“When I win Cage Warriors gold the UFC have got to see that my age is not a factor” – Scott Clist


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.”

Scott 1
Photo Credit Adrenalin Fight Night

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.

https://www.facebook.com/scott.clist

Twitter

@scottThePriestclist

By Emma Bramford

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Swayze Valentine: Kingdom of the UFC – Two years on!


Swayze Valentine. Swayze. Swayze. I can hear you saying the name over and over again, it sounds familiar but where have you heard it? And before you think “Patrick Swayze”, hold it right there!

What if I were to say to you, “UFC”? Would that ring any bells? How about if I also mentioned, “cutwoman”, you know, the female version of Jacob “Stitch” Duran or Adrian “Tenacity” Rosenbusch? Has the penny dropped now?

swayze cut black n white

Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Swayze Valentine was a determined individual, whose parents instilled a good work ethic in her from an early age. This work ethic was instrumental in forging a career as the first (and currently only) female cutwoman in the UFC.

Having made her career choice back in 2006, it has not been an easy road, with many hurdles in the process to making it this far in her 10 year career. Acceptance and adversity is still one of the biggest challenges to overcome in this male dominated industry.

The rewards far outweigh any of the negativity that Swayze has had – and still endures – in her chosen career.  Just listening to her passion and drive alone makes you want her to be successful in this forever-evolving sport.

“I feel that I make a difference. I love taking care of people. Being a Cut woman, I get to wrap the hands of these incredible athletes in a sport that many don’t understand. I get to take care of them when they need me most. I get them to the next round. A fighter recently told me that having me there brings him comfort. That meant so much. I am so glad that my presence can calm a fighter in the middle of battle. I feel that being a mother, I bring a nurturing, calming comfort to these fighters, which I think is a huge asset that I hold dearly!

I can’t lie, it feels amazing that I am one of the few, elite professional Cutmen/Women in the world. But I still have all those same struggles that I have had from the beginning. I still deal with adversity, I always will, and I’m okay with that!”

Swayze worked many hours and travelled hundreds of miles a day, just to gain experience wrapping hands in a gym environment, all for free before ever having a ‘paid’ job in her chosen career path.  Swayze then asked renowned UFC Cutman Adrian “Tenacity” Rosenbusch for some advice.  He took her under his wing and became her mentor for two years, training her in the ‘cut side’ of the work. Swayze held a great pedigree in her CV even before being approached by the UFC, having worked with promotions such as Invicta, Bellator, WSOF, MMA Explosion and King of the Cage, along with amateur MMA and Muay Thai promotions including, 1 Kick Nicks, Tuff N Uff, Battle at the Bay and Rumble on the Ridge, to name just a few.

Having made her first appearance with the UFC two years ago at UFC 170, “The Queen of Cuts” (a nickname given to her by Jacob “Stitch” Duran) must feel under a lot of scrutiny.

“Absolutely! There is so much more stress. Everything is more difficult. I have to be 150% better than anyone else. The pressure is magnified tenfold. I like it that way though. It keeps me on my toes and it is always exciting. I turn the pressure and stress into drive, and into a positive. I let it push me past all my insecurities and personal fears. I thrive on being in a stressful environment, I’m better, faster, and I’m stronger.

If being a single mom to two boys and a cutwoman in the UFC is not enough to keep Swayze busy she has also taken a role in hit US Drama Kingdom.  The show which features stars such as Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Matt Lauria, Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas, Joanna Going and has also featured guest appearances from UFC fighter Cub Swanson, with guest presenters Hendi Androl, Kenny Florian just to name a few.  Airing on Direct TV, the Audience Network production will be returning to your screens next summer in the US.

With so many highlights over her two-year span thus far with the UFC, I’m sure it would be hard for anyone to choose some personal favourites but here Swayze goes through some of her highlights to date.

“Oh man, What a ride! I have had so many amazing experiences since 2 years ago! If we are just talking about UFC, some of my personal highlights was definitely my first UFC event. Next would have to be, when fighters request me to wrap their hands or be in their corner, and when Joanna Jedrzejczyk requests for me to wrap her hands because I am good luck for her. Another exciting highlight would have to be when I wrapped Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor’s hands for an episode of “Embedded” That was awesome… Just to name a few.”

swayze colour pic

As for advice to anyone who wanted to pursue a career in the same field as herself, Swayze had this to say:

“Being a Cutman/Woman, is a beautiful and rewarding career. If someone is interested, you have to check out Fight Business Academy!! This new online Academy has made becoming a Cutman/Woman much more attainable than it has ever been before. Go to www.fightbusinessacademy.com. It is the first company to offer formal training for many of the exciting jobs in Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing and Muay Thai. This online academy has accomplished this through a hybrid of online classes and live Bootcamps with the top professionals in Combat Sports. Fight Business Academy also offers an exciting array of learning opportunities to fit every schedule and budget. From the “Academy Insider” weekly group chats, one-on-one Skype sessions to live Bootcamps in the fight capital of the world,  Las Vegas Nevada! Fight Business Academy can teach you all the technical skills you need to be a valuable asset to any organization. It is so cool! I wish this online academy was available to me when I started!! I highly recommend anyone wanting to become a Cutman/Woman, to go online and check out this course.”

You can next see Swayze in Boston at UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw vs. Cruz on January 17th  2016.

Quick Questions

Favourite places you have travelled to so far?

Australia, New Orleans and Nashville.

What song do you currently sing in the shower?

I have to pick just one?! Ha-ha I would have to say, all the Christmas songs, with a little bit of Eminem and 50 Cent raps, thrown in.

Maybe you and Megan Olivi could do a Rap Battle – Just a thought!

Ha-ha a rap battle! That would be so dope!

Favourite kind of movie to watch?

I love comedies!! So anything that is light-hearted and will make me laugh. Baby Mama, or some stand-up comedy by Kevin Hart!

Favourite song you would put on to listen too that would instantly change the mood you are in?

Right now I am stuck on “The Heart Wants What It Wants” by Selena Gomez

You can keep up-to-date with Swayze by following her social media accounts below.

Twitter: @swayzevalentine

Instagram: Swayze Valentine

Facebook: Swayze Valentine

Photo Credit 1: Joe Pic Photography

Photo Credit 2: Richard Valentine

Aiming for the TUF 23 House – Helen ‘Hellraiser’ Harper


Helen ‘Hellraiser’ Harper will be setting her sights on the bright lights of Las Vegas on December 14th for season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter Trials.

Born and raised in Aldershot, Hampshire in the UK and having spent a few years living and competing in Phuket under Phuket Top Team, Helen is now firmly back where she started at home in Farnham, Surrey.

With her only loss coming by the way of controversial stoppage due to a Groin Strike against Strawweight UFC Athlete Cortney Casey, the 28-year-old has only been competing in mixed martial arts for four years and holds an impressive record of 4-1 inside the cage.

Not content with simply applying herself to the world of mixed martial arts, Helen has also competed in several Muay Thai events successfully including winning her pro kickboxing bout.

The pound for pound ranked #4 in UK & Ireland and #1 in Southeast Asia on Tapology does not take anything for granted in this forever evolving sport and has been working hard over the last few months by competing in many Gi and No Gi Competitions. So much so that Helen has picked up 7 Golds, 2 Silver and 1 Bronze, placing in every competition she has entered.

Helen Harper Main Event Picture

Having recently competed in a Muay Thai event at ‘The Road to Main Event’ on November 21st against Kat Holden, Helen took the fight on 2 weeks’ notice due to some prior pull-outs with her own schedule of fights in mixed martial arts.  After three hard fought rounds, Helen was the one to walk away victorious with a decision win, although it was no easy feat.

“I’d had a few pull outs in a row and the only fight that I could have had was up in Sunderland, which would have meant I wouldn’t have had a corner.  It was very frustrating.  My coach at Shinkick  (Jesse Saunders) told me he already had a few guys fighting on this show and they’d had a pull out – did I want to fight? Of course I said yes, that’s equivalent to asking a fat kid if they want cake…

“It was incredible! Kat is no walkover, she’s a seriously tough girl and as you said, it was by no means easy. I absolutely loved it though, and would do it again tomorrow if I could!”

Having decided to sharpen up her forever growing arsenal of tools in her tool box, Helen has been focusing more on becoming more specialised and dedicated to the whole of her MMA game.  Having spent some time down at Legacy BJJ/Urban Kings under the tutelage of BAMMA‘s Head Match-Maker Jude Samuel, who was in Helen’s corner for her last MMA fight against Sophie Langsford where Helen picked up a win via decision over three hard fought rounds.

“I’m sharpening up my technique. I can brawl amongst the best of them but when it comes to technique I do struggle to keep things tight. My Muay Thai is the main thing I can see a big improvement in, and that’s thanks to the guys at Shinkick – especially Jesse and Rob. Strength and conditioning is done at Andy’s with the resident S&C coach, James Hardy. Wrestling is also at Andy’s, with Csaba who is an absolute beast – fantastic teacher and all round nice guy. I couldn’t ask for a better set of guys. Having spent a few months’ worth of training up at Jude’s in London, it is a fantastic gym, but I just couldn’t afford to keep travelling up there.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who does find themselves in the Kings Cross area though.”

Helen Harper The Main Event Punch & Knockdown pic

 

Having recently been over to Phuket in Thailand to see her good friend and UFC flyweight athlete Ben Nguyen get married, which must of been amazing.  Helen went over to AKA to train and then competed in a Muay Thai fight.

I went over to witness Ben’s wedding, and had the opportunity to fight, so I grabbed it. Unfortunately, I also got very sick that week so it wasn’t my best fight but I made it to the end without throwing up so I was kind of happy about that!

Now back in the UK, Helen is set to face one of her biggest goals to date – the TUF 23 Trials out in Las Vegas on December 14th.  This is not the first time Helen has gone to try out for The Ultimate Fighter, back in April 2014 for season 20, Helen made it through to the final 20 athletes which is a great accomplishment in itself.

I came home on Monday evening to 8 messages telling me about the trials. I wasn’t going to go, purely through lack of funds, but then Andy had a long chat with me and told me to get there any way I could. He reminded me that this is what I have been aiming for all this time so it would be stupid not to go.

UFC is an organisation where anything could happen. Yes, I know the general expectation of me, but what they are looking for in a person for each series varies from show to show. The real bonus having been to Vegas before, is that there are a number of friendly faces I can count on to cheer me on!”

With costs from the UK to Las Vegas being expensive, especially on a massive UFC fight card week, yet alone near Christmas, Helen has decided to set up a ‘MAKEACHAMP‘ page to try to assist with the costs associated with getting to Las Vegas for the TUF 23 Trials.

Andy encouraged me to get to the trials any way I can. I am a Teaching assistant who’s been living in my overdraft since I can remember. Realistically the only way, even though I absolutely hate asking people, is to ask for help. I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support. The way I look at it is people are not only giving me their hard earned cash to achieve my own dream, which is incredible in itself, but they are believing in me. For that I am extremely lucky.”

Helen is also holding a grapplethon at the gym she trains at, Andy Roberts BJJ, on December 6th to also help raise funds for herself to get to the TUF 23 Trials.

The plan is to grapple for 8 hours (10am-6pm). I was worried about not having enough people to turn up so I have been trying to book half hour slots – it’s not going that well so far. I hope I will get a few more booked this week! If anyone wants to come, it’s in Farnborough on Sunday and open to anyone!”

Helen would like to thank the following:

Whisky Wolf @TheWhiskyWolf

She cries war @shecrieswar

Str8 Cheer @STR8_CHEER

Xbrain @XbrainUk

Battle Balm @BattleBalm

Pony Club Grappling Gear

Andy Roberts BJJ @AndyRobertsBJJ

Shinkick Muay Thai @ShinkickMDK

And you can follow her on these social media platforms:

Twitter @hhhellraiser

Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/HelenHellraiserHarper/

Instagram – hhhellraiser

Website – www.helenhellraiserharper.com

Thanks for your time Helen.  I look forward to seeing you reach your new goal and wish you the best of luck.

Photo Credits: Main Pic Say Uncle Promotions

Photo Credit: Pic 1 Main Event

Photo Credit: Pic 2 Scott Griffiths

YouTube video: Wombat Sports

 

‘Iron sharpens Iron’ – Piotr Ptasinski on his UIC 16 K1 Title Fight

Piotr Ptaskinski will be making his return to the octagon this weekend after two years away from the sport at Ultimate Impact Championship 16 this Saturday, November 14th at GL1 Leisure Centre in Gloucester, in a K1 Title fight against Craig White.
The 33-year-old, originally from Poland who now resides in Worcester, Worcestershire has only been competing in professional MMA for the last five years, but I guess realistically you could actually say only three years with his last two years out of the sport due to injury and having no motivation or hunger for the sport during that time.


Piotr Ptaskinski will be making his return to the octagon this weekend after two years away from the sport at Ultimate Impact Championship 16 this Saturday, November 14th at GL1 Leisure Centre in Gloucester, in a K1 Title fight against Craig White.

Iron Piotr Ptasinski with Paul Sutherland and Matt Ewin

The 33-year-old, originally from Poland who now resides in Worcester, Worcestershire has only been competing in professional MMA for the last five years, but I guess realistically you could actually say only three years with his last two years out of the sport due to injury and having no motivation or hunger for the sport during that time.

Before his two-year hiatus, Piotr fought for established European promotion Cage Warriors for which he had a career that consisted of 2 wins and 2 losses which brought his impressive welterweight record to 5-4 inside the octagon for professional MMA.   Now fully healed, full of motivation and more hungrier than ever Piotr has decided to make his comeback in a K1 middleweight title fight.

“I have always liked stand up and although I have been away for two years I have been training in K1, Kickboxing and Muay Thai, so this to me was the perfect option for me to come back to with a great opponent in that of Craig White to showcase both our skills.”

Having watched several of Piotr’s fights myself, I for one know that he never takes a backwards step in the octagon and is always coming forward no matter what is being thrown at him.  I guess this is where his love of the sport definitely comes in and makes him a fan favourite to watch in whatever promotion he his competing in at the time.  Whenever Piotr competes you can usually guarantee there will be ‘beautiful violence’ involved.

Whilst competing for the promotion Cage Warriors I did get given the nickname ‘The Polish Zombie’ after my fight with Moshen Bahari, at one point there was just blood coming out of my eyes but the polish zombie is not my real nickname (infact it is current TUF 22 competitor Marcin Wrzosek nickname) my nickname is ‘Iron’ given to me by Paul Sutherland after my fight with Daniel Brzozowski who knocked me down in the first round, twice, and I came back to finish him in that round in 2 mins via Armbar.  That was when I was given my fight name of ‘Iron’.”

Although you may only recognise Piotr’s name from the MMA scene, you can be forgiven as although K1, Kickboxing and Muay Thai are the disciplines he prefers to compete in and for which he has done so previously in-between his MMA days,  his last competitive K1 fight was in Spain three years ago for which he won and then he promptly carried on with his MMA way of life.

Being blessed in both disciplines of K1 and MMA and seeing now that Piotr’s motivation and clear hunger for the sport had worked its way back to him and having a ‘rebirth’ into this forever evolving sport the question now is what is the ultimate goal for which he would like to achieve within the sport.

“I don’t know at the moment as I don’t look too much into the future. I’m just looking at this Saturday and taking this belt, this is my ultimate goal at the moment.”

Training out of renowned Cheltenham Trojan Free Fighters under the guidance of head coach Paul Sutherland and Conditioning guru Matt Ewin who is known for his crazy hill sprints, Piotr’s level of training just keeps adding more explosive sets of weapons to the ever-growing arsenal of tools that he has already and is forever expanding into his growing tool box.

The secret in Trojans being a really good teaching gym is the head coach, Paul Sutherland.  He is one of the best coaches in the UK and the gym has a great training programme for every person.  Paul Sutherland is the key to Trojans he is the Glue.”

For this specific training camp Piotr has travelled around a few places to get the ‘best of the best’ training and it all started in Poland where he trained at Tomasz Drwal gym who happened to be a pioneer of MMA in Poland and was the first Polish person in the UFC.  Piotr’s next part of his camp was then spent with UIC 15 WW K1 Champion David Willmot at Team Tieu Cheltenham and then finally onto sparring seasons with  former UFC and Cage Warriors athlete Chè Mills,  not forgetting his daily training sessions with Paul Sutherland at Trojans.

“I was over in Poland for ten days training with Tomasz Drwal at his school which was just really good, having around 7/8 sparring partners my size training in boxing and kickboxing, it was a great experience. Training with David Willmot for whom is a multiple K1 champion, well, you couldn’t ask for any better and as for getting to train with Chè Mills he is 6ft tall just like Craig White but I feel Chè’s striking is world-class, in my opinion.  If you want to beat the best you must train with the best.”

They say ‘Iron sharpens Iron’

As we start to talk about Polish fighters with the date being the 14th November when Piotr himself is due to compete, there is also another Polish fighter who goes by the name of Joanna Jedrzejczyk competing on the same night for a title belt defence, it would be rude of me not to at least test the waters on this subject.

“Joanna Jedrzejczyk is such a beast and I have been a watching her since I saw here compete in Cage Warriors.  We polish are very proud.  Although Valerie Letourneau may not be all together an easy fight, Joanna is still a different type of beast, her confidence is great and she will be unstoppable for a long time to come.”

Piotr would like give a shout out to his sponsors:

Poundout Gear and JGS Couriers Ltd

And also wanted to thank everyone who has supported him.  Who has helped him with his preparation, training, motivation and inspiration.

You can follow Piotr on his Social Media Facebook and Twitter @IronPiotr

UIC 16 takes place this Saturday, November 14th at GL1 Leisure Centre, Bruton Way, Gloucester, GL1 1DT

Doors open 5pm first fight around 5.30pm

Tickets will be available on the door and online here 

Photo Credits Main and 1st pic: Piotr Ptasinski Facebook and Cage Warriors

Video Credit: Stu Jotham

“I like to be the underdog as I like to surprise people” – Pannie Kianzad


Pannie Kianzad will be making her second appearance for the all female promotion Invicta Fighting Championships later tonight (12th September) in Kansas City, as the challenger for the Bantamweight Championship Title, which is currently held by newly crowned and long time veteran of WMMA Tonya Evinger.

Tonya vs Pannie Weigh in (c) Invicta FC

Born in Iran, 23-year-old Pannie Kianzad and her family moved to Sweden when she was young. Having three older siblings (1 sister and 2 brothers) whom all used to train in Taekwondo and would often compete in competitions.

“My sister competed in taekwondo when she was younger, although she doesn’t want to admit it, but there are the movies (laughs). My older brother is a black belt in taekwondo and he don’t talk about it either – no-one wants to admit it, and he was really good, he had the early Jean-Claude Van Damme thing going on. Persian style, with the long, dark hair (laughs), whilst my other brother did MMA then moved over to boxing.”

Deciding not to waste anytime herself, Pannie started boxing at the of 13 and also competing, week in, week out all the way up until she was 18 years old when she decided boxing was not for her anymore.

“When I turned 18 I was really sick of boxing. It became a burden instead of having fun and training. There was a lot of things going on and I did not get the right support from my trainer, so when I was 18 I decided I was not going to do this anymore.”

After deciding boxing was no longer for herself, Pannie came across Mats Nilsson who convinced her to train  in MMA where he was currently training at Kaisho Martial Arts and subsequently moved to Rumble Sports, Copenhagen early 2012 as it also happened to be close to her house. Pannie packed all her stuff from the boxing gym and left, she has not stepped foot back into the boxing gym to this day.

Having no prior MMA experience Pannie decided to take part in grappling tournaments as she had lost her love her striking and was adamant this was not something she was going to go back to. This only lasted four months before Pannie took part in her first shootfighting tournament championships for where she brought home a Silver and then the Gold the following year.

Overall, Pannie was competing in BJJ, Thai, Submission Wrestling, K1 and Shootfighting every other week to gain her transition into MMA as there were no females around at the time for her to have a ‘amateur’ MMA career as such with, for the 2 years she was gaining her experience.

“I couldn’t get any amateur fights in Scandinavia with punches on the ground, there was nothing, but once I went Pro then there were the females coming into the Pro scene who wanted to do the sport. Although technically I have no ‘amateur’ MMA record I do class the 2 years of my transition fights as my amateur record.”

Making her Pro debut on April 14th 2012 in Estonia and winning, continuing to win five straight fights, Pannie was then signed to UK and European promotion Cage Warriors which is where she found her new manager Graham Boylan and is now part of the Intensiti Fight Management Team. Along with her new fight nickname ‘Sexy Scramble’.

Pannie faced Megan Van Houtum at Cage Warriors 71 in  a catchweight bout of 140 lbs having previously fought her MMA career at 145 lbs Featherweight, for which she won in the third round via TKO; taking no time she called out Agnieska Niedzwiedz for the vacant Bantamweight Title. Although that fight was scheduled Niedzwiedz later pulled out of the fight injured and was replaced by Eeva Siiskonen (3-1) on Cage Warriors 74, 15th November at The Copper Box Arena London.

The title fight went the distance with Pannie Kianzad gaining a Unanimous Decision and becoming Cage Warriors Female Bantamweight Title Holder in the process.

“I’m not really proud of that fight really just because it wasnt my fight, I didn’t feel it. I felt sharp and everything,  I just didn’t feel strong and I felt I could finish her but I didn’t. I was really disappointed with that fight and it actually really bugged me for a long time, so much so I was like I really need to get another fight and not have this feeling.”

Pannie Cage Warriors Champion (C) Cage Warriors

Having the longest lay off in her MMA career due to a hiatus that her former promotion Cage Warriors was on, Pannie states she took to eating lots of ‘ice-cream’.

“First of all I was getting fat (as if that is possible – I say) I was growing a third arse.  When it disappeared my coach was like – ‘its happened, its gone’. I got so fat because I was so depressed, then I got a bit injured in between so I was even more depressed but then I got the Invicta contract so it was time to get lean again (laughs). I was hanging out with my family more as they are very supportive in what I do and my dad is so supportive he loves MMA, he loves me competing. He saw how miserable I was in boxing and was a bit scared when I first started doing MMA and competing and was like oh ‘she’s gonna get so sad when she loses.”

He told me when I went to the TUF 18 tryout if you’re going to do this do it 100% don’t do it half way just go for it. After I didn’t make it to TUF I just kept on working then caught a few good fights.”

Being signed to all female promotion Invicta FC in March this year, Pannie made her promotional debut against Jessica-Rose Clark on July 9th at Invicta FC 13 in Las Vegas, which was also her first fight on American soil, winning via Unanimous Decision, Pannie was well and truly welcomed to America when her fight went viral on social media after using a unique move phrased by veteran fighter, match-maker and commentator for Invicta Julie Kedzie as the ‘ Butt-Bomb’.

Pannie goes on to describe how she is transferring her body from one position to more dominant position and the move is quite rightly so legal; whilst being in reverse mount and how hard it is to actually push over your opponent’s chest. Although she does admit that she does end up in this position a lot in training and wonders herself how she gets there?!

Pannie doing the 'Butt Bomb (C) MMAnytt
Pannie doing the ‘Butt Bomb (C) MMAnytt

Talking of signature moves for which I’m sure Pannie will now be fully associated with the ‘Butt Bomb’ we talk about her other love  – Pro Wrestling and Rikishi as his signature move was also a form of  a ‘Butt Bomb’  but she assures me that move is all hers or maybe watching some footage of  UFC fighter Mark Hunt! 😉

If Pannie was not doing MMA she would be a Pro wrestler called ‘Persian Fury’ decked out in full Techno clothing. Neon Green with Orange Fur to go with her Purple hair and of course her love of Buffalo Boots. Playing the part of a good girl gone bad 😉

Back to the task in hand. Tonight September 12th, Invicta FC 14 Pannie will again be in America but this time for a crack at the Bantamweight Title against her toughest opponent to date in that of veteran Tonya Evinger.

“Of course were gonna go to war. I think were gonna show two different styles and that’s going to go well together. It’s going to be tricky because she is very unorthodox and I’m not I think our different styles will match up really good. I’m on enemy turf. I’m going into Kansas City. Its going to be fun. I like being the underdog and I like going to someone elses turf to fight. I like to be the underdog as I like to surprise people. Its like when I went to Russia I had no chance of winning on paper but totally fucked her up! Then I was like, I like this, I like being the under dog, I like coming in there – Fuck things up then walk away 🙂

Being only the second fight for the promotion some may argue that it was a quick turn-around for Pannie yet alone being offered a title shot in the mix.

I thought they would give it to Raquel Pa’aluhi first but when they asked me I was like YEAH.”

I don’t have time to be polite anymore. I’m working 2 jobs here (Mon – Fri in a school and weekends in Security) and also training here full-time. I’m not wasting anybodies time here. It’s like a lot of those girls just do training and they don’t do anything else. I’m not waiting for anything, I’m working. I’m working myself to the top. I’m not waiting to give somebody else a shot just because she was maybe inline first, but if she was maybe inline she would have got that chance.”

Having already won Cage Warriors Gold but never the chance to defend that title the Invicta Fighting Championships Gold is a hard task to follow especially with such a seasoned veteran in Tonya Evinger (16-5).

“Tonya is already a much more already higher level of opponent, both on paper and as a fighter. She has a lot of experience behind her and in the people she has fought. I think that would put me in line of being one of the greatest female fighters at the 135 lb division outside of the UFC (as im not in the UFC).  Its called a title fight but it’s just a name, it’s still just a fight, it’s still just an opponent in front of you. If I would have faced Tonya in a non title fight it would still be the same work, it would still be the same effort, it would still be the same fight. The ‘Title fight’ name is just making it sound more dangerous.”

You can watch Invicta FC 14  live on UFC Fight Pass on September 12th or the early hours of September 13th if you’re watching from the UK.

Pannie would like to say a thank you to the following:

Rumble Sports, her family, her team, Fit4Fight, Dirty Rebel, Massage Templet, MMAnytt, K.O.Store, Revolutionary Fitness Sweden, Intensiti Fight Managment, Tip-a-Fighter, and all of her fans from all around the world.

You can also follow Pannie on the following social media sites:

Snap Chat: PKUnit

Instagram: Pannie Kianzad

Twitter: @PannieKianzad

Facebook: Pannie “Sexy Scramble” Kianzad

Tipafighter.com

 

Photo Credit 1 Invicta FC

Photo Credit 2 Cage Warriors FC

Photo Credit 3 MMAnytt

‘Alex Brunnen does not pose a challenge to me’ – Brad Watchorn


Brad Watchorn [5-6] will be stepping into the cage this Saturday, August 1st at Raged UK MMA 2 in Swindon, at the M.E.C.A, where he will be going into enemy territory and facing hometown favourite Alex Brunnen [3-2].

Brad Bellator Watchorn

The 25-year-old from Bracknell, Berkshire is no stranger to entering ‘enemy territory’ so to speak, being a former Grenadier Guard in the Military has taught Brad that stepping into enemy territory is to be doing something you love and is all part and parcel of your job.

Finding a love for Boxing aged 8, Brad decided that is where he would first start his journey into what has now evolved into MMA, but it was not a straight path of just MMA that interested Brad.

“I started boxing when I was about 8 years old down at the local boxing gym and as I was going through my teenage years I started to get into a lot of street fights, I mean a lot, to a point where I knew I needed to go and focus on something.  So I found Ian Hawkins gym and I started to train there”

Since the first time he could lace up his own Ice Skates he had always had an interest in Ice Hockey, so much so, Brad made the Professional Ice Hockey Team at the age of 15 playing for the Bracknell Bees which also enabled him to travel to Canada for 2 years to play over there and gain even further experience.

“I’ve been skating since as long as I can remember from around 5 years old. I worked my way up from the Junior set-up in Bracknell to the Pro team at 15. Ice Hockey players are of a special, different kind of breed. It’s a fast paced contact sport with a close-knit ‘family team’ vibe. From the road trips to hanging out together you are all part of a team which even extends itself to the infamous ice hockey ‘fights’ on the rink.”

Brad Watchhorn (Bracknell Bees) and  Nicky Watt (Swindon Wildcats) at link centre Swindon by bluelinephotography.co.uk

Upon leaving the Military Brad now juggles working full-time as a Roofer, competing in professional MMA and also professional Ice Hockey, let alone all the training involved for both sports which leaves little to no time for any down time.

“It’s not too bad when the hockey season is on its off-season but when the season is on there is not a lot of spare time. But I always make time and spend time with my daughter no matter what. Family time is important to me.”

Fighting out of Fight Science Gym in Aldershot owned by legendary MMA fighter Nick ‘Headhunter’ Chapman and occasional visits to The Bat Cave for sessions with Brendan Flannigan, Brad is looking forward to Saturday nights event with Alex Brunnen.

“There’s been a bit of banter on social media, mainly by Alex with quite a few private messages I’ve had, which in fairness I find him hilarious. He’s a rangy fighter like myself but come Saturday I’m going to stand and bang with him”

From going from ‘The Warrior’ to ‘Bellator’ which is latin for Warrior, a name given to him by veteran fighter Ian Hawkins, come Saturday night with an army full of ‘Watchorn’ fans making their way down to Swindon one thing is for sure this is going to be one exciting, fast paced, explosive fight.

Brad would like to thank the following people:

The Fight Connection, Fight Science, Paul Dash

Tickets available from all fighters, The Forum, The Khyber, DREAMLOUNGE, Sailor’s grave or www.swindontickets.co.uk  £20 Standard  £40 V.I.P

Photo Credit Main: Jack Moggridge

Photo Credit 1: Graham Finney

Photo Credit 2: bluelinephotography.co.uk

The ‘Killa Bee’ Instinct – Bryony Tyrell on her BCMMA Title Fight


Bryony Tyrell will be competing for her first amateur title on BCMMA 11 this Saturday, June 13th in Colchester, Essex in what will be her toughest challenge to date in a strawweight bout against hard-hitting Wendy McKenna.

Bryony Tyrell GnP #UIC14  by Chris Scadden

Bryony Tyrell is a 35-year-old, married mother of two, who by day works as a Cardiac Intensive Care Research Nurse at Southampton General Hospital and in her ‘spare’ time is a Mixed Martial Artist, competing all over the country in the sport she loves.

Having started out in Martial Arts 15 years ago, first in the art of Kickboxing and Kung Fu, Bryony has also trained in Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Krav Maga (for 2 years) before adding Wrestling, Muay Thai, Boxing and BJJ to the mix since starting her amateur career in MMA 3 years ago.

“Martial arts are my passion in life. I love the contrast that they can be beautiful and deadly at the same time. Anyone that practices a martial art to a high level knows that it involves incredible dedication and discipline and also pushes your body and mind to the limits of endurance.”

Bryony took her new-found passion head on, and started to gain experience by competing in several different tournaments, in many styles so she could keep on evolving and improve her ever-growing arsenal of tools to make her the all rounded athlete she is today.

“The only way to truly know how good you are at fighting is to compete, and that’s where the MMA comes in. Being locked in a cage with another trained fighter who can use pretty much any style or technique against you is the ultimate test. I’d always liked the idea of MMA but I wasn’t sure if I was tough enough for it, it wasn’t until I started Krav Maga that I thought I should go for it. MMA is the closest thing to it and also compliments it very well.”

With a current record of 3-2 in her amateur MMA career thus far, Bryony who trains out of Southampton’s Exile Gym will be facing her toughest challenge to date in the form of BKK Fighter Wendy McKenna [3-1] for the BCMMA Women’s Strawweight Amateur Title on Saturday, June 13th in Colchester, Essex.

“I’m very honoured to be offered the opportunity to fight for a title. BCMMA approached me after their last show and of course I jumped at the chance. Wendy and myself have a similar experience in MMA which will make for an exciting match-up.”

Bryony Tyrell (c) Stephen Smith - Fast and Furious

Bryony knows that come fight night, as with every other fight she has trained for in her amateur career preparation is key in getting to know her opponent before she has stepped foot into the cage on the night.

“Wendy holds the BCMMA Women’s Flyweight Title. She is a good boxer so obviously her punches are going to be strong but I’m also expecting her to have very good footwork and great cardio. I’m quite lucky as an MMA fighter because I feel comfortable on my feet and on the ground. I think my strengths definitely lie within my kicks and wrestling.”

For thrill seeking, adrenalin junkie Bryony who in her additional ‘spare’ time used to Base Jump, Sky Dive and Bungee Jump the times have changed, she is now a Company Director of her own branch of Exile MMA Southampton Central and is thriving on her new challenge, although she is very much looking forward to a much-needed break having little to no down time at the minute.

“It’s been a massive learning curve and pretty stressful if I’m honest. It’s still early days but it’s going well. With Exile Gym booming over the last 2 years the owners felt it was time to open another new gym, this gave rise for me to take on more of a managing and coaching role in the gym. It’s such a huge part of my life that it seemed silly to pass up such a great opportunity.

Being based at Pound for Pound Training Ground in the centre of Southampton. Pound for Pound was already an established and well-respected boxing academy run by Steve Barnes. Steve runs all his boxing classes for novice up to pro boxers and Exile runs classes for Gi BJJ, NOGI BJJ, Wrestling, MMA striking and Muay Thai. We also have independent classes for Krav Maga, Kung Fu and Chinese Kickboxing. It’s made for a great collaboration between two of the best gyms in Southampton.

I’m definitely looking forward to having a break after this Saturday. Lots of bbq’s with the family over summer.”

Bryony Tyrell (c) Daniel Rose at Phoenix Fight Night

With anything in life comes confidence but Bryony has always been adamant about one thing and that is about her Amateur MMA career, it has always been about gaining experience, so much so, Bryony was given a new fighting nickname in the process and went from ‘Gazelle’ to ‘Killa Bee’.

“I think Gazelle suited me at first because I used to feel like I was going to be eaten alive when I stepped into the cage…lol. Fortunately with experience I’ve grown in confidence and toughened up. After I won my last 2 fights by ground and pound my coach re-named me ‘Killa Bee’. I really like it because lots of people call me Bee anyway and the Look Borai (our Muay Thai gym) colours are black and gold.”

Bryony would like to thank the following people in helping her reach her goals so far:

I would like to thank all my wonderful coaches and training partners at Exile, Look Borai and Pound for Pound that have helped me prepare for the fight. My brother who has helped me massively with setting up the new gym and is a constant source of advice and support.  Lastly I would like to thank my long-suffering husband who I can never thank enough for putting up with my crazy antics…lol.

I would also like to thank my sponsors THT Plumbing and Home Improvements for providing me with my nutritional supplements and Temple Fight Gear for my fantastic new fight wear.

You can keep up-to-date with Bryony on her Facebook account here.

You can Follow Bryony on her Twitter account here.

BCMMA 11 takes place Saturday, June 13th, Charter Hall, Colchester

Click here for more information.

Photo Credit: 1 Chris Scadden

Photo Credit: 2 Stephen Smith

Photo Credit: 3 Daniel Rose 

‘Determination will get you far’ Polly Beauchamp on her MMA Career


Polly Beauchamp [1-0] will be stepping into the cage for the second time on Saturday, June 6th at Ultimate Impact 15 in Gloucester, GL1 Leisure Centre where she will be facing Monica Nix [0-1].

Photo Credit Barbelles Magazine
Photo Credit Barbelles Magazine

The 28-year-old who is originally from a little village called Westwood in Bath but now resides in Melksham, Wiltshire is no stranger to Martial Arts. Having started out in the world of Karate at a very young age before taking a break and re-finding a love for Kickboxing, Polly soon realised she could make more of her abilities. First training out of Revolution Gym in Trowbridge with Owner and professional MMA Scott Clist she began applying her first initial steps into the world of adult combat sports.

“I mainly started for a hobby really and fitness but as soon as fighting became an option I took it more seriously and enjoyed the discipline. Having Scott as a coach meant he knew how hard we had to be pushed and Scott helped me to compete in my first kickboxing fight”.

After racking up an amateur Kickboxing record of 3-0 and an amateur K1 record of 1-0, Polly decided to add in MMA to her already growing arsenal of tools. After already adding renowned and arguably one of the best South West Gyms into her training regime, Trojan Free Fighters in Cheltenham, Polly started making the 130 mile round trip and finally made Trojans her second home.

“I now train at Trojan where the level of training has stepped up. I started training at Trojan when I was still at Revolution as I felt I needed to mix up my training and train with people who pushed me harder as I progressed. I started to train more and more at Trojan and less at Revolution and then when Revolution shut it was right for me to move to Team Trojan full-time as I could see my self progressing and have lots of very good training partners there.

To be honest the 130 mile round trip to the gym has just become part of my lifestyle now! It is draining sometimes and my days are long and can be stressful with work but I absolutely feel it is worth it.”.

Photo Credit Steve Dyer
Photo Credit Steve Dyer

With working a 9-5 job as a Manager for Future Publishing in Bath, commuting a 130 mile round trip up to 3-4 times a week and sometimes on the infamous sparring  ‘Meat Day’ Sunday, there doesn’t seem to be much down-time for Polly.

“I don’t tend to have much chill or relaxation time as I have to do house chores etc when I’m not working or at the gym so  I am always on the go, but I kind of like it! I do get to spend some time with my partner, family and friends so that’s good. I get bored easily so my lifestyle suits me fine currently.”.

On Saturday, June 6th Polly will be making her second outing in MMA, under promotion Ultimate Impact on their fifteenth show at GL1 Leisure Centre in Gloucester and will be competing against Monica Nix who trains out of London Fight Factory who currently holds a record (according to sherdog) [0-1] in amateur MMA. Being trained now by owner and head coach of Trojan Free Fighters Paul Sutherland for whom is an accomplished athlete within his own rights, Paul has a unique way of connecting with all his students to make sure they have a great working partnership especially when it comes to fightcamp and learning all about their up-and-coming opponents.

“I have watched footage of Monica’s fights and know my coach has too but you never know how a fight is going to go so I think you should always be ready for anything! Coming from a stand up background I am comfortable on my feet but I’ve learnt a lot at Trojan and had a good camp where I feel we have covered all the bases well, so we’ll just see what happens on the night!”

Photo Credit Chris Scadden
Photo Credit Chris Scadden

This is an unbelievable, committed young lady who in my opinion will go along way in this sport, with her sheer determination and all the natural fighting skills she brings to the table. Polly is not one to have a ‘Ritual’ as such before each fight but she did say ” I always eat and drink the same thing after weigh in but that’s it really” 

Polly really does seem to have her feet firmly placed on the floor and the only one piece of TV time she does make time for is none other than The Ultimate Fighter and since we are on the new season TUF21 American Top Team VS Blackzilians which has one of Polly’s favourite female fighters who trains out of ATT Tecia Torres, teammates taking part the obvious thing to do was ask #WhatSideAreYouOn?

“Ah TUF! One of the only things I do watch! Although I feel it is going downhill and I’ve been disappointed with this series. I think the quality of fights so far have been quite poor to be honest. so I’m not fussed either way who wins!”

At the moment it does appear that Polly has not got a fighting nickname, I know they come with time and your coach usually gives them to you; well Polly has been training at Trojans since 2013 (and a few years before that) and I personally think it’s about time for her to get a fighting nickname, she has definitely earned a fight worthy nickname!

Polly would like to say a big Shout Out to the following people:

Everyone at Trojan Free Fighters, particularly Paul!

Clare Wheller my Physio who is just awesome, Maple scaffolding who help me with clothing and always support my fights, Contender Gym who help with extra boxing training, Sci-MX who sponsor the gym and help out the fighters with supplements which are great! Adam my boyfriend who tolerates me lol

Doors Open 4pm

GL1 Leisure Centre

Gloucester

You can follow Polly on her Twitter account here

You can keep up-to-date with Polly on her Facebook account here

You can click here to order tickets for Saturday’s Ultimate Impact Event online

Or you can contact anyone of the fighters listed below

You can also get some limited available tickets from the venue GL1 Leisure Centre on the day

Standard TIckets £25.00

Cageside Tickets £35.00

Single V.I.P Tickets £45.00

Please note that their maybe an extra surcharge for tickets bought on the day/door

 Ultimate Impact 15

FULL FIGHT CARD AND RUNNING ORDER

Tommy Cook v Craig White MW Pro MMA Title

Dawid Masel v David Willmot WW Pro K1 Title

Greg Reeves v Jon Spoors BW Pro K1 Title

BREAK

Danny T Joel v Phil Wells WW Pro MMA

Philip Kite v Jack Shore LW Ammy MMA

Jaiah B Turay v Jake O’Hagan 86kg Catchweight Ammy MMA

Mitchell Head v Mark Finney LW Pro MMA

Andrew Brew v Will Jones LHW Ammy MMA

Lukasz Marcinkowski v Greg Summers MW Ammy MMA

BREAK

Jessica Mawby v Andree Warbrick 54kg Catchweight Ammy k1

Monica Nix v Polly Beauchamp Strawweight Ammy MMA

Liam Fulford v Ryan Mendez FW Ammy MMA

Marcus Stevens v Jay Garrington LW Ammy MMA

Jesse Wright v Isaak Falzon 86kg Catchweight Ammy MMA

Main Photo Credit: Barbelles Magazine

‘With each fight I compete in I keep growing’ – Chris Astley on BAMMA Debut


Chris Astley [2-2] will be making his BAMMA  debut at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham on Saturday April 25th facing Harry Marple [1-0].

Chris Astley RNC Win By NJF Photography
Chris Astley photo by  NJF Photography

The 29-year-old from Bristol, who trains out of arguably one of the best gyms in the South West ‘Trojan Free Fighters’, under the tutelage of owner/head coach Paul Sutherland for whom is an accomplished athlete within his own rights (ISKA Kickboxing Title Winner, Cage Warriors Lightweight Title, Ultimate Combat Lightweight Title and of course an Official UFC Judge), has only been training and competing in Mixed Martial Arts for three years and is still learning the trade.

“I used to play quite a lot of football and it is what I did all my life. I then fell out of love with the sport as the game was changing so I found a local MMA club in Bristol at the time (BCL – Bristol Combat Legion) for which I did a bit of boxing just for fitness.  It was then I decided to do an Interclub at Trojan Free Fighters with no headshots. The adrenalin and the buzz from winning out weighed anything the football ever did and I clearly got the bug for the sport. At the end of the football season I hung up my boots and have never looked back.  To this day I have never touched a football and went into MMA.”

Racking up an official amateur record of four wins and one defeat including winning the Throwdown 3 Welterweight Title against Chay Ingram, aptly named: Taste the Pain in June 2013, Chris then decided it was time to venture into the Pro ranks.

Wining his Pro debut he then took a huge step up in opponent, which is a testament to the fighter Chris has become in fighting rising welterweight athlete Adam Boussif [3-2 at the time], it was not to be Chris’s night. This by no means dampened Chris’s spirits or soul as he was straight back into fight camp and competed in two more scheduled fights before taking a long overdue break.

“Having had some time out and not having the pressure of fight camp I have enjoyed training more.  I am now able to play with my technique and open my mind up more than what I was doing whilst in back to back fight camps. I am still in my early days of my fighting career, so with each fight I compete in, I am growing”.

Refreshed from last year, Chris is more than ever ready for his new challenge, which comes in the form of Harry Marple [1-0] for which he will be facing at BAMMA 20 on Saturday, April 25th at The Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham and he is looking forward to welcoming Harry to the Welterweight division.

Harry is stepping up from lightweight to welterweight. He is of similar build to myself, long and rangy. Regardless who you fight, every time you fight someone its a different fight and anything can happen. I respect him, I respect his record, but it’s not something I fear, it’s not something that enters my mindset, if anything, people may think I am the underdog which I am more than happy to accept and I am comfortable with. I am looking forward to Saturday night as I know I am confident wherever the fight goes”

Chris Astley - Team Trojan
Chris Astley – Team Trojan

Family is everything to Chris, literally and figuratively. After all, spending so much time at the gym  it has become a second home, so making sure the gym he trains at is full of motivation, inspiring people to help push him through those hard days when he feels he does not want to be there is a tough ask of anybody. But at Trojan Free Fighters they know how to get the best out of all of their students, especially owner/head coach Paul Sutherland who has a unique way that he can connect to all his athletes on so many different levels and he is able to get the results that show many a time again.

“Paul has everyone’s respect before he even talks to you. He holds that respect within the gym and he looks after everyone, whether you are there to fight or whether it is your first time in the gym. He will hold that respect and in return will expect that respect back. Paul is a straight talking person if you need to work on something or if he is not happy with something he will tell you in the right way, if you’re doing well he will also tell you in a positive way. We have a good vibe in the gym which produces  great attitudes, and a very good work ethic in the gym, and a  great family atmosphere. It is my second home, my home from home. We are a family unit. A team. We are all quite close and look after one another”.

Being a regular on Ultimate Impact Events and also a fan favourite. I’m sure there will be a lot of noise in the Barclaycard Arena for the debut of Chris Astley and for all of his fans watching at home on SPIKE TV in the UK for which BAMMA 20 will be airing from 10pm and the live prelim stream on the Lonsdale Facebook page from 7pm.

Chris Astley UIC by Seth Bates
Chris Astley at UIC by Seth Bates

Chris would like to give an honorable mention to Mario Saeed for whom has been by his side throughout his journey thus far, and been there through thick and thin with him.

And last by no means Chris would like to thank the following sponsors and supporters.

“Everyone at Trojan, All my Sparring partners, All my coaches, SCI-MAX, Marc Allen, Mario Saeed, The Boss – Paul Sutherland, Kate James my nutritionist, All my family and friends and BAMMA for giving me the opportunity to compete on their show”.

Side note: Chris Astley is not related to Rick Astley although he is ‘Never gonna give you up’  🙂

You can keep up-to date with Chris by following him on his Twitter account here and Facebook page here.

Photo Credit: NJF Photography

Photo Credit: Seth Bates Photography

Photo Credit: Steve Dyer

‘I know I will never have an opponent as tough as my teammates’ Lauren Murphy


Lauren Murphy [8-1] will this weekend be facing Liz Carmouche [9-5] in her second outing for the UFC at Fight Night 63 in Fairfax, Virginia.

Not only is Lauren one tough athlete in the octagon, she also says exactly how she feels without holding back.

In this interview, I asked Lauren not only about her upcoming fight with Liz Carmouche, her thoughts on the Ronda Rousey and Bethe Correia fight but the current scoring system in place, amongst a few other gems and let’s just say Lauren has not minced her words. Have a read.

Lauren Murphy UFC
Lauren Murphy UFC

First of I’d like to take you back to your fight with Sara McMann and I’d like to ask, as Joe Rogan puts it “UFC jitters really exist”.  Did you feel this in your UFC debut fight, and did that did happen for you or as you stated in our last interview “It is just another cage. There maybe a few more cameras, a few more lights, a few more people in the audience, but there is only one opponent and she is human, just like me”.

I got a little jittery. I was under the bright lights, fighting a woman I’d only ever seen on TV in the world-famous Octagon. It was a little nerve-wracking. I got excited and didn’t think as well as I wanted to.

Talking of your debut fight against Sara McMann, having being scored in the way that it was and although you were the more active fighter, even from bottom position landing shots (and I’m not taking anything away from Sara McMann in that fight), do you feel the judging system as a whole needs to be looked at in the way judges are scoring these kind of fights?

I think the thing that we could really revise would be, I’d like to see judges explain why they think one fighter won a particular round. Just a quick sentence on the scorecard would be sufficient: “Maintained top position”, “was more active fighter”, “landed more effective punches/kicks”; something like that. Sometimes after fights we’re all left wondering what fight the judges were looking at, and I think if they had to provide an explanation we wouldn’t be so confused.

It was announced 10 weeks ago that you would be facing Liz Carmouche at UFC Fight Night 63 in Fairfax on April 4th for your second UFC outing. True Lauren Murphy fans will know that you never shy away from a tough fight, infact you welcome them. What was your initial reaction when Sean Shelby offered you this fight, as I know you had been vocal on social media about other possible match-ups? 

I said yes right away. My manager called me with the matchup and I knew it was perfect immediately. I’d still like to fight Bethe Correia.

Okay so I’m just going to throw this one in here! When I saw on your Twitter feed a fair few weeks back, that you were asking to fight Bethe Correia, my own eyes lit up.  Lauren Murphy fans that know you, know that you bring it in every fight that you have, so in saying that, you and Bethe in my own opinion would have made perfect sense in adding value and integrity, let alone a perfect match up stylistically, but it was not meant to be! How do you feel that the champion Ronda Rousey has a crack at putting Bethe Correia in her place, as Ronda Rousey has clearly stated it was her choice because of it being personal?

I think it’s ridiculous. Bethe is not a great fighter. She has zero punching power, is a mediocre grappler and can’t wrestle. She’s always talking about the “power of her hands” and “the weight of her fists”….no one believes that shit. She beat Jessamyn Duke in a decision and then beat Shayna Baszler. No one is impressed by that. They are the two worst fighters in any division in the UFC, who cares if she beat them. Her opponents have a combined record of 1-6 in the UFC, and the “1” is a win over Peggy Morgan who is no longer in the UFC after having one fight. I guess the UFC gave Bethe to Ronda to fight as a favor…that’s a pretty big favor. 

Lauren Murphy first official UFC weigh-In
Lauren Murphy first official UFC weigh-In

You’ve been at The MMA Lab for quite a while now. How do you find that you have settled in, and how are you finding that you have been evolving, whilst being under the tutelage of John Crouch and training with arguably some of the best athletes around at the moment such as Benson Henderson, Jocelyn Lybarger, Joe Riggs and Mitch Clarke? 

 I’ve been at The MMA Lab for a year! I love it there. The team is a family, everyone is very kind. When I got there I felt like the worst fighter in the room, and maybe I was, but because of that, I’ve come a loooong way. The training is difficult but the reason I love it so much is because I know I will never have an opponent as tough as my teammates, and no fight will be as hard as any fight camp I go through.

Once again according to MMA Odds for your upcoming fight against Liz Carmouche, it appears you are ‘The underdog’ – I know you have previously stated you ‘like being the underdog’ but just for once, wouldn’t it be nice to have the betting odds on your side? (although self belief beats betting odds any day in my opinion). 

 It doesn’t matter to me. The odds makers don’t know shit. They don’t know how hard I’ve worked, they don’t see the progress I’ve made. It doesn’t matter to me what they think. It’s just like the media controlled rankings. The rankings are a joke. The media decides who they like by who gives the best interviews, creates the most traffic for their site, and who they are buddies with, not by who fights the best. I decided a while ago that none of that matters.

Looking at Liz Carmouche’s record, she has 6 TKO wins, 2 Submission wins, 1 decision win and 5 losses, subsequently you also have 6 TKO wins, 2 decisions and the split decision loss to Sara McMann.  On paper this looks set to be pretty much a great striking battle with knockout potential, although, this is MMA we are talking about, therefore anything can happen.  Without giving your own game plan away, what do you hope Liz Carmouche brings to the cage On April 4th? 

I don’t know what Liz will do. Neither of us have ever been known as great strikers, all our TKO’s come on the ground from ground and pound. If it comes to a striking battle, it’ll be because we’re evenly matched as grapplers. It doesn’t matter, I’m ready for anything!

What challenges do you think Liz Carmouche may pose on the night and where do you feel that you will be stronger in this fight?

Liz is strong, and tough, and she works hard…But no one works harder than I do, no one is harder on themselves than I am, so no one makes the progress between fights that I make. I am not underestimating how physical she is, or how tough she is. Those are her biggest strengths. I’ve just been working on being a better MMA fighter. I think that’s where I’ll be strongest.

Liz Carmouche broke WMMA history in being one of the first women to compete in the new UFC bantamweight division, with obviously the title holder and current champion Ronda Rousey, for which she gladly asked for the fight. When news came through that the UFC were now having 1) a female bantamweight division, 2) Ronda Rousey was given the title, 3) Liz Carmouche offered to fight Ronda Rousey and in turn made WMMA history. Did this motivate you even harder in striving to becoming a better athlete yourself, for when you finally accepted the UFC’s offer this time around?

Yes.

In the eight months you have been ‘off’, as there have been no scheduled fights for you (not, that you have not been asking of course), have you been competing in any BJJ/Grappling competition’s at all just so you can sharpen up your arsenal of weapons in your ever-growing box of tools?  If so can you talk me through your achievements you have gained during this time competing.

I competed at no-gi worlds this year and won my division and placed in the open. That was pretty cool, but next year I’d like to do it again at a higher belt level. I also did a couple gi tournaments and stuff, just working on my grappling in general.

Lauren Murphy at the Atlanta Open
Lauren Murphy at the Atlanta Open

UFC Media Days! How do you think you managed your first one back in August 2014, for your debut fight against Sara McMann and how are you feeling about this one coming up for your fight against Liz Carmouche, is it a case of knowing what is to be expected from you now?

I haven’t been a part of any media days. I just give a couple of interviews to different outlets through the week, but it’s been like that for every fight for the last several years.

Let’s talk about ‘The Lauren Murphy Documentary’ – I heard it is now complete and you had your own private viewing so you could sit back and enjoy the moment. What was it like to finally see it on-screen completed and did it exceed your expectations?

A guy named Jay Clark edited the documentary and put all the footage together, and he did an amazing job. It was really well done. It just shows a small part of my story, who I am, what I’ve done. Maybe someone somewhere will be inspired by it.

I’m still not sure where it’s going to be released, probably at small theaters locally around Houston and Alaska, and then we’ll go from there. It might end up on YouTube.

Lastly are there any sponsors or Thank You’s you would like to give to anyone?

Always I want to thank my team, which not only includes my coaches and team mates, but also my husband, who is my rock, and my best friends, who are the peanut butter and jelly of the bread slices of my life. I’d like to thank everyone who sponsored me for this fight, particularly MMA Signatures. AJ Hiller (the owner of the company) is a great dude and has a really cool business idea, so make sure you check him out.

Many thanks for your time Lauren it is always appreciated.

You can keep up to date with Lauren on her Twitter account here.

You can keep up to date with Lauren of her Facebook page here.

You can keep up to date on The Lauren Murphy documentary here.

UFC Fight Night 63, happens this Saturday, April 4th from the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virgina. Headlined by Chad Mendes vs. Ricardo Lamas and free to air on FOX Sports 1, BT Sports in the UK.

If you have missed any of the previous articles on Lauren you can view them here:

https://fiveroundswithemma.com/2013/12/07/introducing-the-inspiring-lauren-murphy-a-true-fighter-in-every-sense-of-the-word/

https://fiveroundswithemma.com/2013/12/12/part-2-introducing-the-inspiring-lauren-murphy/

https://fiveroundswithemma.com/2014/08/07/i-like-being-the-underdog-lauren-murphy-on-ufc-debut/

Photo Credits: Lauren Murphy Facebook

Photo Credits: Altanta Open/Kill Cliff/Moskova