by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At the latest TKO event in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, one of the most gruesome injuries in recent memory occurred when mixed martial arts veterans Brian Gassaway and Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons met up in the 170-pound main event.
Shortly into the second round Landi-Jons attempted a leg kick, which was checked by Gassaway, however, due to the impact of his kick to Gassaway’s leg, Pele’s shin snapped, causing the bone to extrude from the flesh.
Upon returning home to the suburbs of Chicago, Gassaway spoke to MMAWeekly.com about the fight, his new training home, and where he hopes to take his career in 2008.
MMAWeekly: First off Brian, tell us how the injury to Pele occurred.
Brian Gassaway: Well, throughout the fight he was throwing extremely hard leg kicks. The kicks he was throwing were actually the hardest kicks I’ve ever felt. I’ve fought in the Shidokan, bare-knuckle Karate, kickboxing – and those (kicks from Pele) are the hardest kicks I’ve ever felt.
In the second round he threw a kick, and I had a nice check, I shifted my weight on my left leg and I angled out and his kick hit my knee. And like even with my weight planted on my lead leg, my knee bent to hell, it still torqued my knee, and I had a great angle too – that shows how hard he was kicking – and I heard a snap.
And apparently everyone heard the snap, the whole arena basically heard it, but I really didn’t realize what happened. So I followed up with a combination, he fell, and I followed up with more punches, and the ref actually stopped us, and I looked down and saw the damage to his leg.
MMAWeekly: Having been a veteran of nearly 50 MMA fights, as well as various other events, had you ever seen anything like that before in a fight?
Brian Gassaway: That’s actually the first time that I’ve actually seen that. I’ve damaged somebody’s leg, but it was visible. When I saw his leg, the thought that occurred to me was, “This could end his career.” I don’t wish that on anybody. I want to win, but I can hang out and have a beer with my opponent afterwards, but I don’t want anyone’s career to end, and hopefully it won’t.
MMAWeekly: Did you get a chance to speak to him or his teammates?
Brian Gassaway: No, I sure didn’t. They had me leave the ring. In fact, when I was in the ring and they were attending to him, I tried several times to go up to him, just to see how he is, but the athletic commission stopped me both times. They took him away, I didn’t see his corner men or anybody, but my understanding is though that he’s doing okay.
In fact, I want to point out, that guy’s a warrior, because I didn’t hear one peep out of him out of him the whole time. His leg is dangling by skin and muscle basically and I didn’t hear one peep out of him. It wasn’t like he was in shock, he was conscious the whole time; the guy’s a warrior.
MMAWeekly: Okay, getting away from the fight, let’s talk about your career now. I understand you recently started training some place different than before?
Brian Gassaway: I’ve been training with Shonie (Carter), Rolondo (Higueros) and Terry Martin, they’re like a core group of maybe like four guys that we’ve been training with for years, and we’ve definitely progressed and pushed each other as far as we could, but we knew each other too well. We could train together hard, but it was hard to learn something new.
Our skills are limited just training with each other, so everybody just kind of branched out and went on their own, training at different facilities. I’ve always been apt to do that, having been in martial arts for years, bouncing around from gym to gym. I’m training at the Midwest Training Center and there is a lot of talent. We all kind of push each other and bring each other’s games up.
There’s well-known guys (such as the Guida brothers, Mark Miller and occasionally Bart Palaszewski) there and some that you might not hear of outside the Midwest, but they’re definitely going to make their mark on the stage worldwide shortly for sure. I just wanted to kick start my learning curve again, because I plateaued for the longest time, and I’m starting to learn again. The moment I stop learning is the moment I retire.
MMAWeekly: What sort of goals do you have for yourself for the remainder of this year?
Brian Gassaway: I’m not slowing down. When my body starts to slow down, then I will start to contemplate teaching and this and that, but I’m feeling really good, really strong. I might not be quite as fast as I was before, but I think comparably to a lot of fighters out there, I’m still pretty quick. I’m going to try to get in as many fights as I can.
I’ve still got a contract with the World Extreme Cagefighting. I haven’t pursued a fight with that because I was disappointed with my performance in the last WEC fight (against John Alessio in January 2007). So, you kind of got to go back to the drawing boards. I don’t want to fight just because I’m so and so and I deserve to fight on this show, no, I don’t look at it like that at all. I think everyone should earn their spot and everybody should keep their spot.
So it’s an honor to fight for a big organization like that, but there are things I knew I had to work on. I had to work on the basics, and the new gym that I’m training at, I’ve been doing that, and performing as far as fights come. I’m fighting with a different conviction I think.
MMAWeekly: Thanks for your time Brian; is there anything you want to say in conclusion?
Brian Gassaway: As far as Pele goes, I wish him the best. My heart goes out to him. People do say a win is a win, but nobody wants to win under those circumstances, and so hopefully he’ll get back on his horse and can pull things through. I think myself as well as the rest of the MMA world is rooting for him.
I just want to thank my teammates at the Midwest Training Center for helping me push myself to the next level. The sky’s the limit right now and I’ll just keep training and doing what I’m doing. I appreciate everybody that has helped me along the way through the years.
At this point I want to just keep on fighting. It doesn’t matter what show, I just enjoy doing what I’m doing. No matter what comes up, I’m down for it.