Bellator Bantamweight Tournament Contender Anthony Leone is a life-long fighter – and his brother Andrew Leone can attest to it. Dubbed “Nitro” and “Glycerine” when just out of diapers, the two hurled fists and foibles at each other for as long as they can remember. Fortunately Mom channeled the terrible twos into wrestling to diffuse the dueling time-bombs. Instead of two tots in singlets mellowed out on the sofa after practice, quietly nibbling at fruit salad, she ended up with two professional MMA fighters, now graduated from singlets to 6-ounce gloves, hammerfisting each other day in and day out in a foreign country – but still mellowed out and munching on fruit salad. And the sofa turned into an island hammock.
Anthony and Andrew lept into MMA at the same time. While the slightly older Andrew progressed in MMA, racking up an impressive 8-0 record through training with BJ Penn, younger Andrew kept it on the mats, sweeping grappling competitions one after another. Anthony shot into the spotlight, getting a big break into WEC, Bellator, and Strikeforce. The year-long run was a harsh one, so he stepped back and bided his training time until Anthony 2.0 emerged. Once again, granted a shot in Bellator, he upset Zach Makovsky and gained entrance to the Bantamweight Tournament, where he is currently set to fight in the opening round against Frank Baca on July 31, 2013.
Andrew found his MMA career launched in Asia, where the lighter fighter divisions are stacked in Japan and Korea, and where he could work at using his talents to grow the nascent grappling level in the Southeast. Amassing a record in ROAD FC, PRO FC and ONE FC, he’s now set for the biggest fight of his life when he meets a legend in a Flyweight contention match up, Shinichi Kojima, ironically nicknamed “BJ” after Anthony’s first mentor. He’ll be half a world away from New Mexico when he enters the cage in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 13, 2013 at ONE FC’s tenth event – “Kojima versus Leone” – where he’s obviously the main event.
Anthony and Andrew have been training at Phuket Top Team for the dual adventures they have stacking their MMA plates. With Anthony’s fight pending first, let’s see how he’s getting along. No one knows him better than Andrew, so that’s who did this interview for MMA-in-ASIA.
Andrew: Whats up man, so MMA-in-Asia has asked us to do a little brotherly questionnaire to see what the man Anthony Leone
is really all about. They asked for 11 questions, lets do this!
MMA-in-ASIA: Well, we asked for 20, but that is 1 and 1…
Andrew: Do you remember when you superman punched me off the stairs almost 10 years ago?
Anthony: Had a feeling you would ask that. What can I say, it’s a terrific technique, even off the stairs.
MMA-in-ASIA: Who’s got a better suplex?
Andrew: Anthony’s looking real good these days. When did you discover you would become a professional athlete and did you ever want to play pro baseball? You played all 4 years in high school correct?
Anthony: Yea I always wanted to be a pro baseball player. When dad would take us to the Yankee games, I envisioned myself playing center field. I knew I would be pro when I got into MMA.
MMA-in-ASIA: Andrew, what’s your biggest highlight of your MMA career training with your brother? Like the biggest memory you have of being involved with it together?
Andrew: 2006, our first fights were on the same event.
MMA-in-ASIA: What do your parents think about both of their kids being fighters?
Andrew: I think they look at it more as professional athletes, and they’re super proud. They’ve been on this road for awhile with us since we were middle school wrestlers, haha, so I think it was a natural progression.
MMA-in-ASIA: Will they be at this Bellator fight?
Andrew: I think my dad will be, the whole family was at the last Bellator fight and that was pretty special.
Andrew: Anthony, Tell us a secret.
Anthony: I want to be a pro surfer so bad.
Andrew: You play the guitar and a few other instruments, any new songs you’re working on?
Anthony: Working on Moonlight Sonata on the acoustic guitar now. Almost got it.
Andrew: I know you’ve been playing Metal Gear Solid 4 on the playstation3 for the past week, how’s that been going?
Anthony: Funny you should ask. I am playing as we speak. For the game, well it’s been an experience. Like my good friend Kenny Foster would say about Call of Duty, “There’s a war out there, and someone has to kill.” I think I am finally understanding him now.
Andrew: You have a fight coming up in a week for Bellator 97, how are you feeling?
Anthony: I feel like greatness is upon us and Anthony will rise up. Lol.
Andrew: Anything new you’ve been doing for this camp?
Anthony: Been in Phuket Top Team this camp. Working with Training For Warriors on my strength and conditioning. Olavo Abreu for BJJ, MMA, surfing and life. Boxing with Giom, pads with the Gypsy. And Andrew yelling at me in the room telling me to go for it. Trying to figure out “what” to go for, though.
MMA-in-ASIA: Did you guys study Anthony’s opponent together?
Andrew: Nah just watched some tape separately, just spoke about strengths and weaknesses. When is the next jiu jitsu competition you’re looking to compete in, and what are your jiu jitsu goals?
Anthony: I want to compete in the Worlds again. The goal is to become a world champion. I would really love the chance to compete in the ADCC soon.
Andrew: Have you ever called anyone out?
Anthony: I do not think so, at least not on video.
Andrew: Do you want to tell everyone the story when you had to lose weight in Hawaii for your pro debut?
Anthony: Oh damn… So I got arrested once in Hawaii for stealing a 22 of Heineken. I wasn’t 21 yet and I knew they wouldn’t let me buy it so I tried to steal it. Well I never went to court for it, so I had a warrant out for me. Many months later I was going to the gym to lose weight for my fight and my buddy gets pulled over. They ask for my license and then the next thing I know I’m in the back of the police car. Well I had like 5 lbs to go and weigh-ins were in like 2 hours. I had to do something so I started doing laps in the cell and jumping jacks to break a sweat. They let me out like 15 minutes later. All for a 22 of Heineken. Can’t believe you asked this question, bro.
Andrew: What is your most memorable child memory?
Anthony: Pasta, eating pasta at my grandparents’ house.
MMA-in-ASIA: Is Anthony coming back to get you ready for your fight in ONE FC?
Andrew: Yeah, he will be back in Phuket the 2nd week of August. You’re a bad man Anthony Leone, and I for one look forward to this whole road that lies ahead! Any last words for all your Asian friends?
Anthony: Don’t ever ever ever steal a 22 of Heineken, that shit will come back and bite you in the ass.
Andrew: Any shout outs to your sponsors?
Anthony: GRIPS all the way! Onnit Labs, Phuket Top Team, Training For Warriors, Bombsquad for preparing me for this battle
MMA-in-ASIA: Thanks for the entertainment, you two, and put on some great fights for your fans.