Ev Ting is under control

One of the true gentlemen of the fight scene here, the Malaysian native that passionately calls NZ his 2nd home is looking to re-assert himself at the top of the roster by stepping back into the ONE Championship cage this Friday against Philippines fighter Honorio “The Rock” Banario at Tigers of Asia.

ONEFC Tigers Of Asia

#TheUW – Hey Ev! Thanks heaps for catching up with me, it’s always a massive pleasure 🙂 Tell us about your 3 highs so far this year!

My 3 highs in 2015 would have to be:

  • Getting my 3rd finish in a row inside the ONE Championship cage

  • Pimping out my own little apartment here in Asia

  • Eating 😀


#TheUW – Ok, now tell me about your lows.. 

  • Ending my winning streak to Marat Gafurov in May

  • Cutting weight

  • Personal & Family problems


#TheUW – How has coaching changed the game for you? A lot of people have commented that coaching can give athletes another level of understanding, what did you find?

“There is always a battle to find the balance between coaching and fighting.

Coaching, meaning not just taking classes and showing techniques, but connecting with athletes & building them up to achieve goals or fight camps.

When you’re fighting all you need is to invest a lot of time in yourself to craft into the ‘ultimate’ machine.. But yes by coaching you look at techniques from another point of view and that will make you more open minded.”

Ev 2

#TheUW – Your last fight was a war – if you had it again, how would you have prepped differently (if at all)?

“(I).. could have obviously worked with more high-level grapplers, wrestlers and (BJJ) black belts..

.. But being more patient is what I learnt from it as well as maybe kicking harder so maybe he would’ve felt that cut to his face and (maybe) slowed him down a bit! 🙂 [laughs]”

#TheUW – It’s fight week, you’re bouncing back from a loss and putting the finishing touches on your preparation for your fight this weekend – How are you feeling?

“(I’m) feeling great!

My weight cut is on point and am feeling amped for this one back in my home town Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

I have a lot of loyal and true supporters behind me so I will be carrying them when I step in the cage!”

#TheUW – What would be the perfect ending to 2015 for Ev Ting?

“The perfect ending would be back on a winning streak and starting to make that full time athlete purse/salary!”

Ev 3 w TXT

#The UW – Where can people catch up with you online bro?

“I always reply to anyone who pops me a message via my Social Media, especially Facebook & Instagram!!”

#TheUW – Shot Ev, all the luck for Friday my bro!

“Cheers! Appreciate your time bro :)”

The Hangman

“I am tired.. But I am at peace.” is a line from the poem that shares the name of this article and also shares the fight-name of my next guest – Dan “The Hangman” Hooker.

Dan Hooker

It’s a nice sunny New Zealand morning, still crisp at 9 degrees (Celsius) and as I write this I think of Dan as he’s a day, and a world away in 24 degrees of rain, with 80% humidity in Texas, USA. Coming off a potential KO of the year where he received a $50,000 bonus and what has been a huge year of growth and development for him in all aspects.. I couldn’t wait to talk to him about life.

Map to TXS

#TheUW – Hey Dan, Thanks heaps for the catchup 🙂  Tell me about your top 2 achievements/milestones in the last twelve months! 

My biggest would have to be my engagement to my beautiful fiancé 🙂 , the other would be finally ticking head kick KO of my to do list! 

#TheUW – You won a POTN bonus in your most recent UFC appearance where you methodically took out a true MMA legend from the Pride days, Hatsu Hioki. Congrats on that, it was a brilliant fight where you executed almost faultlessly. What did your performance in that fight do for you mentally, and also in terms of the $50k – what has that given you the ability to do now?

I knew that I was capable of that kind of performance, I felt comfortable and the fight went how we had anticipated.  So in terms of my mentality it doesn’t really change anything, maybe a bit of reassurance but no surprises 🙂 The bonus allows me to focus on training with less distraction. But more so it has allowed me to see that all the hard work does pay of and has driven my ambition.

Hooker vs Hioki

#TheUW – At the beginning of the year you made a big move in camps heading over to Saigon Sports Club & reuniting with a man that you have said is one of your favourite coaches in Caesar Barry Robinson (AMSB/Clean Boxing). What did you gain from that and were there any cons or disadvantages from the move?

Yeah, the experience and knowledge that I gained from coach Barry over the five months in Vietnam was invaluable.

Besides the training and practical side of improvements there was a big mental change. In the past I had (previously) been getting as fit and ready as I could & then going into the fight and trying my hardest to win.

Now (I’m) preparing intelligently, breaking down an opponents weaknesses and winning the fight in the gym a long time before I step in the cage.


#TheUW – Having trained in Thailand before, you’ve had a taste of the real South East Asia – anything from your time in Saigon that was a bit of a culture shock?

The whole experience was a massive culture shock haha but a saying that has guided me through the years is “get comfortable being uncomfortable”.

.. that’s why I love to travel and train and get out of my comfort zone..

If you are able to focus in such an uncomfortable environment and that becomes your norm, then fight week is nothing new.

#TheUW – You got engaged at the beginning of the year, congrats! Your fiancé was able to travel to Saigon with you while you were in camp. How big is that support role and did it change with the engagement & being immersed in another culture?

Yeah, that’s my balance.

Generally, I’ll just get so carried away with training and the fight (and) its all I think about. Having my fiancé their gives me a chance to mentally relax and get away from all the stresses of training.

Dan Hooker - w TXT

#TheUW – Turning to the future now: Where are you in camp for your upcoming fight against fellow UFC up & comer Yair Rodriguez?

I’m in Auckland for this camp working with some of the best fighters in the country!

The training partners I have in my camp are much stronger than my next opponent so come fight night I will be well prepared.

 I’m working my strength and conditioning with Makoto Endo, he will make sure I’m physically in the best shape of my life.  My wrestling coach for this camp Andrei Paulet has been a big part of improving my game and has been a great new addition!

#TheUW- Every fight in the UFC for you is pretty much the most important fight of your career but do you feel like it’s really crunch time now with both of you putting a run together at the moment & looking to hit your straps heading towards the top 10?

You said it!

Every fight is make or break, but that’s the way I have treated my entire career so I’m not new to the pressure 🙂 ..

.. But yea I’m so close to the top of the division I can taste it! Yair will have to bring a bat or a gun with him to stop me when we get in there!

Dan Hooker vs Yair Rodriguez

#TheUW – Now there have been a huge range of reactions from everyone in and around the world of MMA to the UFC & Reebok apparel deal going live. What does the Reebok deal mean to you?

The Reebok deal is nothing but great news for me!

Reebok is going to give me a bunch of new gear and then cut me a cheque post-fight, so no complaints from me!

Related: Alexander Gustaffson speaks his mind on Reebok deal

Featured Image -- 160

#TheUW – You’re a true ambassador for NZMMA and Aotearoa in general. Does that play into your mind when you’re doing the fight-week media or what is going through your mind at those times?

Fight week I’m just enjoying the moment, all the hard work has been done.

All the support from NZ is great!

The well wishes and support do give me a big push in the last couple of days. I think especially with my next fight being so far away that being able to connect with everyone via social media is a great tool!

#TheUW – NZs combat scene seems to be humming along nicely now and with the addition of Fair Pay Fighting to the mix with their unique system of live streaming, what do you think this could mean to NZ?

Its exactly what kiwi fighters need for exposure, giving them the chance to connect with the online market is great!

With New Zealand being so far away geographically it means we often have to take fights short notice or for less money to get noticed..

This system will allow fighters to build their name internationally and increase their demand through social media.

#TheUW – Awesome Dan – You know we’ll be watching back home along with the rest of the world when you step back in their at UFC 192 this weekend! Any shout outs?? 🙂

Copious Clothing

Makoto Endo Personal Training

Andrei Paulet Personal Training

Tony Martins Sport Connection

Catch one of my other interviews with Dan from last year – HERE.

Check this awesome inspirational and get to know Dan Hooker a little bit better – Catch up with Dan on his social medias and us too! #Chur

If you’re looking to get anything to do with the UFC – try Mighty Ape!

The Man Behind The Men

A long time ago I was fortunate enough to meet my next guest in a very different setting in a night-club in I was managing in Auckland City.

At 1st glance, I didn’t know what sort of man I was meeting or what he was about, but he had a huge strength that was almost palpable. What followed was a short and sweet conversation with a truly enlightened and determined individual with incredibly good manners and brimming with self-respect and the respect for others that helps people go a long way.

Now, in a different life, I catch up with the same man.

Older, wiser and arguably happier.

The Man Behind The Men.

Credit: Ermehn

#TheUW – Thanks heaps for agreeing to sit down with me, appreciate it bro. Tell everyone at home something about yourself that they probably won’t know.

Thank you for having me on here bro, I don’t get many requests for interviews on the fight stuff that I do, it’s more HIPHOP and Police interviews [laughs].

An Interview with Ermehn and TV3’s Guyon Espiner regarding MMA

Ok something that the people wouldn’t know about me is that I like to keep busy as! I’m a full time dad, I run a Security crew at FOX GROUP Associates Ltd that looks after King in the Ring, Super 8 and a lot of the local Muay Thai and NZ boxing shows. On top of that I run Hibiscus Coast Mixed Martial Arts Thai Kickboxing gym in Orewa, and I also Promote fight shows here in Auckland like BATTLE ON THE COAST, The Aotearoa Mixed Martial Arts Expo and Netbrawlers.

Credit: Netbrawlers Fight Night

Credit: Netbrawlers Fight Night

I’ve done and been involved in few fight shows this year and few others that are in the pipeline. Lots of these shows I work together with different People in the fight game. In every show I have different business partners, there’s always someone in the front or in the back of these shows.  I help to promote, it’s never just me and now days I try to stay in the back of it if I can.

Credit: HBCMMA

What I’m about these days is MAKE SHIT HAPPEN! that’s my motto on my wall

Why that motto’ its because of all the 2 face promoters that talk shit, make promises, full of build ups, who will come at you like a Uso and then next minute turn into John Key and goes all ‘kefs’ [laughs]

Anyway, what can you do but forgive these types of bros and keep calm.

#TheUW – Ok, so you’re a very busy man, one that a lot of people would have met/seen before in a lot of different scenarios. Tell anyone who may not know who you are, a little bit about yourself and what you’re about!

Family use to be like 10% to me and now its 100% and you don’t have to be blood to be my family just loyal, trusting and invite me over for a feed and let me buy you a beer [laughs]!

Credit: AMMAE

#TheUW – You’ve got a huge event coming up very shortly – The Aotearoa Mixed Martial Arts Expo! Tell us a little about the event, it’s history and what to expect on the day.

Ok, so The Aotearoa Mixed Martial Arts Expo, yep, it’s back this year and will be back every year!

We’re making it annual and [spreading it] over two days with more people coming on board to make this happen, it’s awesome! This show is run by family and will stay that way. The Expo is a family gathering of fight gyms, fight fans and the fighters themselves!

It’s a day where all the different styles can come celebrate, share, learn and meet people. This is about bringing us all [together], it doesn’t matter if your into Boxing. MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, JUDO, Karate, Weapons, Muay Thai or Kickboxing! It’s all going on!!

Credit: NZ Grappler Gi Nationals

There will be fights during the day with a boxing ring all set up. We’ve got NZ Grappler, Olympic Wrestling, Kickboxing fights, loads of demos of Taekwondo, Capoeira , Krav Maga, you can also buy all your and training fight gear there on the day with a lot of gyms and fight-industry people holding stalls.

Credit: UFC Fan Expo 2014

We have NZ BOXER one of our major Sponsors’ with deals galore on the day’ as well as our local fight champions like Ev Ting, Dan Hooker,  Israel Adesanya, James Te Huna, Dylan Andrews, Faith Van Duin, Kate Aroa (Da Silva) and more!

Credit: UFC Fight Pass

On the day we going to be doing a live call to MARK HUNT in Mexico on the day and everyone will do a massive haka for him too! We also got the Sky Arenas Mahindra SUPER 8 fighters coming in along with the DUCO fighters, it’s going to go off you don’t want to miss it!

Credit: Mahindra Super 8

#TheUW – I was lucky enough to be up in Silverdale covering the fights for HBCMMA’s Battle On The Coast 4. That was an awesome night with a few stars on the scene. How important do you think it is for that grass-roots MMA to get more exposure and I guess the respect that fighters and promoters deserve?

Yeah it was cool for you to come to last battle on the coast bro’ yes Grassroots MMA and kickboxing and boxing is the backbone and heart of the fight game here in NZ and without it we wouldn’t have big shows like King in the RING, DUCO Boxing, SUPER 8, Shruiken MMA Shows, Hammer Head MMA Shows, Strikeforce MMA shows hell we wouldn’t even have an Aotearoa Mixed Martial Arts Expo!

Credit: Princesses Of Pain Champion | Kate ‘Jiu-Jitsera’ Da Silva (Aroa)

It’s very important that fighters and promoters to get the respect they’ve earned as they’re the ones putting their body on the line. Good fight promoters are a rare breed they ones who aren’t afraid to fail, take risks and make a point of difference its simple, MAKE SHIT HAPPEN!

Credit: King In The Ring

Promoters like Jason Suttie who’s a king in and out of the ring and now one of the big promoters in NZ. I’ve seen him come from the bottom to the top with a dream and now he’s doing it and doing it well! He made Shit Happen with hard work and family. Jason will always have the respect and support of grassroots fight family because he came from grassroots and puts back in grassroots, it’s good to see Duco and Sky Arena at our local fight shows supporting our fighters and buying tables and tickets Where I’ve seen other promoters who maybe never been in a ring or cage fight who are more business men making money off our fighters and don’t put a cent back into grassroots and seem like they only in it to reap what they can for and to sell tickets but that’s just part of the fight game for you
shit is real! my advice is don’t be a promoter if you don’t have thick skin and 9 lives and eyes in the back of your head coz its dog eat dog because they will stab you in the back smile in your face, bullshit you hard out, shake your hand and give a Judas hug.

Please note that there are some very good promoters out there who are really nice got big hearts and give back to our fight community they the ones I’m family with and there’s a lot more home truths on the fight game here but that’s another interview [laughs].

Credit: Rhyme “The Rage” Loto Facebook Fan Page

#TheUW – One of the prelims from that card was your boy in an awesome fight! He is a warrior, for sure (chip off the old block?) 🙂 What values do you think training and taking part in Martial Arts and combat-sports can teach our children and young people?

Yeah bro my son Rhyme has been doing Martial arts since he was 4yrs old starting from the kids classes to now the Teens class at HBCMMA’ I’m his most annoying fan and his coach.

Credit: HBCMMA

Credit: HBCMMA

Martial arts is his only sport besides Waka Ama he’s been in grappling tournaments, Kickboxing and Boxing fights, he does his Kickboxing and Stick and knife with Me, Boxing training with Lolo Heimuli of Balmoral Lee Gar and his BJJ with Matt O’Dea of Oliver MMA.

I’ve seen him grow into a strong young boy martial arts is his life he’s 9yrs old, I believe teaching our young kids martial arts is one of the best things a parent can give to their child, for me it gives me piece of mind that he can look after himself and to know when to use these skills in in self-defence, he knows what he’s capable of doing and the damage that martial arts can do, I train him and other kids to only use it only for good and not to get tempted to use it to hurt others on purpose. We train our young Jedi’s to use common sense and respect each other and encourage them to fight in kids and teens fight shows and tournaments all this helps them grow as a person to build confidence, fitness and love for the sport of martial arts.

Credit: UFC 180

#TheUW – A few weeks ago it was announced by  the UFC that current Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez has again gone down to injury and stepping in to fight for an Interim belt is New Zealand’s own ‘Super Samoan’ Mark Hunt! That’s a huge opportunity, but also a high-pressure situation with 3 weeks to go and a fight at altitude. How does taking a fight on such short notice change everything especially with a potential 25kg+ weight cut!

I think Mark will be sweet he knows how to cut weight and get fit because he’s done it before.

He’s got the right team and people around him to MAKE SHIT HAPPEN with Alex, Steve and Lolo.

I think Mark will win and we’ll show our support to him with our live call to him the day before the fight from The Aotearoa MMA Expo!

#TheUW – You recently talked about opportunity knocking for you too and you answering that call. It sounds like a lot of years of hard work are coming to fruition for you? Can you share any details as to what next year will involve for you?

I’ve signed a confidentiality agreement bro but yeah lots of hard work have paid off in what I do as a promoter’ all I can say is I’ve teamed up with another well-known promoter to bring to life an idea which will be looking at doing next year’ it’s a win-win for all our up and coming fighters here in NZ and overseas this is something that’s different and will go bigger.

#TheUW – Tell me a bit about “Coast-life” and what you guys are getting done up there at HBCMMA.

Credit: Google Images

Coast life up here is mean bro’ HBCMMA is doing real good numbers are up in our kids and teens classes and Matt O’Dea of Oliver MMA who’s BJJ brown belt is up here with us now teaching BJJ while I focus on the MMA and Kickboxing side of HBCMMA’ our club is the 1st MMA, BJJ, Stick n knife, Thai kickboxing gym to be on the Hibiscus coast from our humble beginnings of training down Stanmore bay beach and my carport we been around here training since 2006′ before then I was training at OliverMMA.

Credit: Matt O’Dea

#TheUW – Other than AMMAE, what do you have in the pipeline for the near future?

 In the Very near future like next year! I’m working with my team to promote the NZ FIGHT AWARDS 2015 which will cover, BJJ, MMA, Kickboxing and Boxing. I think that will be the biggest one for me to help make that Happen.

#TheUW – What do you think will be the highlights of AMMAE? 

Tickets available from www.iticket.co.nz cuz! And they can also get tickets from the fight gyms!

#TheUW – Any last words? 😀


Building Greatness

Credit: Ben Kelleher Instagram

I’m Lucky enough to catch up with a relatively old friend of mine from a different life, Ben Kelleher.

Ben is one of Australia’s top Kickboxers and MMA prospects and has been touted as one of the next UFC hopefuls.

We talk life ahead of his kickboxing fight tonight in Australia for King Of The Ring.

#TheUW – Hey Ben, thanks heaps for the chance to catch up! Hope you’re well. For everyone at home, tell them a bit about your background, your career so far and any heroes you may have!

Kia ora! Thanks for having me.

Well I grew up in Auckland, I’m the oldest of 4. I started training kickboxing at Elite Thai Kickboxing (ETK) in NZ 6 years ago at the age of 20.

Credit: Elite Thai Kickboxing NZ

My first fight was with a 110kg Tongan truck driver after 6 weeks training. Roger Earp asked me if I was keen to fight on a Sunday show. I was playing Rugby Union for the North Harbour Colts at the time so I went and played in the Waikato that day, and got the team bus to drop me at the fights that night.

I had a good win and fell in love with the sport.

I had my first MMA fight after 9 months on an ICNZ show. I had never done a single (Brazilian) Jiu Jitsu lesson. I think 6 years on I’ve done about 9 Jiu Jitsu classes…

I fell in love with Mixed Martial Arts too, the small gloves and rawness of it. So much so that a few years on when I moved to the Gold Coast to play (Rugby) League and my manager at the time told me I had to ‘stop fighting or they wouldn’t pay my salary’.

I quit playing League and decided to try and make it as a fighter!

I’m still not sure which discipline (I enjoy the most) yet. I just love it so much.

For a while I forgot why I fight, and the reasons have changed as the years have gone on but ultimately, as long as I can have a scrap I’m happy, but my wish to make it to the highest level! So far I’ve fought in China, Korea, Thailand, all over Australia and New Zealand and have met amazing people and made lifelong friends.

Heroes of mine in the sport would be Badr Hari, Tyrone Spong, and I like a lot of MMA fighters, namely Thiago Alves and Mark Hunt. I really respect the guys with a good work ethic like Georges St Pierre and Rich Franklin. I have a few heroes, or people I respect a lot, on the local scene too, that I will probably end up fighting. I think Ty Williams, the current WKBF Cruiserweight Champion is brilliant. Israel Asedanya is great too, I’m not saying I’m a fan of either, but I love greatness.

#TheUW – Tell us about a typical week for you right now, how you train, when, where and how often.

I don’t really have a half speed, and the absolute truth is that I’m either at the gym teaching, and eating donuts and drinking milkshakes and Jack Daniels, or I am in beast mode.

Even with no fight coming up my typical week will be a 5am strength and conditioning sesh, and in the evenings my Thai boxing or MMA. I always train a hundred miles an hour or not at all. The good thing about being up here in Darwin is because I’m in the select few who are pursuing fighting at the top level, that people make time for you. There is some brilliant talent up here and if you do the right thing they are kind and willing to pitch in and help. I have people who owe me nothing but take the time to make me better which is awesome.

Credit: Performance Gym MMA

I train at Performance Gym in Darwin, but if Michael (Siebert) my coach has his kids – and we have a fight coming up and want to do extra, often I go to his place. He’s got a massive block and a gym setup at his place too so we get it done wherever we need to.

Credit: Snap Fitness

My strength is done at SNAP Fitness in Palmerston, they take good care of me and let me go whenever I want, day or night, like I said awesome people up here. It’s fight week so I’ve dialled back the strength work and spend a lot of time working on my cardio, my game plan, and my mental toughness. I’m a huge believer in spending time on the mental aspect as of late so I guess that could be called training too. At night I have a bit of a regime I go through with regards to visualising what I want. That’s only really come about in the last 9 months or so and I love it.

#TheUW – How does that compare to a typical week when you’re in a fight camp?

During fight camp, I really try to focus on smashing my body and recovering as quickly as possible. Again this has all come about as of late with my recent loss to Dan Kelly and my injury, I guess I hit a point where I needed to decide if I’m all in with this fight shit or if I’m just going to let my natural abilities carry me, and be happy with mediocre.

Credit: TUF Nations – The UFC

The saying that ‘hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard’ rings really true with me.

I think a combination of both, if you have the drive to do more than your opponent, is what one needs to be the best.

Unless I’m away with Boyd (Clarke) and the Phuket Top Team lads, I don’t really have a “fight camp” as such. I still work 6 days a week, and I have a small business that I run too. I still tend to my home life, I still spend time teaching and with my friends and their kids. So I just make sure I utilize my time as best I can. While you sleep I am usually grinding, in one way or another.

Credit: Phuket Top Team

#TheUW – From your experience in the Australian MMA and fight scene, what steps do you think we need to take in New Zealand to get ourselves on par with them? Some people have commented that NZMMA is at least 5 years behind the AUMMA  and possibly 10 years behind the US and Canada. What are your thoughts on that?

I don’t think that’s true at all. The stand-up fighters in New Zealand, particularly the Thai Boxing scene, are some of the toughest and most skilled, I’ve ever seen – on par with the Dutch. I think we have some awesome grapplers, look at Steve Oliver, Gareth Ealey, Douglas Santos – these guys are beasts and I’m sure there are many more.

Credit: UFC FightPass

We have a large Brazilian contingent in NZ too, it’s awesome. I think where we lack if at all is the Australians back their fighters. Top level fighters are on the TV and in the papers every second week here. In NZ it’s barely ever until recently, with guys like Mark Hunt, Jamie Te Huna and Daniel Hooker being put in for their UFC appearances. In saying that, we treat it in NZ like a sport, like a past time as opposed to the be all and end all. Those kiwis that chase it and accept no alternative to being at the top always make it. Jason Suttie, Ray Sefo, Mark Hunt, Daniel Hooker, Luke Jumeau,  Israel Adesanya, to name a few, are examples of that. I know I’m using k1 as an example and there are many more too but it shows that we aren’t behind, we are just a smaller place, and the number of top level athletes in the fight game per capita is always going to be less. We hold our own and everyone knows not to fuck with kiwis.

The only other thing I will say about the topic is we need to nurture fighters from a younger age. Americans have wrestling, from young. Aussies have Judo and stuff, we need to put it to the younger athletes in the singular fight sports that there is an option to mix them up and become an MMA fighter, and that it can pay the bills and there is an opportunity to be one of the greats at it!

We need to push MMA as a mainstream sport alongside Rugby (Union and League) and Cricket if we wish to see it grow in NZ and Aussie.

#TheUW – Recently The UFC held their inaugural MMA event in New Zealand at #UFCFightNightAuckland. That event sold out with almost 9,500 tickets sold and grossed almost $1,000,000 USD. Do you think that NZMMA has been put on the map properly now? 

Absolutely, and it’s a matter of time before we see an Ultimate Fighter series with NZ, and use it as a prelim to another UFC card.

Credit: UFC | UFC Fight Night Auckland poster

The only thing I worry about with regards to MMA in NZ is tall poppy syndrome. That fucks everything.

If we want to grow the sport in Australasia we need to do it as a collective and leave the competition to the cage/ring.

Credit: UFC FightPass

Credit: UFC FightPass | Dan “The Hangman” Hooker finishes Ian “Enty” Entwhistle via stoppage from “Hellbows”

#TheUW – What do your friends from back in the day and your family say when they find out that you’re now a professional MMA fighter and one of the top prospects in Australia?

To be honest, I only have a handful of real friends that I maintain contact with from back in the day.

I think as I’ve grown up, my perception of what a friend is changed, and with that I left a lot of people behind that don’t align with what my goals are. My mum recently watched me fight for the first time, I gave her $50 dollars to get some beers and relax and watch and she had one lemonade, watched me fight, and left, keeping the money for her smokes and some phone credit! She always asks when I am going to stop, she worries I will get hurt.

The rest of my family are always proud of me no matter what, my dad is a big supporter of my fighting, and my uncle Will follows me diligently too. I’m very blessed in that respect. As for everyone else, fuck em. I used to worry so much about what everyone thinks of me, and it really wasn’t good for me in a lot of ways. I hold a grudge, and to all the people who are haters or think I can’t make it either as a sports person, or anything else, they get me up in the morning when it would be easier to sleep.

I love being grown enough now to channel the hatred I carry, there’s a fair bit [laughs] in a positive way! And the fact I have a few true friends, loving family and an amazing community that support me, is a bonus. Everyone else is kidding themselves if they mistake my kindness for weakness.

#TheUW – What would you call your greatest victory in any fight-sport and why?

My greatest victory hasn’t come yet, but I have a certain win in mind that I would like and its coming to me. The fight that I am most proud of to date is beating Ray Dimatchki for the WKN K1 Australian title. I fought Ray once, and I was 85kg, he was 105kg Heavyweight. I fought the week before, and had had about 3 kick fights. He bashed me and stopped me in the 4th round with leg kicks. He was 10-0 with 9 KO’s. To come back 10 fights later and defeat him meant a lot to me. I made a good friend there too, he’s choice.

#TheUW – What would bring you back to New Zealand full-time to train and live?

 That’s a hard question. For me it depends on financial stability. If I was able to support my family and my mum before then I would consider it, because I miss home, and I love it there.

Credit: Discovering Australia – Darwin, Northern Territories

But truth be told I fuckin love D tow (Darwin), it’s a beautiful place, and I have a group of friends here who are closer than blood. Also it depends on the fight opportunities. I just want to become better and have the chance to fight the big fights wherever that may be.

#TheUW – Now, tell me about your lowest point in the last 18 months, what happened and how you’ve overcome it!

My lowest point was recently, I lost my AFC fight to Dan Kelly who was fresh out of the house, no disrespects but I truly think I am a better athlete and fighter than Dan.

Credit: Australian Fighting Championship

 The occasion got the better of me and he was fantastic. His superior grappling won on the night and he implemented a great game plan and he deserved to be the winner. That being said, it was my fight to lose I think.

 Two weeks later I backed it up on TOP FC in Korea – and in the first ten seconds I threw a hard leg kick and sustained a bad injury, my patella displaced and I tore some ligaments. I got 2 different opinions and one was 6 months off, one was 4. At that point I questioned whether I wanted it as much as I tell people I do. I had a bit of a bender, suffered some pretty low points. I had people who really care about me pick me up and make me stronger now than I was before that loss and injury!

Credit: Top FC

 I guess I overcame it by staunching it out and I recently applied through the WKBF to fight for a South Pacific K1 title against Ramegus Te Wake (21-7) and knocked him out in the first round.

Going back to my bread and butter (kickboxing) and training so hard and overcoming injury against the odds in less than 2 months, really reminded me that ‘it’s mind over matter’, and I feel more confident than ever!

#TheUW – Lastly, where to from here for Ben Kelleher? Where can people catch up with you if they want to follow your journey and jump on your bandwagon with me??

I would like to assert myself as the top 86kg K1 fighter in Australasia. I think I can beat TY and Israel that and everyone that competed at King In The Ring in Auckland earlier this year. It was an absolutely stacked 8 man with Slava Alexichek, Pati Afoa and young Zane (Hopman) also competing.

 I follow all of the guys I might one day meet in the ring. I would like to be a part of the next one and take it out. Nothing like beating champions all in the same night, win or lose it would be a privilege to even fight any of the 8 who qualified.

 With that, if I could prove to myself I am at that level in NZ and Australia I would love to compete in Glory World Series. Mainly because I want Tyrone Spongs autograph. 

Above all else, I want to fight in the UFC. 

Credit UFC

I really think I can mix it with the top Middleweight strikers in Australia and The UFC, and I am aware my grappling is what lets me down, and until recently I had on or off nights depending how my emotions were. I’ve since fixed that issue. I would like to make it into the next ultimate fighter or into the UFC Australia/NZ card and I am working on my weaknesses every day. As long as I am fighting I’m happy, I guess. But everyone wants to be the man. I’ll just keep grinding and see what happens. It’s hard enough staying out of trouble on a Saturday night.

I’m on Instagram – @kelleherbk and it would be choice to have people follow me. Same on Twitter.

Just quickly though, thanks for the interview bro and thanks to all the people who constantly have my back. You know who you are. Churrrrrr!!

– Ben Kelleher stoppage MMA KOTC Oct 2013

The Legend of The Last StyleBender

Bending is the belief that you can control (or bend) one of the elements around you at your will through great training. learning and refining of your spirit and technique, be it Water, Earth (stone and dirt), Fire and Air.

The Avatar can control all of these elements at once and is unique in their ability to do so. Similar to the modern day Mixed Martial Artist who can manipulate their various skills and techniques to be victorious.

Israel Adesanya is one such fighter. A man of many words, with much meaning and one desire – Be the best at everything.

Credit: Glory Sports International – Israel “Style Bender” Adesanya

#TheUW – Thanks heaps for the catch up Iz, I know that your a busy man! Tell everyone a little bit about yourself, your background in life and fighting. 

A lot to say there, but I am just a man on a mission. I started fighting in 2008, I still feel like I’m just starting though.

I’m passionate about a few things, but I just love living with no limits and stay a child at heart.

#TheUW – You’ve been in the fight game for around 7 years but you’ve amassed a huge number of fights, a lot half-way around the world in China! What was it like fighting over there to full stadiums of biased Chinese supporters? What do you think you learned from their huge scene over their? 

For me, China prepared me for whats to come. He big time!

15,000 people is the biggest I’ve done so far. Having hundreds of people wanting a photo after fights, the whole time over there was a learning experience.

Like an apprenticeship before I step into the world and own it. I was very grateful for it.

#TheUW – What was the oddest thing you ever experienced over there? 

My first loss.

Because we both knew who won the fight. Simon knew it.

If I ever get my ass kicked I’d acknowledge it. But the fact that I felt I owned him and he still got the win bothered me for a bit.

I’ll take him out next time.

 #TheUW – You’re the current King In The Ring at 86kgs and won your last 2 fights on the night with a KO and beautiful step in knee to finish the final fight with a TKO and take the title. How did that feel to get that win at home in NZ? 

That was my big New Zealand ‘coming out party’!

I was able to just flow that night, show people what martial arts was about when you dedicate yourself to the game.

To do it at home was a blessing man, I just soaked up the atmosphere, the moment, and did what I said I would do and proclaimed for weeks (before hand).

(I) Shut a lot of people up that night 🙂 [laughs].

#TheUW – There’s a big push on social media at the moment to get you onto the Super8 Boxing Event as a wildcard #stylezforsuper8 – how did that get started? Do you think you can follow in the footsteps of Antz Nansen and take another boxing event out for the team kickboxing? 

It started off as a Facebook status I wrote when having breckie one morning.

I am a martial artist, boxing is a martial art.

I always want to challenge myself at the highest level; I can’t become stagnant in this game; I must always evolve.

If Antz can do it, I can do better!

I’m coming for crown of the Super 8.

Credit: Super 8

*Since the interview Iz was successful in his bid to be the wildcard for Super 8 – November 22 at North Shore Events Centre – Congrats!

#TheUW – You fought very recently in Australia at Destiny 3, a Muay Thai event. What has the camp for that been like? Is jet lag a factor when you’re going over to Aussie?

I just got back from that and won by KO in round 2.

I’m always in camp. Always in shape.

That was my 6th fight in 2 months so I was super ready.

Jet lag ain’t nothing when you fly business class [laughs]!. I enjoyed my time in Brisbane and the Gold Coast a lot!

#TheUW – Weight-cuts have been news recently with some of the highest level MMA fighters in the world missing weight and been pulled off cards for endangering their health in an attempt to make weight. What are your thoughts on the practice? How big (roughly) might an average cut be for you? 

That’s the hot topic right now!

I prefer to not cut too much weight because at some point when you try to be the biggest in your weight class, you take energy away from your other attributes like stats in a video game.

Some guys are able to do it successfuly and some aren’t.

For me, I cut max 2.5kgs of water-weight if I ever need to and I stay dehydrated for as little as possible.

The Super 8 is at Boxing’s Cruiserweight and I am under the weight limit, but it bothers me not because at the end of the day it’s skills that pay the bills. I beleive in my skills and techniques enough not to fear a bigger man. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

#TheUW – It was announced last week that Mark Hunt is stepping into a UFC Interim Heavyweight Title fight in less than a month. Have you taken many fights on short notice?

What changes when you don’t have a full camp? 

Like I said I stay in shape, I’m ready to fight at a moments notice and I have in the past on an hours notice.

Mark taking that belt home will be HUGE for New Zealand.

Doing it at 40 years young is a great feat and the story of this man is inspirational!

*Full story about Mark Hunt

#TheUW – This has been a bumper year for kiwis internationally with locals Ev Ting, Luke Jumeau and Dan Hooker all getting exposure on various international stages and NZ’s first WMMA fighter to sign with Invicta Fighting Championship Faith “The Immortal” Van Duin making her debut in the US in December! What do you think all of these achievements does for the reality of being a professional MMA fighter for you and others like yourself here in New Zealand? What’s the grind like?

Its awesome to see our country on a world stage!

I’ve told people for yeeeeaaars that NZ has some scrappers and the support from New Zealand is finally starting to show.

Hopefully the next generation of NZ fighters wont have to do like we did and go overseas to look for opportunity. They will be able to get the best support and all they need in their backyard!

I see this game taking over NZ in the next few years. Fighting is just raw!!

Credit: Aotearoa MMA Expo

#TheUW – Tell us about your gym/s and training partners. What sort of stuff are you getting done in the gym every day and when you’re not in the gym for training, what is your escape?

We have a gym full of killers, different people from all walks of life.

I believe we have the best gym in NZ. Our coaches are students of the game and they constantly push us to our limits and that raises the bar every time!

They are next level and we are proving it one game at a time.

#TheUW – You’re a bit of a man of mystery as far as your MMA career goes and try as I might, I’ve not been able to track down a reliable official record for you. Can you set the record straight?

I’ve had 2 MMA fights and 2 1st round wins.

I will return to the cage soon.

I am currently focused on Kickboxing, but I love fighting, I never ever want to feel vulnerable in any situation combat-wise.

For example over 80% of street fights end up on the ground.

I’ve seen guys just freeze when they hit the ground, lack of the proper education on how to fight on the floor.

I like to feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation like that!

#TheUW – You’re and incredibly talented man in the ring/cage and you’ve very charismatic both in and out of the ring/cage. It’s something that the New Zealand MMA and combat-sports scene really needs, especially from someone who can back it up so effectively. Where do you think that comes from? Mind-games? Mind-set? What do you say to any haters you may have?

I’m just being me.

You can ask my peers for years and they’ll tell you I’ve always said I was the best and I could beat all these guys.

Now people just see it more because I have more attention on me.

I just know how to play the game like I own it! At the end of the day we are human animals and peoples words can lie but their body won’t.

In a stressful situation an animal only has a few options.

To fight or flight, ignore or submit.

People will always tell you the truth without realizing. It has a lot to do with neuro-lingusitic programming.

#TheUW – You’re a proud kiwi and a proud Nigerian. Tell us about your roots in Africa and what it means to you. 

I tell people I’m The Black Kiwi.

The one with the biggest beak and biggest wings. The one that takes flight [laughs]!!

I love NZ, it’s my country.

I love my roots as a proud Nigerian.

But at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what patch of dirt I’m from. I just represent those who represents me.

Credit: Kickboxermag.com.au

 #TheUW – Well Iz, thank you for your time, any last words? 🙂

My man, thanks for putting me on homie! I had fun doing this.

Big shout out to Combat Kings, Stained Skin, FX Nutrition and Bow Fighters for their support of this man!

#TheUW – Chur! Catch Iz on his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Catch me on twitter http://www.twitter.com/TheUltim8Writer 🙂

Robert Whittaker Prepares for his UFC Middleweight Debut

Our friends at Kiwicombat.com catch up with Robert Whittaker ahead of his debut in arguably the most competitive UFC division, middleweight.

Combat Sports New Zealand

New Zealand-born fighter Robert Whittaker makes the step up to the UFC’s middleweight division to take on American Clint Hester at next month’s UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Bisping.

The 23-year-old’s just returned from a training camp in Thailand with the move to 185 lbs. (84 kg.) already paying dividends.

“It’s made a huge difference,” Whittaker told Kiwi Combat on the phone from Sydney. “90% of the camp hasn’t been sleepless nights, hungry and worrying about the weight.

“I’ve worried more about the training and it’s been a big load off my shoulders.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably still going to have a huge cut, but not to the point I’m killing myself.”

Whittaker estimates he’ll probably have to cut around 15 kilos over the course of his camp for this fight, compared to the 25 he was cutting for previous fights.

“The Reaper” has amassed a 3-2…

View original post 424 more words

Feel the force of The Juggernaut

Credit: Luke Jumeau

#TheUW – Hey Luke, thanks heaps for taking time out of your training schedule and while you’re back NZ-side to catch up! I’ve been following your career over the past few years and have been lucky enough to catch some of your earlier domestic fights in NZ. 

 #TheUW – 1st of all, tell everyone who may not have had the chance to follow your career or people who are new to the sport a bit about your origins. 

Ok! I’m from New Zealand and started training around 2003 in a mixed taekwando based martial art and fell in love with everything involving it after around 5 years I achieved my black belt and soon after had my first MMA fight! The MMA scene was pretty fresh in New Zealand but erupted quickly, I went on to go 3 and 0 as an amateur before turning pro and main-eventing in my debut! I then fought once more in New Zealand before the offers came in to fight over seas were I have pretty much fought ever since building my career.

Credit: Global Fighting Championship

#TheUW – There have been some big changes for you recently going more Global (pun intended) and taking your skills to some of the best fight-camps in the world to prepare for the international scene. Tell us more about what you’ve been doing. 

 Recently I moved me and my family to Thailand training out of phuket top team one of the best gyms in Asia with a great team and management giving me the opportunity to

Giving my all to the sport this is the first time in my career I’ve been able to focus all of my attention on MMA without having to work an 8 hour a day job too.

#TheUW – I know you’ve had a bit of personal tragedy in the past and having suffered loss myself, I know it takes a long time to heal. Tell us how your own story motivated you and inspired you to become something better. 

 I lost my older brother wen I was 14 very hard time for me and my family. I kind of felt like an under-achiever compared to him. He was the one to possibly make something of himself. [I found] myself a bit more lost and [would] go with the flow after his passing and had a lot of hard times.

I found martial arts and decided to fill both our shoes and make our family proud in the way I could.

#TheUW – What has it been like to get out of NZ following the passion you have for the sport and getting to immerse yourself in the full MMA fighters life?

It’s a dream come true!

The day I had my first fight all I thought about was becoming a world champion and training full time doing what I love.. Now all that remains is the world title [laughs]!

#TheUW – How do you see the role of the modern MMA fighter and their responsibilities to the sport and to their fans and those that are coming up through the scene trying to follow in your footsteps? 

 I’m not sure I try not to think too much about that stuff but show that the hard work and dedication pays off!
My coach Steve Wallace from New Zealand always taught us with skill comes responsibility know that what you do others will follow I believe I’m a good role model showing humble beginnings and hard work pays off

#TheUW – Who are your role models both in, and out of the cage/fight-scene?

 I don’t necessarily have any role models in or out of the sport I draw inspiration from a lot of things. I think every successful person is to be admired because they show the way, but I’m more primitive and I like the way of the warrior. The a role model for me is the history of my culture and many others.

Credit: creativeroots.org

#TheUW – While overseas did you have a chance to meet any legends of our sport or even any celebs? Do you get star-struck when meeting someone that you admire or have followed?

 I’ve meet my fair share of celebrities on my travels but never been star struck

#TheUW – I’ve seen you referred to as both “The Jedi” on sherdog.com and “The Juggernaut” too on NZMMA.tv.. What’s the story behind both of these and which do you prefer?

 The “Jedi”came from a local show back home icnz  I was the main event and they did a promo video the return of the “Jedi” [laughs]. I guess being Luke it comes with it?

As for the “Juggernaut”, I was on a tear and have always been naturally strong plus I wasn’t too fond of the name Jedi so one of my team mates came up with the name “Juggernaut” fitting with my last name but “Jedi” just stuck it use to bother me a bit but not anymore [smiles].

Juggernaut VS Jedi

Juggernaut VS Jedi

#TheUW – What was it like putting in the hard work overseas at both Phuket Top Team recently and in Vegas at Xtreme Couture in the past? What’s the level like in those big fight-camps compared to our smaller and younger scene in NZ?

Credit: Xtreme Couture | xtremecouturemma.com

 I come from a small town in New Zealand and it became hard to put together camps and have training partners that could push me. So I ventured to take a camp at Xtreme Couture [and it] was an awesome experience that I learned a lot from.. Mostly that we are all human I was surprised and impressed at my level [in comparison] to some of the best in the world. The best thing about them is the variety and number of training partners!

This is what boosts your game.

I was still young when I went to Xtreme Couture and continued to train in New Zealand afterwards.

Credit: Phuket Top Team | phukettopteam.com

Now I’m training with Phuket Top Team and when I arrived there it felt like home. A family and an awesome gym, which is the reason it attracts a lot of other talented fighters and Thailand, being the more affordable option. There’s a lot of talent to train with [and] that’s the biggest difference from home, having the numbers and the full training schedule.

#TheUW – Finally, if people out there want to learn more about you and follow your journey, where can they reach you?

 You can follow me on twitter @lukejumeau or like my facebook page Luke Jumeau for all the details training and upcoming fights

Thanks to NZMMA.tv.