Category Archives: Interviews

We chat to the ‘Crazy Bear’

stav

Hold on to your hats, there is a heavyweight ‘Bear’ in the house.  Yes it is none other than Stav ‘Crazy Bear’ Economou who has an impressive record of 14-2-1 and fights out of Team Sure Grip (TSG) in Essex.  We wanted to know more about Stav, what he is up to and his plans for the future.

Stav got into MMA accidentally when he was walking home from the gym via a new route.  He came across a gym that was offering lots of classes: amateur wrestling, boxing and BJJ.  Stav decided to give the wrestling class a go but it was cancelled so he thought he would try out the BJJ class instead and tells us he has never looked back.

I wrongly assumed that Stav was a full time fighter with no other job so a slap on the wrist for me.  He actually manages a fish and chip shop restaurant and says even if he wasn’t training, he would still be doing the same thing but says he would be a lot fatter!

Other than MMA training and fighting, along with working Stav doesn’t have any other hobbies.  He says that MMA was a hobby that he ended up taking too seriously which left his friends and family in shock.  Although they support him 100%, he says some are still a little shocked that he fights.

When we asked Stav who he looks up to as a fighter, he doesn’t reel of a list of names but quite simply says his all-time favourite fighter and the one he looks up to is Alistair Overeem.

Balancing work and training must be difficulty so we wanted to know how much time Stav dedicates to training and he tells us that he tries to train twice a day six days a week in the lead up to a fight.  In general training terms, he trains twice a day four times a week and once a day the other two days, having just one rest day.  He says his training varies between MMA, Thai Boxing, BJJ and Strength and Conditioning with some hill sprints thrown in for fun!  (I think there must be a lot of fun aspects to training but hill sprints)?!

Of Stav’s 14 wins, 3 have come by way of Submission and 9 by way of KO/TKO so it is obvious to anyone that his stand-up is outstanding.  We wanted to know if Stav always intends on keeping his fights standing up and if he feels as confident when it goes to the ground.  He explains that it all depends on who he is fighting and feels as happy and confident on the ground as he does on his feet.

Having fought on many different promotions, Stav says it is hard to pick a favourite as he has loved every show for different reasons.  He goes on to day that Cage Rage and UCMMA were always great fun to fight for but UWC is his home.  He continues to tell us that fighting in Dubai for DFC is an entirely different world so he can’t just pick one.

With all his fights we wondered if Stav had a favourite and he says it is an easy question.  Cage Rage 27 at Wembley Arena against the huge Doktor (Marcin Bartkiewicz).  His reasoning is that he has never heard a crowd react to a fight like that before on any show he has been to and it was an amazing experience to be a part of. He doesn’t usually hear the crowd as a constant when he is fighting as he tries not to focus too much on the crowd and more on his fight but in this particular match, the crowd was amazing.

Stav last fought in September 2012 and is on a three win streak but as yet he cannot tell us when we can expect to see him in the cage again.  He does however, have his sights set on someone like Oli Thompson as he feels that the fight would make sense for both of them.  So watch this space.

With the introduction of Safe MMA drawing mixed reactions, Stav thinks it is a step in the right direction but unsure if it is the key to getting UK MMA regulated but hopes that with this first step more good things will come of it.

Having a lot of experience in the MMA field, Stav tells us that his biggest learning curve is what he describes as, the cliché ‘train hard, fight easy’.  He tells us he has had plenty of fights where the fights weren’t anywhere near as hard as the training was so he is thankful to his coach Daniel Burzotta and all his team mates at TSG for pushing him so hard.

We have enjoyed chatting with Stav and will be keeping an eye out for his next fight announcement.  We would like to thank Stav for his time.  Stav’s team mates will be fighting at UWC on March 2nd so check out www.ultimatewarriorchallenge.co.uk for all event information and we will be visiting TSG soon so look out for that.  Stav would like to close by thanking the following people:

“I would like to say thank you to all my family, friends, fans and supporters over the years. Everyone down at TSG and my coach Daniel Burzotta. I’ve achieved far more then I originally set out to and I’ve got a lot more that I want to achieve so stick with me because we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. Oh and follow me on twitter @crazy_bear”

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Scott Moore discusses his WW Title Shot & much more

scott moore

On March 2nd Scott Moore will face Lee Curtis for the WCMMA Welterweight Title at The Troxy in London.  We caught up with Scott to find out more about the man himself.

At just 19 years of age, Scott is 2-0-0 in his Semi-Professional/Amateur career and will be looking to make that 3-0-0 on March 2nd.  He fights out of Fight Science and Prizefighters and tells us that fighting out of those two is brutal!  He goes on to say that every time he steps on the mats, he knows he will be going up against some of the best fighters in the country; namely Nick Chapman, Dom Clark, Jay Dods and Jamie and Will Humphreys who he tells us, are Fight Sciences answer to the Diaz Brothers.  He continues by telling us that he has some of the best coaches in the country who he classifies as world class; Solomon Raja who is head coach at Prizefighter and also Lyubormir Kumbarov for Wrestling and Walid Tadjouri for BJJ.

So how did it all start for Scott? He tells us that he wanted to change his training and met Nick Chapman who sent him to Solomon and that is how he started in the MMA world.  Scott trains two to three hours a day, six days a week but is also a Fitness Instructor.  He explains that training comes first without any question and he just about manages his training and his life.

Scott is immediately in my good books because when asked who he looks up to as a fighter he tells us that it is undoubtedly Chael Sonnen.  Of Chael, Scott says people are always saying he has a big mouth and doesn’t deserve to be where he is but Scott disagrees.  Looking at UFC 117 Scott explains that Chael smashed Anderson Silva for twenty three and a half minutes and says name another fighter who has done that…………….as Scott says, there is no one and he goes on to say that Chael is the best fighter on the planet with unreal wrestling, great stand up and a slick ground game.

When it comes to Scott’s friends and family he says that when he started out fighting they weren’t sure but have now come round to the idea, although he says his mum still isn’t keen which is understandable but she still supports him 100%.  And with the introduction of SAFE MMA, things are looking up for UK MMA in the safety sense and Scott says it was about time and a brilliant idea.

Scott has fought Lee Curtis before, back in September 2012 where he won by unanimous decision.  Of this fight, he says he felt it went to plan.  His game plan was to use his wrestling and finish it from there.  He says Lee put up a good fight but he wasn’t as strong physically or mentally and Scott says by the end of the second round, he knew he had broken him which was confirmed by his coach Mike Woods afterwards.

Brendan Cherry was Scott’s last opponent where he once again won, this time by TKO at 1.22 of round 2.  Scott tells us he was completely happy with his performance and once again used his wrestling and ground control to finish it.  He says his only regret of the fight was that he didn’t finish it in the first round.

As we said, March 2nd see Scott face Lee Curtis again but this time for the Welterweight WCMMA Title.  Scott says his training has been going well as it always does and that he has made a few changes to his training here and there since they last faced off but nothing too crazy.  Of Lee, he says he is just another fighter who is in his way on the way to HIS TITLE!  Talking more about winning the title, Scott says it is the sole reason he fights, he wants to be the best and although he can imagine having that belt put around his waist, he doesn’t want to imagine it he just wants to be the champ as that is what the sport is all about.

Looking to his future, Scott tells us that he is in no rush to turn pro, even if he wins the belt.  He would first like to defend his belt as doesn’t feel he would be a real champion until he does.  But there is no one Scott has his eye on and is happy to leave that up to Dave O’Donnell.

So we ask Scott to tell us the result of this match and he tells us it will be him going home with the belt because he has trained too hard not to win.  He continues to say he is a far better fighter than he was and that he has improved in every area.  He finishes by saying that Lee knows Scott is the better fighter and advises him to come ready!

We will all be ready on March 2nd, wish Scott the best of luck and would like to thank him for the interview.  We will catch up with him after the fight for a few words so look out for that.  Scott would like to close by thanking the following people:

“All of my training partners and coaches but one massive thank you to Mike Wood, he took me on in my first fight, backed me all the way and has been there ever since, I can’t say thank you enough bud! He is a great all around coach he’s helped me massively over the last year. Cheers bro!”

We Talk to Arnold Allen

carl oriss v arnold allen - ucmma 32

2013 sees the start of another, no doubt mad year in MMA.  Kicking off the year will be UCMMA 32 and topping the bill we will see Arnold Allen (2-0-0) who fights out of BKK Fighters take on Carl Oriss.  Having seen Arnold in both his previous fights, we are excited to see if Allen can take his record to 3-0.

We caught up with Arnold for a brief chat to find out how things have been going for him and his thoughts on his fight which is now just over a week away.

We firstly had to ask whether the young Arnold has yet been given a nickname and he tells us that although there isn’t a definite one, he does get called a few names and has become quite accustomed to Gollum!

Arnold originally got into MMA watching Dragon Ball Z, martial arts movies and WWF.  He tells us he has always wanted to be some sort of warrior and the fact his dad is also a fighter, certainly helped him get into it!

When we ask Arnold who he looks up to himself he is quick to say that is has to be Jack Mason who he fights under.  Arnold goes on to say that Jack has taught him so much and has helped him get to where he is today.

As we said Arnolds Dad is also a fighter so asking how friends and family feel about him fighting is a pretty pointless question as he simply says that they love it.

When it comes to training, Arnold says he works hard all the time and we are sure he is pushed to his limit with Jack Mason on board.

SAFE MMA has recently been introduced to the UK and there are mixed reactions to it.  Some say it is pointless and others say it is the way forward.  Arnold tells us that it is definitely something the UK MMA scene needs and also says it would be great if fighters were tested for PED’s.

Arnold’s first professional fight was against Nathan Greyson who is an extremely talented young fighter.  I think most of the crowd at The Troxy that night saw Arnold as the underdog but I have to say the atmosphere for this one was amazing.  Arnold tells us he was very excited to be making his debut and felt very focussed going on to win by KO at 40s of R2.  Of the win, Arnold says it always feels good to win but especially in an exciting fight.

We last saw Arnold fight Kim Thinghaugen at UWC where he won the fight in between rounds due to a Dr Stoppage from cuts.  Arnold fought well in this fight using nasty hammer fists and knees and also defending the submission attempt by Thinghaugen successfully.  We wondered if Arnold was unhappy the fight was stopped but he says he was just happy to add another win.

When we asked Arnold what he knows about his next opponent Carl Oriss, he tells us that he doesn’t really focus on his opponents but just tries to make himself a better fighter in all areas.  He tells us that he thinks the fight will be an exciting fight and as always is confident of taking the win.  Looking to the future Arnold says there is no one he has his eye on to fight, so we will just have to watch this space.

With just a week away from fight night, we would like to thank Arnold for taking the time to talk to us and he would like to thank the following people in his own words:

I’d like to thank all of my sponsors @i_Supp @passmastermal @attitudeinc @ALMIGHTYMMA @BRITISHF1GHTER @funky_gums @Elite_fightwear – follow them on twitter. And I’d like to give a special thanks to @SB_bearman for all of his help in and out of the gym.

Karlos Vemola talks UFC & Chris Leben

karlos

We recently spoke with UFC fighter Karlos Vemola about his past and how it feels to be on the biggest stage in the world.  In this interview, we talk to him about his up and coming fight against Chris Leben at UFC155 in Las Vegas and his plans for the future.

Having fought in various places, Karlos starts off by telling us that he absolutely loved fighting in Germany against Seth Petruzelli because everyone knew him and supported him as if he were a local fighter but to be fighting in Las Vegas is the crème de la crème.

As we have said, Karlos takes on Chris Leben who has a record of 28-8-0 so we wanted to know how Karlos is feeling about his opponent and the fight in general.  He tells us that he is positive about both the fight and Leben.  He knows Chris comes to fight which as we found out is what Karlos likes and he tells us it will be war however long it lasts.  He assures us the fans will love it and says who knows; maybe it will be Fight of the Night.  When it comes to Chris, Karlos says his has the utmost respect for him as a fighter and a person.

Leben has been out of the UFC for a year on suspension so some may say this is an advantage to Karlos, although obviously Leben will be looking to come back with a vengeance.  Karlos says if he wins it is an advantage but if he loses it isn’t!  He doesn’t think it makes a difference as Leben is a professional athlete and will be totally prepared.

Both Karlos and Chris enter on a loss but this doesn’t make Karlos nervous, he says it makes him more determined and when it comes to the fight and seeing the 12 KO/TKO wins that Leben has we wanted to know if Karlos intends to make it a stand-up brawl or take him down and go for the Submission.  But all Karlos says is he is happy to do either.

Many are saying that this is Karlos’s biggest test to date and he tells us that in terms of a named fighter it is, however if Chris was fighting Francis Carmot he would like to know who we would bet on winning that fight?  He goes on to say that Chris is a massive test and due to his experience he probably is his biggest test but he thinks that Francis will be a contender for the Title in the not too distant future.

Karlos has fought over three different weights and we wondered if he would ever consider a change again but he says he is happy and most comfortable as a Middleweight. So going forward we wondered if Karlos has his sights set on anyone else in his division and he says he has always wanted to fight Rich Franklin as he loves him as a fighter and it would be a dream come true.

We are extremely excited about this fight and can’t wait to watch Karlos step into the cage.  We would like to thank him for taking time out to do both these interviews and all that’s left to do is to wish him the best of luck for December 29th.  Karlos would like to thank the following people in his own words “I want to say a big thank you to my managers Chris and Pan at Elite MMA Agency, Alex and Paul and everyone at London Shoot who has helped with my training and all my sparing partners”.

Karlos Vemola Interview

Karlos Vemola is set to take on Chris Leben at UFC 155 in Las Vegas.  In the first of a two part interview, we find out how Karlos got into the crazy world of MMA and also more about the man behind the fighter.

Karlos ‘Terminator’ Vemola stands 6ft tall and fights at Middleweight.  At 27, he fights out of London Shoot and is managed by Elite MMA Agency.  With a record of 9-3-0, Karlos is already at the top, fighting on the world’s biggest MMA promotion, the UFC.

Looking back to the beginning Karlos tells us that whilst living in the Czech Republic, he was only wrestling but when he moved to the UK he progressed from wrestling into MMA.  He goes on to tell us that he trains non-stop, two to three times a day depending on what he is actually working on.  When it comes to fight week for the UFC, he tells us it is totally different as he is in a hotel and it is very organised with everyone having a schedule.  For Karlos, he tends to do stretches and some rolling and the rest is ensuring his weight is spot on.

Karlos already has fans who look up to him as a fighter but when it comes to Karlos’s favourite fighter he tells is he has always loved Fedor because he is a small guy for a heavy but at his best he was unstoppable and Karlos says he loves his intensity.

Karlos has a very loving and supportive family who he loves spending time with, especially his children and he tells us that right from the start all his friends and family have been extremely supportive and they love it when he wins.  He goes on to say that because he loves what he does so much, it makes everyone get behind him.  Other than spending time with his children and training hard Karlos enjoys keeping fish in his tank that he says is lovely.

We wondered what Karlos would be doing if he wasn’t an MMA athlete but he tells us he has no idea and if anyone has any job offers to let him know.  We, however, don’t think he needs to be worrying about a career change!

Looking back to Karlos’s first fight against Patric Carroll in 2008 we wanted to know if he could remember it, being as he has come so far and if so what it felt like.  He tells us that in those days he felt awesome and just wanted to get in there and rip his opponents head off.  He tells us he was fearless and lived for the excitement.

Karlos won his first seven fights in R1 and then lost to Jon Masden on his UFC debut by Unanimous Decision.  We wondered how it felt to take a loss for the first time and if it is true that you learn more from a loss than a win.  Karlos says that he definitely learned a lot from that defeat.  He says not everyone wants to come and fight and opponents are content to have a boring fight rather than risk losing, whereas Karlos always enters the cage to tear it up and does not worry about winning or losing.  Of that particular fight, Karlos says that because he wasn’t a heavyweight, Masden just sat on him for three rounds and was not interested in making a fight of it.  He has learned that Professional fighters will do anything to win first and second they will worry about putting on a show for the fans.  Karlos tells us he was brought up the other way where he fights to entertain.  He says it was frustrating for him with Masden and Markes who were content to nullify him rather than put everything on the line.  However, of Carmont he says he came to fight and was the better man on the night.

Looking at the wins Karlos has taken, five have been by submission and four by KO/TKO so he is obviously a well-rounded fighter and when we asked which is his favourite aspect when fighting he tells us he loves to smash opponents up with a good old fashioned ground and pound.

With such a great record and only losing once by RNC and twice by Decision, Karlos has the drive and dedication to get up every day and put in the hours to succeed and he says the reason for this is that he loves the sport and the adrenaline that it brings.

Fighting for the UFC is every fighters dream and we wanted to know exactly what it feels like to be in the top league.  Karlos explains that it is amazing and very professional and well organised.  He feels that he has been treated very fairly by the UFC and is grateful to Dana White and Joe Silva.  Elite MMA Agency have also confirmed to Karlos that whenever they deal with the UFC, whether it is booking flights or sorting out visas or legal issues, everyone is helpful and totally professional.  When you are in the stadium, Karlos says they are always full and the atmosphere is amazing and he says the ring girls always look amazing!

Karlos wants to stay in the UFC for as long as possible and it won’t be long until his next fight.  Coming very soon the second part of our interview with Karlos, where he talks about his plans for the future and of course his fight with Chris Leben.

Introducing Nathan Jones

BritFights are pleased to introduce to you, Nathan ‘Mr Bag and Tag’ Jones.  We first saw Nathan on WCMMA where he and all his team mates swept the board with great wins.  Nathan is set to make his professional debut on December 1st for UCMMA against Mohammed Ali.  We caught up with Nathan to find out more about him and his plans for the future.

Tell us a little more about you?

My name is Nathan Jones (yes like the wrestler/actor, and yes like the song that Bananarama sang). But I am Nathan ‘Mr Bag & Tag’ Jones fighting out of Combat Company, Richmond. I am 6ft and currently fighting at 84kg but will look to go to 77kg in 2013.

How did you get into MMA originally?

It started 2 years ago. I had a friend that went for a free trial at Combat Company and asked if I wanted to come along. At the time I had just started to live by the ‘YES’ philosophy (where you say yes to everything – it is a great film!). So naturally (and naively) I said yes. I quite enjoyed the session except sharing others sweat and finding myself in rather compromising positions – but nonetheless, 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!?!?

It is quite amazing as if you said to me before, that I would be competing at a professional level, I would not have believed you in a million years! But what is more, is that I love it. A full bio can be found on my website: www.mrbagandtag.com

Who do you look up to as a fighter and why?

I look up to the original Mohammed Ali. In a nutshell I am moved by him voicing his views on the Vietnam War. America in the 1960’s was a tentative and uncertain time for black people. Despite risking everything, Ali kept his standpoint. His statements against the Vietnam War raised awareness and inspired others in their fight for equality and anti-war campaigns. I believe he was a social activist and a cultural icon. Not to mention his boxing achievements. Legend!

What’s it like training at Combat Company?

It is great, the atmosphere is really friendly and there is a lot of banter, there is never a dull moment (until it is time for core work). I have a strong team behind me and I am always pushed. It is also really convenient to get to – right on top of Richmond station!

What is a typical week like for you training and how does it differ in the lead up to a fight?

I train 5 days a week – 2-3 hours a day. I tend to spread my training evenly over the days and the disciplines. Depending on what I am competing in or who I am fighting against will determine what I focus on. In preparation for this fight I have visited Legacy BJJ and Legion Wrestling. During my boot camp, I will include 3 days a week road and core work in the mornings.

How do your friends and family feel about you fighting?

My friends think it is cool, my mother and sisters aren’t too keen, people at work are surprised as they do not attribute me as a fighter as I am a nice guy (but do not take my kindness for a weakness). For everyone else they are intrigued. I regularly have to correct people as I am a mixed martial artist and not a cage fighter.

So what is the ‘day job’ and any other hobbies outside of MMA?

‘I serve the community in the day and train to fight bad guys at night’

I am a youth support worker and have been active in the Richmond Youth Service since 2005. In this time I have undertaken various roles in various locations spanning across the whole borough. I have undertaken a range of projects such as, universal afterschool club, detached sessions and holiday provision. I am currently focusing on targeted work with vulnerable and at risk young people. In the new year I will be running a MMA fitness programme for my young people – educating them in the sport and instilling the discipline. I love what I do and have great job satisfaction. I am a hard worker and commit to what I do 100%. I am currently studying an MA in Youth Work and Community Learning and Development. I love learning and getting stuck in. Amongst all of that, I am a family man. I love spending time with my son and my niece. I am very lucky as I have an amazing girlfriend that supports me.

You recently fought on WCMMA against Joe Gilmartin winning by UD. How did the fight go for you? What was it like getting the win and how proud were you of combat company sweeping the board that night?

The fight went to plan – I got in, got on, got off and got out. Getting the win was almost as good as having sex – but Combat Company sweeping the board that night, was just as good as sex! On WCMMA 6 I had many chances to finish the fight – but as the rounds are so short, I thought it was best to use the occasion for cage experience. I was getting ready for a bout on the Fight Scene 4 (a month after) against Tomasz Glinski, who is a proclaimed tough dude. I lost a close decision (but believe the fight would have been mine if there was a third round – hence why I am stepping up!) It was a pleasure to fight both Joe and Tomasz as they are nice guys and I wish them well.

You are due to fight Mohammed Ali 2-2-0.  What do you know about him as a fighter?

I think he is tough – but anyone I fight at this level will be. I know come 1st December he will have his hands full. Playtime is over…

Ali enters on a win, does this make you more nervous?

I am always nervous when I step in the cage – but I feed off the fear – it keeps me focused. Its fight or flight!

How are you feeling knowing you are making the Pro Debut?

To be honest what makes me more nervous is that this is my professional debut on Sky Sports with an audience of 2.3 million viewers. I am certainly excited to get it in, this is my time to demonstrate my skills and make a statement.

Is there anyone you really want to fight in the future and why?

I have a few in mind – but that is another interview.

What are your long term goals in MMA?

To be honest I am going with the flow – I will continue to work hard and make the most of all opportunities that come my way.  I have just signed with Colosseum Sports so I believe the sky is the limit. At the moment MMA for me is about learning and enjoying. I am focused in progressing and making a difference in my current line of work.

Any fight night superstitions or rituals?

During the lead up to the fight I repeatedly count my blessings, speak to my angels and visualise each round and all possible variations. Afterwards I picture my hand raised and practice my winning speech!

What has been your biggest learning curve so far and any advice for others?

I used to be scared of my opponents and fearful of what could happen to me but having doubters has only fuelled my desire to succeed. I have learned to flip it on its head and have the perspective that I am a S.O.B. and this is what I am going to do to my opponent. For me this grows the more I fight, consequently I fight better.

Advice that I would give to others is to enjoy it and leave it all in the cage. You get out what you put in, so train hard!

Tell us your prediction for your fight?

I will be 1-0, I am going to fight my fight and get the job done. Option a) round 2, TKO – shin to chin served with a portion of ground and pound – good night sweet heart. Option b) round 1 TKO – take down, ground control and drop bombs – wham bam strawberry jam. Option c) if he wants to go to ground then I will submit him – tap, snap or nap. Or option d) just win – 1-0 BAG AND TAG!

Any thanks?

I want to thank everyone that has helped me get to where I am – on and off the mat! to my coaches at Combat Company, Peter Simon – boxing, Gabriel Rainho – BJJ and judo, Moss Houdini – wrestling, Wez Lucas – K1 and kick boxing and Mike Rosenstock for strength and conditioning.  Thanks also to Ashleigh Grimshaw who helped me string it all together. I would like to also thank my team mates, friends, family, and my fans who believe in me come rain or shine.

 

Ricky Wright drops by for a Natter!

BritFights caught up with the rather comical Ricky Wright who is a master of many different trades.  By night he is an MC for Shock n Awe; by day a Carer and at times has been known to train and fight as well!  How he fitted in the time to speak to us, we don’t know but we are glad he did.

We wanted to know how Ricky got into MMA in the first place and he tells us that it was watching the UFC.  Ricky says watching from the side lines is never enough for him.  When he was into rock music he had to learn an instrument and start a band and with MMA he felt he had to write, fight and MC.

As a fighter Ricky is undefeated and he trains out of the most active team in Wales, Tillery Combat.  At 26 his fight nickname is Ricky ‘Overhand’ Wright but he tells us it isn’t because he has a good right hand but merely because this is the only punch he can land!  When it comes to fighting, Ricky says he likes to fight anyone who is an equal match and has been lucky so far as both his fights have been matched fairly and have gone the distance.

Most friends and family are supportive of their loved ones but we had to laugh when we asked Ricky how his felt.  A direct quote from Ricky’s mother ‘the only time Ricky will ever step foot inside a cage again is with a mic and a tux – he is not bloody fighting’!  Apparently Ricky’s girlfriend feels the same way.  So maybe this is the end of his fighting spree or perhaps he will grace the cage again – watch this space!

Training is tough for Ricky when he is fighting as he trains twice a day as often as he can in any given week but in between fights he struggles to fit training in around his work as he works most afternoons as a Carer, a job that he loves.  Having to work most weekends, it is heart breaking for Ricky when he has to turn down top shows because he is working and tells us he needs at least two months’ notice to be booked for anything.  He is looking to drop some hours and get more weekends off so we may be seeing more of Ricky in the not too distant future.  As for fighting, it isn’t too hard to juggle as he only wants one fight a year as he says he hasn’t got the motivation to be a full time fighter as he isn’t naturally gifted or a physical specimen!  Being in shape for one night a year is quite enough for Ricky!   Saying that, he does add that if it wasn’t for MMA, he would probably be working in Asda announcing bargains on the tannoy and I quote ‘as a buy one get one free on andrex toilet tissue in aisle 3’!

Ricky works on Shock n Awe and has MC’d for them since the first show years ago.  Of Shock n Awe, Ricky says they have gone from strength to strength and they have every right to boast of being one of the top shows in the UK.  We have only managed to get to Shock n Awe once but we certainly think the show is awesome and hope to attend next year.

In his role as MC, Ricky must see some fantastic fights and get to know fighters quite well.  We wondered if he had an all-time favourite fight and if he finds it hard to remain neutral.  He tells us that his favourite fight and the one that sticks out the most in his mind is the Rocci Williams v Alexei Roberts fight on Shock n Awe, as the atmosphere in the venue during the fight was amazing and both fighters went to war for three rounds.  When it comes to remaining neutral, Ricky says he doesn’t find it hard at all.  He is very friendly with a lot of fighters and has announced them many times and says they kind of feed off of each other.  The example he gives is James Brum who always gets into the introduction which makes it more fun for Ricky.  Even if Ricky can’t stand a fighter he always gives it 100% when announcing, after all it is his job and the fighters deserve a great intro.

When we look at other MC’s in the business we wondered if Ricky looks up to any and he says first and foremost he looks up to Andy Sledge who put the idea in his head.  Also, Aaron Chatfield for hooking him up.  Jonathan Millard and Darren Rees are much underrated and deserve more recognition in Ricky’s opinion.  He says the smoothest in the business are Shadd Dales and Joe Martiniez and Bret Freeman who he calls the human mirror ball, clad from head to toe in glitz and glammer!  Ricky also mentions Paul Booth who is constantly encouraging him and giving him advice.  But I was wondering when we would get to Bruce Buffer…………..Ricky says he is his hero and no one announces fights with more passion than the veteran voice of the octagon.  Ricky says it gives him a tingly spine.  He would also like us to give a special mention to Kermit the Frog who he says is a true inspiration!!

Being in front of so many people it must be nerve wracking getting in the cage and announcing people, especially those with more exotic sounding names but Ricky says he doesn’t get nervous anymore although if the occasion is big he does shake a little.  His worst fear is getting a ‘roided up’ fighters name wrong and the fighter taking him out with a left hook or something!  Thankfully Ricky hasn’t had too many embarrassing moments but on a recent event the DJ forget to tell him that the order of the fights had changed.  It wasn’t Ricky’s fault but he announced the wrong fighter and as he says it is always the MC left standing in the cage looking stupid when it happens.

Ricky tells us his favourite part of the job is the respect he gets from fighters and fans of the sport.  But the worst is collecting his notes when fighters lie about their height and record. He tells us that when he is 5’6” and a fighter is shorter than him, there is no way he is 5’9”!  It annoys him when fighters lie about their records because half the time Ricky will have announced them a few weeks ago and knows they are not undefeated as he saw them get knocked out!!!
Other than MMA Ricky follows rugby and could watch any game no matter who was playing.  He also loves ten pin bowling and tells us he is getting really good, even managing to play with the sides down now!  What Ricky wants to know, is how long it will take for Bret Freeman to be wearing bowling shoes in the cage.  As Ricky says a whole new level of style right there.  We shall definitely ask Bret about this but imagine they would have to be custom made with sparkles galore!

So many people say that MMA is dangerous and needs regulating in the UK.  Ricky says he would love to see the sport regulated and supports any attempt by genuine people to make it happen.  He says MMA is dangerous, so regulation is needed but adds it is only as dangerous as any other contact sport.  He continues to say that more people die from competitive cheer leading than in MMA and no one wants to ban that and also the red bull cliff diving takes some balls and Ricky says if you are blood thirsty and like KO’s that is another sport for you!

Looking to the future, Ricky says he is on the verge of getting a Master of Ceremonies license with the BBBoC. He applied last year and even though they said they would grant him a license they said he would have to give up announcing in other contact sport.  Ricky told them he couldn’t give up MMA and they are now considering their position so things are looking up.  If the license is granted it will open the door to work on boxing events which will be great for Ricky as he already has many boxing promoters asking for his availability.  He has also signed up with a huge MMA show that will be launched next year so at present is still a secret.  As well as the MC work, Ricky is writing a book on Welsh MMA that he hopes to self-publish at some point next year.

As Ricky says, he has exciting times ahead of him and has come a long way already.  We have enjoyed speaking to him and look forward to seeing him in action next year.  So thank you from us to Ricky and Ricky would like to close with the following thanks:

“Thanks to my mother Joyce who has always supported me in everything I do (except fight). . My girlfriend, Becky for putting up with me when I have delusions of grandeur and can’t stop shutting up about how awesome I am. Also thanks to Richard Shore and all at Tillery Combat.  And any promoter who has booked me for a show and has supported me. Oh and yourself for taking time out to write up some cool questions”.

Darren Towler

BritFights settled down to interview Heavyweight Fighter, Darren ‘Powerhouse’ Towler who stands 6’3” and fights out of TSG and Spartans Performance.  With a record of 9-6-0 and now on a five win streak, we spoke to Darren about his last fight against Dayman Lake and his up and coming title fight against Neil ‘Goliath’ Grove in December at UCMMA.

Going back to the beginning of the MMA Madness, Darren tells us that he originally got into it when he called in to see a friend at Ian Freeman’s gym.  He was made very welcome, started training and has been ever since!

Darren is motivated and determined to succeed as he likes seeing the results that come from putting in the hard work.  He tells us he gets into a routine and he sticks to it.

Travelling hundreds of miles to TSG in Southend, Essex Darren says the reason for this is that he gets to train with top level fighters.  He realises the distance is immense but training with Dan Burzotta who he calls a top coach is worthwhile.  It is hard for Darren being away from home for long periods but it takes him away from any distractions meaning he gets his head down and trains hard.  Darren also trains with Ian Freeman’s Team Machine and of them he says that training with Ian is a great honour as not only does he become his coach, he also becomes a good friend and that motivates him and gets the best out of him. With a great bunch of lads behind Darren; Team Machine, TSG and Spartans Performance, he says they are the reason he holds the titles he does.

Darren has very supportive family and friends and he say this drives him.  At events you can always hear his fans screaming for him and some travel long distances to show their support.

In Darren’s last fight he beat Dayman Lake at just 48 seconds of Round 1 and in the four fights before this he hasn’t seen round 2.  I wondered if it is frustrating winning so quickly but Darren tells us that he never goes into a fight looking for a fast win as he trains for the fight to go the three rounds.  If it doesn’t, he says, it is a bonus and he knows that there will be plenty of fights where he will be able to showcase further skills.

Going back to the fight against Dayman, Darren tells us that he hurt his hand, not surprising really when you look at the vicious ground and pound assault.  Thankfully his hand is now on the mend, although not 100% just yet.  But we are assured that it will NOT be a problem for his next fight against Neil Grove on December 1st.

In the past Darren has fought Big Ben Smith twice.  At UCMMA 13 Darren lost to Ben via rear naked choke at 2 minutes 59 seconds of Round 1.  But at UCMMA 23 Darren won when the referee stopped the fight due to cuts Ben sustained.  Ben dropped from the Heavyweight class for a while but is now back at Heavyweight.  We want to know if the fans will get to see the decider.  Darren tells us that he really likes Ben and has utter respect for him and says that it would be a great build-up to a fight being as it would be the ‘decider’.  But it is out of Darren’s hands so we will wait and see if UCMMA arrange this at some point in the future.

Moving on, Darren is fighting Neil ‘Goliath’ Grove on December 1st at UCMMA.  Having done my research I noticed that Neil has lost his last three fights, whereas, as I have already said, Darren is on a five win streak.  I wondered if Darren felt more confident with these statistics but he says he doesn’t count it as an advantage to him because he is sure it has made Neil hungrier for the win and he knows that Neil is a strong fighter.  Although Darren’s streak has given him a boost in confidence, he says he won’t be taking Neil lightly and asks, quite rightly, who would?  Darren points out that Neil is a hard hitter with strong kicks and a full tank when it comes to fitness and tells us he has the utmost respect for him.  They met at the last UCMMA and Darren says it was a pleasure.  We can expect no fireworks or banter from Darren regardless of who he fights as it just isn’t his style, preferring to do what he needs to in the cage and then have a drink afterwards.

Darren cannot predict how this fight will go and I myself agree that it is a hard one to call.  Both Neil and Darren have won all their fights by KO/TKO so are we are expecting a stand-up fight?  Darren says we need to wait for the night but tells us he has been working on his ground game and getting stronger.  We were in the training room before Darren’s last fight and we agree when he says; he has never been more aggressive and ready.  He has Stav and Walter in his corner who warm him up physically and mentally and he says this is his secret weapon and that he owes them for all the time they put in to him.

We asked again how Darren predicts this fight and all he will say is ‘it is going to be the show to end the year’.  And as for his fight he suggests you get a ticket and find out.

It has been great interviewing Darren and watch out for a follow-up article coming in the next few months when we will be spending some time with Darren down at TSG.  For now thank you to Darren for his time and as always we close with thanks from Darren:

“I’d like to thank Ian Freeman, Team Machine, Dan Burzotta, TSG, Jack Lovett, Spartan Performance, all my friends and family and people who support me through. Also Micky Tompson who helps me with my boxing and cardio and yourself for the interview”.

Follow Darren on Twitter by searching @darrentowler1

Meeting Tony Savo

BritFights love catching up with the less obvious people involved in MMA and this time we caught up with Tony Savo of Coalition Fight Music (CFM) who hails from Sacramento, the State Capital of California.

CFM is an independent music group that sponsor high profile athletes in the UFC, Bellator, XFC and UCMMA in the UK.  They are also the biggest ambassadors of UKMMA in the States.

CFM don’t just work within MMA, they started out focusing on developing music for MMA promotions and fighters but have since grown into a media company that is involved in brand building, telecommunications and social justice issues.  They are currently in the process of getting into niche markets outside the fight business that include Extreme Sports such as Skateboarding, Snowboarding, BMX and Break Dancing.

But how did they get into the MMA Scene is a question we want to know.  Tony tells us that growing up he was a huge fan of Boxing, WWF and Ninja Movies and he idolised Bruce Lee and other similar guys.  MMA then graced our scenes and it stole Tony’s heart.  He and his friends would get together on the weekends to play cards, have a BBQ and watch the fights.  Tony says he saw the TapouT scene blow up and recognised an opportunity to bridge a gap.  He says the idea of custom walkout tunes had been around in Pro Wrestling for years but there wasn’t anyone doing it in the MMA industry and that is how he got started.

We wondered how the process starts, do fighters contact him and ask to work with him.  Tony says it depends as sometimes fighters will hear one of CFM’s songs online and then will make contact about making it their own song.  Other times fighters will approach them with preconceived ideas or examples of the style or genre they are looking for.

With all the tunes Tony has produced we want to know his favourite and least favourite piece.  As a Producer Tony says that whatever song he is currently working on is his favourite.  He says the company really try and put their heart and soul into every track they develop.  He goes on to say that each tune represents a different time or period in the bands life and has its own sentimental value.

We asked Tony what pieces we may have heard in the past and were blown away with some of the people he has worked with.  When it comes to fighters, he has worked with former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Jake Shields, Nick and Nate Diaz, former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver and “The NYBA” Phil Baroni.  They have also worked with several UK prospects that include Nick ‘The Headhunter’ Chapman, Jamaine ‘Mr Pain’ Facey, Jimmy ‘Justice’ Millar and they will also be doing former UFC and Bellator veteran Neil ‘Goliath’ Grove’s walkout music for UCMMA 31.  A few years back they also did the soundtrack for Wartime TV on Sky Sports and last month they released “Ultimate Challenge”, the official theme of UCMMA.  Going forward they are doing all the music for the new reality TV show “Warrior Island”.

Tony has worked with some legends and no doubt will continue to do so in the future so we wondered what his long term plans are.  He tells me he is ambitious as this year they have become official co-sponsors of UCMMA and have the CFM “Bird” logo on the cage canvas.  They are working on doing the same thing in the UFC octagon in 2013 as well as expanding their brand into new markets that include Russia and South Korea.

We think this sounds like a job that requires hard work and dedication but also provides awesome satisfaction.  But what would Tony be doing if he wasn’t a Producer.  He tells us that he is extremely grateful for all the things he has been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time and is living his dream and pursuing his passion with his mates.  He says he wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.  But if this wasn’t to be and he had the opportunity to train full time and become a pro fighter, he says he would be all over it.

For now we are happy to hear the walkout music and look forward to meeting Tony at UCMMA in December, perhaps we should get that autograph now because Tony and his gang are going way above the top of their game and we would like to thank him for taking the time to speak with us.

Check out the website at http://www.coalitionfightmusic.com/

Paul Kingdon

We caught up with Paul Kingdon (2-6-0) who fights out of Trojan Gym to find out more about him; the reasons behind him getting into MMA and his plans for the future.

Paul was originally into Body Building but was a big fan of MMA and at the time of watching MMA, his favourite fighter was Brad Pickett.  Of Brad, Paul says he was a small guy who fought like a warrior and he inspired Paul enough to want to take up the sport.  It was about five years ago when Paul was watching MMA that he said to his friends ‘I want to do that’ so his friend Chris Henry took him the very next day to meet a friend of his Tommy Gunn.  Paul started training straight away with Tommy which started off once or twice a week but then became once to twice a day.  Paul tells us he was hooked on MMA and that it saved his life.

Training for Paul is always hard because he started late in MMA so feels he is always playing catch-up.  But he gives it 100% every day and always has because that is the way Paul does things.  MMA is Paul’s full time job which he says is a strange career change but he loves it.  When he isn’t fighting he trains others and everyone he trains loves it and of course benefits from the best level of fitness anyone can offer.  Other than MMA Paul spends time being a family man and occasionally goes fishing as he says there is no greater escape.

Paul’s family and friends come to watch him regularly although at first they were unsure what to make of it, thinking it was a little brutal.  Once they attended a few events and saw the professionalism of them, they came round to the idea and love it.

When it comes to fighters Paul respects he tells us he respects all fighters as they all train hard but ultimately he respects his inspiration, Mr Pickett the most

Having been in MMA quite a few years and seeing the sport grow from strength to strength, Paul says it is now the fastest growing sport in the world for true athletes.  The advice Paul gives is that anyone who is looking to start training can do it, not only for self-defence but also to achieve the best level of fitness.  When it comes to learning curves, Paul simply says that every fight is a lesson and it is impossible not to learn from each one.

Paul fought Martin Sheridan at UCMMA 30 losing by TKO at 1m19s of Round 2.  We wanted to know what went wrong for Paul and he tells us that he possibly did too much before the fight.  He says it is hard to get the balance right as you can mess up a fight just from the weight cut.  In the future Paul is going to be fighting at a higher weight but this will not be the case with any other fights as he has a proper training camp in place for his next fight.

Since his last fight Paul is taking some time to train and get his head down for more technique training and is hoping to be back fighting at UCMMA in February 2013.  Until then, he tells us he will be hard at it.

Prior to a fight Paul likes to spend time with his girlfriend and daughter and also spend as much time on his own whilst cutting weight as he turns into ‘Mr Grumpy Pants’! He isn’t into calling people out because he fights whoever has been put in front of him.  He hopes for a fair fight but trains hard and gives 100% whoever the opponent is.

We would like to thank Paul for his time and wish him all the best for next year.  Paul would like to thank the following people:

‘I would just like to say a massive thank you to all the people that come to watch me, you know who you are.  Thank you to my friends, family, and the guys that help me train all the time; Colin, Danny Beevor, Paul Edmonds, Mariusz Sozostek and all the guys at the shed.  Lastly thank you to my sponsors:  www.monkeybiztattoo.co.uk www.bulldogleisurewear.co.uk www.thinkadp.com