You played rugby before starting your MMA career. Did it help prepare you?
I don’t think I learned any specific techniques, but I defi nitely learned from the rough and tumble aspect of it, being able to take hits and continue. I think that definitely helped lay some attributes down that helped me in my MMA career.
You’ve fought internationally is New Jersey, Las Vegas, Seattle, Cologne, and Dublin. Is a fight career a good way to see the world?
I think so. When we do a fight abroad, I try to squeeze in a couple of extra days in the place after so
I can go out and see stuff. There’s only so much you can do when you’re cutting weight.
How do you spend your time when you’re not training for a fight?
I just chill out and see a lot of friends and family, really. Both my older brothers still play rugby, so on Saturdays, if I’m around, I’ll go down and watch them play.
Were your family and friends supportive when you decided to enter the world of MMA?
I’d been telling my friends it was something I wanted to do for a long time. When I finally got the chance, everyone was over the moon for me to be actually able to do what I wanted to do. My parents were always a little bit dubious of it, though. My dad never fully understood it until recently, and he would always ask why I don’t box instead. I had to explain to him that, while I’m not amazing at boxing or amazing at grappling, I’m okay when you combine them, and that’s why I do the sport that I do. My family and friends have been very supportive, so it’s always good to have them around.
Where do you call home at the moment?
I live by the gym London Shootfighters, in West London. My family and brothers are all from Brighton and Hove, down in Sussex. I come down there as much as I can to see them. Brighton is great, especially when we get some sun—it’s beautiful.
Do you ever see any of Brighton’s famous musical residents walking the streets, like Nick Cave or Fatboy Slim?
I’ve seen Fatboy Slim. There are a couple of guys in Brighton who you always end up seeing wherever you go.
Former fighter Lee Murray, who is serving 25 years in a Moroccan jail, is a famous alumnus from London Shootfighters. Does he still keep in touch with the gym?
As much as he can, he gets in contact with the old coaches. Sadly for me, I came into the gym after Lee had already left, so I never got to properly meet him. I did meet him on a few occasions, but we didn’t get to speak as much as we could have.
Do you have some talented fi ghters coming out of London Shootfighters?
There’s quite a few. We’ve got a lot of European and Brazilian people competing out of our gym, but Claudio da Silva just fought recently over in Super Fight League and did great. We’ve got Mike Shipman. Pavel Doroftei is a very good competitor, Karlos Vemola too. We’ve got a bunch of great guys.
Since your last win against John Maguire, you’re 7-1 in the Octagon. How many more wins do you think it’ll take before you’re in title contention?
That’s one of those tricky questions. There are so many people in the UFC welterweight division. If you only fight twice in one year and others fi ght three or four times, they skyrocket up, and you stay in the same position. I’d love to be in contention within three or four fights. There are quite a few people above me who I need to test myself against and beat before I can go for a title.
What’s your gameplan for 2013?
I’d definitely like to get three fi ghts in next year, and three wins would be great. I think that would put me where I want to be. The goal is to get to the top—I think next year will be a good year for me.