At first glance, Tom Shoaff doesn’t look like he punches people for a living. The grey pea coat and button-up might deceive the casual onlooker, but a closer look paints a different picture. The small bruises around the eye, the tattoos on the neck and wrist, the purple stuff (we assume is a recovery drink) that he carries around in an empty water gallon, all give the impression that he can knock motherfuckers out.
Ok, so none of that stuff really gives us any indication that Tom Shoaff can knockout people, but sitting down and hearing Shoaff talk about what he loves leaves us with little doubt where this kid’s heart lies.
We sat down with the undefeated 23-year-old to talk about his training, his fighting style, and his upcoming fight at Invasion 4 this Friday. Here’s what he said:
How long have you been an MMA instructor?
I started instructing when I was 20. I was living in Oklahoma and they had a gym that had just opened up. It was actually opened up by a guy called Grady Brewer. He won The Contender in 2006, so it was mainly a boxing gym. But he had mat space, and we opened up an MMA program. I started instructing real low-level stuff. I wanted everyone to know that, ‘Hey, I’m not a black belt, I’m not the best fighter in the world, I just enjoy teaching people what I know.’
What are your strengths as a fighter?
My stand-up. My stand-up is my bread and butter. I was with a camp that is mainly a boxing and kickboxing gym. I was with them for a little over a year, and all we did was box. So I was on my feet for 14-15 months. That’s where my heart and soul lies.
I’m training with a lot of great guys at Carlson Gracie, and we’re really working on my ground game, putting everything together, blending everything, and molding me into a well-rounded mixed martial artist.
So that’s what you want to be, you don’t want to be a specialist?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t mind my stand-up being a step above the rest of my game, but that’s only if my ground game is up to par with everybody else. I definitely want to be well-rounded, but I love using my hands. So if I can keep it upright, I’m going to.
You said you were working on your ground game, have you been focusing on anything else for this upcoming fight?
At this level of competition we tend to work on things for any opponent. So it’s all about working on general basics.
For this particular fight I just want to keep the fight on the feet. I’ve always said that I’ve got really good hands, I’ve got really fast hands, and I’m accurate with my punches. But in my last three fights I haven’t really gotten a chance to show that. I haven’t really gotten a chance to show the fans that I’ve got machine guns in my hands and I know how to use them. So that’s what I want to do in this fight, I want to keep him on his feet and pick him apart.
What’s your dominant hand?
I’m right handed, but I’ve got a real mean left hook. I drop a lot of people with overshots in the gym. It’s probably one of my favorite punches.
You’re undefeated. I read on your gym’s site that you feel like you ‘have a target on your back.’ Is that true?
I do and I don’t. Everyone always wants to give someone their first loss. That’s guaranteed. But a lot of people, I don’t want to sound arrogant or egotistical, but when you have a record like mine, you tend to get a lot of people running away from you rather than to you.
I have 14 MMA fights and I’ve won all of them, I’ve won a muay thai fight, and two boxing bouts. That’s 17 fights in the last five years. I’ve only had one fight go to a decision, and I’ve had only two fights go past the second round. So when you have a display of dominance like that, people see that and say, ‘Yeah I want to setup to the challenge and see what this guy has.’ But nine times out of ten people aren’t going to want that. They’re going to run away from that.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I honestly don’t know. I’m willing to take this as far as I can. I love this sport. I love training. I love teaching. So if I can take it to the next level, which I want to do, which I intend to do, then I’m going to. I’m going to put everything I have into this. I feel that I was given a gift, I was given an opportunity, and I’m going to use this gift and opportunity to see where I can take it. So maybe we can talk in five years and see where things have gone.
Tom Shoaff trains and instructs at Carlson Gracie Team MMA, and will be fighting at Invasion 4 in Aurora.
Bo knows birthdays, or at least we do, so happy birthday to one of the coolest sports figures evah. Here’s to hoping that you mate with Serena Williams and produce some mutant athlete that becomes an all-star in every major sport. Here’s some Bo glory:
We hated the lockout. It’s up there with traffic and Jerry Seinfeld (post Seinfeld), but this lockout tape is sick. We’re even considering putting John Wall in our top ten. HAHAHAHAHAHAhahaa ha ha ha. Maybe. But seriously, Seinfeld lost his million dollar haircut after the first thirty seconds of this.
What we’re looking forward to this season:
- Getting to see who’s going to have a better rookie year—Ricky Rubio, Kyrie Irving, or Shaq.
- Shaq publicly apologizing for sexting Mario Batali before getting interrupted by Barkley squirting milk from his nose.
- Seeing the slow evolution of Jimmer’s twitter account after he finally realizes he’s on a basketball team where he can have sex and get crunk.
- Counting the days on Kim Kardashian’s and Brian Scalabrine’s (Scaladashian) inevitable relationship.
- Learning that Kobe has secretly turned his skeleton into adamantium after he starts leaking the nickname “Kobeverine.”
- Having Dwayne Wade breakdown after constantly being asked which teammate is his real BFF?. Our money’s on Eddie House.
- Seeing Skip Bayless physically explode on camera after being accused of having an affair with Herman Cain.
- Watching James Harden’s beard mate with Kimbo Slice’s face.
- And watching Omer Asik spill Chris Bosh’s blood all over his milky white skin.
In the public’s eye skateboarders only rank slightly above bassists and Pineapple Express characters, and most people only see skating as nothing more than flipping a piece of wood outside a convenient store. But for people who skate it’s about approaching an obstacle or trick in a distinctive way. It’s about making something as mundane as a parking lot or a park bench into something artistic. It’s about flow, personality, and style as much as it is about technique.
Watching the New Orleans Saints last night, I couldn’t help but notice that Drew Brees plays with a lot of those characteristics. Although he plays in a sport that relies on teamwork, formations and rigid timing, Brees is still is able to play with personality and style. He’s not only great because he makes pinpoint throws and intelligent plays; it’s how he makes them. He’s the most exciting quarterback in the league, and he should be in the conversation for the MVP.
Last night on Monday Night Football the Saints found themselves on their own 12-yard line facing the New York Giants defense with the first half ticking down. The Saints had 69 seconds to try and get in field goal range, or try and score. Drew Brees only needed 34 seconds to murder those 88-yards and score a touchdown (Snap*). Brees was 4/5 on that drive (Booyakasha*). To put things in perspective, half of that last paragraph reads like a Chuck Norris joke.
Brees and the Saints videogamed the Giants for the rest of the night: four touchdowns on 363 yards of passing, one touchdown run, 577 yards of total offense, and 25 completions to seven different receivers.
But it wasn’t just the gaudy numbers, Brees cemented his MVP status in my mind when he juked and dove for a touchdown. His team was up by more than three scores at that point, and Brees just wanted to put a dagger in the Giants.
It was a boring game on what looked to be a good matchup on paper, but Brees and the Saints offense were so sensational that it didn’t matter it was a blowout. Brees was playing out of his mind, and it wasn’t even his best game of the season.
For the season Brees’ stats look like this:
With those numbers, Brees has a shot at breaking Dan Marino’s record for passing yards for a single season (5,084 in 1984). Here’s a guy who might be having his best season and his résumé already includes: being the second quarterback ever to throw for over 5,000 yards in a single season, a trip to the NFC Championship Game in ’06, and a Super Bowl win in ’09.
His best game this season was a drubbing against Indiana:
Those are crazy numbers, but Aaron Rodgers is having a better statistical season, and his team is 11-0. Rodgers is Brees’ only legitimate competition for the MVP, and many people have him ahead of Brees.
During a three game stretch this year Rodgers did this:
Being a Bears fan prevents part of my brain from ever truly trying to support a Packers player, despite how that particular player makes Bret Favre look old, small, and shriveled-up (kind of like a certain cell phone sext), but Rodgers is playing amazing this year. He’s statistically better than Brees, his team beat Brees, and his team is undefeated and coming off a Super Bowl victory.
But style has to count for something, especially when it involves rooting against the Packers. And regardless of any bias, Brees is our MVP.
Here’s to hoping these two meet up deep in the playoffs.
stats courtesy of espn.com
Maybe it’s that KD is driving a conversion van instead of an Italian supercar, maybe it’s Sam Cooke’s vocals mixed with shots of the wind-seared barns and dusty courts, maybe it’s the mixture of lights and metal nets hanging above players young and old, maybe it’s just our weekend euphoria festering into mushy sentiment but.. we love this commercial:
All it took was a handshake, a couple of winks, and a few manly pats on the rear to set everything straight. The NBA lockout is over, with the owners and players agreeing in principal to a handshake deal over the weekend. The news immediately set twitter aflame, and set the start of the season for Christmas day.
Getting a deal to play a shortened 66-game season is a huge victory, with the winners being the fans, businesses and moonlighters who rely on the NBA.
The long-awaited agreement features shorter contracts for players (Up to five years for a team re-signing its own player, and four years for that same player out on the open market), a one-time amnesty clause that allows each team to waive a player without having his salary count against the team’s cap, and looser restrictions for trades (Non-taxpaying teams can take back salaries worth up to 140 percent, while taxpayers are limited to 125 percent.).
The deal also bumps up the age restriction for players wanting to enter the draft to 20-years-old, and gives fans and NBA officials a chance to experience a shorter schedule (something NBA aficionados have been clamoring for).
It’s truly a beautiful thing, a Christmas triple-header all wrapped up with benjamins and bills. The games should be a three-headed monster showcasing the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, the New York Knicks vs. the Boston Celtics and a Finals rematch between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat (The Mavs will receive their championship rings in front of the Heat. SLAP). It’s Kobe vs. Rose, Carmelo and Amare vs. Rondo and three wheelchairs, and Dirk vs. the super friends.
My head is spinning just writing all that. We’ll get to see Kobe after his experimental German knee surgery (apparently he’s jumping out of the gym), and see if he has anything left in the tank to try and make one more run at tying Jordan and his 6 rings. (Had the season died, was there any one player who had more to lose?)
We’ll get to see Rose after an entire summer’s worth of constantly hearing about his “fraudulent” MVP win. How he choked when it mattered most, how he’s not even the best point guard in the league (let alone the MVP), how ESPN ranked him as the 8th best player in the league, and how he fell to the Heat.
We’ll get to get see Dirk put on a ring, Jason Kidd get beat up by his wife, and more of DeShawn Stevenson’s amazing neck tattoos.
And we’ll hopefully get to see the Heat lose, although Lebron and Wade look to be in midseason form after months of pickup games and Sean John fashion shows.
It’s going to be a Christmas wonderland, filled with spiked eggnog, hoops, and Heat hating.