It’s appropriate that my blog this week looks back at my first fights abroad, as I’ve just headed back out to ATT for the portion of my camp that I’ll be completing in Florida. Apologies for being a few days late with this one – I’ve been settling back in here and getting straight on with my training. There’s some familiar faces here; it’s good to catch up with Mike Brown (of course) and Dustin Poirier, but there’s also a couple of UK guys out here – Marc Diakese and Scott Askham!
Looking back at my first fights on foreign soil reinforces my belief that young fighters should take every opportunity that comes their way to fight abroad. If you can get paid and get flown around the world doing what you love – there is no better feeling! It also prepares you for when you do make it up to the “big show” because everything feels different when you’re doing it somewhere new.
ATT have had their own fight show for years – it’s called AFC, and it’s still going now. It’s a great opportunity for young fighters to take their first step in actually competing, and there’s been some big names on that show over the years. Although I had a fair few professional fights under my belt by the time i fought on AFC, it was still a great opportunity and experience for me.
The fight itself wasn’t so great! My opponent got me with a jumping knee and dropped me. I had no idea what happened – I just didn’t react and I remember waking up in a triangle choke! I got out of it and was furious – I was punching his feet, the lot! I eventually won by submission, but there was a lot of action and anger packed into that one round!
My next fight abroad was on a beach in Costa Rica! It was a far cry from Swansea where my previous bout had been. I’d been to St Petersburg with Mike when he fought on Bodog and got friendly with the matchmaker, Miguel. The card I was on was actually three events over three days – and I was on the first day. Again, there are a lot of familiar names on the fight card for this event!
Basically Bodog took over a holiday resort for two weeks, and we were all there, all inclusive. It was great for me fighting early on in the event as it meant that Mickey and I could indulge in the buffet – but I remember we were gutted to only find the hot dog stand on our last day there! The show was filmed for TV, and as such there wasn’t exactly an audience. It was an unusual set up, but I had an amazing time!
After that, I fought on Dynamite in Los Angeles which was incredible. I fought in front of 40,000 people which at that point in my career just felt ridiculous! It actually also felt weirdly empty because the arena is built to hold 90,000! Dynamite was actually a Japanese show but they held an event in the USA and got in a bunch of big names – including Royce Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakubara, and the MMA debut of Brock Lesnar!
I lost – which felt crushing as it was my second loss in a row (a first for me at that point) but I was paid $8k – which felt like an insane amount of money to me! I paid off my debts and went on holiday, so despite the loss, it was absolutely worth it.
When I look back at these fights – and at others throughout my career – there was always so much pressure, so much riding on the outcome. If you win, you go down this path… if you lose, you go down that path. When I fight on March 18, win or lose, I’m going down the same path, so it feels like the pressure is off.
Of course, I’m a proud person and I want to go out on a high but I’m not putting the same pressure on myself as I have done over the last year or two. I feel calm and relaxed. I’m training smart, rather than training hard – I’m in the gym for fewer sessions than usual, but I am making the most of them when I am there. Instead I am focusing on being in the right head space – and I’m feeling great!
– ONE PUNCH
P.S apologies to people who have pre-ordered their Last Dance fight T from me, there’s been a slight delay with the order! They’re on their way, and will be shipped from London ASAP. You’ll still get them in good time for the UFC, so don’t worry about that! Thank you for your patience.