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Interview with IMMAF Gold Medallist Ben Forsyth



In November of 2015, Ireland’s Ben Forsyth took part in the 2015 IMMAF European Championships of Amateur MMA competing in the light heavyweight division. After fighting his way to the final, he finished Hungary’s Balaze Kiss via TKO little over half-way into the second round to claim a gold medal. I had the chance to discuss this and more with him recently.

His IMMAF gold medal win had to be the starting point and I opened by congratulating him and asking about the whole experience. “Thank you so much. I really appreciate that,” he began. “It was a great moment for myself and my team. A phenomenal experience that I believe I will relish for the rest of my life.

Aside from the euphoria of winning, there are often moments that stand out in the minds of competitors and Forsyth is no different. “If I had to recall a certain moment that stood out to me most from the championships, apart from getting the gold of course, I would say the 1st fight of the tournament and the feeling I had after getting through it,” he reminisced. “I’m not used to competing at light heavyweight and in fact I was still under the weight class by 2+ kilos so these guys looked massive to me. The first guy especially. Myself and John (Kavanagh) knew I’d have to play matador and fight intelligently. After getting out of a solid guillotine attempt in the second round I got the TKO finish and just the feeling I had afterwards was that of reassurance. I have a big belief in my hard work and skill in any case, but after that fight I knew I could take gold.

The IMMAF are most certainly leading the charge in the development of amateur MMA, something which is absolutely vital for the future of the sport. Forsyth believes that tournaments like the European Championships can only be beneficial for young, upcoming fighters. “I am actually quite envious of all the amateur fighters coming up now, as this style of tournament is phenomenal for development and experience,” he stated. “I think the sport at an amateur level should lean away from big ticketed shows which puts an un-necessary amount of pressure and expectation on fighters. The focus at this level should be development of skills and cage experience. If there was an IMMAF style tournament once every say, 2 months, the fighters that come out at the end will be the real deal and would know they are in it for the right reasons.

In Forsyth’s case, the next step in his career is to turn professional and he now has a date and opponent for that occasion. He will be fighting Luke Taylor for ICE Fighting Championship on February 20th. “He looks like a warrior,” Forsyth said. “But I am also a warrior. We will do battle and the better man will prevail on the night. That’s all that matters.”

Something that is synonymous with MMA, and combat sports in general, are nicknames. Forsyth is known as “The Spider Monkey”, a nickname which I asked the origins of. “I got that nickname from my mate Gary,” he told me. “I think it suits me as I’m very long limbed and monkey like. I don’t know, I’m open to a change but I haven’t gotten a better suggestion yet.

In the MMA world at the moment, Straight Blast Gym (SBG) in Dublin, Ireland is one of the most talked about and highly thought of gyms. UFC stars such as Paddy Holohan, Cathal Pendred, Aisling Daly and Conor McGregor fight out of that gym under the tutelage of John Kavanagh and Forsyth is another who represents that gym. “It feels like home,” Forsyth said. “I’ve often said in the past how much of a privilege it is to train with these guys, and it is of course, but after being there for so long now, it just feels normal to me. They are my family and we’re all learning and evolving together.  It’s something really, really special that I’m grateful to be a part of.

Having a UFC champion in the gym can only be a positive thing for upcoming fighters. I asked Forsyth about any advice he might have received from the UFC featherweight champion and he responded by saying “The only advice I’ve ever gotten from Conor is probably the most valuable piece of advice you could get, no matter what you’re pursuing in life, and that is simply ‘Just keep going’.

Something else that has become evident from MMA in Ireland is the passion that the fans have for the sport and how vociferously the Irish support their own. UFC president Dana White once famously called the Irish fans ‘pound for pound the best fans in the world’. Something that Forsyth has experienced himself in his young career to date. “I have had a huge amount of support throughout my entire time competing,” he started. “It has definitely snowballed since the Europeans and people are starting to take notice. My close circle have kept their belief in me through the losses as well as the wins and I will be forever grateful to them for that. I got a tweet from one person saying that the whole of Ireland is behind me for the European finals. I couldn’t help but feel a huge sense of pride and honour when I read that and I will do my absolute best to represent the country and all of my supporters now on the professional circuit.

Forsyth is one of a number of talented young Irish stars being tipped to be the next wave to take MMA by storm. With fighters like Dylan Tuke, Frans Mlambo, James Gallagher and Sinead Kavanagh to name but a few emerging recently, the future looks right for Irish MMA. “I can add a few more to that list that are huge prospects and are going to shine over the next year,” Forsyth enthused. “It’s really exciting to be a part of this. I think that this, right now, what’s happening with Conor, Paddy, Aisling and all of the Irish fighters is a huge part of history, not only in Irish martial arts, but martial arts in general and will be spoken about for a long, long time. To be a part of it and to be even mentioned alongside the fighters you outlined there is beyond amazing to me.

Nobody could argue that the degree of success for Irish MMA over the last few years, especially when you consider how small the country and its population is in comparison to most, is staggering. I asked Forsyth if there was one thing in particular he could attribute that to. “I think it all comes down to one man,” he replied. “The Irish takeover began the day that John Kavanagh decided to pursue teaching martial arts over an engineering career. Of course there are a lot of other contributing factors but if I were to put it down to one thing. It’s all because of John.

As far as 2016 goes, with one bout already scheduled, I then asked what goals he had set himself for the year ahead. “My goals for 2016 are to have at least 3 bouts and finish the year unbeaten,” Forsyth said. “I belive this will get me into the UFC. I also want to compete a lot in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and raise my level there. I have a few other non-fight related goals including growing a coffee brand I’m working on and learning how to backflip. There are a few others too. It’s good to have goals. It’s all about evolving and learning.

As Forsyth embarks on his professional career, everyone at MMA Latest would like to thank Ben for his time and wish him the best of luck in his future progression as a mixed martial artist. In concluding the interview, I asked him if he had any closing comments and I will leave the last word to him. “All I would like to add is just a thank you to MMA latest for approaching me for this interview and to everyone who supports me out there. If you want to follow my career, my twitter is @Spydermonkeymma or just add me on Facebook. I’m a nice guy, I’ll accept you!

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Will Fleury discusses incident on “The Fighter” and upcoming bout on December 16th



Earlier this week footage from EFC’s “The Fighter” emerged on social media. The video showed SBG’s Will Fleury being struck with countless illegal blows to the spine and to the back of the head. At first glance viewers would look and see the first strike then await the referee to stop the action and warn the other fighter. Unfortunately, that did not happen, at long last, the fight was stopped, however, instead of a disqualification win for Fleury. It was ruled a no contest. The video bodes the question to what the referee was doing as well as raising the awareness of fighter safety.

Following all the in cage drama, Fleury was forced out of the show after being told he was concussed despite no medical tests being done on him. With everything said and done, Will looks back on the situation with frustration after all the errors made by EFC.

“The situation was a mess on a number of levels. There was huge potential in the show if they’d let me fight on. But they’ve made a series of inexcusable errors that have led to this ridiculous situation. I think they wanted to brush this all under the carpet and pretend it never happened. They basically treated me like I was a problem that they didn’t want to have to deal with.”

When looking at the in-cage issues Fleury does not blame EFC, as it was, of course, the referee’s fault. The manner in which they went about removing him from the show amongst other things is something he found speculative though.

“The EFC is a promotion, their goal is profit, not fair sport. In fairness, they can’t be held accountable for the referee’s incompetence. But, how they decided to deal with it afterwards was very questionable.”

Currently, in MMA, fighter safety is one of the most talked about things, from weight-cutting to late stoppages. Ireland, in particular, takes extra precaution with the introduction of Safe MMA. In his bout, Fleury’s safety did not look like it was in the best interest of the referee. Fleury recalls meeting the ref a week later and showing him the footage only to be taken back and annoyed at the referee’s response of not seeing any issue.

“If your role as a referee is to ensure fighter safety, he clearly failed miserably. Honestly, I think he’s just not competent for the job. I don’t know how long he’s been involved in the sport for but I met him at a show a week later and showed him the video. He didn’t really think any of the shots were to the back of the head, I got so angry, I couldn’t talk to the guy. Also, It was called a no contest because my head was moving apparently that doesn’t make sense either”

Considering his health was at risk due to the referee’s actions, Will is feeling fit and well with no issues coming out of the fight.

“Yeah, it honestly seems fine. I genuinely felt fine right afterwards and in the days after too. I was winning challenges in the house 16 hours after the fight. looking at the footage is very grim tho, who knows what sort of damage its done in the long term, hopefully very little”

For those who don’t know, Will is scheduled to fight Gordon Roodman on December 16th. Not exactly pleased with the new fight offer, he is glad to finally be able to showcase his abilities but doesn’t see this fight as any consolation for what happened.

“I wouldn’t say pleased. But it gives me a welcome outlet for my frustration and I finally have a platform to show just how good I am at whooping ass. No, It’s not really a consolation. I don’t think they give a shit about what’s fair. They just reckon they can make money from me. You can expect a 1st round TKO/KO”

Will has a very close friendship with teammate Ben Forsyth, having fought before he detailed how they became friends afterwards. After mentioning how it’d be cool to fight on the same card as Ben he details that getting those ever so scarce fights at the higher weight classes come first.

“Ben contacted me about becoming less of a twat so I gave him some advice and things blossomed from there. Yeah, that’d be great but our number one priority for both of us right now is just getting the fights.”

Will then went on to detail the hardship in getting fights on the regional scene.

“Yeah, it’s a serious struggle especially when you’re known to be a good fighter and people are trying to look after their records. there’s also just not that many guys. I’ve fought twice and I’m already the best Middleweight in Ireland. If it were up to me I’d have a lot more but still, that shows you how few guys there are. and if anyone has an issue with me being the best Middleweight in Ireland make 84 and I can prove you wrong”

For those who haven’t seen the footage mentioned above, here it is. Be sure to keep an eye out for Will in his upcoming bout a few weeks from now.

EFC was approached for a comment on this footage, however, have unfortunately not responded.

This is how my time on TF1 ended. 15 elbows, 11 directly to the back of the head, 3 to the spine with the other elbow after the referee tries to stop him. I had been dominating this fight up to this point and was keen to continue (I have to full fight footage proving this). I was told I couldn’t. The fight was declared a no contest rather than a DQ as I was “moving my head”. I was then booted out of the tournament because I was “concussed” (never did any tests to prove this and I was winning challenges in the house 16 hours after this happened) I was the best fighter in that house by a considerable distance and would have smashed any of the other 10 contenders if given the chance. I proved it in every training session and every legal moment in any of my fights. I’ve been denied the chance to earn a decent contract and get my title shot. I’m Will Fleury. I win shit these fucks have disturbed the natural order and I will restore it. #Bullshit #TF1 #irishmma #EFC #mmanews #mmafighting #trykeepmedown #rawbastard #resilientbastard

A post shared by Will Fleury (@willfleury) on

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Today’s MMA news round-up



Today has been a pretty busy day when it comes to MMA news. We’ve had it all today from new champions to commissioners being slapped to fighters being flagged by USADA. It’s been hectic to say the least so here are the highlights of today’s news.

1. Conor McGregor causes havoc at Bellator 187

Yes, that’s correct, Conor McGregor at Bellator. Following the win of his teammate and friend Charlie Ward at Bellator 187 the UFC Lightweight Champion entered the cage to celebrate with Ward, however, their celebrations did not go to plan. Referee Marc Goddard wasn’t pleased with this in the slightest and tried get McGregor out. This didn’t go down too well as McGregor confronted the referee who initially pushed him. See the video here:

This unfortunately was not the only incident as Conor appeared to slap an official who tried to get him off the top of the cage.
Credit to @BryanLaceyMMA for this one

2. Bellator to hold 8 Man Grand Prix for Vacant Heavyweight Championship

Earlier today it was confirmed by MMA Fighting that Bellator would crown a new Heavyweight champions following a report from MMA Junkie. There is no official dates yet, however, they do hope to start on January 20th and crown a new champion by the end of the year. There are some big names bidding to become the new champion, they are:

Fedor Emleianenko
Frank Mir
Matt Mitrione
Roy Nelson
Ryan Bader
Rampage Jackson
King Mo Lawal
Chael Sonnen

3. Anderson Silva flagged by USADA for potential doping violation, out of UFC Shanghai Main Event

Former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva failed a USADA doping test and was pulled from the UFC Shanghai Main Event. The sample was collected from an out of competition test on October 26th. This is now his second time failing a doping test. Last time he was hit with a one year suspension and a heavy fine. No more information on the matter has been made available yet in relation to suspension.

4. UFC newcomer Grant Dawson also flagged by USADA for potential doping violation

USADA had a field day today in terms of fighters testing positive for doping. Grant Dawson, who has yet to even get a date for his debut was flagged for a sample collected on October 18th. The 23 year old was signed after impressing on Dana White’s contender series where he scored a second round submission on Adrian Diaz.

5. Martin Nguyen becomes ONE Championship’s first ever two division champion

Featherweight Champion Martin Nguyen stepped up to Lightweight to clash with title holder Eduard Folayang in effort of making history. Many ruled Nguyen out but he silenced all critics when viciously knocked out Folayang to take home another title. See the knockout here:
Credit to @Jolassanda for the video.

 6. All but one fighter make-weight for UFC Norfolk

Things were running smoothly today at the UFC Norfolk weigh ins until Matthew Lopez stepped up to the scales for his bout with Rafael Assuncao. He weighed in 2.5lbs over for his bout. The fight will go ahead, however, Lopez will lose 20% of his purse. Both Pettis and Poirier successfully made weight for their Main Event fight tomorrow night.

7. One new BAMMA champion while Lahore defends his belt in style

Despite some streaming troubles for the first two fights, BAMMA finally got one up in time for fans to see the final 3 fights. In the World Flyweight Title fight, Andy “Taz” Young fell lost his belt to Spaniard Daniel Barez via Majority Decision, After being docked a point in the opening round Barez came back strong to take home the World Title.

In the Main Event of the evening then, the anticipated match up between Alex Lahore and Richard Kiely went down. There was a lot of hype surrounding this one in the build up to the fight but it went as planned for Lahore. The champion pressured for a takedown in the first until finally succeeding, following some work on the mat it looked as if Kiely was about to gain some advantage on top. Only for Lahore to lock in a Kneebar and finish off the fight retaining his belt.

8. Cage Warriors 89 gets a shake up

The Cage Warriors Belgium card had an incredible addition today as they announced via newsletter that Karl Amoussou will defend his belt against Dominique Steele in the Main Event. The fight for the Vacant Heavyweight Championship was then demoted to co-main with a change in opponents for Mauro Cerilli. Dutchman Nills van Noord stepped up to face the Italian after Light Heavyweight Champion Karl Moore was forced off the card due to injury. This dampened his hopes of becoming the first Cage Warriors two division champion since Conor McGregor.

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Conor McGregor

McGregor hints a title unification bout with Ferguson on Irish TV



UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor made his first appearance on Irish television following his mega-money fight with Floyd Mayweather last night on the famous ” The Late Late Show” where he talked about post Mayweather, potential fights, fatherhood and promoted his movie ” Notorious” which follows McGregor from his first headlined PPV against Chad Mendes to win the interim featherweight title to the second fight with Nate Diaz in August 2016.

One of the notable talking points on the show was that McGregor stated he is currently in talks with UFC about a new contract and a potential fight with the new UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson seems likely to be his next fight to unify the titles.

McGregor has yet to defend his title since winning it in Madison Square Garden last year at UFC 205 and has come under criticism for not defending the title after moving up a weight class to capture the lightweight belt but the Irish man said he wanted to put the division right again by unifying the titles.

The host asked if a potential fight would happen on St Patricks Day in New York but McGregor dismissed the fight by saying ” Leave St Patricks day to St Patrick, I’ll have St McGregor Day”

McGregor also spoke about a potential trilogy fight with fan favorite Nate Diaz and stated that a trilogy fight between the pair would have to be contested at 155 pounds for the title after fighting twice at welterweight.

As of right now, no decision has been officially made on who or when McGregor will next fight but with the recent announcement that UFC would be holding a PPV in Boston in 2018, many have speculated that a potential return for McGregor would take place in the TD Garden as the Irish man as competed in Boston twice and been victorious on both occasions over UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway and Denis Siver.

Expect many questions to be answered by the Notorious one in the coming weeks as negotiations for his return to m.m.a seems to be on the horizon.

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