James “Skellington” Chaney is a professional Mixed Martial Artist with a 7-5 record. All 7 of his wins have come by submission inside the first two rounds. He has a 9-1 amateur record with 8 of the wins by submission also. James was a contestant on the UFCs’ The Ultimate Fighter season 16: Carwin vs. Nelson. He was an Idaho State wrestling champion in 2008, a former NW Fighting welterweight champion, and Ultimate Cage Challenge middleweight champion. His next fight is in Alberta, Canada for Hard Knocks on May 10, 2014. He will take on Sergej Juskevic.
Let Us Bang: Who is James Chaney?
James “Skellington” Chaney: “James Chaney is always contemplating himself and the world around him, but finds life itself pretty elusive most of the time. He loves adventure, loves his inner circle above all else, and seems to be driven as much by emotion as thought. Besides that, I got nothing. He’s an odd fellow.”
LUB: What are some of your hobbies outside of MMA?
JC: “I like general stuff. Reading, writing, video games, music, being around people I like, etc. Beyond that, I like discovering new things. I love trying new foods. I love going new places, and I live to experience. If it’s going to give me a good story to tell, that doesn’t leave me maimed, emotionally scarred, or financially destroyed, I may very well be interested.”
LUB: As a Mixed Martial Artist, what is your biggest strength and why?
JC: “My heart. When I’m on point, I can do things other people won’t. I’ll take my enemies on a walk through the trenches with me and I’m not scared of anything that can happen to me. I know they can’t say the same.”
LUB: With 8 amateur and 7 professional victories by submission, what is your favorite submission hold, and why?
JC: “I don’t know. The triangle choke has been good to me, but I like almost all of them.”
LUB: If you were to wake up to a zombie apocalypse what would you do?
JC: “1. Gather the people in the household and arm ourselves.
2. Make phone calls and collaborate with nearby survivors to come up with a rendezvous point.
3. Rendezvous and gather supplies.
4. Load it all onto boats and become pirates.”
LUB: In your opinion, is fighting more physical or mental?
JC: “I don’t see a reason to distinguish. I think it depends completely on who you are, and you have to have both.”
LUB: If you could see any 2 fighters compete inside the cage, who would they be, and how do you think it would go down?
JC: “Prime Rickson Gracie vs. prime Sakuraba would be cool. We never really got closure on that and now Rickson is way older and Sakuraba has been viciously sacrificed to Japanese entertainment. It makes me sad to see he’s taken far too much punishment in fights he never belonged in for years and years.”
LUB: Who has been your biggest inspiration in life?
JC: “I really don’t know.”
LUB: What are some of the things that motivate you each and every day?
JC: “I gave myself a number. 1826. Five years and a day (for the leap year). At the end of all that I’ll have built something or I won’t have. If I haven’t, the memories will have been great, my body will be broken, and god willing my wits will still be about me and I will move on. I count down every day. It’s easy to forget how impermanent this all is, to waste your time because there is always tomorrow to live life. I remind myself everyday that my days are very quantifiably numbered. That keeps me motivated. Being cognizant of the limitations of my youth and mortality keeps me from settling for a life of comforts instead of one of experiences.”
LUB: How did you receive the nickname “Skellington”?
JC: “I don’t know. Dominique Robinson is friends with the people at Sherdog so he’s always slapping some nickname on my record and they just let him for some stupid ass reason. Go figure. That one has to do with me being thin.”
LUB: Social media is becoming a force for individuals to market their own brand. Do you enjoy using social media?
JC: “I do. It gives you a means to connect with people you may never otherwise have had a chance to. If I were to have a fight in Ireland or Dubai, I would be able to connect with MMA fans before I went over there. There’s something very cool about that. I actually tweeted Macleod Andrews (@macleodandrews) the other day telling him his audio book voicing for Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim books was great and he hit me back within a day saying thanks. There’s something very cool about being able to access people near and far that easily.”
LUB: What are some of the positive and negative things that you have come across using social media?
JC: “The negative thing is, what you say on the Internet is permanent. You have to watch yourself because it’s not the same as interacting person to person. It’s documented. As many cool people as you may meet, there are plenty of people out there who are not your friend. The good news is that if you put things out there respectfully you’ll generally attract a lot more good than bad.”
LUB: As a member of The Goon Squad, what is the mindset of the team?
JC: “I see it like this: We’ve done what we’ve done with a very small circle and we take care of each other. People come and go, they can help you or they can hurt you. We approach them with cautious optimism, we look for mutual benefit, and if they’ve proven themselves committed to the cause they’re welcome to our circle and we’ll take care of them too.”
LUB: If someone wants to start training in MMA, what is the first discipline you would have them learn?
JC: “In a perfect world, combat Sambo. That’s not very accessible for most people though. For most the best option is wrestling.”
LUB: As a competitor on The Ultimate Fighter season 16: Carwin vs Nelson, what are some of the things that you took away from being on the show?
JC: “1. It’s not so much about who’s better/worse, as it is who plays the game better. 2. Reality TV is easier than reality.
3. People come and go and life goes on. Take it as it comes and enjoy it while it lasts.”
LUB: Since you have experience on The Ultimate Fighter, what are some things that you would change about the format of the show?
JC: “Making weight changes the game. It’s always a person who fights a weight division below who wins his season. Fighters can’t make weight and then cut again 3 days later. It kills them. The format kills bigger people. There should be a progressively increasing weight allowance. I’m small at my weight, but for big guys like Dom Waters, Sam Alvey, Bristol Marunde, and Neil Magny, that was killer.”
LUB: What music does your play list consist of?
JC: “Lately a lot of heavy electronic stuff like Nitzer Ebb, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Nine Inch Nails, and Ministry. A lot of Alice in Chains, Slayer, and some older punk rock I dug when I was younger and look back on fondly now. Also lots of indie folk type stuff like Emily Jane White, Nina Nastasia, and Alela Diane. I listen to lots of other stuff too and I’m always looking for new music.”
LUB: What is the number 1 thing that you would like to do in life that you haven’t already done?
JC: “Become a world champion or help Dominique Robinson become one. If I can get either, I’m happy.”
LUB: In your opinion, who has had the biggest impact on the sport of mixed martial arts?
JC: “I don’t know. Whoever has the money and connections. I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes.”
LUB: What are some of your favorite cheat meals?
JC: “Tacos, burritos, cheeseburgers, lasagna, pitas, fried chicken. I love heavy foods!”
James would like to thank the following: “A special thanks to Garden of Life (@gardenofliferaw) and @revgearfor supporting me in general as well as in this camp in particular.
Being a fighter isn’t easy or lucrative, and you guys make it a lot easier for me. Super big thanks to Val Ignatov. He’s been instrumental in my success since I met him. The truth is I’m not exceptionally talented or athletic, but I work hard and on their merit of that he’s always been unbelievably helpful. Dominique for being my brother in arms, my #1 training partner, and my best friend. Tri Villegas for being a top class manager, a good and honest person, and a loyal friend.
Phil Mondello for patching up my paper thin skin in the corner and being an angry old Sicilian who’s willing to share great stories, insights, and advice. Arvin over at The Kennel (@kennelboxing) for working to undo years of shitty striking habits and teaching me some proper fisticuffs Josh at Cali Chef To You for delivering quality food, made with quality ingredients to me and Dominique. All the boys at Gracie Fighter Lodi for grinding away in the training room with me. I feel like I’m finally in a good place with my training and I’m having a lot of fun in there. Special thanks to my Strength Coach, Shawn White at World Gym in Tracy, California! He’s going to help build me into a whole new monster by the time my next fight rolls around!”
LetUsBang.com would like to thank James Chaney again for taking time out of his schedule to give us this interview. James seems like a cool guy with a give-it-his-all mind set. We wish him nothing but the best in his career and his life. We have become Goon Squad fans for life! You can follow James on Twitter @jameschaneymma
Article and Interview was written by Bozy
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