Listen: James Wilkes, UFC, Executive Producer discussed on Five Rounds with Brett Okamoto
"I love these guys I really do have I said that enough and if tst loves them you know because he's such a TA tight ship you get it if he likes them. That says a lot all right. Let's transition now to Alaska so the day I'm looking forward to this one very much. You may have heard of James Wilkes from the past if you're an anime Fan James Wilkes isn't that the guy who on the ultimate fighter season nine the UK versus USA season this being Hendro isn't that the guy who beat the Americas Johnson in the finale back in June of two thousand nine while yes that is the guy in case you may have forgotten this is what it sounded like when he beat the Marcus Johnson back then ladies and gentlemen referee Steve Maserati is called a stop to this contest at four minutes fifty four seconds of the very first round declared the winner by no this Caesar's ultimate welterweight winter like they're very at this is the best moment of my life for Shau. UFC NY wrangler producers given me so that was back in June of two thousand nine. He beat the Marcus Johnson then lost to Matt Brown few months later beat. Peterson Badeah lost the the Code Patrick at UC when twenty then unfortunately shortly thereafter had to retire had a couple of injuries serious injuries and had to stop fighting and ever since then it changes life and just this past week the documentary that he produced the game changers on the benefits of a plant based Diet right especially for high level athletes executive produced by James Cameron Arnold Schwarzenegger Jackie Chan Lewis Hamilton Novak Djokovic and Chris. Ball just came out. I watched it last last night. It is fascinating. I'm not a Vegan myself but now I'm starting to consider it. I gotta be honest with you. It came out and we're about to talk to him about it but here is I a quick trailer of the film a lot of meat this show those commercials like steak. That's what a man is selling that idea that real man man it meets the standards marketing when I made the Swiss or plant based Diet qualified for my third. Olympic team broke two American records of my name. I should have done this a long while ago plant based. I wasn't sure if I was going to survive life and I actually became like machine. I hate this is going to make a lot of people today flood and yesterday's blood what we all want to feel great have more energy most guys. My Age can vote the grandchildren. My grandchildren can't keep up with me. Someone asked me how could you get as strong as an ox redoubt eating any meat and my answer was. Have you ever seen an ox eating meat so that's a trailer of the new film. The game changers produced by former. UFC fighter James Wilkes and he's now kind enough to join us via the phone James. How're you awesome aerial. I'm really really excited to be on. Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to talk to you again. It has been a while so for those that may have forgotten because you know how may fans may be these days you ten years ago. A lot has happened since then. Why did you retire so abruptly from the sport well. Actually we've got a couple of things you know we're talking about one of my entries in the documentary itself but then later on I actually had another injury I've actually broken my neck earlier on and that got worse and worse and you so you just basically I was off to medically retired by four specialist. I kept thinking that you know the next specialists would say it was okay but actually my neck in the end an old injury that forced let me to retire and so in the film you're as I mentioned at the top of the show. You are the principal character the whole film. You're the host of the documentary if you will it's all through your eyes in years and you do oof phenomenal job by the way as far as your narrative is concerned. You're interviewing skills. It's really cool to see you transitioned to this role. It starts off essentially with you talking about the injury the knee injury that you suffered and you said that you were actually sparring say future heavyweight champion who was that man that was for brief. Silverdome so what happened in the film yeah so you know sparring in Huntington beach at a couple of weeks before fight it was supposed to begin to miss the dollar. I think it was and basically it was just sparring. I I hadn't really trained at that. Jim a couple of times before and I was sparring with the derm US getting a little bit mad at me because I kept tagging and he wasn't able to hit me so you you know happy right so just bigger and stronger but not usually as fast right and so at one point and just something changed in his eyes and just went on just storming at me flying me took me off my feet hit me in my feet. I landed in some sweat my feet slip sideways in the sweat stopped and we're supposed to just be kickboxing but unfortunately he sort of sprawl to hold of his weight and all of my weight went into my knees and both of them tall unfortunately wow now and so that essentially was the impetus for this documentary right yeah. I thought I knew I was GONNA have about six months. I really couldn't train was really bummed out so I thought what can yeah I do to spend my time productively and so while I could look into nutrition for optimal recovery and performance so I saw a deep dive on that okay and what did you find how well one of the studies I came across was about the Roman gladiators so scientists analyze the bones and can tell they were eating almost exclusively if not not completely plant that was sixty eight four gladiator skeletons over five thousand Burns and efforts just took the only known burial site of gladiators in the world and that just shocks to me because I thought well. You've got to have meat and animal products for protein. You know I remember not long before that walking into a restaurant and the chicken was spelled funny and I said well why why is the chicken spotlight plants you know and I kept asking well. What do you have eggs. You know this is a a Vegan restaurant and so I literally walked out would would never eaten at a restaurant like that because I thought you had to have an animal protein at every meal and so when you're fighting in in throughout your career when you suffer this injury you're eating meat correct totally typical sort of athlete dial extra lean Turkey chicken brown rice Broccoli that sort of thing you know occasionally beef as well. Oh and then at one point I did go to the gross at least at chilled free range chicken more of a bit of a Paleo before this but when I came across this study I really started started digging into plant based nutrition to see if it was really the gentleman and so how do you go from that and and reading about that to them making a film about it. What are the steps in between I mean yeah so I really being into the research and thought it gradually coming off of animal foods incorporating more plant foods started feeling better started realizing that was actually a lot of athletes performing at this level like at the time to the top ten heavyweight boxers in the world were completely Vegan twenty percent of the top ten yet. Only one percent of the population was Vegan so I thought well. There's something going on here and when I talked to them some of them didn't WanNa talk about it because they felt it was the advantage advantage. If you will so I woke up at two in the morning just woke up and he being lied to and I felt like I've been lied to my whole life. First of all my parents parents not lying but you know just listen forms telling me I had to be strong and healthy and then all of these adverts the industry and then why later found out was biased just research the infiltration of the industry into the scientific research thing honorariums and speaking fees and researchers to put out false and misleading the statements in studies just really felt mad that I've been lied to and I felt like I had to share that message to the world and put the facts out okay so I mean working. I worked in production before it's great to be motivated. It's great to have an idea but it's really hard to put together a documentary. It's not it's not as easy as waking up and saying I'm going to do this and get ah finance. You have some heavy hitters behind this as far as executive producers are concerned. I just mentioned it. How do you actually get into the industry and get this off the ground and and how long when did you actually start. You know getting that ball in motion yeah so I mean it took a long long time as you can tell so I bought it used camera off of craigslist. I called Everett Everett. Malta who was the director of photography on the ultimate fighter the time often what camera to buy and how to do the the three point lighting went on youtube learn a little bit of stuff inside and started and I literally bought that camera started documenting it a little bit you know and it took some time. Obviously I knew that might not turn into a documentary. Maybe I'll just put something online but I could at least Lisa footage get other people interested and so two thousand twelve two thousand thirteen. I started raising funds with other producer. Joseph Pace who came on board and we basically just pushed really hard to get the best people involved what's now become arguably the best documentary team ever assembled not only the executive producers that you mentioned but also Louis Director who has the most award winning documentary of time under his belt to time Eddie Winna down sweet lake for which is the best I award you can get for editors the music supervisor from former music supervisor from ESPN actually and so we just put this team together and It took a long time but you know finally it's out. Had you ever produced anything before. As far as films shows anything like that before nothing no nothing before. Just you know seven my just like you know just like I think my background in martial arts it gives you that tenacity to compete push drive hot and keep pushing and keep keep pushing and some of the same thing with the ultimate fight the right setting out goal and just really going for it. They did the same thing with this documentary and you know very early on we thought yeah well. This would be ideal. We'd get Arnold Schwarzenegger and we know that he is telling people to cut down on the James Cameron to be an executive producer every single thing that we set out to accomplish we were very fortunate to be able to put this whole team together and accomplish it and I think may fans in particular will will be interested in the stock because a lot of them are interested in nutrition but also also because it is produced by you your big player in the documentary as well but there's there's a constant theme throughout which is the Kinda McGregor fight and especially the first one where where connors talking about having steak for breakfast and lunch and dinner and trying to add that muscle and then you have you know Nate Hussein eat your veggies and is a plant based athlete a Vegan very proud of it and so what do you say to people who say like okay like. I understand what you're trying to say understand that it's healthier. I understand that there's benefits but why do I need to cut it all out like why is this a detriment to me. Why should they go all in on this as opposed to just having a little more of a balanced diet totally well first of all actually. I don't think it's necessary for people to go land so over that we only interview the actual interviews in the film the athletes completely plant based right so anytime that you see an interview no ona-led.."