Recently former UFC standout Nate “Rock” Quarry sat down with Riot of TMRZoo.com to discuss a number of topics ranging from life after the UFC, the struggles for current fighters, and to answer the fans who are pushing for him to become a coach on the Spike TV show Fight Masters.
Riot: For those of you who do not know Nate, he went 7-3 in the UFC, 12-4 overall and I believe you were the first Ultimate Fighter contestant to earn a title shot ?
Nate: That is true.
Riot: You were on the Ultimate Fighter Season 1, you got hurt, and you filled in as a coaching role, a lot of the fighters looked up to you in the locker room. You were a standup guy, a lot of the fans of the UFC became big fans of yours. You retired about a year ago, due to injury, and are now working on your comic book, Zombie Cage fighter?
Riot: How has that been going?
Nate: It has been going really well. I have the first issue of Zombie Cage Fighter available on ZombieCageFighter.com, it has been featured on Kevin Smith’s show “Comic book men”. I launched the comic on SpikeTv, had a follow up on G-4 and then the “Comic Book men” on AMC. It has been really well received and what I love about it more than anything is how much the fans are loving it. I have guys from Australia, the United Kingdom, spending $17 dollars on shipping just to get that comic. So, to know that people are spending their hard earned money on my comic, and then getting the feedback about how much they love it, that is just really gratifying.
Riot: That’s awesome. I am looking at the T-shirt’s now. I am about to order the Zombie gloves one right now. If there are two great things in this world, it is MMA and Zombies.
Nate: What is so cool is it blends together that world of MMA and Zombies, but I have a whole screen play written as well. When I describe the screen play to people and producers, I have to make clear to them, it is not about MMA, it is not about Zombies, it is about my journey, it is a biographical horror of my life. It is me starting fighting and trying to make it, and failing and still trying to provide for my little girl. Fighting on smaller shows for $500 here and there, then getting the opportunity to go fight for some real money but that means facing off against a zombie. In that case, when you step into the ring it is really a matter of how much are you willing to put on the line in order to provide for your daughter, to make sure that your kids are able to have a life that you were not able to have. For me, that has been my journey all along, fighting for my daughter, to give her the life that I never had. I think that’s the story that every parent can relate to, we all wanna see our kids do better and have more than we had growing up.
Riot: Yeah, absolutely, and I think one thing that people do not take into consideration is that you started fighting before it was popular. I would say that the UFC really started to build it’s large fan base, and the sponsors started pouring in, around your season of the Ultimate Fighter. It wasn’t as easy to get into fighting as it is now. Now there is a gym on every other street.
Nate: Yeah, when I first started fighting, my coach had just got his blue belt two weeks earlier and he was the best guy in all of Oregon. Now, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a black belt, they are everywhere. I used to have to go to the boxing gyms to get training in because my original coach hated holding mitts, (he) thought it was terrible. All we ever did was spar. We would show up and beat the crap out of each other with no instruction at all. So I would go to the boxing gyms and try and get some training there. After two or three practices the head coach would say ‘Oh, you’re pretty good, let’s start lining you up some fights.’ And I would go ‘Oh, I do this MMA, this no holds barred’ and he would go ‘okay, get the hell out of here, we do not train your kind here.’ That would be it, I would just go from gym to gym until everybody would just kick me out.
Riot: That is crazy to see how far it has come. With the evolving of the sport, and it becoming more and more mainstream, there are more and more tiny issues that have been coming up, such as fighter pay and stuff like that. You have recently gone on the record about a week ago, giving some advice to fighters about what fighters need to do to peruse more money. You have really started mentoring some of these young fighters. How has the been working for you?
Nate: I am just trying to share where we are at as fighters, and it is so funny to hear, well most of the fans are all in support of fighters getting more money, but there are a few fans out there who just think it is ridiculous. ‘Oh my God, you got 6k dollars for a days work, you should try doing my job.’ And I thought to myself, if your boss showed up and said ‘Hey, we are gonna put all these cameras around you and film you all day long because I just found out we have 500,000 people that are all willing to spend $60 to watch you work all day.’ Would you be like ‘Cool, I am making $12 an hour, that’s fine! Go ahead, if you can make $10 million of my name while I get no increase what-so-ever, I am okay with that!’ … No. Nobody would do that. All of our pay is dependent on what we are making our bosses. If you want to make $10 million, you better make your boss $20 million or $30 million. Something like that. But with the UFC, the pay raises, especially with the up-and-comers, really hasn’t been there. To me, when you make it to the UFC, that is a statement. That means that you are one of the best in the world at what you do. How can you beat that if you are still working on the weekends? Bouncing or slinging drinks or something like that? You see guys, Che Mills was one of the guys that I always talk about. Last year he fought Rory McDonald in the co-main event for the biggest pay-per-view of the year so far, and he got paid $8k. $8k to be co-main event of a huge pay-per-view. It seems unbelievable to me that people do not see that and say wow this guy is making such a ridiculously low wage, to fight one of the best guys in the world. When I fought for the world title, I fought for $10k. That’s what I made. The gate alone was $3.5 Million. So, just the people who came to the fight physically, was 3.5 million in ticket sales. Then you have on top of that, the pay=per-views, the commercial advertising, sponsors, those type of things. I belive my entire card, which was around 16 or 18 people, something like that, was around $180k. That that 180 and divide it by the 16 people that fought and you can see how much guys are making. If you took the gate alone what is that? About 5% of the gate? Then you factor in the pay-per-view dollars, then you factor in the commercials. I am all for bosses making as much money as they can, but the whole reason you are there in the first place is the product that you have to sell.
Everyone across the board, when they see little kids in China making $5 a day making shoes, they complain about those things or if they see their boss driving a Bentley, they complain about those things. That is why people complain; they go on strike and try to affect change. I do not think that is too much to ask for the up-and coming fighters to make a living wage. If they could show up and know for the whole year they are covered, all they have to do is train and fight and put on a great show. Sign these up-an-comers to a three fight, no-cut contract, with a minimum of 10 grand a show 5 to win, 7.5 to win and 10 to win, respectively, so they know, at the very minimum, they are making 30 grand a year. At the end of the year, they have lost all three fights, haven’t put on a good show, so be it. This run wasn’t for you. Time for you to do something else, but at least for that year, they know they are taken care of.
Riot: I agree. Great wisdom for young fighters. As we wrap this up Nate, there is a new show out, with Bellator. They are taking a different approach, one where guys get to pick their coaches. It is called “Fight Masters” and is so far, looking pretty good. There has been a bit of an internet buzz once “Fight Masters” started, and it is pertaining to you. Have you heard about that?
Nate: Well I hear some people are wanting me to be a coach on “Fight Masters” which I think would just be an incredible honored I think, besides just allowing me to stay in the sport that I love so much, it would allow me to give back to the fighters that are up-and-coming. I look at the crew that is on there now and, there is really no one like me. I say that because, I am the guy that really came from nothing, and scrapped my way up to a title shot in the big show. I think I can give that back to these guys. I can talk to them about the journey and let them know about the pit falls. Who to train with, how to train, where your priorities need to be. I came from nothing. I didn’t wrestle as a kid, didn’t box, none of those things. I just saw the UFC on tv and started training. Eleven years later I was fighting for the world title. That is not something a lot of people can say, and because of that, I think it is something that I can give back, and bring in these specialized coaches with me. We can really help these guys grow and show them what a true martial artist is all about.
Riot: Absolutely, and I think that you are one of the guys who has fought recently and would still be fighting if not for injury. Shamrock and Couture had their primes in an era where fighting was one or two dimensional. You are a very well rounded fighter and I think that is something that fighters on the show would take into consideration. To clarify though, if Spike TV and Bellator came to you and said ‘Nate, we want you to be a coach’, you would accept that offer?
Nate: Yes, I think that would be just an incredible honor and I think when you look at “MMA Uncensored” they show I did on Spike TV, the fans really appreciated what I had to say. I think I come across as a guy who doesn’t just talk to hear my own voice. I wanna see the guys that I am working with be successful. I am not the type of guy that will talk about me, ‘Well I did this and look at me.’ I want these guys to be the stars of the show. I want these fighters to win and be successful. I have made every mistake you can make, with my coaches, with training with my contracts. Because of that, I feel that I have so much to offer these young fighters. I would really love to take that opportunity to give back to the sport that has really given me everything.
Riot: There you have it fight fans. Nate “Rock” Quarry would accept the challenge as a coach on “Fight Masters” if given the opportunity. There are many fans already calling for it, and you can join them as well by tweeting to @spiketv and @BellatorMMA and letting them know that you want to see @NateRockQuarry as a coach on #FightMasters While you are on twitter, do not forget to follow me at @RiotTMRzoo for all of your sports updates and sports picks. You can also find all of your Official Zombie Cagefighter gear at Zombiecagefighter.com