After being impressed with WCMMA back in November, BritFights caught up with the star of the night, John Rees who won his title fight with a spectacular KO. We wanted to find out more about John and what plans he has for the future. John is originally from Eltham, South East London and now lives in Kent and he is 31 years old. He is a stockbroker and works in the City of London as a Partner in Scandi Bank. He feels he is getting on a bit in age but we feel, anyone with the KO power he demonstrated, has a lot more left to give!
John has been training on and off since the Spring of 2011 but says he didn’t step up his training until ten weeks before his fight. His close friend Andy Kipriano has won numerous titles and John has watched many of his fights and when Andy started getting involved in training, it was then that John saw the opportunity to get more involved. John tells us that he booked himself for a fight with the intention of training for it, that way he feels there were no excuses, he had to train and focus on what was ahead. John goes on to tell us that in his profession it is very easy to go out drinking and eating all week, so he wanted people to know he had a fight coming up and for them to accept the fact that he was focussed on it. His wife said she has never seen him so focussed in the lead up to the fight. John says he had previously trained in Krav Maga for a year but had never experienced BJJ or anything like that.
The training changed for John ten weeks out, whereas before he was doing relaxed pad sessions for a couple of hours once a week, he then stepped it up to three times a week training in Thai Boxing, pads and sparring etc. He would also go running in the morning before work which John says was hard as he has to be in the office at 6am so he was therefore up at 4.30am so he could get the first train into London and would then run 5K three times a week to keep his weight down and his fitness up. And it didn’t end there, back at home he would do light weight training. So with all the training and the stressful day job plus having a beautiful wife and three children, John says it was hard to keep it all inline but thankfully his wife and his work were very supportive.
John is a fan of MMA and went to his first event, Cage Rage 2 at York Hall with a friend Stuart Smith so he has been following MMA for a long time. He respects a lot of fighters namely Brad Pickett who he saw in one of his first fights back in 2004. He said he knew he was going to be a top fighter. Over the years John got to know Brad a little and took great pleasure in seeing him win his UCMMA Belt and get the WEC/UFC contract. John also likes Jimi Manuwa as he feels he is an amazing fighter and also another that John has followed over the years. He is also a fan of Jamaine Facey as he says he is not only a great and amazing fighter but also does a great deal of work with youngsters with his Hands Up Guns Down charity. John tells us he has tried to help a little with the charity but that the Bandogs guys are doing a great job with both the gym and the charity work.
John tells us how he felt about going into his first fight at The Troxy for WCMMA. He says he was surprisingly relaxed until an hour before and then he became aware he would be fighting soon! He said he was warming up and then got called into the arena a little quicker than he thought. The previous fights had been finished quickly and once it was his turn he was in a weird state of mind and thinking is this really happening?! Although he had gone through it in his head many times, John was not sure if it was real! He also said he had the pressure because he had sold out half the VIP area and Dave O’Donnell had made him the main event for his first ever fight so John says it took him a while to switch on!
Of the actual fight, John says it did not go to plan at all. He took a while to switch on as he said and it wasn’t until the first round had finished that the penny dropped. John has sparred with some top fighters at Warriors Gym, most being UK/Euro and even world champions and he has learned a lot of techniques from the guys, that in training he was executing well. He says his usual form didn’t happen at all in the fight. But then he went to Round 2 and John says he literally floored him. He tells us he got a great kick in and knocked him out. He says his attacking technique wasn’t very good but goes on to say that it was his first fight so perhaps he was being harsh on himself.
So having his hand raised as champion in his first fight must have been an amazing feeling and John says he has never felt anything like it. Looking up and seeing his friends and family going mental was amazing. He says he felt like all his hard work had come to a head and he was now the new WCMMA Champion after fighting in a main event and winning by KO in his first fight. BritFights also gave this fight ‘Fight of the Night’ so obviously, John was pleased with that too!
What we wanted to know from John is if he has any plans to go professional and if so would he stick with K1 or fight full MMA? John says he would love to be more involved but has so much going on with work and family. He intends to train more in MMA whilst continuing to develop in Thai Boxing. Although there is not a confirmed fight for John he says he will be around again soon and wants Dave O’Donnell to confirm there is a free Cage Rage UK Welterweight Belt going?!
John has some advice for anyone who wants to start fighting. He says it is imperative to be involved with a great gym that will support you and look after you. He also wants to highlight the benefits of one-on-one training which is more intensified than a normal class, although John wants to say he is not disregarding the positives of group classes.
Of his friends and family, John says they were very nervous leading up to his fight, so much so that his mother made out she was ill before the fight, so she didn’t come and his wife was crying until the fight was finished! John says he thinks they now understand that he knows what he is doing and that there are safety procedures in place so he hopes they will relax a little more now. But they were all very proud of his achievement at The Troxy.
As it stands John does not have a nickname but is hoping to be named very soon. We will keep you updated on the result of that and by all means send in some suggestions.
John would like to thank the following people in his own words: I would love to thank Andy Kipriano and Lee Whittington for taking me under their wing through the Warriors gym. Andy was going through a lot at the time, training for the ICO world championship in Germany and still found time to make sure I was on top of training, incidentally he came back with the Gold!! Also, Dave O’Donnell and Harry Shoebridge of Cage Rage for putting on the show and giving me my fifteen minutes of fame. I would like to mention the guy’s at the House of Pain; Josh Holmes was very gracious as were their coaches, all congratulating me at the fight. Shows what a great sport MMA is. Lastly my wife Helen and my family for supporting me.
And we would like to say thanks to John for fitting us into his busy schedule. We look forward to seeing more of him in the future. Finally thank you to Jensen Taylor of MMAMAIL Magazine for allowing us use of his photography.