(Mason, who has the biggest opportunity of his career this weekend)
Team Tsunami’s Jack Mason (12-5) is a fighter that was truly thrown in at the deep end; his MMA career began just a couple of months after he had started training in the sport and opponents such as Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis and Jake Blyth (who was 4-0 at the time) didn’t exactly give him the friendliest of welcomes into the professional arena.
Despite an unconvincing start, where many may have given up, Mason has gone on to accumulate an impressive record after defeats in his first four outings. A feat of this calibre takes a resounding will and belief to carry on, but Jack also credits his team for the success he has since found:
“At the start of my career I took my first three fights within about three months of starting training MMA, having never really trained too much in combat sports at all!” he revealed. “I made the mistake of fighting too early and had a tough time because of it. I fought some tough opposition way too early and in hindsight I wish I had trained for a good few years before starting to compete.
“I have some great experiences from it though and I have learnt a lot. The real turning point was when I joined the team at Tsunami and my MMA career has really gone from strength to strength ever since. It’s a long way from where I live but I get to train with some of the best guys in UK. It’s got a great team spirit and with their guidance I have managed to turn my MMA career around.”
The turnaround is a massive understatement when you look at where Mason now stands. With a string of recent victories (winning ten of his last eleven) and an undefeated record in Ultimate Challenge, his only loss since the first four unsuccessful outings came to burgeoning UFC welterweight John Hathaway. He has now worked his way to a title shot at the next Ultimate Challenge show against UK MMA legend Mark Weir and it presents him with an opportunity to pick up a highly regarded title – something which he is not taking lightly, hence his intense preparation.
“This is a massive fight for me,” Jack asserted. “To fight Mark Weir is a dream come true, especially for the UCMMA belt! It’s been pretty tough preparing for this fight, I have a demanding day job and I’ve had to sacrifice a lot to make sure I’m in the best shape I can be.”
He continued, “I’ve spent a lot of time on my conditioning as I know Mark Weir is built to go the distance. I’ve been doing lots of power lifting, endurance circuits, kettlebells and road runs to make up my conditioning routine; I normally do this before work or at lunchtimes. After work I’ve been alternating my evenings at either boxing, BJJ or training my MMA at Tsunami. I’ve really been trying to work on my stand-up as I am trying to become as well-rounded as I can be and I know that is where Mark Weir is strongest.”
He can also count some of Europe’s elite amongst his training partners for this one, as he headed North to train with some of the best Scandinavia has to offer:
“For this training camp I’ve spent some time in Sweden training with the Gladius MMA team headed up by August Wallen. They have a great team out there and one of their top fighters, Alexander Gustaffson, is also in training for his fight at UFC 112 in April so the training out there was pretty intense and exactly what I needed!”
This level of preparation does come at a cost, but it is one Mason is willing to incur to further himself and his dream of becoming the best fighter possible. “The Wizard” is also a UFC veteran though, and will want to use his experience and solid kickboxing repertoire to spoil Mason’s party. Jack will be prepared for this, however.
“Weir’s pretty well rounded although I’ll be looking out for his knees and head kicks mainly, which I think they are his greatest assets,” he noted, before adding that he has an idea of the weak points in the well-versed fighters’ game, although not wanting to give up his game plan.
Ultimate Challenge has been forging its way to the top of the domestic scene, largely regarded as one of the elite promotions in the country under the guidance of Dave O’ Donnell. Whilst many shows offer belts and titles, Mason is aware that the one he contends for is very prestigious. It was vacated by Tom “Kong” Watson following his recent signing and success with the MFC in Canada and, whilst Mason revealed he would have loved to face Watson for the title, any chance to get his hands on it is something he will grasp.
“It’s always been my goal to win the UCMMA belt as, for me, this is the best event this side of the Atlantic. I really hope I can put the hard work into practice and take that belt home,” Jack divulged, clearly appreciative that he has the opportunity to fight for the championship gold, especially against a fighter of the calibre of Mark Weir. “For me UCMMA is the number one show in the UK, it looks after its fighters, it is well established and the actual live event is unparalleled in the atmosphere it creates! I think the UCMMA roster includes some great fighters and many of the UK’s elite, the fight cards are getting better and better and I think that all of the UCMMA title holders would give any other UK based title holders a run for their money!”
Like many others, his next fight is a potential springboard for Jack to achieve big things in 2010. With hopes of reaching the glittering highs of Japan and America, which would be “a dream come true” for him, he must first take care of the task at hand this coming weekend. “My goal is to really establish myself as a force at middleweight and improve on my winning streak,” was the response when asked how he saw the year playing out. “The one and only thing on my mind at the moment though is to prove to myself and everyone else that I deserve to be the UCMMA middleweight champ and I am going to do that on 27th March.”
Ultimate Challenge’s “Adrenaline Rush” takes place this Saturday, March 27th, at the Troxy in London. With the epic clash of Weir vs. Mason and a whole host of other featured bouts including Heagney vs. Pastou and Dave Lee vs. James Saville for the lightweight and featherweight belts respectively, you can expect it to deliver a great night of action with many fights possibly having a resounding impact on the UK MMA landscape. Head to www.ultimatechallengeuk.com for more details.