The Assassin’s Shadow
Saturday afternoon in London’s East End and I make my way to The Troxy for UCMMA. Only tonight, I am spending the evening shadowing Jason ‘The Assassin’ Radcliffe. The intention being to get a feel for what it is like to be a fighter on fight night.
As usual, I am early and spend some time wandering around chatting to people until Jason arrives. The card is stacked with great fights but we had a lot of time as Jason wasn’t up until after the break. We were in the large room where the guys all get changed and although I have briefly been in the room before, seeing all the guys warming up and how they focus before a fight was an eye opener.
Some seem to relax and stay stress free, whilst others are constantly on the move. I couldn’t sit still as I was very excited to be seeing a different side to an evening of MMA.
Jason appeared calm and relaxed early in the evening, listening to some music and drinking water. He stayed in ‘civilian’ clothes for a long while and sat chatting to his coaches Danny (not Cyril) and Eddie. I asked him how he was feeling and he said he was feeling really good and ready.
Up against Jimmy Millar, there had been some pre-fight banter at the press conference with Jimmy trying to kiss Jason in the stand off! Thankfully Jason didn’t KO him there and then, saving all his aggression for the fight.
Looking around the room, lots of the guys were full of energy whilst warming up. I assume channeling that energy into warm-up helps them focus for the task at hand. Jason however, was still very calm and relaxed.
As the night moved on fighters came and went from the dressing room once they had fought leaving it a little quiet at times. As it drew nearer for Jason to fight, Jason had his hands wrapped which is something I have never seen before and seeing the wraps going on, it was a gentle reminder that it wouldn’t be long until Jason made the walk to the cage.
Later in the evening, Jason and his coaches and managers and of course I went into the stairway so Jason could warm up. He started off doing some pad work with his boxing coach which showed the power Jason has in his hands. Jason was calm and very focused on listening to advice. He then went on to do some grappling against the wall and I noticed later and again when I watched his fight back, that what he was told to do, he executed in the cage. For me this was fantastic to see, because although I know how hard the guys train for fights, actually seeing an instruction prior to the fight and then seeing it in action proves that the techniques taught are taken in and used. Jason then moved onto the ground game. Obviously, these guys are tougher than me in every sense of the word but lying on cold concrete floors can’t be easy on the body!
Once the technical warm-up was over, we went back into the main room where Jason spent time stretching and having his gloves put on by one of his coaches, Eddie Kone (not Cyril).
By this time I was beside myself with nerves. Yes nerves! I wasn’t fighting but I felt the build-up of adrenaline and my tummy was flipping over. I know many fighters experience different emotions before fights and deal with nerves in different ways yet Jason was still calm and relaxed whereas I felt quite emotional about the whole thing. I spoke to Calvin JusCage Petrie, one of Jason’s team mates who said it was quite normal for a fighter to get all the emotions running through his body. Yes the fighter but why was I feeling like a cat on a hot tin roof?
And so the time came for the walk down to the runway. Jason still appeared calm but I noticed he had a subtle switch over and he appeared more focused and determined and definitely quieter. I followed him to the runway and although I possibly could have walked down with him, I stepped to the side and instead watched him intently, as he intently watched his opponent who was at the cage door ahead of him.
It was whilst standing on the runway and walking down that Jason seemed to suddenly become a different Jason to the calm and relaxed one of the whole evening. He didn’t take his eyes off of his target and then he started to walk.
As a writer, I have to stay neutral as I interview people from all camps but when you have spent time watching and getting inside the mind of the fighter for the evening, it is impossible not to want them to bring back the win. The fight didn’t go past Round 1. With a few early swings, Jason went for the take down almost immediately and spent time working Jimmy against the cage, going in low for the legs. He eventually lifted and slammed Jimmy to the canvas and took control on top. Here he launched a flurry of fists but Jimmy turned and gave Jason his back where again Jason used the ground and pound. Jimmy was trying to use his strength to get Jason off but as soon as he tried to get to his knees, Jason spread Jimmy’s body flat until he finally got the first submission win of his career via Rear Naked Choke.
A very ecstatic Jason who knew that by winning this fight, he would take on Ben Callum for the title in December. We went back to the dressing room and found Jason sitting in his chair all calm and happy with a medal adorning his chest. Everyone was saying well done and the atmosphere was fantastic surrounding him. It was an amazing feeling to have been with someone from the start of the evening right through to the joy of winning the fight.
I am sure not all guys are as cool, calm and collected as Jason on fight night but this is definitely the feeling I picked up on from him. It is a good job someone stayed calm because I for one thought I was going to have a coronary at some points!
It was an enjoyable, interesting evening and although I missed a lot of the other fights on the card, I feel I gained a valuable insight into how it feels to be an MMA athlete; to train hard and focus all your attention on the main objective going back weeks and weeks before the actual night; to then arrive at your playground and prepare mentally and physically and to then go on and see all the hard work pay off. But win or lose, I have nothing but respect for Jason and all the other MMA fighters who dedicate to this way of life.
Don’t miss the Title Fight between The Assassin and The Situation at The Troxy on December 1st for UCMMA 31.
Thank you to Jason and Sid of Mogul Management for allowing us this opportunity.