FLINT, Michigan — Inside The Sauce Italian Kitchen in downtown Flint, Mixed Martial Arts fighter Antoine Blassingame’s presence is wholly that balance of hard but soft. His voice is deep but low. Multiple injuries and scars are visible on his body yet he laughs loudly and smiles with relative ease.
He even showcases his support for Flint’s music scene. And although he’s training for his MotorCity Cage Night IX fight, he downs a full course meal plus dessert, mentioning his recent obsession with Saganos and an old ritual of “eating shrimp Alfredo before a weigh-in.”
However, there’s a story that hides behind Blassingame’s eyes. Growing up, the Flint native saw and witnessed his share of street fights and violence that led to the death of his youngest brother and would’ve, were it not for a police officer enrolling him into wrestling, cost Blassingame everything.
The lessons learned and wisdom given from his influential grandmother — a black belt and choreographer — gave him the tools needed to go from wrestling into the world of professional fighting.
Flintside caught up with the professional Murcielago fighter to understand the world of MMA, his intense training schedule, and future manifestations.
With a pensive look, Blassingame remains focused and reflects on his journey and upcoming cage fight.Flintside: “You’re the first MMA fighter I’ve interviewed. How did you end up in this profession?”
“[I started] wrestling at Northern and got whooped. Fast forward to after high school, I learned about my friends doing MMA fights down at Berston Field House. Their coach was helping these guys get ready and they would go out and do these fights and whooping a**. I thought maybe I could do this. Their coach talked me into doing a fight. I did it, and I did extremely well.”
Flintside: “You talk about how your grandmother was a huge influence, having taught you and your brother martial arts. How was her reaction to you becoming an MMA fighter?”
“My grandma ain’t want me doing it. My grandma called it barbaric. She’s a choreographer, and her dad was a boxer. She would’ve preferred that. She’s a [black belt] and looking at it like ‘if you’re not learning it to change somebody’s life for the better, why are you doing it? You know they used to have the slaves fighting.’ She loves Bruce Lee but she hates conflict.”
A comparison of Blassingame and his grandmother's love for the sport. Flintside: “When I saw your record, I found they called you “The Cash Alpha.” Where did that name come from?”
“When I first started fighting, my coach called me Cash. When I would fight, he’d be like, ‘that’s money! Let’s go, Cash!” As I matured through my career and with everybody around me, I became the alpha because it’s natural for me to watch over my people. So, somebody called me The Cash Alpha, and it stuck. My other nickname is The Blassinator because I never quit. I got my arm broke, and head cracked to the skull and [still] whooped a**.”
Flintside: “Researching your stats, it appears they categorize you all in different weight classes. How important are size and build?”
“It matters. By December 16th, I need to be at 165. In this game, now they look for all of your advantages so they came up with a way to cut all of the water out of your body. When I fought at 145lbs, my walking weight was 175lbs. You can either be a smaller guy and be somewhat faster, but imagine they’re bigger and faster and can do everything you can do. That’s when size matters.”
Flintside: “MMA fighting is a rough profession. There are broken bones, blood-splattered, and it’s highly physical. How do you all keep safe?”
“I took my first paid fight in 2010-11. Before Michigan got involved with licensing, they called it the Wild West days. Now, you got to have a license. You gotta get blood work every three months, an eye exam once a year, a physical, a Hepatitis A test, and an HIV test. All of that is because blood is being spilled, and different places require different things. I’m grateful for that because [back then] people were fighting with STDs. It’s irritating, but we’re protected.”
Side-profile of a focused Antoine Blassingame.Flintside: “And yet your ears are unusually swollen. What happened?”
“It’s called cauliflower ear, scar tissue. It gets swollen, and liquid can fill your ear. If you don’t drain it with needles, it’ll rock up. [My right ear] I drained it correctly. My last fight was a year and a half ago, right before COVID. I got a concussion, and they gave me an evaluation of [resting] for 60 days. I was upset, though, because I was supposed to fight at Motor City Casino in September but I picked up that Ohio fight. I manifested getting knocked out. I had a vision about it, and I thought, ‘that ain’t gone happen to me.’ And it happened exactly how I dreamed about it.”
Flintside: “COVID-19 halted everything, it seems. What did you do to maintain form and keep in shape?”
“I trained my a** off because I knew I was gonna have my opportunity. I wish I could be a full-time trainer, but I got bills, and MMA fighters don’t get paid like boxers unless you’re a megastar. We make our money through sponsorships, partnerships, and selling merchandise. I work third shift, so I get off work, drive to Flint, and run for at least 3 miles. My MMA training is seven to nine every day, with Monday boxing, Tuesday Muay Thai, and Wednesday is wrestling. Thursday’s, we have a world champion jiu-jitsu guy who drives down and trains us. Friday we have spar days from five to seven, and it gets wild in the gym.”
Flintside: “With your upcoming fight, and when you look at how you came into MMA fighting and how it has elevated your life, what are you looking to manifest?”
“My name Antoine Blassingame means 'valiant warrior worthy of high praise.' I want to receive my praise and help the world by doing something, whether through fitness, feeding my family, or helping someone build their confidence. I see myself doing fight and stunt choreography so you’ll see my stuff in the movies. I’m manifesting to be world champion. I’m manifesting joy.”
You can find Antoine Blassingame, aka The Cash Alpha, on Facebook and Instagram. Catch Blassingame as the main attraction for MotorCity Cage Night IX, live, December 17th at Motor City Casino & Hotel in Detroit Tickets. Tickets are on sale now.