(The experienced Leigh Remedios, who is making one last run for the top. Image courtesy of Sherdog)
The long and varied career of Leigh Remedios has been a constant topic of conversation in UK MMA circles. From a successful debut on July 26th, 1997 in British Columbia to the recent victory over Paddy Doherty this past weekend at Knuckleup: Origins in Cheltenham, the ride has seen him internationally recognised in the UFC, top the domestic rankings and take on some of the best in the world; Mike Brown and Genki Sudo included.
There have been titles, wins and the sweet taste of success. There have also been losses, setbacks and retirements. Remedios is now firmly focused on utilising what is left in his tank to make an impact once again, using a string of wins domestically to hopefully propel him back to the international calibre matchups.
He continued on that path with the submission win over Doherty, and Leigh relived the encounter, noting the problems that his adversary posed:
“Anyone’s a threat,” he noted. “Anyone with a few wins can beat you but, to be honest, I knew I was the favourite coming in. The win was more me than him on the night; I did what I had to do well. It’s all still a bit of a test for me at the new weight with my strength and conditioning so I was pleased.
“He’s fought a guy that I train with, Greg Knapp, so I knew Paddy was tough. He did a few things that surprised me and he was shorter than I expected. He got down low in level and I threw a head kick which kept him wary.”
Although Remedios is known largely as a submission grappler – winning this encounter with a choke in the first round – he is keen to stress that he is a mixed martial artist in the true sense, and is “confident fighting anywhere”.
“I can fight on my feet. I’m never going to be a kickboxing champion but I can hold my own,” he asserted. Well-versed in the wrestling and submission departments, he has his preferences, but won’t shy away from conflict in any area. “Obviously I like to be on top, punching away, but you can’t assume that the fight will go all your own way.”
“I don’t think Paddy actually came close to hitting me, I felt very confident in that range,” Remedios continued.
Although another win is exciting news and a step in the right direction for his career, Leigh admits he is still learning how his body adapts to the weight after a torrid affair during his first cut.
“I was much more comfortable this time,” he said of making the weight, coming down from a ‘walk around’ weight of around 70kg. “In the first bantamweight fight I had problems rehydrating and had to go to the hospital. I didn’t feel right until around 4pm on the day of the fight. I was OK for the fight, but I was worried. This time it was OK. I got some good tips on rehydration from Wez Murch and the weight came back on a lot easier.”
Whilst this would suggest that a future at bantamweight is the way forward, Leigh has never been one to shy away from a challenge, revealing, “If the right fights come up, I’ll fight anyone but bantamweight seems better for me, I’m big and strong at this weight. You’ve got some big guys at featherweight that cut massive amounts, so it’d have to be worth it.”
Of course, the UK bantamweight division is currently brimming with talent; Brad Pickett, Paul McVeigh and James Doolan dominating the European rankings. All of these fighters would make for intriguing contests with UFC veteran Remedios, but with Pickett tied up in America and having success in the WEC, talk turned to the Dinky Ninjas.
“I hear that Doolan is pretty keen to fight me and it’s got as far as a promoter in Scotland. It’s been talked about,” Leigh told us. He holds a victory over McVeigh, but admits both men have changed a lot since those days back in 2003. “I don’t know about Paul. I know he wouldn’t turn it down, he takes tough fights and he isn’t worried about risking his ranking. But as far as actively seeking me out for a rematch? I don’t think so. It was such a long time ago and I don’t know if he’d actually have much to gain.”
“I don’t know if the outcome would be much different again though,” he laughed.
Talk of high-calibre European bouts is certainly what Remedios is envisaging as he goes for his last run towards the major promotions. America is the dream, although not the be all and end all.
“I always want to be the best I can be, I’m definitely not in it for the money. I’d be down on the deal,” Leigh joked. “I just want to have some good scraps and see where I can go.”
“My aim is to go internationally again. I don’t have any specific people in mind and I’m not calling anybody out but I don’t want to be a journeyman and fight guys I shouldn’t be fighting. I want to push myself until I can’t push anymore.
“I would love to go to the WEC, that’d be my goal after 1-2 more fights. They’ve got all the best light guys there; Faber, Aldo, Brown and Bowles, the champion at my weight, although Japan has great fighters too and I’d be happy to settle there. A fight’s a fight but it’s all about the experience and travel. I love to travel and if someone is willing to pay me to go and take in the Japanese experience and culture then that’d be good!”
So, whilst he does have aspirations, all Remedios really wants from the fight game is the test and the experiences. He still seems to have plenty of miles on the clock, but admits he won’t keep going much longer than he has to.
“I’m thirty-four and I think age plays a big factor in the lighter weight classes because it’s more about speed, and that’s the first thing to go. That said, I’m sensible and I don’t get into a lot of gym wars. I’m evasive when I fight and I’m still strong and fit. I feel good for a few more years.”
Remedios isn’t the kind of guy to give up on a goal, and you can bet that whilst he still has the body and mind to compete, he’ll be pushing for those “good scraps” and climbing his way back up the ladder.