looking up at the lights.

Sims: I also got the shit kicked out of me and my face beat up. But you know something? I’m tough. How appropriate. The Ultimate Fighter. TUF. I’m tough.

Heavy.com: There’s no doubt about that. It’s interesting that you wanted to be a pro wrestler. Because the first memory I have of you in straight powerbombing some poor dude like you were Psycho Sid.

Sims: I fought this guy, he was a last second replacement for my original opponent. He was a lot lighter than my original opponent. I came out punching and I rocked him. He dropped down and grabbed my legs and I thought he was trying to take me down. I wanted to just pick him up and throw him to the side. But when I grabbed him and snatched him up that the dude was out. Oh my God. I always wanted to pick someone up over my head and powerbomb them. It’s just one of those things. It’s like Nascar. You want to see a wreck. I wanted to do it, but I wanted to see it even more. Swooped him up over my head, powerbombed him. I shocked myself.

Heavy.com: Do people still talk to you about that? It must have gotten a million hits on youtube. That’s some legendary shit.

Sims: Oh yeah. People talk about Rampage picking up Arona and powerbombing him. But you never see somebody pick a guy up off his hands and knees, turn him..I turned him over so his back was facing the mat and threw him. It was pretty crazy.

Heavy.com: Now, I’ve seen you fight several times over the years with mixed success…

Sims: I have some blemishes on my record. When I’ve gone out and fought and lost to the better guy, I have no problem. I accept that. But there have been fights when I’ve gone out and hadn’t put the training in. I went out there and tried to go hard without any training. I fucking gassed out. There’s nothing worse than going out there and getting the shit kicked out of you because you can’t defend yourself. I’m disappointed in some fights. My thing is I want to be in the most entertaining fight of the night. Whether I win in the most concussive fashion or lose in the most devastating manner, I want to go out there and give the fans a good show. And there were times when I went out there, didn’t train, took the call at the last minute, and didn’t give the fans a good show. But the Wes Sims from 2003 is gone. he hasn’t matured very much, but he has gotten a little bit smarter.

Heavy.com: You’ve been out of the limelight for awhile. Are you ready to go back to the good life?

Sims: It’s back to being the limousine riding, jet flying…woooo. Yep. The wheeling dealing kiss stealing son of a bitch.

Heavy.com: That’s funny, because when you think back to your first UFC fight, you did what Flair said to do. You beat the man, Frank Mir. Not just beat him, stomped the crap out of him. Literally.

Sims: I made a big mistake that night. I could sit here and dwell on it, go back and tell everybody how sorry I am… No. It’s not my style. I made a mistake that night. I shouldn’t have stomped him. I should have dropped down and punched the shit out of him. Beat his lights out. But he gouged me in the eye. I’ve forgiven Mir since then. It wasn’t something he tried to do maliciously. He was trying to put a rear naked choke in and couldn’t get it so he grabbed my eyes to lift my head up. So when I got free, I stomped the dude. Like I said back then: it happened, it’s over, bring it on.

Heavy.com: You have to admit you took some pleasure in it too. You put the boots to him.

Sims: I watch it myself sometimes and just laugh. If it was PRIDE rules, I beat the shit out of him. Nobody likes somebody who thinks they’re smarter than everybody else. Those kind of kids in school got the shit kicked out of them on a daily basis. They’re probably rich now, designing the most elegant things in the world. But they’re not very popular.

Heavy.com: Did you take pleasure in seeing him against Lesnar the second time when he got beaten up?

Sims: It might be crazy, but when he fights I don’t root against the guy. Every time he goes out there and beats somebody fast, beats Nogueira. Beat Lesnar the first time. When he’s out there beating people up, it’s just showing how tough I am.

Heavy.com: I know you went over to Japan with the guys when they fought in PRIDE..

Sims: Nine times. I went over nine times.

Heavy.com: and I know you guys had some wild times in and out of the ring. The biggest scrap of them all was with Chute Box. Tell me about the fight after the fight when Coleman fought Shogun Rua.

Sims: I wasn’t there. They’re lucky I wasn’t there. If I had been and Randleman had been, we’d probably still be in a Japanese jail over there. It was just Mark, Baroni, and his dad. If we had evened up the odds, it would have been a mess for Chute Box.

Heavy.com: People don’t know that Randleman, as good as he was in the cage, was an even better street fighter. What’s it like being around someone like that who has so much passion for everything in his life, for good or bad?

Sims: There’s a lot of emotion. A lot of emotion in the Hammer House. Kevin’s a very emotional person and it doesn’t take much to set him off. I have witnessed it in and out of the ring. Kevin has matured and gotten smarter over the years, but when I first got into this I’d show up to practice and he wouldn’t be there. I’d show up at his apartment on the way home and he’d have stitches in his head. He’d have cuts all over his face from where he got into a fight in a bar. He would just clean dudes until they were hitting him with bottles. He got in a fight one time and they were hitting him in the head with bottles and they were breaking. But he just kept fighting and dropping them. The cops had to come in and mace everybody. It was a mess. When I train with guys like that I have no fear of these guys I have to fight. The fight is easy. It’s the training, the ass whippings daily, that’s hard.

Heavy.com: The Ultimate Fighter is traditionally about finding new talent. But you’re a guy with almost 40 fights. You’re a different kind of fighter than we normally see on the show.

Sims: I’ll tell you what this show is about for me. There are so many new fans who have embraced this sport. And they all ask you ‘Have you been on The Ultimate Fighter?’ No, I ain’t been on The Ultimate Fighter. I’ve been in the UFC. They distinguish between the two. I never thought there would be an opportunity for me to be on the show. Until now. I kind of joked about being on it. They gave me an opportunity and I loved it. I’d do it again all over.

Heavy.com: They’ve focused quite a bit on all the football players they’ve brought in this season. Is that a problem for you and some of the other professional, long-time fighters?

Sims: Nah. In fact, I was thinking after the season, after the finale, after all that, I would ask for some time off. I think I’ll go play in the NFL for a brief stint. Because as everyone now knows, you don’t have to have much talent to cross over and go between the two sports.

Heavy.com: Someone was telling me you had run into some tough times recently. Have you had some lean years?

Sims: Lean years? Lean years. Yeah, I guess you could say they were some pretty lean years. After I had surgery on my elbow, I had some really hard times. I was living homeless. I actually enjoyed being on the Ultimate Fighter. At least I was in out of the rain. The house in Vegas was great for me. I was living in a sleeping bag.

Heavy.com: Man.

Sims: Yeah. The only difference between me and Evan Tanner was he died.

Heavy.com: I don’t even know how to ask about this. You can’t say ‘Tell me how it feels.’ But obviously your life was pretty comfortable and it all got turned upside down.

Sims: I made a lot of money in 2005-2006. And in 2007-2008, I lost a lot. You don’t really appreciate things for what they are worth until you’re at the bottom of the barrel. Until you hit ground zero. Then you’re looking up.

Heavy.com: Not to get political on you, but was part of the problem that you didn’t have health insurance?

Sims: That was an issue. Being late on those bills. And the things I bought when I had money. Be nice to people on your way up. Because you’re going to see them again on the way down. I’m preparing to give back to my fans. On September 17th, in Chicago, Illinois under I-55 in Cicero, The Wes Sims Fan Expo. I’m going dead into the mecca of the homeless. These are my kind of people and I’m giving back. Food and drinks, gear and t-shirts. If fans are willing to come down into that area, they’ll get free stuff too. We’ve got all kinds of stuff going on. September 17th, 2-4 PM. Right during traffic too. Right during rush hour.

Heavy.com: What’s it mean to you to be able to give something back like this? To a group of people that counted you as one of their own not long ago?

Sims: People have no idea. Honestly, I go on the Underground. I go on all those message boards. I read some of the shit people say about me. If I didn’t have tough skin I’d take it personal. It would be a really long day and I’d be a real emotional mess. I understand. People don’t know me. They know Wes Sims the character. I turned down $30,000 one time. I hate bringing it up. And you don’t need to call me hero my friend. But I turned down $30,000 to fight Bas Rutten to raise money for (former UFC announcer) Ryan Bennett’s family after he died in a car accident. And I’ve started a non-profit organization in my hometown. Because I have a lot to give back.

Heavy.com: It sounds like things are going well. How did you get your life back together?

Sims: I have goals in fighting. Goals in MMA. Goals in the UFC. I’m going to dictate when I get done fighting. I’ve always said I’m still going to be fighting when most of these other guys are backworkingat a gas station. I’ll still be around. I’ll still be fighting. I’ve still got some goals and some things I want to accomplish. That’s my mindset. That’s why I wanted to be sure that everyone has a good time watching this season. I’m looking forward to a lot of big things I have coming up.

Heavy.com: I have to ask you about the rumors that you gave away the result of some of the fights on the internet message board The Underground. Is that true?

Sims: You have to wait and see the show. The cameras were on me 24/7. They might have even gotten a shot of my abnormally large, uncomfortable crotch. Because the camera was on me even when I was in the bathroom. So, you’ll see. If I did anything, you’ll see it.

The tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter debuts Wednesday on Spike TV.

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