You have to know your Mixed Martial Arts to roll with a nickname like "The Fight Professor," as Stephen Quadros does. Professor takes it to that cerebral, intellectual level and Quadros delivers on the implicit idea conveyed by his moniker each time he enters the booth to broadcast a fight.
Heavy caught up with the long-time broadcaster earlier in the week to get his thoughts on everything from his days with Pride and the dominance of Fedor Emelianenko, to his earlier exploits as a heavy metal drummer and the truth about Chuck Norris.
Heavy.com: Before we can get around to how fight fans know you now as a commentary, we have to talk about your first career.
You were a Wilco song (Heavy Metal Drummer) before moving behind the mic, pounding the drums for SNOW and opening up for the likes of Quiet Riot.
How did that come about and what was it like routinely playing on the Sunset Strip?
Stephen Quadros: My drumming was primarily the fault of a few high school ruffian imps who would routinely make noise in the back of the classroom by beating out the drum solo in the ancient surf song "Wipe Out" on their desk tops. Of course when I would try to emulate them I would constantly fail to live up to their knuckle-on-wood mastery. And for some strange reason they would never get yelled at by the teacher for the disruption - I WOULD! I think the sequence of these traumatic events caused me to pursue a lifetime of drumming.
Fast forward a decade and I had grown my hair long, moved to Hollywood (California) and was "paying my dues" by working sucky day jobs and playing with my band at night in hopes of "making it." There were many experiences I had in those days that I wouldn't trade for anything.
A lot of my peers and pals from those days, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Ratt, Guns & Roses, made millions of dollars, played huge concerts, impregnated Playboy Playmates, wrecked Ferraris and then more often than not lost it all. While I got tendonitis so bad I had to stop playing…then became a TV fight commentator. You can see the correlation, right?
Playing the (Sunset) Strip back in that era was a complete pain in the ass at first. Clubs and patrons can be pretty blunt towards you when it comes to feedback. And sometimes the distain or dismissal is only based on the fact that no one knows you…yet.
But once I got into a band that got a following, SNOW in this particular case, which included Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo and his brother Tony on bass, we started to reap the rewards. Meaning we could get hot chicks… The funny thing is we'd sellout the Whiskey A Go Go or the Starwood, and look like big rich rock stars onstage, but we were on food stamps, none of us had cars and we all lived in the same house out in the boonies, ghetto style.
Heavy.com: Proving that we have seriously stalked you leading up to this interview, you're currently playing a couple bands now as well. Let the people know what you're doing and where they can see you play.
Stephen Quadros: I made the conscious effort to step back from playing drums about two months ago. Until I decided to do that I recorded an album last year with "7th Sun" which is real cool retro jam band, and one third of "Whipped Cream," a Cream tribute band. And Carlos, Tony and I got back together to restart "SNOW" after a few decades too, but Carlos is on tour with "Ratt" at the moment and Tony is doing a million different projects too. But at some point SNOW will come back and crash right into your living rooms again (laughs).
But right now I'm concentrating on a few TV and broadcasting ventures and just can't do every damn thing. I need to focus. When I "unretire," which will happen once I get my own TV show and make it into a hit, I will probably debut my own band, which will be mainly hard rock…with lots of drum solos. And I play in SNOW with Carlos and Tony.
Heavy.com: With the heavy metal history out of the way, how did you make the transition from the rock 'n' roll lifestyle to broadcasting Mixed Martial Arts?
Stephen Quadros: Oh boy, let me see if I can answer that in 600 pages or less… After I got tendonitis/carpal tunnel/whatever and had to stop playing drums, I started acting. It, like music, is a long thankless journey, but I still did it around working day jobs. I liked it, it was fun. Eventually I got in the union, guest starred on a few TV shows and co-starred in a couple of low budget films. It's all on IMDB.com. One day I'll return to acting…
I had been practicing martial arts of varying sorts since the 1970s and started teaching, mainly at the Hollywood YMCA. I was also writing and became the editor of the Kickboxing Ring Report website and magazine, 1993-1999. I insisted that we include a major portion of MMA, which at the time was called NHB or No-Holds-Barred.
While I was working with KRR, I was also writing for various other print magazines, like Inside Kung Fu and Black Belt. Black Belt stepped up and gave me my own column, which I named "Fightsport" and had for three years, 1999-2002. Then they asked me to be the editor of a fight magazine called "Black Belt Presents: Fightsport, With Stephen Quadros." With a title like that I couldn't resist. I stayed onboard for the first year, 2003, which was only four issues since it was a quarterly publication, and then exited because I was just getting too busy doing fight choreography for movies and…commentating.
Actually everything was kind of inter-twined with the acting, journalism and broadcasting. I didn't stop one thing then another began, many times it overlapped. But I was fortunate I guess because of all the varied elements that I brought to the table that I ended up getting hired by some pretty cool shows.
My first broadcasting job was K-1 in 1998. Then I made the move to Pride from 2000-2003, then the IFL on Fox Sports. I'm now about to start my 4th year with Showtime, where I've done the EliteXC and ShoXC events and currently call Strikeforce Challengers and occasionally, like December 19th, the main Strikeforce cards.
Heavy.com: Most fight fans will know you best from your time alongside "El Guapo" Bas Rutten in Pride FC. What brought you to the Land of the Rising Sun?
Stephen Quadros: I had already been there to call fights for K-1. Then K-1 suspended their US efforts for a few years and I got a call from Pride.
Heavy.com: It's widely believed that the yakuza were involved with the organization. What were your experiences in regards to that notion? Were they involved? Were you aware of it? No comment?
Stephen Quadros: No one ever came up to me when I was in Japan, and I've been there quite a few times, and said, "Konnichiwa, I'm from THE YAKUZA."
Heavy.com: You were replaced in the Pride booth by Mauro Ranallo in 2003. What were the reasons for the change and what is it like working with the Canadian commentator after an awkward situation like that?
Stephen Quadros: Actually Mauro replaced Damon Perry.
Let's review: the producer that Bas Rutten and I had successfully worked with for three years, Michael Braverman abruptly left the show. I'm not sure why. He was replaced by a guy from Detroit named Jerry Millen. I worked one show with Jerry Millen and then was replaced by a Detroit pal of his, who I think was a radio DJ, named Damon Perry. Apparently Mr. Perry was replaced after only two shows. Again I'm not sure why that happened either.
After leaving the organization I decided to stop watching the US Pride broadcasts. To this day I don't even know what Damon Perry looks like. I had never heard Mauro Ranallo commentate until I saw him on Showtime during the Renzo Gracie/Frank Shamrock fight. Pride couldn't really ask me to come back after they let Perry go without losing face so Bas suggested Mauro.
Now of course Mauro and I work together at Showtime. Life is funny like that. I really enjoy working with Mauro. He's brilliant. I also really enjoyed working with Bas and Michael Braverman.
Heavy.com: Over the years, you've worked in both two-man and three-man booths. Which do you prefer and what are the pros and cons of both booth setups?
Stephen Quadros: I like both. Bas and I were a two man booth and it worked great. Currently I work a three man booth, mainly with Mauro and Pat Miletich. Pat has such a wealth of hands on knowledge and that frees me up to get cerebral. We play certain roles and it works perfectly. Whether it a 2 or 3 man booth, it's all about listening.
Heavy.com: What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned over your time as a broadcaster?
Stephen Quadros: Never premeditate commentary. It's best to fly by the seat of your pants. Always be respectful, while still telling the truth, even if you don't like or disagree with something – leave the smack talk to pro-wrestlers.
Heavy.com: What are some tips you would give to all the aspiring future Fight Professors out there?
Stephen Quadros: Don't hate… OK, OK, I was partly joking. But seriously, always be ethical. Keep a positive attitude.
Heavy.com: You had a chance to watch Fedor Emelianenko on countless occasions during your time in Pride. What are your thoughts on Fedor? Is he the best ever?
Stephen Quadros: I have said that Fedor is the best fighter I have ever seen in the game. I still believe that. But…one could also make a solid case for Anderson Silva too.
Heavy.com: How would he make out against some of the top heavyweights the UFC has employed over the years? Does he beat them all?
Stephen Quadros: I think Brock Lesnar could have/would have been Fedor's toughest challenge. Even though the UFC has since tried to distance themselves from former champions like Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, Emelianenko was conclusive in beating both of them in one round. And lest we forget, Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman were UFC heavyweight champs too. As far as anyone else, I try not to speculate on fights that might never happen.
Heavy.com: We'd like to end on an entertaining angle, so we've got some fun quick hitters to run through with you.
Stephen Quadros: But…I thought that first part was pretty darn entertaining.
Heavy.com: Ready? How many of the Chuck Norris Facts are actually true?
Stephen Quadros: 87.123666 % of Chuck Norris Facts are undisputed and true. The others are also true under the right lighting.
Heavy.com: Favourite fighter?
Stephen Quadros: Kazushi Sakuraba.
Heavy.com: Best fight you've ever seen – live or otherwise?
Stephen Quadros: 1) Fedor Emelianenko vs. Minotauro Nogueira#1, 2) Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns, 3) Nick Diaz vs. Diego Sanchez
Heavy.com: Most Underrated Fighter?
Stephen Quadros: Fedor Emelianenko
Heavy.com: Most Overrated?
Stephen Quadros: Maximus
Heavy.com: Best Pound-for-Pound?
Stephen Quadros: Anderson Silva
Heavy.com: Best Prospect?
Stephen Quadros: Tyron Woodley
Heavy.com: Favorite Movie?
Stephen Quadros: The Godfather
Heavy.com: Favorite Food?
Stephen Quadros: Thai
Heavy.com: Best Place You've Ever Been?
Stephen Quadros: Carmel, California
Heavy.com: If you could fight anyone - past or present - who would it be and why?
Stephen Quadros: Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols. I'm just JEALOUS…
Heavy.com: If you could play matchmaker for one day, regardless of organizational ties or anything like that, what three fights would you make and why?
Stephen Quadros: Anderson Silva vs. Gegard Mousasi, BJ Penn vs. Jose Aldo, Georges St. Pierre vs. Tyron Woodley one year from now.
Heavy.com: Thanks for doing this.
Stephen Quadros: My pleasure Spencer! Thanks you for interviewing me!