Only two years ago, nobody knew Václav Mikulášek (alias Baba Yaga) – a kid from Ostrava, bullied so hard as a child that it made him take up martial arts. Although his beginnings were humble, now he’s known to win most of his matches in the first round. Losing his last match in December to Karlos Vémola only gave him more motivation to carry on. In his interview with LP-life.com, this former bouncer and cook confesses what MMA means to him, as well as his backup plan for when he’ll have to quit it.
But my nickname didn't come from that movie. Everyone thinks it did, but I'd had it even before the movie came out. My friend, who made the „Oktagon“ clothing – that’s a Polish brand, nothing in common with the octagon I fight in – used to tell me I looked like a bogeyman, like a Baba Yaga. And that we should use it for some merch. It stuck with people, they like it, I approve of it, too.
Take a look at Miloš Petráček, that’s a handsome guy. Or Matúš Juráček. They’re the „models“ of MMA. Compared to them, I’m a monster.
I don’t think much of myself; it’s better that way. Or maybe I’m doing it on purpose, like a woman saying „I’m fat, I’m ugly“ to make everyone say „Come on, you’re beautiful“ (laughs). No, I’m kidding. That’s just how it is – like the ears, we were talking about that with the guys (Ed. note – MMA fighters often have deformed ears).
There’s no point in getting it fixed, though. The surgery costs 16,000 CZK per ear. No point doing that, while I’m still fighting.
Same as always. I’m going to have a match at the end of April, so I’m preparing already. In the meantime I was helping David Hašek prepare for Milan Ďatelinka; we all were. I finished my almost year-long preparation for Vémola and more or less got back on that train again. I get up in the morning, go to training, take a nap, have lunch, then back to the gym in the evening.
You and Vémola were provoking each other in that match pretty hard. How do you feel about fighting/losing to him in hindsight?
It was all so tiring, the training took 8 months, which was mentally exhausting for me, not to mention all the media hype. Not that I cared about it, it’s just that every day someone called to get an interview or coverage. Some of them you can’t refuse, others you’ll say OK, maybe later, and they keep calling on and on, it’s neverending. Sadly, I let myself get carried away by that, now I think I should have accepted his first offer, to fight in a different weight category, I was in my best shape back then.
But, you know, it’s easy to be wise after the event. I lost, I did almost nothing at all, it just ended how it did. About what I said after the match... I think that in the cage I was the bigger man about it, I congratulated him and all. But what everyone reacted to was the press conference afterwards, where I was vulgar to him and talked to him the same way he talked to me.
I don’t like people who enjoy to humiliate me unnecessarily after I’ve already said they won. I never humiliate anyone. I’ve had enough of that in my childhood, and I don’t know why should I let him do that. We’re only human, both the same, what makes him something more? He won, fair and square, I admitted that, no excuses. I would never make excuses, even if I went to that cage with a broken arm, I wouldn’t say a thing.
I used to go before, for other things. I’ve had my problems, but I believe I've calmed down a lot. It’s not what it used to be, if people knew the old me, they’d surely think I’m a complete spaz (laughs). People know me like this, they know who I am. Those who like me don’t care, they know I’m always like this, that I don‘t change for the camera. I know that Karlos is a completely different person away from the camera. Once they start filming, he’s a different man.
Arrogant. It’s what people either love or hate him for. I never change, I don’t have a camera face. I’m the same 24/7, that’s who I am.
A lot of people gave up on me super quickly, just because my performance wasn’t up to par with other guys. Many people disliked me, and they still do, but that doesn’t mean I have no friends at all; I still have some left.
Or because you don’t fit in. I don’t find that as anything extreme today. I’ve seen it many times in other people, even children told me about it.
A child comes to the school gates, and there’s the „alpha“, the kid running the whole show. He’s having a bad day, got a whooping from his dad, or yelled at by his mom, something’s missing in his life. It all comes from the parents. Either he’s a spoiled brat, or something is wrong in his family and he takes it out on the others. When I was in therapy, we talked about it, he explained it to me. This is just how it works. Or someone is just plain mean and enjoys hurting others. I’m from Bohumín, after elementary school, everyone went to high school to Bohumín as well, I was the only one to go studying to Ostrava. I lost contact with everyone, started working as a bouncer at discos. And when they began to appear at the discos, I saw how they behaved, and it was even worse than at school.
They were all „hi and hello“ at the door, that was while they were still sober. Then it got the same like at school – breaking glasses, calling people names, yelling at waitresses, and all of that so pointless.
I got stabbed in a bar, they stabbed me in the arm, it happened in Ostrava. A guy was yelling at a waitress, so I took him to the side, talked to him and he didn’t listen to me. He pushed me, so I grabbed him by the throat, slammed him into a wall and suddenly I’m feeling something hot.
These people you had conflicts with, they see you now being successful and popular. Have you ever gotten any kind of hindsight reaction from them?
Some of them, yes. But not all of them. Some have reached out to say – we were just kids back then, we were young and stupid, sorry, I’m rooting for you now. Those people I forgive, I always say to myself, whatever, can’t turn back time. What difference does it make, if I beat him up now, the reality won’t change anyway. Some are happy for me, they shake my hand and say they didn't expect this, that's a reaction I like. As for the rest of them, they sit at home, wallowing in their issues, and that makes me even happier – to see they’re mad about it.
You said your most beautiful memory was of your whole family being together. When did it go wrong with your dad and why?
In the beginning, he wasn’t, not at all, he was normal. Then I took up box and sports, and at that moment he turned weird. Even when I won something, he would still belittle me that I was doing it wrong and taunt me. There even was some violence towards my mom. Kids often get some savings from their parents when they’re eighteen, so my mom was saving money for me and he withdrew it all, without telling me or her. He was a gambler, he played slot machines. He was beating my mum, and at one point, something snapped in me and I beat him up because of her. Then I went to Ireland and my mom called me there, that she’s in a hospital, that he came to her workplace to beat her up.
This kind of people, if they see their family member being successful and popular, they try to get in touch, take some advantage of it.
And that’s my problem exactly. I’m already hard to get along with. If I’m in a relationship with a woman, she doesn't have it easy with me – if I dislike something, I don’t hold back, I have a temper. Not gonna lie, none of my breakups was the woman’s fault, I’m always saying all of them were my fault. Back when I was younger, I cheated, but now that I’m older, I see it differently. It seems so pointless, like why, if you want to build something with someone, why build it on lies. I know they say that the best relationships are those built on lies today, but it seems like hogwash to me. I used to be a bodyguard for wealthy people, their wives. I know how they behave, what their lives look like. Money isn‘t everything.
I admit there’s been some interest in me, but that’s not because of the real me, Vašek. It’s because of Vašek Oktagon.
Definitely. If they had met me seven years ago, when I weighed 140 kilos and there was no Vašek Oktagon, I doubt this type of women would even look my way.
Lots of girls say that. I never worked in fast foods, I cooked in hotels and nice restaurants, because I enjoyed it. Then I got injured, didn’t train for a year, and English food is a pain, full of calories.
Well, not really an injury, it was a little glitch in my adrenal glands. I was completely done for after a moment of any exercise.
It’s a birth defect that I accelerated with brutal weight loss. I lost over 50 kilos, so I accelerated this defect as well, one of them is basically defunct. I have to watch it now, go to the doctor’s for follow-ups. They threatened me I’ll have to have surgery, but I dodged it for now.
They say to me all the time, on many different doctor’s visits, that MMA is out of the question. I understand their point of view, that they’re trying to find the best solution for every person that won’t be threatening for us. But for like 90% I think that’s rubbish, the patient should do what he feels he can handle. When I went to a different specialist, he said it was okay, so I went with that.
Exactly. Sometimes I really feel like quitting, when it hurts a lot. I had to take heavy, very unpleasant meds. Somehow I got over all of that, I found my way, how to keep it all within a norm of sorts, to not overdo anything. I don’t drink at all, I haven’t touched alcohol for over a year almost.
That’s just a momentary dream of mine (laughs). I can do four shots, tops, that’s all, and they have to be mixed with a soft drink. I haven’t drunk for more than a year, I went cold turkey.
They’re stupid. They don’t see the reality. There’s that moment of glory, it’s nice, we all know it. But since the beginning I accepted it can be over as quickly as it came. I don’t want to be living off the story how I was the Octagon guy. That’s hooey. One day they’ll forget me anyway, they forget everyone. How many today’s children know the name Emil Zátopek?
I think that at the time I’ll have it, people will have already forgotten. But maybe they won’t. That would be nice. But I don’t make such big plans. I’ll leave it up to fate.