“It will be a quick 1st round finish, or it will be a long drawn out back and forth battle” Helen’Hellraiser’Harper


British MMA athlete Helen Harper [3-0] today faces American, Cortney Casey at PXC 47 in Guam for her fourth Pro MMA fight.

The forever professional Harper, has flown thousands of miles across the world, from her home in the UK on her own, just so she can still keep on competing at top-level.

Here I get to speak with Helen (today, on the day of her fight), about her last victory, competing for PXC, up and coming female MMA athlete’s and that ONE contract she turned down!!

Helen Harper PXC 47 Profile Picture
Helen Harper PXC 47 Profile Picture

It’s been awhile since I’ve caught up with you, last time we spoke you were due to fight Simona Soukupova, which, unfortunately got cancelled due to Simona sustaining an injury, but I do believe you did manage to get another fight scheduled for a few weeks later.  Can you talk me through what that event was and how that went for you?

I did indeed get another fight, which was actually my last fight back in October. The fight was at ‘Say Uncle Fight Night’ in Sheffield, and I fought a girl from Gran Caneria called Nayra Acosta.

How did it feel to win in such a spectacular style in another TKO victory, in 4 minutes 37 seconds of the first round in that event on the evening of October 11th 2014?

I was pretty pleased with the win, obviously.  I was completely relaxed going into the cage which I think helped a lot. 

I’ve heard that in between your fights, you took part in some grappling competitions and that you had also been doing some training with Bryony Tyrell and Molly McCann.  Can you talk me through the grappling events and training with other like-minded female MMA athletes.

I have done a few grappling comps, although not as many as I would have liked as they are generally a little out my price range sadly. Training with Molly and the other girls was awesome, Molly is the next big thing in WMMA!  

Helen Harper Jiu Jitsu on the Beach Win via Armbar 2013
Helen Harper Jiu Jitsu on the Beach Win via Armbar 2013

You’re now 3-0 in your professional MMA career thus far and are set to face American Cortney ‘Cast Iron’ Casey (3-1) on Friday 13th March for your debut at Pacific Xtreme Combat (PXC) 47 in Guam.  How are you feeling about this new exciting challenge?

To be honest it’s all been a bit of a dream. Ever since I accepted the fight I’ve been telling people where and when it is but I don’t think I ever quite believed it would be happening. Now I’m sitting in my hotel room on fight morning and it really is!!

You’ve recently signed to PXC, can you talk me through how this came about?  Was it due to you being well-known through the Asian community, having spent 2 years at Phuket Top Team Training and living there before moving back to the UK?

I have been in contact with the guys from PXC for a while, and I would have loved to have fought for them back when I was in Phuket (it would have been a lot easier to get to then!).  I was struggling for fights so Ken (matchmaker) messaged me and offered me this fight with Courtney. I accepted the fight before knowing the opponent, although I knew who she was as soon as he said her name.

Helen Harper Weigh In PXC 47
Helen Harper Weigh In PXC 47

I also read somewhere, that you were offered a contract with Asian MMA promotion ONE? Firstly is this correct, secondly if so can you talk me through your reasoning as to why you felt it was not the right time to sign with ONE.

I was indeed offered a contract with ONE. My main problem was the lack of girls on their roster. It was an exclusive contract (meaning I could only fight for them) and at the time they only had 2 girls at 115 lbs (Ann Osman, who has now moved up to 125 lbs and Sherylin Lim who refused to make-weight and now doesn’t fight for anyone). On that basis I didn’t want to sign an exclusive 3 fight deal as I felt it would inhibit the progression of my career.

Looking back at that decision, is it something that you still stick by to this day for those reasons or is their just a tiny bit of you thinking ‘ I wonder where my career would be now, if I took that option’? 

To be honest, if the deal was the same (exclusive, 3 fight) I still wouldn’t sign. I believe unless there is a significant amount of fighters at your weight, signing an exclusive contract would not be productive. If it was non exclusive or a 1 fight deal then I would consider it.

On Friday 13th March, its fair to say that you will face your toughest challenge to date in that of  American Cortney ‘Cast Iron’ Casey at PXC 47 in Guam.  Have you managed to study any tape on Cortney, if so, have you and your team seen any holes in her overall game that you can exploit to your advantage? 

I’ve watched quite a few of Courtney’s tapes, she has a lot on YouTube. She’s very quick, and has some amazing submission transitions. Obviously I can’t give anything away on my part, but I will just say I’m more than ready for this.

Where do you feel that you will be stronger in this fight and where do you feel it may end up?

I have a feeling Courtney wants to take it to the ground, but who knows where it will end up!

Cortney has only seen the third round once and that was her second pro fight which resulted in a submission (Armbar) loss, back in October 2013, you yourself have only been to the third round once which was in your first pro MMA fight back in May 2013 for which you won.  You both have very similar styles.  Do you see this fight going all three rounds in an all out war or are we going to see a quick finish?

I can see it going one of two ways. Either it will be a quick first round finish, or it will be a long drawn out backwards and forwards battle. I’m happy with either, as long as I get my hand raised at the end of it!

Helen Harper vs Sammy Donnely at UIC
Helen Harper vs Sammy Donnelly at UIC 11

When you came back from Phuket, you made a new home at ‘ Andy Roberts BJJ’.  Can you talk me through how it feels to come back to the UK and to be accepted at a top UK Gym and also be treated like family?

Andy’s is amazing, I’ve made some friends for life there. I’ve also been training at Shinkick for Muay Thai and Urban Kings for some extra grappling. All three gyms have been nothing but supportive, kind and pushed me in the right direction. I’m very lucky to be able to train with such wonderful people.

I have to ask, your nickname ‘Hellraiser’ how did it come about?

The name Hellraiser actually started out as a bit of a joke. A friend of mine in Phuket used to shout ‘Hellraiser’ at me every time he saw me, and I didn’t even realise he was talking to me to start with. After a few weeks I started responding to it so it just stuck. When my first fight came around it made sense for it to be my nickname.

Since fight day is Friday 13th, are you superstitious at all, if so by what and what superstitions do you believe in?

I’m not really superstitious, I believe life is what you make it. Everything that seems ‘bad’ at the time usually happens for a reason (you just might not know the reason at the time). I’m all for walking under ladders with black cats, you only live once! 

Lastly, is their any sponsors or anyone you would like to Thank?

Absolutely! Firstly my sponsors: Xbrain (supplements), Battle Balm (herbal muscle relief), Str8 Cheer (sports bras) and Pony Club Grappling Gear (fight wear). Secondly the gyms I’m lucky enough to train at: Andy Roberts BJJ (Farnborough), Shinkick (Woking), Urban Kings (Kings Cross, London) and Mad Hatters (Chichester). Also, I’d like to thank each and every person that has sparred with me; gone over a bit of technique with me; pointed out a mistake of mine. Collectively you have all pointed me in the right direction! Finally, I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my insanely awesome family and my gorgeous boyfriend.  

Thank you for your time Helen, I really appreciate it.

You can watch Helen Harper take on Cortney Casey at PXC 47 today from 11.50 am UK time here.

 

Fight Order for PXC 47

Fight Order for PXC 47

You can keep up to date with Helen on her Fan page Faceback here.

Helen’s Twitter account here.

Helen’s personal webpage here.

Photo Credits: Helen Harper via her  Personal Facebook (Pics 1,2,3)

Photo Credits: Seth Bates – Ulitmate Impact 11 (Pic 4)

‘If this fight goes to the ground I think I will dominate it’ – Bryony Tyrell


Bryony Tyrell will be making her fifth amateur MMA appearance tomorrow night, Saturday, February 21st on UIC 14 at GL1 Leisure Centre in Gloucester.

Bryony trains out of Exile Gym in Southampton; is a working mum with two children and competes up and down the country.  Here I get to find out what Bryony has been achieving since I last spoke with her 18 months ago and I for one can say WOW!

Bryony Tyrell
Bryony Tyrell

It has been awhile since I have last caught up with you [July 2013] and since then you have been one busy lady.  Can you talk me through the last year of your achievements for which I know you have achieved a lot.

It’s lovely to catch up with you again, I can’t believe it’s been that long! Yes it has been a very busy couple of years.

In October 2013 I fought on Extreme Cage Championships – Banned 1 in Blackpool and won by split decision.  A few weeks later I was asked to do a white-collar boxing match at short notice in Andover which I won by decision.  

In November I fought on the Muay Thai World Series in Bournemouth and lost by decision.

In December I fought Main Event (MMA) on a small local show in Andover and won by first round rear naked choke.

The day after that I competed in the Grapplers Showdown Strike and Grapple UK Championships in Watford winning Gold in my weight division (-60kgs) and Silver in the absolute (NoGi).

In February 2014 I competed in the Hampshire Open Grapplers Showdown and won Silver in both my weight division (-60kgs) and the absolute (NoGi).

In April, at the Grapplers Showdown London Open in Watford I won Gold in my weight division (-55kgs) and bronze in the absolute.

In May I was lucky enough to fight on Cage Warriors 68 in Liverpool and lost by decision.

In September I competed in the Grapplers Showdown London International NoGi Open and won silver in my weight division (-55kgs) and amazingly won the absolute!

The week after I competed in the British NoGi Open in Birmingham and won Gold in my division (-56kgs) and Bronze in the absolute.

The week after that I fought on Warrior Fight Night in Bournemouth (Muay Thai) and won by decision.

Last but not least (lol) in November I fought on Shock ‘n’ Awe in Portsmouth (MMA) and won by TKO second round. 

That’s a lot of achievements for a working mum of two, to fit all of those achievements into your ‘spare’ time. How do you do it?

I’m not really sure how I managed to do all that. My life is absolute chaos for the most part to be honest, but I love it! I couldn’t do it without the amazing support of my husband, coaches and teammates.

You train out of Exile Gym in Southampton, alongside Arthur Frost who is another top amateur MMA fighter and also Pro fighter Benny Carr. How does it feel to train alongside Arthur and Benny when it comes to a fight camp?

Benny and Arthur are a massive inspiration to me. Arthur in particular has helped me out immensely; I’m very lucky to train side by side with someone of his calibre.

Your’re now 2-2 in your amateur MMA career; have been on one of the biggest shows as in Cage Warriors, when can we see you make the move to the Pro ranks?

My aim was to turn pro at the end of this year if I do well in my next two amateur fights. My concern with turning pro though is the lack of opponents at my weight. The amateur scene for women is definitely expanding but the pro level still seems to be very scarce in the UK.

Bryony Tyrell at 'Shock N Awe'
Bryony Tyrell at ‘Shock N Awe’

You’re facing Jemma Jacques at UIC 14 at GL1 in Gloucester this Saturday February 21st in an Amateur MMA bout; do you know much about your opponent or the challenges she may pose on the night?

I know quite a lot about Jemma because I’ve been matched against her before. I’ve never met her but I like her. She seems savvy and a bit fiery, good characteristics for a fighter . We’re both from a kickboxing background so I’m quite familiar with her fighting style. She has powerful striking which I’ve got no doubt could cause me serious problems if I don’t keep moving (lol). 

Where do you feel that you will be stronger in this fight and where do you feel it may end up?

To be honest I’m not sure what will happen on Saturday, I’m quite comfortable standing and on the ground, although I think my grappling is stronger. I expect this fight to go to the ground at some point where I think I’ll dominate.

Are you still part of ‘Rosi Sexton‘s’ mentoring scheme? If so, how is that going?

I’m not part of Rosi’s mentoring scheme anymore. She was understandably very busy when she got signed to the UFC so I think that went on the back burner. I will always be very grateful for the help and advice she’s given me. She’s a true icon for WMMA.

What did you think of TUF 20: A Champion will be crowned?

I really enjoyed TUF 20. It was quite interesting to have an insight into some of my favourite fighters. It’s a shame they gave so much airtime to the more unpleasant characters in the house. Angela Magana was particularly vile. It was nice to see Jo Jo and Aisling coming across so well, both a true credit to WMMA.

Bryony Tryrell at Grapplers Showdown
Bryony Tryrell at Grapplers Showdown

After your fight will the ‘Gazelle’ be eating lots of cake?

Haha…yes I’ll definitely be eating lots of cake after the fight, I might even indulge in a cheeky cider too! I can’t relax too much though because I’m fighting again in March.

Lastly, is there any sponsors or anyone you would like to thank?

I don’t have any sponsors, only my brother who spoils me with random MMA related pressies..lol. So obviously I would like to thank him and my beautiful sister-in-law Lisa who are always there for me. I’d also like to thank all my fantastic coaches and training partners at Exile and Look Borai, in particular Daniel Bourne, Gareth Blair, Dean Kendall, Janis Meiksans, Trevor Birmingham, Jarrod Speed, Rich Harding and Arthur Frost. I’d also like to thank my Mum for being brave enough to come and watch me and last but not least my husband for enabling me to chase my dreams and only complaining a little bit..lol.

Thank you for your time Bryony it is very much appreciated.

Bryony is next fighting on March 28th on Phoenix Fight Night XXV at the 02 Academy in Bournemouth.

You can follow Bryony on her Twitter here.

Bryony’s Facebook page here.

If there are any sponsors out there that would like to sponsor Bryony (every little helps) you can contact her via her Facebook.  I for one know she would be very grateful.

Photo Credit 1: Vandal Panda Photography

Photo Credit 2: http://www.grahamfinneyphotography.co.uk

Photo Credit 3: Grapplers Showdown

 

Ultimate Impact 14 Event Poster
Ultimate Impact 14 Event Poster

Fightcard:

  1. SHANE RILEY V ADAM BOUSIFF 77.2kg Welterweight Title
  2. MARC ALLEN V TERRY DOYLE 70.4kg Lightweight Title
  3. STEVE SMITH V DAVE CONLON 78kg Catchweight k1
  4. IAN DALBY V LEE RUSSELL 56.8kg Flyweight pro
  5. LAURA HANDY V FFION DAVIES 61.3kg Bantamweight ammy
  6. PAULINA MALINA V AMY O’MARA 52.2kg Strawweight ammy
  7. HARRY DAVIS V OLLY MYERS 77.2kg Welterweight ammy
  8. JEMMA JACQUES V BRYONY TYRELL 56.8kg Flyweight ammy
  9. ANDREE WARBRICK V ASHLEIGH JOHNSON 54kg Catchweight k1 ammy
  10. POLLY BEAUCHAMP V CHARLOTTE FREEMAN 52.2kg Strawweight ammy
  11. JORDAN PATEY V WILL JONES 90kg Catchweight ammy
  12. MACK STEVENS V JOSH OZANE 74kg Catchweight ammy
  13. BARTOSZ RUSIECKI V LAURENCE COATES 72kg Catchweight k1 ammy
  14. DAVE TIBBETS V PAT BENSON 90KG Catchweight ammy