By Zach Arnold | September 13, 2011
“Fedor, he always has this smile on his face, you don’t know if he’s mad or happy. I can tell you this — when I was casting for [the movie], they tried at least 48, 49 different fighters and actors. They couldn’t get the right look and if they did the person was full of tattoos, so thank God I was at the right place at the right time. I was near the end of the line where they were going to just settle for somebody. I came in, I blew them away with my sparring, my technique, my striking, and my takedowns, thank God. Then they… I knew where they were going when they said we want you to be a Russian fighter named Koba that shows no emotion. I’m like, Fedor. So they asked me some questions. They said, how much you weigh? I said 230. They said, can you lose 30 pounds? I said yeah, sure. They said, can you not tan for a couple of months because obviously Fedor is pale. And they also asked me if I had any tattoos and I thought, well, Fedor doesn’t have tattoos. “No, I don’t,” and I lied, I have one on my back. So, thank God, in the movie they covered it up.
“But what I did is I studied tapes of Fedor and he’s… you’d think it would be easy because he really doesn’t show any emotion but I couldn’t figure him out. Like, he’s getting ready to fight, he has a little cracked smile like… you know, it just stays like that. And, I’m like, they want me to be this guy, I’ll try to be him but me because I can’t figure this guy out, he’s too complex.
“But, yeah, they based it off of Fedor and, at the time, he was undefeated besides the fight where he got the cut so he was a lot more popular at that point, this was two years ago, two and a half years ago when we filmed it. So, yeah, I lost the weight, quit tanning, I learned the techniques. The great thing about being a pro-wrestler, thank God, is that I could learn the choreography 30 times faster than other fighters, I learned the choreography like that and they were worried about that because I had to be on the road 4-5 days a week wrestling and I was only there limitedly so I promised them that I would learn the technique very quickly and I did. So, they were very impressed by that.
“I’m just happy to be a part of this movie. I knew it would be a huge success but I didn’t know it was going to be this big.”
As to his reaction on getting some of his speaking scenes cut:
“I understand now, Fedor doesn’t interviews and… they had me learn Russian and I learned it for three months and I did it very well, thank God, but I think they went back and said, you know what, Fedor doesn’t talk, let’s pull that out. I was a little sad, you know, it’s like, oh man…
His personal thoughts on the upcoming Brock Lesnar/Alistair Overeem fight at the end of 2011:
“I have a lot of respect for Brock. I think that in any fight he’s in he has a chance. You don’t realize how strong and how athletic Brock Lesnar is until you get in that ring with him. I’ve sparred with him in real wrestling. I’m not going to tell you who won, I’ll say I was very happy with the outcome. But I’m a much more experienced wrestler. Brock Lesnar is the best athlete over 250 (pounds) that I’ve ever seen in my life. He benches over 600 pounds, I’ve seen him squat over 1,000 pounds. This guy is an animal, so you can’t say that he has no chance. He always has a chance and, you know what, he can take a punch. Of course, he’s gotten knocked down and he’s got knocked out, but he can take a punch. The guy’s an animal, so he has a shot every time he goes out there and I wish him the best.”
Here’s a bonus clip of BJ Penn talking about finding a ‘perfect’ fight in MMA (he says he hasn’t had it, yet) or the perfect fighter (he says all the top fighters are flawed). Very interesting interview.
As for whether or not Nick Diaz has really, truly agreed to fight BJ Penn… depends what media outlet you read, but the general consensus is that, as of this moment, nothing has been signed.