(Paul Reed unleashes some ground and pound. Image courtesy of Sherdog)
On May 15th at BAMMA 3, Olympians MMA’s Paul Reed, 12-5, will take on Ashleigh Grimshaw, 7-6-1, in a widely anticipated featherweight contest, with possible title ramifications for the winner. Reed is in a determined mood ahead of the bout.
“I can’t wait,” he asserted. “I’m very excited. It’s been a long time coming this fight, and I’ve known of Ash for a while, since he fought Ronnie Mann, and I met him at Cage Rage 26 when I fought Brad Pickett. It’s been on the cards for a few years now I think, and I can’t wait to punch him in the face.”
Last week, Grimshaw came out with a controversial interview on fightmagazine.com, but Reed insists this doesn’t bother him. “It just got me excited about the fight,” said Paul. “I take everything with a pinch of salt. If he doesn’t think I can finish then that’s up to him, but I’ll be putting a lot of pressure on him to finish and make him quit. I’ll knock the fight out of him. He says I’m a grinder; well hopefully I can grind a stoppage out of him. I don’t care what he says or what kind of fighter he thinks I am.”
He continued, “It’s going to be a really tough fight, and I think in a tough fight I’m going to do well. I don’t think he will do well in one though, because he’s got all the skills, and he’s very technical; he might even be technically better than me in a few places, but he’s going to hit me and I’m going to hit him back, and I don’t think he likes people hitting him back. Every time I see him get beat, someone puts pressure on him and he gets stopped.
“All the stuff he says beforehand as well; that’s just words. That’s what he was like before he fought Mick Sinclair, and I’ve heard it all before, so he can be as confident in his mind as he wants to be, but in reality, all the words he says now won’t mean anything once he steps in there, and he’s got to back that up. That’s all I’m worried about; May 15th and making him feel as much pain as possible.”
Reed also divulged what his gameplan is for the encounter, and quashed Grimshaw’s sentiments that Reed wouldn’t stand with him. “I just want to hit him as much as possible,” declared Reed. “He’s trying to play mind games with me saying I haven’t got the bottle to go against him in the stand up. I don’t think he wants to stand up with me at all! If he genuinely thinks I won’t stand up with him he’s an idiot. They said the same thing as well with Pickett and that I wouldn’t stand up with him, but apart from a couple of shots he caught me with I boxed him. I outboxed him and I’ll outbox Ash for sure. I can box well.
“He’s probably going to try and throw a few more kicks than he normally does, but I’ve been doing lots of Thai, so I’m going to kick him back and we’ll see what happens with the stand up,” flowed ‘Reedy’. I think he’s going to try and take me down first. I think once I start putting some pressure on him, he’s going to have to try and take me down. It’s an MMA match; at some point one of us is going to go for the takedown, and whoever ends up on top is going to be in the most advantageous position for ground and pound.
“I don’t think he’s going to sub me from his back, and I don’t think I’ll sub him from my back. We’ve got quite similar attributes I think. In modern day MMA, unless you’re shit-hot off you’re back and the other guy’s not very good, then it’s hard to get submissions off your back so we’re both going to cancel each other out, so whoever’s on top is going to be doing the most damage. If I’m on top, I’m going to try and pound him out.”
Paul also is of the opinion that coming off a title fight, the three round distance will suit him. He argued, “It’s going to feel really good only doing three rounds after the last fight. Three rounds is going to be quite quick. I’m feeling fit and I just want to inflict some pain on him really.”
Grimshaw is looking to bulk up ahead of this contest, but Reed doesn’t think that will be beneficial to the ‘Ash Cream Man.’ “I’m going to be strong; I’m always strong,” said Paul. “I’m usually stronger than the other guy I fight. I won’t be trying to bulk up or anything; I’m too big as it is. It’s a real struggle to get down to that weight, and I’ll come in really big anyway.
“If he wants to bulk up to try and match me then fair play to him, but if it makes his cut any harder, that will be perfect for me. He’s been knocked out a couple of times, and if he cuts too much, when I put my fist in his face, I think it will be a bad night for him. He can do as much strength and conditioning as he wants, but at the end of the day, I’m going to be stronger than him. I don’t think he’s going to suddenly get much, much stronger. He looked in tremendous shape when he fought Mick Sinclair, and he lost the fight. He can come in whatever shape he wants; he’s still getting beat.”
With his opponent’s preparations seemingly going to plan, it’s important that Reed’s are also bang on, something he insists they are. “They’re going good,” he asserted. “I don’t really start training too hard just yet; I’ve got a family and a full time job. I only really get stuck in to the major training in the last three weeks. I’m getting lots of sparring but the real, hardcore MMA sparring is yet to come. That will be in the next week and onwards, but I’m firing on all cylinders right now and feeling really sharp. I do pretty hardcore fitness. I don’t have a fitness instructor or conditioning coach; I do everything myself, but I really work hard. I do stuff other people wouldn’t be prepared to do, and I’ll fly through three rounds. I’ll be going at a hundred miles an hour, and I’ll be very fit for the fight.”
Reed also lauded his trainers and sparring partners, and how they bring his game on to no end. “At Olympians we’ve got a new place now,” revealed Paul. “It’s huge and it’s a really good gym, and the best one in Bristol. We’ve got Josh [Saidi] the wrestling coach, who’s just a ridiculous wrestler. He’s just amazing. He was British Champion and he’s wrestled internationally. Wez’s [Murch] wrestling has gone through the roof, and he’s a different fighter now completely. His wrestling is spot on, and he’s a good boxer. We’ve got Greg Knapp, and Nathan Champ, who’s boxing is superb. I did some rounds with him earlier at full pelt, and he’s about 89 kilos at the moment, and it’s a tough training session.
“There’s another wrestler I train with called Darius, a nuts Iranian guy,” carried on Reed, who holds victories over the likes of Alexandre Izidro and Jordan Miller. “This kind of wrestling training toughens you up though. For Jiu Jitsu, I train with Pedro Bessa who’s amazing, but he’s in Brazil at the minute getting married, so we’ve got a guy called Leo Perez coming from London to work with us at the Sweatbox Gym, which I train at as well. For submission wrestling, I’m going to Leigh Remedios’ and training with him.
“I’ve got lots of really good training aspects, that are good at different aspects. Not neccessarily people who are good at everything, but they’re good at different parts. I’m going to be hunting around the south west and maybe the Midlands for good sparring, and there’s a few people I’ve contacted and there’s a few I’m going to go down and visit that are really good guys.”
The effort Reed is putting in to find the right training partners is indicative of how important this fight is to him. “Every fight is the biggest fight, and I think now, I train and prepare a lot better than I used to. Even when I was 7-0 and fought Izidro; the version of me now would smash the version of me from back then. I’d kill myself. I’m so much fitter. Even when I fought Pickett, I was only training here or there; I wasn’t training like I train now. I’m training non-stop now, about two or three times a day. I’m ticking over all the time, and then when a fight comes up, the last few weeks I go in overdrive with my sparring.
“It’s not necessarily the fight itself, it’s the show,” he explained. “I think the BAMMA show is amazing, and it’s what UK MMA’s needed for a long time. The fact it’s on a TV station gives something people can aspire to. It’s a good show, and it’s presented well on TV. It just makes it look a lot better, and people watch it and see it.”
Paul’s praise for the card the organisation have put on did not stop there. “It’s a brilliant card even with the featherweights alone. The one I want to watch the most is Dave Lee vs. Jeff Lawson; I think that will be a brilliant fight. The card’s really good. I think a lot of people want to be on the show, and also, I fought at the NEC at Cage Rage and it’s such a good venue.
“If you do MMA because you love it, you want to make a bit of money, and you get the chance to fight on a show like this it’s amazing. There’s been moaning about UK MMA for a while, because the way it’s presented is not the best, and there’s no shows on TV. I thought Cage Gladiators when they were on ITV was really good, even if it was on at twelve o’ clock. Now with BAMMA though, a lot of people have that channel, and I just think it’s done really well. I’m really chuffed to be on it.”
Reedy’s humble orgins in MMA also contribute to the importance on being on such a massive bill. “I only started MMA to have some fun really, keep fit and keep my hand in a bit of boxing and Judo that I’d done, and it escalated from there,” said Paul. “Then I decided I wanted to fight, and it snowballed from there. When I read that article earlier, it made me really excited, because it’s just an exciting thing to do, and to do it on TV in a big venue on a big show makes it really, really good.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was young. It means a lot to me and it would be perfect if I could knock the hell out of him in one round, but I’m prepared to have to take three rounds to beat the crap out of him. I’m prepared to get beaten up by him for a round, and then knock him out in the second. Whatever happens, as long as I win, I’m ready for anything in the fight. I’m ready for him to beat the hell out of me so I can turn it on, because I know when the chips are down and we’re both exhausted, and I start hitting him he’s going to quit.”
Paul has a gameplan in place for this fight, but also acknowledges the importance of adaptability in MMA. “In reality, I think he’s a very good wrestler Ash, and he’ll be hard to take down, but I think he’s chinny. I’m pretty happy to stand up with him, and when I am standing up, a lot of the time I box quite carefully against Jiu Jitsu guys in anticipation of a takedown. In a boxing match, I’d box completely different; I’m very aggressive, so in this fight I’m going to throw some big, serious punches at him, and I’m going to try and put him away.
“That’s what I hope to do,” he proclaimed. “I think it might be easier knocking him out standing up than beating him up on the floor, but whatever I say he’s going to take with a pinch of salt, and that I’ll go for something else but we’ll see on the night. Sometimes though you make gameplans and they change straight away. He’s cornered against me twice. He cornered Wesley Felix and Pickett against me, so he’s seen me in two different types of fights where I’ve boxed someone and where I’ve taken someone down and pounded them, so I can do either, and probably do them both equally well. I don’t know what he’s preparing for; if he’s clever he’ll be preparing for an MMA match because it’s going to end up everywhere, but if he thinks I’m just going to take him down to pound on him then he’s wrong.”
Even though he believes that there are flaws apparent in the style of Grimshaw, Reed is fully aware that he also has his strengths. “He’s just very good technically in a lot of different places,” noted the Bristol fighter. “He’s got pretty good boxing, but he throws the same shots all the time. I’ve watched him and he throws the same combinations, so I’ll know what to look out for. He’s got good kicks when he uses them, and I’m expecting him to use as many of them as possible. He’s got good wrestling, and technically he’s good everywhere. He’s going to hit me quite a bit, and it’s going to be a good boxing match standing up. On the ground I think he’s very good, and he’s possibly got better Jiu Jitsu than me, but I think in a dogfight when I’m hitting him and he’s hitting me, he’s not going to want it.”
He continued to explain, “Basically, he’s good and strong as an on top fighter. If he’s beating someone he’ll beat the hell out of them, and he’ll look good doing it, but if he’s the one taking some punishment, I don’t think he’s going to be able to cope with it. I don’t think he’ll want to ruin his pretty boy looks. When I’m dropping elbows on his face I don’t think he’s going to like it.
“If it’s a fight where we’re walking round throwing techniques at each other, he might start picking me off and looking good, but as soon as I turn it into a fight, and we start hitting each other and really whacking each other, then I’m going to outman him and take over. It’s a tough fight and I’m prepared for the toughest fight I’ve had, and in that kind of fight I’ll keep going and won’t stop, and I don’t think he’ll be able to match me.”
Last time out, Paul lost to Alan Omer in a BAMMA Featherweight Title fight by submission. Does this motivate him to improve in his next performance? “Yeah it does, but I’ve just blanked that now and forgotten about it,” claimed Paul. “I don’t need any extra pressure on, but in MMA, things happen, and I made a mistake in that fight. I took my foot off the gas to have a little breather, and he held onto the cage to get the triangle. The referee warned him and I just stopped concentrating for a split second, and then boom it was on. It was on really quick and then it was done.
“Alan Omer though, fair play to him,” said Reed taking nothing away from his conqueror. “At the start of every round he kept doing the same thing and steaming in. He has a lot of heart. He might not be able to wrestle brilliantly, but he’s just tough. People were saying he dominated me standing up, but he only hit me with one knee and that’s all that connected, and I think I was controlling him standing up with my boxing. I was boxing clever as well to try and conserve my energy. He’s obviously very dangerous off his back though, and he’s the opposite of Ashleigh Grimshaw. He’s tough, and I think his fight with Mark Adams will be really good. I’d love to fight him again though. I think I’d smash him in the rematch.”
Staying active is something that Reed takes pride in doing, but as he explained, there is good reason for him taking so many fights in a short space of time. “I’m 38 and I’ve only been fighting for three years,” he revealed, admittedly much to the surprise of the writer. “A lot of people call me a veteran, but I haven’t been doing it for very long. I turned pro when I was 35 and I’ve just been hammering away at the fights. Luckily, I didn’t miss MMA though. I could have if I was a little bit older, and you only live once and I want to do as much as I can in MMA.
“That’s the thing about getting to fight on a big show like this; it’s just brilliant. But even when I turned pro I was hammering away at the fights. I had six fights in ten months including the one with Izidro. Within ten months of turning pro I fought him, and he’s a BJJ black belt, so I jumped in at the deep end. I could have just had one fight and been 1-0 after ten months, but I went 7-0 with Izidro, and then I fought Emmanuel Fernandez a few months after that, and then Pickett a few months later.”
This makes the bigger fights mean all the more to the ‘Reedy.’ “Sometimes, if it’s a big fight and it’s a big opportunity, it’s the one that’s going to get you going and make you train hard,” told Paul. “It’s good to fight good people; it’s a real buzz to test yourself. I don’t really want to fight anyone that’s mediocre. I’d rather fight someone exceptionally good that everyone knows as opposed to someone middle of the rankings. Going over to Canada to fight was a big thing for me; it was an amazing thing to do and an amazing experience.”
“If you’re old and you want to get somewhere quickly, you haven’t got that long, and I haven’t got many years left doing MMA. I was thinking about quitting at the end of the year, but I just want to get as many good fights in as possible. Anything can happen. I could break my hand badly and my career would be over, so I just want reallty exciting fights, and each one could potentially be my last one. I always suffer from nerves when I go into fights as well, and I get very nervous in the weeks beforehand, but when I go out to fight, I’ll say to myself, ‘Right, this is it. This is your last one so make something of it,’ and I just want to go out fighting.
“When I fight, I do it like it’s to the death and really go for it. I just love it; I really enjoy it and all the excitement. When I read that interview off Ash today, I got a proper buzz off that and it got my heart pumping. I had to go straight to the gym to calm myself down. It’s like living the dream doing MMA in front of 2,000 people. Especially when you headline a bill too it’s really exciting.
“The rest of the time I’m an operational analyst. I sit in front of a computer looking at spread sheets and checking data files all day. It’s a good job but it’s not that exciting. You don’t get a lot of chances in life to do really exciting things, and getting in and fighting Ashleigh Grimshaw is one of them.”
So are we soon to see the end of Paul as an MMA fighter? “I’m going to be 39 in October, and the thing is, when I start training really hard I get into great shape. I have a lot of family commitments as well though, and at some point you’ve got to draw the line. I don’t want to fight when I’m too old. I want to go out at a decent level. I was thinking of quitting at round about my birthday, but maybe I’ll extend it by a year. I’m not sure, but the plan at the minute is to quit about October time. If I’d beaten Alan Omer, I would have been half tempted to quit then and call it a day by winning that, but I got frustrated by not winning it and I’ve got too much fight left in me at the moment.”
Whenever Reed decides to retire, he must first get past the challenge of a confident Ashleigh Grimshaw. He is confident that he will do this, and gave his own prediction of how the fight will go.
“I reckon it’ll be a late third round TKO stoppage with him exhausted on the floor and me dropping elbows on his face and he’ll tap out from that,” said Paul. Will this happen? At BAMMA 3, the world will find out.
For more information on BAMMA 3, visit www.bamma.net.