This interview was conducted back in June 2016 and featured in the July/August issue of MMA Uncaged Magazine.
“Age is just a number. I will be in the UFC by the end of the year”
London, 2002 and the UFC held its first event outside of the United States for UFC 38. ‘Brawl at the Hall’ was held inside the iconic Royal Albert Hall. Headlined by UFC Hall of Fame veteran Matt Hughes and Carlos Newton. Also on the main card was a 36-year-old Ian Freeman who faced and beat a 23-year-old Frank Mir by TKO, proving that ‘age is just a number’.
Fast forward to April 15, 2016, when European Promotion Cage Warriors returned home to London and held its 75th event. Making his debut for the promotion was 38-year-old Scott ‘The Priest’ Clist facing 25-year-old Brad ‘The Crazy Kid’ Wheeler. Clist was the heavy underdog and after weathering an early storm where it looked like Wheeler was going to submit him in the opening minutes, Clist gained control of the fight (with 30 seconds to go) landing a head kick followed by a right hook which knocked Wheeler to the canvas against the cage and began to unleash a barrage of punches (16) only for the klaxon to sound the end of the round.
It was in-between rounds that Wheeler’s corner retired him from the fight as he had taken too much damage, declaring Clist victorious by way of TKO at the end of round one. Proving yet again ‘age is just a number’.
“Age is just a number. I will be in the UFC by the end of the year”
Born and raised in Bridgwater, Somerset but now residing in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, the nightclub manager first started out in the world of Martial Arts at the tender age of 5.
“My dad would get me and my brother to throw punches and box train with him. He would show us how to twist our hips with the punches and lead with a jab” Clist recalls of his fond childhood memories. After briefly flirting with Karate, Clist settled on Kickboxing where he would start his Martial Arts career and held British titles in kickboxing and full contact Tae kwon do.
Clist was first introduced to Mixed Martial Arts by a colleague whilst he was working in Swindon as a barman at the age of 19. A doorman he knew lent him 3 video’s called “UFC” and after watching them decided he wanted to give MMA a try.
“After watching the ‘UFC’ video’s I attended my first MMA class which was also run by the same doorman who gave me the video’s. ‘Oz’, Michael Osbourne at ‘SVT’ Swindon Vale Tudo. Although I really enjoyed the class due to my working schedule at the time I couldn’t commit to it.”
After spending some time training in different Martial Arts and balancing a full time job, Clist found classes run by Tony Childs who was teaching San Shou, JKD, Combat Submission Wrestling and Escrima to add to his Kickboxing and Tae kwon do background.
Finally, after experiencing success in teaching kickboxing, Clist decided it was time to open up his own gym. In March 2008 The Revolution Gym in Trowbridge was born, all the while still competing as an amateur mixed martial artist himself from 2006 – 2009. In 2010 Clist turned pro finishing his first five opponents within two rounds. Although picking up his first pro MMA loss in 2013 to Dan Rushworth, that fight earned him fight of the night honours. Winning his next fight Clist then entered an 8-man tournament.
“I had no emotion in the lead up to the event and was spending a large amount of time teaching instead of focusing on my own training. Ali Maclean tapped my out with a north and south choke 4:34 seconds into the first round. It was the only time I had been stopped as a pro fighter. I was gutted.”
“It was after this fight that I realised I needed to focus on my own training so I shut down my gym and moved over to Dragonslair MMA in Melksham home to UFC athlete Bradley Scott.”
Now [10-2] as a pro and with the help and guidance of Head Coach Stu Pike at Dragonslair MMA, Clist is currently on a three fight win streak after winning his last fight against Brad Wheeler at Cage Warriors 75 where he was very much the underdog on that card.
“I kept the fight standing for a while and me and Brad traded some shots until I threw a kick and he caught it. Brad got the takedown but I managed to get back to my feet only for brad to get a deep double leg and take me down again, his ju jitsu is sleek and he managed to get my back and sink in the body lock quickly. I went into autopilot and 2 on 1 defence. I had done this so many times in the gym that I was never really worried about getting tapped, I just had to get the lock off. I tried putting pressure on Brad’s ankle but that didn’t work so I had to defend and try to turn into him but like I said Brad’s BJJ is something else and trying to get someone as good as he is off you is not the easiest thing.
“After a few mins spent on the defensive I felt the lock loosen so I stepped over his leg to avoid him getting it locked back in, I turned quickly and we got back to our feet.
“I threw a good uppercut to the body and Brad backed off. I saw my opportunity and threw the head kick followed by the right hook.
I saw brad fall and started throwing down some serious ground and pound. I could hear his corner shouting “10 seconds, hold on Brad”. I kept throwing punches thinking the ref has got to stop it but he didn’t and the buzzer sounded for the end of the round. Brad’s corner retired him in between rounds which gave me a TKO win coming at 5 mins of round one.”
The fight Clist had with Wheeler was originally scheduled for a lightweight bout but got changed to a catch weight bout a few days before. So will we be seeing Clist again in the lightweight division?
“I would like to fight against top 10 opponents. A fight with Chris Fishgold would be interesting and a fight against Andre Ward would make for a great fight. I aim to Keep growing as a fighter and I am in the right place and working with the right people to do that and keep winning. I want to be a successful UFC fighter. I don’t just want to make it into the UFC, I will make it into the UFC and get some good wins.”
With a nickname ‘The Priest’ I did however wonder how it came about.
“My first sponsor gave me that name. I told him he could pick my ring name. He had just watched The Davinci Code on dvd and decided I looked like the psycho killer from the film (blonde hair, white skin) so he said it was great to call me The Priest. I kept it because it caught on after my first fight.”
As with any interview, I ask if Scott has anyone he would like to thank.
“Firstly, my wife and daughter as they put up with me missing time spent with them, being tired from training and weight cutting etc. I would like to thank my coaches Stu Pike, Bradley Scott for making me a better fighter. My boxing and s+c coaches Mark Kent and Smudger at contender gym. My teammates who let me learn and let me be part of their learning. Stu Mourant for making a massive difference and opening doors. My sponsors for helping me with fuelling my body, BadBoy Supplements (kalv Singh) and financially Nacho Cheese, Richard Henley (Heating and plumbing), Darryl Moore (Carpentry) and a massive thank you goes out to all my friends and supporters”.
You can follow Scott Clist’s journey on the following media sites.
Continuing the global exploits in the unstoppable franchise built on speed, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson lead the returning cast of Fast & Furious 7.
James Wan directs this chapter of the hugely successful series that also welcomes back favorites Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Elsa Pataky and Lucas Black.
They are joined by international action stars new to the franchise including Jason Statham, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey and Kurt Russell. Neal H. Moritz, Vin Diesel and Michael Fottrell return to produce the film written by Chris Morgan.
Release date in the states is April 3rd, lets hope that is a world-wide date, as I for one, cannot wait for the seventh instalment of this awesome franchise of Fast & Furious Films. Also this is the last film the great actor and BJJ practitioner Paul Walker will star in, for which he never got to complete, due to his life, tragically being cut short in a car accident on 30th November 2013.
Ffion Eira Davies is a name that should firmly be on everyone’s lips in the world of MMA. If you have not heard of this bright, talented,upcoming, future star, then please let me introduce you to her.
Making her second amateur MMA appearance on Saturday, February 21st at UIC14, GL1, Gloucester. The 20-year-old from Wales, who trains out of Chris Rees Academy in Swansea is no stranger when it comes to competition, having been competing in Judo since age 9 and BJJ for the last 18 months.
I managed to speak with Ffion to find out more about her, her achievements in the world of Judo and BJJ, MMA and Ronda Rousey.
You maybe ‘new’ on the MMA scene but you’re not on the BJJ scene. Can you talk me through all your achievements please.
I started BJJ about a year and a half ago now, originally just as a hobby. It’s quite funny because I always hated groundwork in judo and avoided it at all costs! But I ended up falling in love with it, and since then I’ve won the British gi and no gi, Paris gi and no gi, the Welsh gi and no gi, NAGA at my own weight and the absolute (blue and purple belt) and most recently the European championships in Portugal all at blue belt. So far I’ve not lost a BJJ match.
Not only contempt in BJJ, you started out in Judo; at what age did you start training in Judo, then competing? What achievements have you achieved in the world of Judo?
I started judo when I was about 9 years old, and started competing 3 months later. I won the Welsh a few times and the British twice as a Cadet/Junior. I trained full-time for a year in Sophia Gardens with the Welsh National Coach Craig Ewers, but I noticed my passion for judo was dwindling after so many years of competing and decided I wanted something fresh. That’s when I found BJJ which led me to MMA.
You train out of Chris Rees Academy who trains many up and coming champion MMA athletes, along with arguably one of the best Bantamweights Wales have seen in a long time, Brett Johns, who also comes from a judo background and who also was the Cage Warriors World Bantamweight Champion. How does it feel to train with another high level Judoka who has made the transition into MMA?
It’s quite funny because one of the main reasons I started MMA was because of Brett! We were in the same comprehensive school, he was in my brothers year, and we also did judo together growing up! I saw his posts on Facebook about MMA and I was amazed by it, at the same time Ronda Rousey had become big on the scene and I saw that the transition from a judo background would be pretty ideal for me! It’s amazing to have such a high level fighter as a teammate and friend, it’s very motivating. I’m looking forward to him claiming another world title!
Was it always the ‘plan’ to make the transition to MMA, having had the Judo and BJJ background, or was it something that just progressed organically?
No not really, BJJ and MMA were supposed to be fitness hobbies. But I’m hugely competitive and couldn’t resist competing in the end!
Are there any other disciplines you are quite well versed in? Was you already doing Kickboxing, K1, Muay Thai, Karate etc whilst you were competing at Judo/BJJ?
Nope, I started learning striking in the MMA class, and have taken so many punches to the face it’s hilarious. Chris (my coach) then arranged for me to start doing pad work with Sam Thomas who’s one of the Thai boxing coaches at the academy. He’s really helped me a lot with my striking the past few weeks and invested a lot of time in helping me. I’m extremely grateful to him and all my teammates.
You finally had you’re first amateur MMA fight at SnA for which you won via Kimura Keylock in the first round. How did that finally feel to get that first MMA fight out the way with all the false starts you’ve had previously due to scheduled fights being cancelled through opponents being injured?
It’s been very frustrating the past few months because of pull outs. If you don’t want to fight don’t sign up to it, amateur is all about gaining experience whether you win or lose. When I finally did get to fight on SnA I was ecstatic; especially against a good opponent who I knew wouldn’t pull out due to ‘injury’. Jade was a decorated fighter who I knew wouldn’t pull out as she was confident in her abilities so it made it all the more nerve-racking. There’s no other feeling like fighting in the cage and I want as many fights as I can get!
Can you talk me through the experience you finally felt achieving your first amateur MMA fight? Was it any different to what you had ‘thought’ it would be like? Once at the venue knowing the crowds are there, walking out to the cage and into the cage and of course the fight itself.
I loved every minute of fighting, but the nerves are like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I spewed the day before and a few times on the day of the fight due to nerves, I’ve never been that bad before! Then in the last half hour before the fight everything changed and I became this aggressive psycho who just couldn’t wait to get in the cage! And then after the win I felt on top of the world, there’s really nothing else like it.
You’re competing on UIC 14 at GL1, Gloucester, this Saturday, February 21st in your 2nd amateur MMA fight. How are you feeling this time?
I feel just as nervous, but also excited. I have more self belief this time round and I’ve been training hard.
You’re facing the UIC K1 Flyweight Champion Laura Handy, do you know anything about your opponent? do you watch your opponents fight video’s or do you leave that to your coach/team and you take their instruction in what you need to focus on?
Yeah I’ve had a look at a few of her fights, but it’s always down to what my coach Chris wants me to do. He has so much experience in coaching that I know he knows what’s best for me and so I put my trust in him to decide! At first that was hard as I’m stubborn, but after so many grappling comps where I’ve followed his instructions and won that stubbornness quickly went away!
This is a classic ‘striker vs grappler’ fight and it’s fair to say with Laura being a K1 Champion and yourself a BJJ champion, for the fan watching this is a great match-up made by Paul Sutherland. Where do you see the fight going yourself?
Naturally were both going to want to go where we feel our strongest. I’ve been putting in a lot of effort to round-up my game. Obviously we are both going to imagine ourselves winning, nobody steps into the cage expecting to lose. I’ll do my best, and she will do her best, and whoever is the better fighter will win.
Has anybody ever referenced you to ‘Ronda Rousey’ at all with your Judo background and your Arm bar submissions in BJJ along with your sleek ground game?
Chris says I have a moody face like her! I get where it could come from but not really.. We both did judo but she was Olympic standard whereas I was very very far away from that standard!
Is there any sponsors or anyone you would like to thank for this fight?
Tatami Fightwear for providing me with free BJJ kit! And although obviously they aren’t sponsors but they buy me snacks and give me lifts, I’d like to thank my teammates, coaches and family!
Thank you for your time today Ffion it is much appreciated.
You can keep up to date with Ffion on her Twitter page here.