It’s been a very busy couple of weeks but it’s been a lot of fun. The fight in Nottingham on September 29th with Canadian Yves Jabouin has been announced by the UFC and I can’t wait. As I mentioned in my last blog, fighting on home soil means added pressure but it’s something I need to get comfortable with. I’ve got high ambitions so the bigger the tests that the UFC can put my way the better.
I’ve started to structure my training accordingly and the hard work with S&C coach Tim Benjamin is well underway. Just like last time I’ll be going into my fight camp with American Top Team in excellent condition.
It’s not all been training lately though, I recently did some filming with MTV which was a good fun. They filmed lots of aspects of my daily life, at home, down at Team Titan and at the Spiked Gym in Ascot. They also came along to the Spurs legends game that I recently played in. If you’ve been reading my blogs you’ll know how competitive I am in any sporting situation. Even though it was a charity match, I was fired up for the win.
We got hammered 7-0!
The legends team that featured guys like Justin Edinburgh and Tony Galvin knew exactly what they we’re doing against a team full of boxers and businessmen. We got passed off the park in the first half and after 45 minutes of chasing shadows, a lot of the guys had nothing left for the second half. It wasn’t long before the goals were flying in.
I did score one for myself but the scrooge of a referee disallowed it as offside. I can hand on heart say that I was at least a yard onside, but my lightening pace obviously deceived everyone.
Back to MMA, watching the fights this weekend again highlighted how big this sport is getting in both the US and Brazil. The queues in Rio were huge and the arena was packed for the prelims.
Rich Franklin again proved he has what it takes to hang with the best and could potentially have one last run at the title. I was very impressed by the heart showed by both those guys. Nova Uniao fighter, Hacran Dias, also really impressed me with a very accomplished performance on his UFC debut.
The Atlantic City card was a little more controversial with Clay Guida employing what many people described as hit and run tactics. Whilst I can never see myself fighting like that I can completely understand what Clay was trying to do. Maynard is a tank and the last thing you want to do is stand in front of him while he tears you to pieces.
I don’t think it’s fair to start blaming it on Greg Jackson’s camp either. He has plenty of guys that go hard and take risks like Cub Swanson, Leonard Garcia, Diego Brandao and Donald Cerrone. Different styles and game plans are just a part of MMA. It makes things interesting. I might always come to fight hard but if I were fighting a guy like Mike Brown I’d switch things up because I know he hits like a sledgehammer.
For a guy like Guida, there was also a huge amount on the line. He’s pushing for his claim at the top of a stacked division. Lose a fight and it can send you tumbling out of contention with a mountain to climb again. It’s not about the fear of getting hurt for fighters in the UFC. Sometimes there’s just an awful lot at stake and that can temper the action a little. It can work both ways and hopefully the Brasil card gave the fans enough to get excited about.
I think the Ultimate Fighter Brasil has been a huge success; the guys have obviously become huge stars. It makes a big difference when you have a mainstream channel covering the sport. The first episode attracted 12m viewers and it’s easy to see how passionate the Brazilian fans are about MMA.
It was therefore great to hear UK Promotion BAMMA announce a deal with Channel 5 ahead of their next event in September. That’s going to be a big month in the UK for MMA and hopefully the fans will be out in force for both events.
I’ll be back in Vegas soon for the next UFC fan expo. There’s also the annual fighter summit. I’ll be like a kid in a sweet shop with my UFC encyclopedia in hand hunting autographs. I’ll try and get plenty of pictures for my next blog but hopefully will see some of you there!