Jason Reinhardt at 40 years of age is one of the few active members left of the original no holds barred era. Coming up through the regional midwest shows in MMA’s heyday, Reinhardt trained at the infamous Miletich Fighting System’s gym in Battendorf, Iowa. After a broken back in 2001 kept him out of the fight game for nearly two years, the guy triumphantly made his return to the ring/cage and continued on to start his career at 18-0. Now sitting at 20-2 and fighting out of Wanderlei Silva’s gym, Jason is coming off a 48 second loss to Tiequan Zhang at UFC 127. This Sunday Reinhardt steps into the Octagon for a third time in Milwaukee, so we sat down to get his take on how the fight game changed and what it is like to train with his personal hero Wanderlei Silva. This is a must read.
Do you think you could make flyweight or will you stick with bantamweight? I think I could make 125 I really do. I have a small bone structure and some coaches have said I could probably make 125 but this cut. Uh this cut has been a little challenge so I think for now I will stick with bantamweight.
So this is your second fight with Wand fight team? Yeah.
What is it like training with your idol? Oh man he brings such an energy to the gym and he gives you the strength to keep going and he is such a wonderful human being. Some people are saying he has lost a step but that ain’t true.
There were reports that he was feeling pretty low after the Leben fight. Yeah we have texted and you know, I flew halfway across the world to lose in 48 seconds so my heart went out to him. He is a warrior, we don’t quit and he isn’t going to quit until he is ready to quit. That is what we do. It’s crazy how people talk about him. It’s not like he is walking around the gym punch drunk. He shouldn’t even think about retiring. He’s doing great though. It will be just fine. He’s an animal in the gym his cardio is great. People get caught. Big deal. He’s Wanderlei Silva. He dedicates his life to the sport and fighting and to his students. He wants to fights ten more fights and people should not dictate when we quit. We should make that decision, no one else.
As far as the pressure to quit, do you mean that from the fans or the promoter? Honestly, think about it. I’ve promoted my own small shows for 11 years. Dana in my opinion truly cares about us. If Dana was a scumbag he would say keep fighting. Look at all the money he could make if he wanted to with Chuck Liddell. He does that out of his heart and his concern. We are the fighters, Dana is the promoter. Let us fight and let us keep going. We will tell you when we want to quit. A lot of promoters aren’t concerned, they use us like strippers and Dana isn’t like that. I have no bad feelings as far as that. But the so called fucking experts who have never street fought, stepped in the cage or trained who have no idea what we sacrifice being away from our family, they don’t have one ounce of a clue. That is what upsets me. I’m sure some people don’t agree with that but that is just my take. I have fought for Dana now twice and he and Joe Silva treat us unbelievable. Fighter safety is their number one concern and that is more than other promoters.
How does the insurance effect you. A double edged sword. You go to the fighter meeting and get the insurance and now you see all these fighters backing out. Don’t back out of a fight man unless you can’t walk or raise your arm. I mean so many of us walk around in pain all day every day. I am in chronic pain daily. It makes me sick to see people back out of fights for nothing. We are warriors we are supposed to go out there and fight. The insurance is something we are supposed to utilize, not take advantage because someone else is paying the bill. I hate when people pull out for bullshit reasons.
What would be different in the world of MMA if the UFC had these lighter weight classes ten years ago. Featherweight, bantam, etc. Man it would have been great. Tough question. The fighters are so much more well rounded now. It would have been incredible to fight in the UFC ten years ago at 135 pounds, I was submitting everybody. Ten years ago I would regularly be fighting guys twenty pounds heavier than me. I would weigh in at 132 and they would be 155. Sometimes over 200. It’s a completely different animal today.
What is the main difference between the old Miletich camp and you at Wand fight team now. Much more technical now. More technique. Miletich Fighting Systems made me tough, taught me about conditioning and the wrestling mentality. I never wrestled in high school just Karate. It was just tough, we were just in that room. Pat was one of MMA’s founding fathers. So many fans don’t realize this. He was one of the first fighters that was truly well rounded. But to answer your question with Pat we did the best we could but with Wand we have specific coaches for specific techniques. Wrestling coach for wrestling, Jiu Jitsu and so on. I wish some people could be a mouse in the room and see what we were doing in that old gym. Miletich. I wouldn’t be the fighter I am today without that place.
Tell me an old tale of the Miletich camp. I’m not the type of guy to kiss and tell but I will tell you one story that I think is pretty darn funny and I don’t think it’s disrespectful. It’s really funny actually. Matt Hughes was there with us when Brock Lesnar first started training. So all the big guys get on one side of the room and all the little guys on the other side. Matt wants to grapple with Brock so they start and next thing you know, I’m on the other side of the room and I hear Pat screaming “No! No! No!” Matt has Brock in a rear naked choke and Brock doesn’t know how to get out of it. So this beast of a man stands up and is doing circles trying to throw Matt off pro wrestling style and jumps back and lands on Matt to break the choke. All the while Pat is like “My God no, you will break his back! What the hell are you doing!?” but Brock didn’t know any better. But yeah I watched Matt Hughes choke Brock Lesnar.
So this is your second fight in over three years, you lost in 48 seconds last time, but did that help you with the nerves at all? It did man it did. It was the worst day of my life. It took me three weeks to even get out of the house. My wife was pissed at me. She told me to get off my ass and move forward. My family, they snapped me out of it. The past is the past. But you put your blood, sweat and tears into something and you work so hard, then you lose and lose in quick fashion. You get caught, it’s just heart wrenching. I want these fans out there to know how hard I work and to accept me. I’ve sacrificed so much and if it didn’t mean so much I would blow it off and laugh but I’m a fighter and I take this very seriously. I love the fans, I love the haters. If people knew me, the guys who hate on me, if they knew what I was about they wouldn’t hate. You don’t promote a show for 11 years if you are a d**k. People wouldn’t fight for me if I’ve fucked people over. Some of these haters, so I can relate a bit with what Wanderlei is going through. You have a 50/50 chance to win in the UFC and we are the best in the world. That is what Burt tells us. We are there for a reason and that gives me hope and inspiration. I think of those words. You have a 50/50 chance and you train so hard to make it a 51% chance.
The pressure is incredible. I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders and I just have to calm down and relax and have fun and enjoy the moment. I trained at this beautiful school in Canada with Spencer Fisher and he talked to me and told me to just enjoy the moment. When you stop and think about it, it makes sense. We as fighters don’t enjoy the journey or realize to enjoy it because of the pressure sometimes. We put pressure on ourselves because our job is on the line. I used to make $130,000 a year selling insurance but I gave it up so I could fight. I still own it. I still make cold calls. I hope to God this takes off so I can make martial arts my focus. I also want a gym to help other fighters. I had a Tae Kwon Do gym you know? Martial arts is a part of my every day. This is not a hobby, it is my life. I eat, sleep and breathe it. My family just left on vacation but I can’t go and I thank them for all of their support. I’m not trying to be a little bitch complaining, I’m just trying to explain what we do and what we sacrifice. MMA fighters sacrifice so much more than boxers or anyone else. People need to just have more respect. Like Chael Sonnen. Fuck that guy. I would expect more out of him.
You aren’t a big fan of him are you? I used to really like the guy. I used to look up to him. You can ask my brother who is also a fighter, we used to cheer for Chael Sonnen. We thought a lot of the stuff he said was funny as hell. But he crossed the line when he talked about our beloved master. He says fights were worked. Watch the fights, how could you say those PRIDE fights where Wand is kicking and stomping and kneeing those guys were fake? To use his power as a UFC fighter, he crossed the line. Our mentor, our leader. He should know better. We have a power as UFC fighters to influence and we have a responsibility to do the right thing and not put negative and bad thoughts to people and media’s heads. We have that power, we shouldn’t do that. But to say they are works? That’s bullshit man. Then you have new, young fans coming up not knowing about PRIDE and they end up believing that man. Look at the harm that does to Wanderlei. It harms his reputation and image. You don’t take a man’s hard work and degrade it. Let me ask you this Chael Sonnen: why weren’t you talking like this when you were in the car with Wand and your lip was quivering? Why weren’t you talking then when he called you out and he said that you shouldn’t talk about his country? Why not then? I believe in respect and respecting others, but Chael’s bottom lip was quivering in the car. Yeah, like a child bowing down. Then he gets home and does his Tweets and does these interviews. I can handle some funny stuff but that is personal. Chael is a fighter and a warrior, I’m not going to take that from him, but let’s take it a step further. Let’s take it one step further. You are going to sit here and do an interview and call the late Evan Tanner, you are going to call him an unintelligent human being? Really? The late UFC champ? Bro, you got problems man. You really do. Of course though, you know, go wash more cash Chael, more shady business. Wanderlei will earn his cash the right way, through honesty and hard work. So you are a fucking asshole Chael, that’s what I’ve got to say to you. You are a fucking asshole. But you know what? If I had mongoloid ism in me and I couldn’t get laid I would be a miserable human being as well. So Fuck Chael Sonnen and who would fucking name their child Chael? Fucking gay ass name. No wonder he acts the way he does.
What video is this you are talking about? Go to Youtube. You can see that pussy…no. I take that back he is not a pussy, he is a warrior and a fighter. That was wrong of me to say. You cannot take that away from him. However, you can see his lip quivering as Wand calls him out. And Wand means it. And unless Chael wants to make this a street fight, we are professionals and we shouldn’t do that, but there is a time an place. So many of these people when they get approached they shit themselves. You may come home one night and someone is waiting in a bush, hiding. And BAM. You deserve it if that happens. You cross the line.
You are very passionate. That’s how I feel about it, whatever, respect. I respect everyone until they give me a reason not to. I can’t understand a reason why you would talk bad about the late Evan Tanner. Over the line and I’m going to give him back some of his medicine.
You want to compete until you are 48 years old? I always said that I want to beat Randy Couture’s record and fight one year past his. That’s always been my goal. I have the utmost respect, but yeah I want to compete in the UFC until I’m one year older than Randy. It’s kind of a joke but it isn’t. I want to fight for at least another five years though.
That’s really impressive especially with the broken back. OK, one last ques…. Well you know I went to a doctor recently, and with ten years of muscle spasms, finally I was diagnosed correctly and I feel great. I am on an anti inflammatory. My pain is now down to a level four. If my back can stay like this I could fight til I’m fifty. The doctor’s told me after I broke my neck in the cage, and I won that by the way, I gave him 14 stitches over his eye…and he out weighed me by 14 pounds and it was my 5th fight to his 55th…The doctors told me that I would never fight again. But people who say some of the shit about my career…man come train with me. You keep suffering and these guys talk man. A lot of guys talk that would have quit a long time ago. I never said I was a great fighter, there are so many great guys out there and I want to be known for my heart. Period. So many of us out there show so much heart and it isn’t recognized.
The fight where you broke your back, that was against Ray Duke?
No but that guy was tough. Four time champion wrestler at Arizona, two time Golden Gloves boxer. He outweighed me by twenty two pounds. Dan Severn comes up to me and says “Jason, take the belt. He forfeited.” I said no way I have people here to watch a fight. So the match went on. He broke my nose. I need to put my fights on Youtube. I never wanted my opponents to have an advantage, but I need to put my fights on Youtube. He flash knocked me out hit me again which woke me up and I got up and I won. So that same promoter was always trying to get me beat, he hated my undefeated record and he was jealous. And the thing is, he brings in The Filipino Delight Hawkins to fight. He had a lot more experience than me. He was just as good as Ray Duke but had a different style. So the promoter, Randy Greenman, and I will tell you that story in a minute, you don’t disrespect the dead. Chael Sonnen. Randy Greenman didn’t like me. He was always trying to get me beat and putting me in there with bigger guys. I always fought bigger guys but I always fought who my management told me to. Randy wanted me to fight Manny Gamburyan and my management turned it down.
I was so inexperienced then, Manny would have eaten me alive. And I’m glad we are touching on this because I have kept quiet for so fucking long…this guy, Randy Greenman, tried to get my manager to fight Manny and he got mad because my manager wouldn’t let it happen and I’m happy about that. But they bring in Del Hawkins, with 55 wins. i got Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver and Jeremy Horn in my corner, OK? Now I get slammed on my neck…but let me back up, I had a herniated neck and I shouldn’t have fought. I should have listened to the doctors. What can you do? At this point my neck is strong, it’s my lower back that kills me. Just like a lot of fighters, our lower backs are going. So young fighters: take care of your back and neck.
OK so let’s finish this. So back then we fought in a ring and I go out there before the show to watch them build it and warm up you know? Now Randy Greenman put on a great show back then with Sean Sherk, Karo, Chris Lytle. We all fought together. So make my way out to the ring and I see that they aren’t putting down the padding. It’s just plywood. I ask them where the padding is and they say it got rained on. So I go on with the show, ready to fight on the plywood. Back then there was no commission, there was barely weigh ins. So Randy Greenman, God bless his soul, who spent a lot of money to put on great shows puts no padding down so I end up breaking my neck. I got put into bankruptcy because he didn’t have insurance God bless his soul, I won’t talk bad because you weren’t required to have insurance.
I was stupid, the docs told me not to fight but I did anyway. So I got slammed then I hit him with a straight and Jeremy Horn told me he has never seen anyone get sliced like that before or since.14 stitches. And I won. But my neck was broken. I paid it all out of my pocket. I went to San Francisco, with my father, who is my best friend. (emotions run high) I’m sorry man. I’m sorry. Sometimes I get a little emotional. My dad has been there for me through everything. My father made sure I had the best doctors. The best. He is the reason I am here today. He took me to California. It’s all because of him. So I continue and I was out a year and a half. I trained with a halo on. I remember laying in bed watching Wanderlei Silva’s PRIDE fights that Chael says are works. Yeah right. How do you work a head stomp? That ain’t no work, you idiot.
So anyways Randy didn’t have the insurance, it wasn’t a law. I can’t say he did anything wrong. I stepped my own two feet in there, I signed the contract. Now here is the crazy part. Randy Greenman was involved in some shady stuff and they found him with his innocent partner shot with there heads cut off in the woods in St Louis two years ago. They found the people that did it and it was a biker gang. It’s funny, the same biker gang, those guys…it gives me the chills, those same guys used to buy my ringside tickets from me. They were my fans. I remember those guys. When the story came out and I saw it and I got so creeped out. I thought they were just biker guys who like fights….I didn’t know they were murderers.
My God. I’ve seen so much bro, I’ve seen so much I could write a book. The only problem is that I don’t think people would believe it. I remember when Sean Sherk fought on that same night and his head was puffed up like a pumpkin. I think it was against Karo out of his weight class and they went to war. Sean drives 15 hours to Minnesota with a pumpkin head. This used to be no holds barred. That’s why I put Vale Tudo over my heart, we used to fight no holds barred. I want these young fans to know, that the sport used to be much more hardcore.
Is it an easier sport now? Yes, I know it is. Try no gloves, no time limit and no weight divisions. I remember seeing a guy in a headlock for an hour and twenty five minutes. Fifty seven minutes straight. I fought in a warehouse once and I remember this guy from Illinois was trying to take me down and he tried to slam me and we ended up going into the drywall of the warehouse and I ended up putting him in an arm lock in the dry wall with him tapping out inside the wall in the warehouse. If all the cursing and emotional stuff pissed off some people I’m sorry. I’m always myself and honest. I’ve worked so hard, starting my first martial arts gym when I’m 18 to help pay for college. I got my black belt from Miletich and I keep that in my living room and it means so much to me. I remember living in a kitchen on an air mattress with Tim Sylvia or rooming with Lee Murray. I love that guy, that guy was the coolest. I miss it though man, we should talk more. I miss driving three hours after work to go train with Pat and the guys, then driving back and getting home at three in the morning to just do it again the next day. I am so happy to do anything it takes to make this sport grow. MMA is my life.