At the end of May I’ll be fighting in the UK MMA League at SENI, the biggest martial arts show in the UK. There are two main reasons I’m doing it. First, even though it’s an amateur rules event (so no punching or kicking in the face), it takes place in a cage, which is pretty exciting. Second, I always train harder if I’ve got something to aim for, and the prospect of another man trying to slam me into the mat or rip my arm off should make sure I get to the gym regularly and steer clear of booze.
I already train regularly at Roger Gracie’s academy in west London. Where competitions are concerned, Roger is the best of the legendary Gracie clan (he's won eight BJJ World Championships), and the standard at the club is pretty high. I also do a bit of judo, but for the fight I’ll be concentrating more on ‘no-gi’ training, where you fight in shorts and a rash guard instead of the traditional pyjamas, making tactics slightly different.
There are three basic things you need to be good at for an MMA event: striking, takedowns and grappling. I’m strongest at grappling. Striking isn’t quite as important: because of the ‘no headshots’ rule it’s difficult to take someone out standing up, so my biggest worry is toughening my legs up enough to throw and block leg kicks, something I’ll be doing over the next few weeks.
Possibly the most important thing I can do in the next month is conditioning. Ollie Richardson, conditioning coach for UFC fighter Dan Hardy, tells me that I need ‘lots of specific grappling and striking’ work. With that in mind, I’ve been doing all-out intervals of hitting the bag and wrestling-style ‘sprawls’ – it gets some funny looks in the gym, but it should pay dividends on fight day.
Next week: I aim to get my severely dodgy Thai clinch up to scratch.
Come and check out the Men’s Fitness stand at SENI, the biggest martial arts show in Europe. For more info, check out www.senishow.com
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