Wednesday’s airing of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality television series on Spike TV was one of the most-talked about in recent memory. During the airing of the show, former University of Iowa wrestler Paul Bradley was dismissed from the cast of competitors after it was determined that he had an outbreak of Herpes Gladiatorum.
Herpes Gladiatorum is a skin condition not uncommon within amateur wrestling and it is contracted through skin-to-skin contact. The show depicted an emotional Bradley revealing that he had quit his job as a wrestling coach at the University of Buffalo in order to try and earn a UFC contract. Soon after, the last image we saw of him was his exit from the show.
The developments were fascinating and dramatic but left a lot of unanswered questions. Fortunately, Bradley was gracious enough to agree to an exclusive interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com (www.FiveOuncesOfPain.com) where he revealed more information about his condition; updated his current status in regards to his personal life and professional career; gave his thoughts on how his dismissal was handled; and much more.
The full transcript of that interview is now available.
Sam Caplan: I wanted to thank you for doing this interview at what must be a very emotional time for you. You obviously lived the event itself but was last night the first time you had seen how it was portrayed on television? And if so, how do you feel the decision to dismiss you from the show was portrayed?
Paul Bradley: Yes, that was the first time, and honestly I was expecting the worst out of the whole episode but it kind of hit it right on. There were obviously a few things that got cut out but nothing too much. Pretty much everything that was on the show was portrayed pretty truly.
Sam Caplan: What’s today (the day after the airing) been like for you after re-living such an emotional situation like that?
Paul Bradley: Emotionally I’m fine. All of the emotion was pretty much right after the show. About a month after it I had thought about giving up the sport for good. I talked to my manager about it. I really didn’t see the point in doing it anymore. I had given up so much for it; I had given up a great wrestling job at the University of Buffalo so I really had nothing to come back to.
Emotionally, I’m fine today. I feel good where I am at with EliteXC. I’m going to head out to Hawaii soon to train at B.J. Penn’s camp for a month and then I’m also working on a job possibly (as a) trainer full-time down in Cocoa Beach, Florida with an MMA team and being their club wrestling coach as well as coaching high school kids in the summer. So things are looking up since the show is over but right away for a month after I didn’t want to talk or see anyone other than my family. But things are going well now.
Sam Caplan: So Paul Bradley is going to be fine?
Paul Bradley: Yeah, exactly. What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. Juanito (Ibarra), Rampage’s coach, I went out to dinner with him after I got booted off. Juanito is really religious, and I’m religious to a point, but he stressed that “God is taking care of you and things happen for a reason. Things are going to look up from here.” And he certainly hit it right on the button because I got the call from EliteXC that we’re going to sign a contract and here I get another call about possibly being able to train full-time and make a living doing it and I’m pretty happy right now.
Sam Caplan: I know it’s TV, but the process in which they dismissed you seemed so open and shut. Was there a lot of deliberation that went on before making the decision to dismiss you? Were they in contact with your management? Did they refer to any of your medicals? Did they give you an option of getting a second opinion?
Paul Bradley: That was pretty much an open and shut vote. I didn’t any kind of time to talk about it. What wasn’t shown on there was when I was talking to Dana and he was throwing me out, that was the first time I had heard about being kicked off because I was sent to the doctor that morning and actually saw the doctor and he said exactly what I thought he would say.
Like my college trainers say, in college wrestling you deal with this a ton because of the skin-to-skin contact. If you wrestle five years and don’t get it, you’re pretty lucky, I’ll tell you that much — at least at the elite level like Division I.
I went and saw a doctor that morning and he’s like, “Two days on these meds (the Valtrex) and you’ll be fine.” And I’m like, “Alright, great.” So I went back and then Dana brought in his close, personal friend and the guy is saying this and that about that I can still give it to someone, but that’s not how it works. It’s got to be broken out, which it was but two or three days on the medicine and it was going to be gone. It works kind of like this; I get it once a year, maybe twice a year, at most.
So it wasn’t going to happen again throughout the whole show — I can guarantee you that. Especially when I was taking that medicine every day. But I was just dumbfounded. I was shocked. First it was shock then it was acceptance and then it was the emotion afterwards.
Sam Caplan: So it was a pre-existing condition. Had you disclosed that when you submitted your medicals?
Paul Bradley: Well, I had submitted all of my medicals from college so I’m sure it was in there. But like I said, I can name a ton of fighters in that organization that have it right now. Of course I won’t (name them), but half of the guys are wrestlers and I can name a couple off the top of my head right now. A couple of them I keep in touch with and they couldn’t believe it. They couldn’t believe it because it is so common in amateur wrestling and in wrestling in general you hear about it all the time. It was no big deal in my wrestling room at Iowa. “I got the herps” today is what you would say and you’d have to sit out a few days and get your medicine and you’re good to go within two or three days.
I was just shocked when Dana said he had never seen anything like this because with jiu-jitsu, wrestling, or any sport with skin-to-skin contact, you can acquire it. So I was pretty shocked when he said he had never heard of this kind of thing.
Sam Caplan: Just to clarify, your condition is called Herpes Gladiatorum?
Paul Bradley: Yes, that’s right. There’s type I and type II. Type I is sexually transmitted and type II, which is what I had, is transferred from the skin. It’s basically a cold sore but I get it on my neck.
Sam Caplan: In some of the basic research I’ve done, it says the condition is not uncommon with wrestlers and I spoke with your manager, Mike Camp, who informed 5 Oz. of Pain that you have a physician’s note from the University of Buffalo Sports Medicine department that clears you to compete. Did that clearance come after the show, or before it?
Paul Bradley: It came after the show. Of course, there were rumors going around about what had happened and someone leaked what had happened. Obviously, I don’t know who did it but it was on message boards and what not. EliteXC wanted to know that I’d be okay to compete with them, which I was fine with as far as getting a letter because I can see where they’re concerned, because they might not know much about it either. I went and got my letter and I’m good to go.
The thing about it is, is that when you’re stressing your body out is when it comes out so I’m going to make damn sure every time I am training hard and getting ready for a fight that I’m just taking the pills every day just as a precaution.
Sam Caplan: After you had received that note was there a decision made to go back to the UFC and essentially say, “Hey guys, we’ve got a note that says I’m okay. Let’s reconsider things” or “Let’s sign another contract.” Was there any attempt to do something like that after you had received the note?
Paul Bradley: Not after I got the note, but I waited around for a month and a half or a few months after I got booted off the show and I had one of the producers’ numbers and I genuinely thought I had a shot at the finale; maybe bring me back on the finale because I know they’ve done that before with people that have injuries. I don’t know if a skin condition has ever been needed to bring someone back but I was hoping to make it back for the finale and I had called one of the producers and I asked what are my chances, pretty much, and she didn’t say I wouldn’t be back but she kind of said that they [his chances] weren’t very good. I mentioned something about possibly signing with another organization and at that time it seemed like a good idea so I went ahead and did it.
Sam Caplan: All the fighters that appear on “The Ultimate Fighter” have traditionally been signed to contracts of some sort so that the UFC retains their rights. In order for you to sign with EliteXC my assumption is that you had to have been released from the UFC. Did you receive a full release?
Paul Bradley: Yeah, about a week or two after I was kicked off the show I got a release and one the producers called me and said my contract was cut and that I could fight elsewhere. I was pretty upset because when they (cut) my contract they pretty much said I wasn’t going to be back. I was hoping for maybe a shot back because like I said, I knew it was going to be cleared up.
Once they cut my contract, it was like man, I don’t even have a job. I came back to Buffalo with no job, or nothing. I pretty much had to take a fight on March 15 just to be able to live. I had no money but thankfully my family was great through the whole thing and helped out financially until I got back on my feet.
So I took that fight in Florida just to pay my bills because if anyone knows anything about Buffalo, the job market here is not great. So it was pretty much a do or die situation at that point in Florida as it was kind of like whether I was going to each or not for the next month.
Sam Caplan: You mentioned earlier in the interview about rumors going around, and there were a lot of crazy ones that were out there. I even heard one that said you were kicked out because you accidentally hit Dana White while trying to break up a fight. Were you aware of the extent of the rumors that were going around?
Paul Bradley: Yes, I actually kept up a little bit on the message boards just to see what people were saying. And a lot of these people have no clue when it comes to anything about the sport. I remember reading one where someone said, “This guy looks like someone who would lose their temper and punch a cast member.”
There were some others with people saying I had gotten homesick because of a girlfriend and one that I didn’t make weight. They were so far off that I didn’t pay much attention to that because the truth of the matter was that I was on that show for the long haul and it just didn’t work out for me.
Sam Caplan: With the way everything went down is there any animosity on your part towards the UFC?
Paul Bradley: No, not at all. It was strictly business. Dana White was very professional about it and he was very kind about it. It just sucks because it didn’t work out and I really wanted to be in that organization but at the same time I feel like I’m at a very good place right now with EliteXC.
Sam Caplan: Towards the end of the show there was a heart-felt segment where you talked about how you made a huge sacrifice to be on the show. You gave up your job as a wrestling coach. Can you talk a little bit more about what coaching at the University of Buffalo meant to you?
Paul Bradley: It was everything to me. It was pretty much the best job ever. If you watched the first season (of TUF), it was actually the same position Josh Koscheck had when he went on the show and he came back and left the team after the end of the season. So the head coach here wasn’t too happy when he found out that the UFC wanted me but at the same time he became accepting of it because he knew that I had a dream of being a professional athlete.
It’s great getting to help young athletes go through tough times because I’ve been through it all. There are situations like with what I just went through here, where guys break out and you’ve got to make sure they get on the medicine and do this and that for them. It’s just rewarding getting to help kids and see them get better and help them accomplish goals that they’ve set out to do. I just wish that coaching college wrestling and fighting professionally went hand-in-hand but at this point in time, they don’t.
Sam Caplan: You mentioned that you’re in EliteXC now and I wanted to know if you could talk about how many fights you’ve signed for?
Paul Bradley: I don’t know the exact terms so don’t quote me on it, but I want to say that it’s a three fight deal and then after that I think we’re going to talk more about another deal. So I want to say it’s three fights.
Sam Caplan: Has you’ve been given any indication about when you might debut for the promotion?
Paul Bradley: We’re trying to get me on the June 14 card in Hawaii, which is going to be after the CBS card but it will probably be the undercard. My best friend Dave (Herman), I think they are trying to get him set up with Ron Waterman as one of the featured bouts but I’d love to be on the undercard because me and that kid have been through a lot because I coached at the University of Indiana last year and I used to train with him a lot so hopefully we can get both of us on that card.
Sam Caplan: Your initial win was shown on the show during the season premiere and Dana White was critical of your performance. Did you happen to hear his comments and if so, how do you feel about what he said?
Paul Bradley: The thing about it was that I had gotten the heads up going in that I was actually going to have to fight my way onto the show. Somehow my manager, Mike Camp, found out. So that was no big surprise; he actually saw a smirk on my face when they said we were fighting our way into the house. But we had a gameplan, which was to go in there and win.
I know it wasn’t the most exciting fight — I know that — but again, from wrestling, my coaches had always taught me do what you do best and when you’re fighting a guy who is a Muay Thai guy, and I believe he was 10-0 in Muay Thai, it would be pretty stupid of me to stand up up with a guy when that’s his game. It just made more sense to take him down to the ground and control him there.
My first priority was making that show because I had made a huge sacrifice to be on the show and I was going to be damned if I didn’t make that show.
Sam Caplan: You were a former All-American wrestler and you remained active in the amateur wrestling community as a coach after you graduated. Do you still keep up with the amateur wrestling scene, and if so, who are some wrestlers everyone should keep their eye on during the Beijing Games?
Paul Bradley: I still keep up on it and actually went to the Division I national tournament in St. Louis a week after my fight. I got my tickets two weeks after I had gotten off the show because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do yet. I had thought about possibly giving up fighting and just doing the coaching thing full-time so I wanted to be down there to be able to talk to coaches and communicate with some of them. But I still keep up and some guys you’re going to want to watch are Jake Herbert, he’s a stud wrestler at 185 pounds; Trent Paulson at 145 pounds; and Mo Lawal.