(Grimshaw in action against Mick Sinclair at Cage Gladiators. Courtesy of Sherdog)
BAMMA 3, to be held on 15th May at the LG Arena, Birmingham looks as if it’s going to be one of the biggest shows ever on UK soil. Headlined by Celebrity Big Brother winner Alex Reid taking on top UK middleweight Tom Watson, there is also a stellar undercard, which features an intriguing featherweight contest between the 7-6-1 Ashleigh Grimshaw and Olympians MMA’s Paul Reed. The ‘Ash Cream Man’ is more than confident of a win over his adversary.
“I don’t want to sound rude but I don’t think he has any strengths,” declared Grimshaw, before clarifying, “I don’t see him as a finisher; he’s more of a grinder. He’s going to look for a decision win. I don’t think he has the skills to put me away, because he’ll be looking to grind out that decision. I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way, it’s just the way he fights. I think he’s a very similar fighter to Chael Sonnen.”
Ashleigh on the other hand insists he never actively looks for a decision win. “I go into every fight trying to finish the fight. I don’t get paid for overtime. As soon as I see even half a chance, I’m going to try and put him away. The sooner the better, because like I say, he is a grinder, and he’s in there for the long haul.”
With regards to a strategy in this encounter, Grimshaw has a clear cut idea of how he’d like the bout to go. “I definitely want to stand and bang with him,” he divulged. “I know he’s going to try and take me down though, and I know he’s not going to stand.”
The veteran is also sure that preparations are going as well as they could be. He said,
“I was in the middle of getting ready for Antanas [Jazbutis] until he got injured and pulled out. Since then, I took a little break, but I also added a little more to my coaching staff. I’ve brought in a new strength and power coach Lee de Souza, a new Thai coach in Philip Tieu and obviously kept my old sparring partners Mikey, Glen and my old boxing coach Harry. I’ve also been training with Michael Russell and Jude Samuels for BJJ.
“I’m all over the place training,” he continued, “And hopefully, it’s going to be the case I’m working with people that are bettering me in all areas. I’m actually heading away to another training camp somewhere in England, but I don’t really want to say where it is. After that, I will be heading off to another. It’s just to pick up the holes in my game where I think these guys are better than me, and where I think Paul Reed could possibly be strong.”
He is also adamant an improved Ashleigh Grimshaw will be on show in Birmingham. “I’ll be honest with you, when people see the size of me when I come back in you’re going to see it,” he revealed. “I’ve actually easily put on between three and four kilos of muscle. I’ve never struggled to make weight; I make the weight bang on every time.”
A learning fighter, Grimshaw is constantly evolving. “I’m not one of those fighters that’s stuck in ways,” he divulged. “I don’t look at anyone as a lower fighter than me. Whether you’ve got one fight or twenty fights, you probably have something to show me, and if I don’t, then I’ll throw it away. I always try and learn, because if you don’t learn you get beat up.”
In his last outing, Ashleigh came up short to Dave Lee, losing after 3:56 of round two by rear naked choke. “I was disappointed in myself, but I don’t want to take anything away from Dave Lee,” said Grimshaw of the contest. “He’s a superb fighter, but for some reason unknown to me, I kept taking the Jiu Jitsu fighter down. God knows why – it is the most stupid thing I’ve ever done. He’s clearly solid on the floor and I kept taking him down. I was even wondering what I was playing at. I didn’t have the greatest training camp for that though, and my gameplan was to stand and bang with him and I strayed away from that. I’ve never done that before.”
“Don’t get me wrong, you have to evolve as the fight progresses,” Ash carried on. “If the fight isn’t going to plan, then of course you change it, but he was on the back foot, and for some reason I consistently took him down.”
The upcoming Reed fight comes six months after the Lee contest, but Grimshaw seems assured that the time out of the cage won’t be a problem.
“I fought in November against Dave and I didn’t feel too rusty then,” he stated. “I’m a fifteen fight veteran now; I don’t think I’m going to have any ring rust. It’s not like I’ve had a year long layoff; it’s a few months. I trained properly for a fight, took a break as if I had the fight and then started training again.”
However, pullouts has been something that has plagued the top Featherweight, as he readily admits. “It’s happened to me on four different shows,” told Ashleigh. “Simon Boulter did it to me twice, I had Antanas, and also Ashley Smith from the Wolfslair, and this was on four different shows in ZT, FX3, Cage Gladiators and Knuckle-Up. It’s not that I don’t want to fight, it’s just sometimes I can’t get it.
“It’s like you think, ‘I’ve put in seven to eight weeks of training and I’m not going to get to hit anybody!’ Nobody’s going to get to see anything new that I’ve got. It happened once before in particular when I went to Thailand to train and I couldn’t get a fight for the next seven months, and that was no good.”
Another potentially lucrative fight fell through for the Southerner recently, although he still has ambitions of fighting for the organisation it was set to be staged under.
“I was meant to be fighting in Dream; the one that happened against Yoshiro Maeda,” said Grimshaw. “They actually contacted my manager and offered me the fight at 63 kilos, but I couldn’t get the work visa on time. It was on two weeks’ notice anyway, so I was just going to cut for that time and then throw down. Hopefully, touch wood I can get in Dream after this. That’s where I want to fight. Above everything, I want to fight in Dream.”
Fighting in Japan would obviously be much different from taking part in contests on home soil, but Ashleigh believes that he is more than capable of absorbing the different culture and climate. “I’m not silly,” asserted Grimshaw. “I wouldn’t get there three or four days before; I’d get there two weeks early, acclimatise and be ready to go. That’s where I want to be. I look forward to it; that’s where I want to go. I want the crowd to be silent and cheer if my guard gets passed or if I put a submission on or escape; I thrive off that.”
Before this though, Ashleigh needs to get past Paul Reed; something that he knows won’t be easy to do.
“Above all things, Reed is extremely tough,” he noted. “He is very, very, very tough. The guy just fights everybody. He’s a tough fella, but I’m confident of the win; otherwise I wouldn’t have taken the fight.”
More information on the whole BAMMA 3 bill can be found at bamma.net.