If you have been following the work we do here at The MMA Truth, I'm sure you know our motto by now—No Rumors, Just The MMA Truth.
Sticking to the truth, bringing you original content, and educating the casual fan is ProMMARadio's Larry Pepe our north here at The Truth.
As MMA fans we also look for the same when we support or endorse products or outlets, and in that sense, we are lucky. There are amazingly talented reporters, writers, and radio show hosts out there bringing us acute and insightful info on a daily basis.
We at The MMA Truth have been lucky enough to side with one of the most—if not the most—precise and incisive interviewers in the industry, ProMMARadio’s Larry Pepe.
Pep, as his friends call him and who is also the voice of the new show MMAPostFight.com, has been recognized by many of the greatest reporters in MMA as “The Best MMA Interviewer” and also as an amazing friend, not only to his colleagues in the media, but by fighters and fans as well.
An advocate of always telling it as it is, Pep is a defender of truth and responsible journalism, always prepared with concrete, verifiable information to back up his postures, and an immense knowledge of the sport’s ins and outs.
As part of the ProMMARadio Network, it is an absolute honor to present our readers with this interview, an interview with someone who shares our deepest passion and respect for MMA, and a man who truly knows the meaning of the word friendship and staying true to yourself.
TMT’s Angel R. Cordero: Pep, first of all welcome to The MMA Truth and thank you for all your support and friendship. It is an honor for me to be able to do this. Being a part of the ProMMARadio Network since we started has been vital to our growth and we appreciate it immensely.
PMR’s Larry Pepe: Hey, listen man, it is my pleasure and it’s great to have you aboard. It’s been fun for me to kind of watch you grow.
I remember when you first launched The MMA Truth the first day. And now I see it more and more, I see you do more and more things, creating more relationships in the industry and I’m proud of you.
You’re taking something you are passionate about and turning it into a business, but maintaining the same passion. And I think that’s what I did with my show.
I know it’s hard at the beginning sometimes cause your not writing for a major outlet, you’re not writing for Yahoo, you’re not writing for MMAFighting.com or an MMAMania.com, where instantly tons and tons of people hear about you.
So, when you build something that’s your own and you make it work, it’s a different ride. It’s been great to support you, good guys need to stick together, right?
I truly appreciate it Pep, it’s definitely been a learning experience and having you on our side both as friend and as a colleague has made the difference in our work.
Thanks, that’s awesome, thank you for that.
Well Pep, you’re mostly known in the sport as a Radio host and analyst, but for the people who still don’t know who you are, give us a little background on who is Larry Pepe.
Sure, I grew up in New York, graduated from St. Johns with a degree in Communication Arts & Media, and then I went to Law School at Villanova, graduated from there, and then I went to Los Angeles cause I wanted to practice Entertainment related Law.
I did that for four years, working with the Entertainment community and stuff. Enjoyed it, but my passion was always training and bodybuilding, working with other people and helping others, and I kind of missed that.
So, I stopped practicing Law—everyone thought I was nuts, especially my Mom, she’s gotten over it but it took her some time—and I started a training and nutrition company in L.A.
I had that for years, and while I did that, I went and got my Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. After doing that for a while and training with a lot of people, working with a lot of clients, I decided to go more into some of my other passions, and one of those passions was Mixed Martial Arts.
I had been writing for some bodybuilding magazines and other publications, did a lot of writing about bodybuilding, fitness, and dieting, nutrition and all that.
Then I wrote a book called The Pre Contest Bible, which was the best-selling book in bodybuilding for over four years.
After doing all that and working so much with bodybuilding, I thought I needed something to be more passionate about, because it had been a part or my life for such a long period.
I was a martial artist as a kid, fought in the World Tae Kwon Do Championships when I was 16, also fought in the Empire State Games, and so, martial arts was always close to my heart.
But, as a kid, after a while I got bored with it because it was only one style. So I started gravitating to other styles just because I was bored. There was no MMA at the time, everything was more individualized. You had the Karate or Kung Fu tournaments, but there was no grappling, no Jiu Jitsu and all that. That’s how I got bored with it and got into bodybuilding.
What was your first experience with MMA? A lot of people will say that their first encounter with MMA was the beginnings of the UFC, what was your first contact with MMA?
That was it for me. UFC 1, all my friends where talking about this crazy thing—guys who were 150 pounds fighting guys who were 300 pounds—the were going to finally settle which style was better than the next style and all that business.
That was fascinating for me, having gone through a couple styles.
I watched the first couple, and then with the no-rules, the size disparity, and the sloppiness of what we were seeing—obviously not Royce Gracie and guys like that—but so many of the competitors were not what you would consider “athletic” or a professional athlete.
So I kind of gravitated away from it. Plus it was getting harder and harder to follow with all the opposition and the problems it was facing.
Then I reconnected with the sport around six years ago, a little bit before the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Haven’t missed one damn thing since.
What was your first LIVE experience with MMA?
Oh, first LIVE experience, you’re going to love this story. UFC 58, it was when Rich Franklin beat on David Loiseau for 25 minutes, also when GSP fought BJ Penn for the first time, and it’s an interesting story.
My Mom moved out to Las Vegas, and was living with me for some time while her house was being built, during the first season of TUF. So I was watching it and she started watching it.
Now, keep in mind, my mother is nowhere near what people would think as MMA demographic. So, she’s been watching for a couple weeks and now she’s hooked.
One day she says “oh, they started advertising the Pay-Per-View, are you going to get that?”, and I say “sure, you want to watch it?”, she says yes and hasn’t missed an event since.
Then UFC 58 is coming up and she tells me she wants to go to one of those events. I was a little concerned because I didn’t know what the environment was going to be—if there was fights and stuff like that, I didn’t know—but I talked to a friend of mine who was security at the events with them and he told me “you’re going to want to get her in the most expensive seats, in the hundred dollar seats stuff will break out more often.”
So I get the tickets in the first section above the floor, I took her to that event, she absolutely had the time of her life—I took her there for her birthday—and of course it was my first event and it was fantastic.
So, do you think your Mom enjoying the sport as much as you do had a say in you getting involved in the sport?
Well, she actually played a role in me doing the show, and this is how: As we would watch this events I would explain things to her, because I think the whole key in enjoying MMA is understanding it.
The people who are against it, the people who look away, they don’t understand what’s happening in the fight, they don’t understand what’s happening in the grappling. Education is everything.
So I thought that the more she understood and knew about it, the more she would enjoy it. Until one day she tells me “you know, you should do something with this.” I thought I couldn’t because of all the people out there who knew infinitely more about this than I do.
Then she says “you really know this, and the way you explain it, and the way you talk about it, you should do something.”
I completely wrote it off because, you know, she’s my mom, she probably even thinks I can win some of those fights (laughs), so I wrote it off.
A couple months later, while I was doing a bodybuilding show, I brought on Urijah Faber and weeks later, James Irving, as guests on that show.
Their manager called me and said “I want to tell you, I’ve heard Urijah and James being interviewed literally hundreds of times, but I’ve never really heard them be interviewed like that. You should be doing something with this.”
I started laughing and he asks me why am I laughing and I tell him “you are my mother, you sounded just like my mother. I wrote her off because she is my mother but you, you barely know me, there’s no reason for you to be telling me this.”
So that’s when I thought about it, three weeks later, I had my website built, did my first show, on June 9th, 2008, and the rest is history.
At the end of the day, as much as we hate to admit it, Mom was right.
Mom was right and the MMA community is grateful she was. So, now we know how you came in contact with MMA, looking back, what would you say has been your favorite moment in the history of your show?
The Bob Reilly interview. Obviously my most notorious moment was Chael Sonnen making the comments about Lance Armstrong on my show, that was a huge thing for the show because it spread like wild fire and garnered so much attention.
I looked it up on Google one day and I stopped like at 80 websites that had cited the show and were following the story and all that type of things. I ended up on Jim Rome is Burning on ESPN, so it is a moment that meant a lot for the show publicity-wise.
But for me personally, the biggest thing that’s happened on the show is when I had the opportunity to debate with Assemblyman Bob Reilly about the legalization of MMA in N.Y. because I felt that that interview was the best work that I’ve done.
Because he is a formidable debater, because he has gone back and forth about the issue with many, many people, so he was very prepared, but I was very prepared too, and I felt that we brought things out in that interview regarding the union, his relationship with the union, and regarding min many of the studies that he would often refer to in his general terms.
But I didn’t think no one had ever put his feet to the fire as to whether those studies really said what he says they said. How accurate was he when he made this grand statements, and the opportunity to sit with him for a full hour and go back and fourth, I really feel that is the most important thing that I’ve done on the show.
I felt like I was prepared for court, I felt a huge of responsibility because I felt that for that hour I was going to represent the sport I love and he was going to be doing whatever he could to tear it down.
That interview is actually one of my favorite moments in MMA outside of a cage and it is actually, in my opinion, the work of a genius.
In terms of ratings on the ProMMARadio show, which episode do you thinks has been the highest rated so far?
Well, probably the Sonnen interview, because the replays went through the roof once it all started coming out—the statements he made on the show—and we had the opportunity to have Brock Lesnar on the show several times and of course those numbers were always huge when he was on.
Those two followed closely by the Reilly interview I think are the top three, but realistically, the Sonnen interview and Brock Lesnar are the top rated.
Besides Reilly and Sonnen, who I think have been the most controversial guests you’ve had on ProMMARadio, who has been your favorite guest, who’s most fun to have on the show?
It’s hard to pick one, there’s been a lot. As far as fun to have on the show, wow, that’s a good question.
Rashad Evans, and of course he is a regular now on the show, we do a segment called “Suga & Pep” once a month, that happens because on his prior visits to the show—he’s been a guest on the show two or three times—when we got off the phone the last time before we started the segment he was like “man, we always have such a good time, I’d like to do this more often,” so it was actually his [Rashad’s] idea to turn it into a regular appereance which I was flattered by it.
Urijah Faber who was my very first guest, always have a great time with Urijah, and I always think fondly of his impact on me doing this, because not only was he my first guest on PMR but when I did that bodybuilding show I referred to earlier, he was the first fighter I ever interviewed.
It was off of that interview that his manager contacted me and told me I should do a show, so I fell in a way he [Urijah Faber] was a central figure in me deciding to do the show, and now having some of the success I’ve had. Then, ironically, Form Athletics Clothing is now my apparel sponsor and it was Urijah who started that brand with a gentleman named Mark Miller before they were purchased and merged into K-Swiss. So Urijah is definitely there, I’ve had a lot of fun with him on the show.
Donald Cerrone, I’ve had a lot of fun with him on the show too ‘cause Cowboy is a good guy and has a ton of personality, and of course, the whole Varner-Cerrone hatred started on my show. That whole rivalry started on ProMMARadio, Donald has always been a lot of fun, but honestly, I could keep going, there are just so many guys who are fun to have on the show.
Well Pep, when I first came up with the idea of doing an interview with you, I actually started talking to some of our collegues in the industry, friends of both of us most of them.
I want to read you some quotes I got from some of our friends in MMA and please give us your thoughts and opinions on them and the experiences you’ve had with them.
I’m going to sit down for this! (laughs)
Oh, you’re going to love it, I’m sure.
Let’s start with ESPNRadio’s Steve Cofield.
"Larry is without question the best long form interviewer in MMA right now. He's the most prepared. He always seems to find something that'll push the right buttons and get that headline hook out of the interview.
Most importantly, he listens and reacts. Too many interviewers, even at the highest level, are more interested in what they're going to say next instead of feeding off what the subject is saying." ~Steve Cofield
Wow, that’s fantastic. Steve has been a guest on my show many times. I have tremendous respect for Steve because he does a three hours radio sports show here in Vegas that I listen to when I’m out driving around sometimes in the afternoon.
It means a lot coming from a guy who has done Radio for years on a mainstream level and in MMA as well, and Steve’s been great about following what I do on the show and pulling things from the interview and putting them on Yahoo.
So, that’s a great compliment, coming from somebody who was so much more experience than I do in Radio, coming from him, that’s very flattering, very, very flattering.
Kevin Iole from Yahoo Sports.
“Larry is a very thorough interviewer with broad, in-depth knowledge of MMA and the ability to uncover information others can't get.
You know when you're listening to Larry that you're going to hear an intelligent, insightful and well thought-out interview.
I am always happy to be a guest with Larry and I thoroughly enjoy his work. He's a pro's pro.” ~Kevin Iole
Hm, wow, I can probably say a lot of the same things. Kevin has been a combat sports journalist for decades and he is a very decorated journalist.
He’s won awards for his work in boxing, he’s won awards for his work in MMA, Fight Magazine named him one of the most influential people in MMA a couple years ago.
When he says that it’s always a pleasure to come on, that brings up a separate issue for me because it means something to me that top media people, and of course the fighters and the trainers that come one the show, want to be on the show.
This is all voluntary, people aren’t paid to come on, they take their own time and I think that’s very gracious. I am flattered that someone at Kevin’s level, who has the experience he has in journalism and in combat sports would call me a “Pro’s Pro.”
That’s fantastic, that’s just fantastic.
Dave Farra from MMA30.
"Larry Pepe is a consummate MMA professional that is not just a thoughtful and insightful analyst, but also a well balanced and great all around guy." ~Dave Farra
Dave, again, a veteran Radio personality who does a morning, drive-time Radio show here in Vegas.
I’ve been on his show several times and he’s been on my show several times, and it’s funny because he always jokes with me and says “we always do a 30, 40, 50 minutes segment but we could talk for two hours.”
There’s a good chemistry there and Dave is a great guy. When people like Dave, who interacts with so many people in MMA, say things like that, again, it’s nothing but flattering and it really humbles me.
Jesse Holand from MMA Mania.
"Pep has the unique ability to bring clarity and insight to the ever-changing and often convoluted world of mixed martial arts news.
A staunch professional, most fans and insiders have named him the industry's best interviewer.
I've named him my friend, my mentor and a leading example of everything that's right about truth in media. Pep doesn't just set the standard, he is the standard." ~Jesse Holand
Ha! Wow, here’s the funny thing. When I was starting ProMMARadio, in my head the idea was gaining access to journalists out there for the “Opening Round.” That’s the idea I had, doing the “Opening Round” with someone from the media and then the interview.
I used to read Jesse on MMAMania.com all the time, and I think Jesse the best because he puts personality into his work and he finds very diverse things out there. His headlines are often humorous and kind of edgy, which I always joke with him about.
So coming full circle, three years ago I was reading MMAMania and three years later, for a guy like him to be calling me a mentor and all the very nice things he said, again, it’s incredibly gratifying.
At the end of the day Angel, nothing means more than the respect of peers that you have got. So, for guys like that to be saying things like that and for you to take the time to do this interview and tell people about me and what I do, I don’t take this lightly, I am completely humbled and flattered.
Former WEC Flyweight champion and UFC Bantamweight contender Urijah Faber.
"Man, I love Larry Pepe. He's always been a guy that covers the sports with a lot of integrity and a good friend of mine also.
His show is awesome, I love being on it and I love it when he's out hanging out and stuff like that.
I think he's a real professional and I’m excited about your feature coming out." ~Urijah Faber
That’s awesome. I talked before about Urijah being the first guest on my show and I have so much respect for him. I will call him a friend because I feel that way about him as well, is very mutual.
You look back and you got to give credit to people who helped you or a guy who played a part on whatever it is that you are doing that’s doing well, and I go back to that first interview with Urijah and, you know, Urijah is so sought-after by the mainstream MMA outlets, still he he was doing my show, my very first episode and no one knew who I was or what it was.
The feeling is mutual, I think he is a phenomenal fighter, I think he going to hold the belt at 135, but outside the cage, having had the opportunity to sped some time with Urijah, getting to know him as a person and as a businessman, his devotion and loyalty to his friends, that’s why we connected, because we are very similar in that way.
I have nothing but respect for Urijah Faber inside the cage but even more so outside the cage, and I am saying that as someone who firmly believes that he will hold the belt in his second weightclass after July 2nd.
So I’m not saying he is a good fighter but he is a better guy, I’m saying he is a world-class, phenomenal fighter, and he’s a better guy outside the cage.
Awesome stuff. The next quote, well, it’s not a quote, it’s not even written. It’s what I think about you. A lot of people will call you “The Best Interviewer in MMA” but, I will only call you a great friend and a great supporter of the sport, but most importantly, a great supporter of your friends.
I am truly honored to call you a friend and to be a part of the ProMMARadio Network. I thank you so much for everything you’ve done to help me, to support my work, and to encourage me to move forward in a business that is not very easy and it’s really competitive.
Thank you so much Pep, you know you have a brother here in Puerto Rico always waiting for your visit and thanks for everything you’ve done for this sport we love so much.
Wow, listen, I’m completely humbled. Thank you for doing this. It means so much to me for somebody to want to take the time to do this as a media person you know, I’m not going to hold a world title, but for someone to look at my work and who I am as a person and decide that is something they want to share with other people who don’t know him or what he does, in and out of itself, it’s incredibly flattering.
To then go out and talk to other colleagues and fighters and get their comments on me, and then share them with me, seriously, when this comes out I’m printing it, framing it, and putting it on my wall.
It is very meaningful to me that someone thinks that much of what I do as a media person to want to put it out to the world like that and take this amount of time that you’ve taken before this interview, because you were obviously very prepared, take the time to go and get those quotes, take the time on the phone, and then to write it.
Being your friend is an honor, supporting you is an honor, and I think you will continue to move forward and be a great representative of the sport. I can’t thank you enough for your words, your time, and the energy that you’ve put into this.
I am serious when I say this, it means a lot to me, it humbles me and it will make my week, not just my day. It is probably one of the best birthday presents I’m going to get.
Happy Birthday Larry!
Thank you brother!
We at The MMA Truth want to wish Larry Pepe a lot of success in all the projects he undertakes, the best of luck, and the best of health for him and his family.
Larry Pepe and a panel of MMA experts will breakdown the MMA action with insights and in-depth analysis in a round-table of MMA experts.
The MMA Truth is a proud member of the ProMMARadio Network.
Originally posted at The MMA Truth.