One on One with Vernon "Tiger" White
By: Jim "DCBooks" Kirkland
He started in the sport of mixed martial arts almost 14 years ago, and he has more fights under his belt than some IFL teams have with all their members combined. Vernon "Tiger" White has been in the game as long as there's been a game. He fought in almost every promotion that matters, against the cream of mma talent. Still competing in the IFL today with Ken Shamrock's Lions out of Nevada, he's coming off a win against Silverback light heavy weight and Ultimate Fighter veteran Sam Hogar. After a competitive first round, Vernon showed that experience makes all the difference when he switched gears going for Hogar's back and sinking in a rear-naked choke that forced his opponent to tap. He's now preparing to face another TUF veteran, Mike Whitehead of the Tucson Scorpions, with the Lion's finals chances hanging in the balance. Vernon White brings his wealth of experience to the ring once again June 16th in Vegas at the Las Vegas Hilton when the Lions face the Scorpions and the Dragons face the Pitbulls. We spoke to Vernon about his past present and future in the world of mixed martial arts..
Bloody Knux- You were there at the beginning of MMA, how did you get involved, and how did you end up the back bone of the Lion's Den?
Vernon White- I got involved through Vernon Mayhall, who taught me Taekwondo, and then I met a guy named Papa John who knew Bob Shamrock. He told me that Bob had Ken who was taking fighters to Japan. I ended up going to meet Ken and he beat me up for half an hour then made me do calisthenics and made me clean the gym. He beat me up two weeks later and do calisthenics and made me clean the gym. I don't see myself as the backbone of the Lion's Den, but thanks for the compliment.
BK- This past April, you fought with a pulled back, and the crowd booed the fight, and afterwards you told the crowd off. Do you think they got the message?
VW- There was only one person I was telling off, and he was a drunken idiot. This sport has no room for drunken idiots, We as fighters loved the fans who are in there and understand what's going on. Not the idiot that out there booing and acting like a little kid. Children act better than that guy did. After that was over, a lot of people came up to me and apologized, saying "This wasn't our crowd. This isn't all the Iowa people, it's a lot of people coming from other states. Don't take that guy as representing us." It was kind of cool hearing people bad mouth the idiots. I like hearing that.
BK- How is your back doing?
VW- My back is a lot better. There's a light treatment out there called Anodyne. Anyone who's ever had to go through it will understand what I'm talking about. My fiancÚ at the time, who's now my wife is an OT, occupational therapist, and I'd been going in to her for about a week, and my back has not hurt since then. I've also been gong to a chiropractor. And everything is great. I haven't been having any problems at all.
BK- So you recently got married?
VW- Yes, April 30th.
BK- Congratulations! You won the fight and afterwards MFS coaches were complimenting Hogar for a good fight and being a game opponent. Conversely Ken complained you didn't "let out the Tiger" even though you won the match. How do you feel about Ken's coaching style and does it work for you?
VW- Apparently so, For all these years, I've been able to go out there, and there's only been a couple people who've been able to finish me. My last 3 fights have all been decisions for my opponents who were unable to finish me. So I'd have to say it works for me. A lot of times when I go out and fight, instead of being that angry aggressive fighter I use to be, now I'm more reserved and a calmer person. It's about to come out in this fight. I've heard a lot of good stuff about Mike Whitehead, but I also want to give him his first knockout.
BK- Mike's on a 9 fight win streak, what's your plan to derail him?
VW- Whatever he gives me I'm gong to take it. I've seen a lot of his fights, and it looks to me like the people he fights gas out and get tired and he capitalizes on that. I'm not going to be one to lay on my back or sit on my side while he beats me until the ref steps in.
BK- You first fought Vladimir Matyushenko ten years ago, and again 2 years after that. You're likely to face him again in the IFL where he's been on a tear. Who wins the rubber match?
VW- Whoever wants it the most. It's a toss up between me and Vladdy. He's going undefeated in the IFL. He is a good fighter. I'd have to say when he comes in at 205 he's a little bit light, but it'll be a match to be seen. The rubber match is going to be great. I don't want to say too much about it as I'm not really looking past Mike Whitehead right now.
BK- Frank Shamrock's back in the game and involved with the IFL, who wins his match with Baroni, and would you like a rematch?
VW- A rematch with Frank? Frank wouldn't fight me now, we aren't in the same weight class. Honestly I think Baroni has a really good chance. There's a saying, "a puncher's chance", and Baroni is one heck of a strong striker. Unless Frank brings his A game in the stand up he's going to take some punches and I don't think he'll be able to beat Baroni when Baroni stuns him that first time. He's going to have to take it to the ground and beat Baroni on the ground.
BK- After your match with Chuck Liddell, you needed surgery can you tell us what happened?
VW- A lot of people don't understand is that I have a CAT scan that goes through my eye that shows where the finger entered my eye and where the bone was blown out under my eye socket. It cost $38 thousand dollars to fix the eye. I have a silicon implant in my eye that's screwed down so my eye doesn't fall down into my nasal cavity. As far as I'm concerned with all these idiots out there who don't know what happened, they should keep their mouths shut until you know the facts. Everyone was saying,
"I didn't see a thumb go in, I didn't see this, I didn't see that." Just because it wasn't a thumb, it doesn't mean a finger didn't go into my eye. When you have interviews from other fighters stating that Chuck's fingers have gone into their eyes. It doesn't mean that he stuck his fingers in the eye, but with the way he punches, his knuckles go in people's eyes. I can't bad mouth Chuck. He just came off a hard loss. Chuck just got out of re-hab, but I do have to say it was stupid for him to come out of re-hab and fight Quentin the way he fought him. He should have fought a smarter fight. Quentin's my boy, I love you, and hold that belt forever.
BK- Chuck's finally facing off against Wanderlei Silva. Which former champ makes the comeback?
VW- I think Wanderlei is a much better striker than Chuck is, but Chuck won't make the same mistake some of the other fighters who have fought Wanderlei, which is to try and take him down because Chuck likes to stand up. That's going to be to his advantage, but if Chuck does try and take Wanderlei down, he'll start striking with knees until the fights over. That's his forte, he's a very strong in close fighter and striker. Chuck is going to have to change up his game plan. If he tries to stand in the pocket with Wanderlei, Wanderlei will pick him apart.
BK- Who do you think the best fighter you've ever faced and why?
VW- I really can't say now. I've fought so many good guys. I can say one guy, and then look back over my career and say no this guy is the greatest. I'll give you the top three- Vladimir Matyushenko, Funaki Masakatsu and Bas Rutten.
BK- That's three of the greats right there, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Hopefully we'll see you in the finals.
VW- My pleasure.