1) When and why did you start training MMA?
It all started in 2010 at age 23, what got me into martial arts was, I was at a low point in my life, so an attempt to find happiness I was living my life by the YES MAN philosophy (watch/ read it) – I had a friend that went for a free trial at the gym, so I said yes. I enjoyed the session except being covered in other people’s sweat – but I kept an open mind. When asked if I wanted to join I said yes, when asked if I wanted to compete I said yes, when asked if I wanted to fight… I said when!
I used martial arts to harness my energy and focus. From being bullied at school and attacked on the street – I promised that i would not be a victim again for anybody. I became quicker, stronger and have overcome many obstacles, the main one of over coming fear (by stepping into the cage!).
2) When did you know you wanted to turn professional?
For me, it got to a stage where I was putting all my time into training, I was improving and fighting better guys and on bigger stages. So turning professional was the next logical step. Although, I turned professional after 2 years of training – which is relatively quite quick (especially for the pedigree of today’s amateur circuit). I made the decision quite easily. Firstly – my coaches and teammates believed in me and secondly I was 25 – prime age. I wanted to make the most of my opportunity of competing whilst I could, so I though F**K it. My rational was that I was training and doing well with the pros in the gym, and as a non professional I was doing the same amount of training and facing the same amount of risk and sustaining the same amount of injuries… so why not get paid for it? I have not looked back since. I honestly see the difference between amateur and professional is the rule set and experience level – skill sets are comparable.
3) How did you cope with your first loss in your first pro fight?
I coped very well, obviously I was upset. But it was my first one… so it could only get better. Win or lose, life goes on. One of coaches, Ash Grimshaw messaged me the day after, ‘Chin up bro, a lot of fighters lost their first pro fight and went on to be amazing’. This gave me some reassurance and I knew I just had to harness that energy of disappointment to ensure that I won the next one, and the next one.
4) What changed after that fight, since you went on a four-fight streak afterwards?
My mind set for one. I started to think of the fight as ‘my’ fight and not ‘a’ fight. Basically making it all about me. And I improved my preparation. I joined Titan Fighter and upped my training and sparring. I set myself goals, of where I wanted to be and I guess, I just made it happen!
5) You’ve got 10 wins in your career by submission, with 6 of those being Rear-Naked chokes.
Is it something you look for in every fight or does it just tend to happen?
No, it tends to just happen to be honest. It is a very high success move and has a high ratio of positional safety and dominance. I love jiu jitsu, so if I see the neck – its tap-out or blackout.
6) With the current climate in the world, how do you feel about the UFC going ahead with events without fans? Would you take part if asked?
Er, Yes! To get that call is every aspiring fighter’s dream! Closed events, although not ideal is the way to mitigate risk. In this current climate. It is the only way that the sport can continue with live events. My last fight was on CW113 and it was a closed event. It was on 20th March, just 2 days later – UK went into lockdown.
7) As a welterweight, do you have any thoughts on the bout between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns happening on Fight Island at UFC251?
That is a great fight. I honestly cant call it, I have changed my mind several times, but that is the great thing about the fight game. Anything can happen. I am going to chill on my sofa with a beer and just enjoy the fight, and the rest of the cards of Fight Island 🙂
8) How do you think the MMA world is responding to the Black Lives Matter movement going on right now?
Yes, we are standing together, as we all believe in the movement and what is stands for. Recent events have brought the systemic racial issues to the fore which otherwise were not known or addressed by the wider community. The movement is picking up momentum and we are seeing positive change. I hope it continues.
9) What are your plans for the near future? Any fights planned?
Everyone is itching for the pandemic to be over so business can resume. And as soon as it does expect to see me out competing. I am unsure where, but whether it is the mat, the ring, or the cage… I will be ready to put it on the line.
10) Anything to plug/promote?
I would to thank my team Elevate Martial Arts, London Shootfighters, Elite MMA Agency, Barefoot Movement, Rolls and Rehab, King Kickboxing, Truth Naturals, Scramble, iPlaySafe App. You can follow my fighting at @mrbagandtag and my coaching @inthebagptc