20 Aug Featured Elite Athlete Q & A with Michael Parker
Michael “War Monkey” Parker
First off I/We want to thank you for serving our country. We understand you are currently serving in Afghanistan . You are away from your wife and family so I appreciate you sacrificing yourself for our freedom of this Great Country.
Q. What is the single most scariest military experience so far?
A. Well to be honest, there were two instances that I can think of off the top of my head. The first time I ever really felt scared in the military was on the morning of 9/11. I was a young Airman, a new husband, and young father with another on the way. Being stationed at Langley AFB (the 1st Fighter Wing/Air Combat Command Headquarters), I was like 99.9% certain that we might be the next target. The 2nd time I genuinely got scared in the military was on my 1st deployment to Afghanistan (my 5th deployment at that time) in 2008. We got fired on by a 107mm rocket fired from off base (commonly referred to as an IDF attack) that went about 20-25 ft over my head and hit about 50 yards away on the flight line. That definitely put me in pucker mode.
Q. What is your go to MRE (Meals Ready to Eat)?
A. I really like the spaghetti and meatballs. It’s kinda hard to mess that up. Even as an MRE. I’d definitely have to say that the jalapeño cheese spread is pretty awesome. That stuff is like prison currency when you’re down range.
Q. What is your proudest military moment?
A. My proudest military moment, believe it or not, is not actually an accomplishment of my own. My proudest military moment was when I got to see my oldest son graduate Marine Corp boot camp. I was actually choked up with tears in my eyes because it made me proud that my son had just joined an elite brotherhood that few men an women will ever have the honor of doing.
Q. How did you get started doing mix martial arts?
A. I’ve been doing martial arts in various forms since I was a kid. Started with judo, then on to wrestling, then back to judo. I started Jiu-jitsu when I first got stationed in Tucson in 2005. My first taste of MMA came when I was asked to be a grappling partner for a friend who was preparing for a MMA fight. After that I was hooked. I knew I had to give the whole MMA thing a try.
Q. How did you get the nickname “War Monkey”?
A. I actually got that nickname while deployed to Iraq. In our gym back home, we commonly referred to guys who lifted weights all the time with no real fighting skills as “weight monkeys”. I brought that term with me to Iraq, and would call all the weight lifting guys as weight monkeys. I, however, was way more into combatives and Jiu-jitsu training. I always joked about “going to real war” when I’d get on the mats. One day a buddy that I always called weight monkey, joked that since I couldn’t get enough of fighting, even in a real war environment, that I must be a “War Monkey”. The name stuck. And that was the birth of War Monkey.
Q. As a Professional Athlete & Coach, what is the best training advice you can give to athletes?
A. The best advice that I can give young athletes (and I always tell my guys) is to find balance in life as well as in training. I know from first hand experience, that MMA and training to be an elite level mixed martial artist, is a very selfish sport by nature. You have to be selfish with your time and training. The downside to that is that you often tend to push away the people who support you most (i.e. friends and family). The trickiest thing is to find the proper balance between training, quality family time, and responsibilities outside the gym. The other advice I’d give would be to ALWAYS be hungry for more knowledge and always be a student of your craft.
Q. Two part question 1.) What is you cheat meal you eat when your not fighting? 2.) You need to eat healthy as a professional fighter so what advice can you give to athletes?
A. That’s a tricky one. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m an ABSOLUTE foodie. I love food and traveling specifically for food (all kinds). That’s why the diet and weight cutting is always the hardest part of any fight camp for me. My wife does a great job of keeping on the straight and narrow when it comes to the clean eating. The best advice that I can give to young fighters is this, learn good eating habits. It’s easy to get away with things when you’re young, but as you get older, the weight cutting gets significantly harder. So good eating habits and discipline will help you in the long run.
Q. You have fought UFC and Bellator Fighters, and have fought in Bellator. Who was the toughest fighter you fought?
A. Another tricky question. Something like 80% or so of the people I’ve fought have ended up in the UFC, Bellator, or WSOF themselves. All extremely though and talented guys. I’d have to say that toughest fight I had was my last fight in Bellator against “Baby Joe” Taimanglo. It was hard for a couple of reasons. Aside from him being probably the toughest guy I fought, I also had the daunting task of cutting to a weight that I hadn’t seen for almost 18 years prior to that fight. I was 35 years old and hadn’t been 135 lbs since my HS senior wrestling season. Combine that with the fact that I was fighting the #3 guy at the time in line for the Bellator world title. It was an uphill battle all around.
Q. Is there anyone you’d like to have a rematch with or call anyone out to fight when you get back to the USA?
A. I’ve never really been one for call outs. But I will say this. I’ve got a handful of fights left in the tank before I hang up the gloves for good (at least from pro competition). I’d just like to win another title within the next year or two, and maybe get a fight overseas in front of an international fan base.
Q. As a College Educated Husband, Father, Military Man, Professional Athlete, Coach. Is there anything else you want to accomplish?
A. Right now, as far as education goes, I’m working towards my PhD in psychology. I find it super interesting and what I’m learning has vastly helped me make sense of the world around me so far. Of course always improving myself as a husband, father, and coach is always right there at the top of my priority list.
Q. Favorite Meal?
A. Wow I really feel on the spot right now. Lol. I’d have to say that my favorite meal has always been my mom’s chicken enchiladas (sorry Amber). But by far, one of my favorite eating experiences has been eating authentic sushi and ramen in Tokyo, Japan with my wife.
Q. Lastly do you want to give out any shout outs?
A. I always have to give a TON of credit to my amazing wife Amber, who’s been my #1 supporter in life, my military career, MMA career, and keeps me honest. I’d like to thank my kids for always giving me a sense of inspiration and purpose. I’d like to thank my Apex MMA family (Joey and Nicole Rivera in particular) for always giving me a home to grow as a mixed martial artist. Given that I’m deployed to Afghanistan again, I definitely have to give thanks to my fellow brothers and sisters in arms for watching my six 24/7, and sacrificing along side me for our country. Thanks to you Don for taking the time to interview me and keeping War Monkey in the minds of the fans. Final word from me to the War Monkey fans out there; given the climate of our country right now, please take some time in your day to love and respect your neighbors. Be the source of positivity that you want to see in the world.
Thank you Michael Parker, MMA Fans if you’d like to follow Michael’s Journey you can do so by following him on his social media accounts. Michael “War Monkey” Parker
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