Peter Irving is a multi-disciplined fighter from the North-East of England. He has competed in MMA and K-1, while also gaining a black belt in BJJ. He takes on Alex Ciolac in the K-1 main event of Eiko 4, in Newcastle, this weekend. Peter took some time out to talk about the upcoming fight and his journey in the world of martial arts.
Hi Peter, can you tell Split Decision a little about yourself?
“I’m Pete Irving and I fight for Semtex gym. I’m a miserable old bastard who can’t derive pleasure from anything other than kicking people in the leg or punching them in the liver”.
You have had quite a journey in Martial Arts. How did it all begin?
“I wasn’t really a martial arts fan as a kid. I wasn’t really crazy about Bruce Lee and Van Damme. I think I was always aware that it was fantasy, and pretty shoddy storytelling to boot. I started late, I was a punk rocker, living a bad life. Fighting MMA seemed to offer the chance of a better life, something more noble. I was half right perhaps”.
You are a Black Belt in BJJ! How long did it take you to obtain and how did you feel on getting the belt?
“It took 10 years, the classic number for the achievement of black belt. I know a lot of talented guys get promoted quicker these days, but in general I think a decade should be the minimum. It’s a big responsibility, my gi game is not up there with really good competitive black belts. I’m a no-gi / MMA specialist and my jiu-jitsu works for MMA, but not so well for the modern sport game. Still, I think people like me are essential for the broader reputation of BJJ, a reputation built in Vale Tudo fights much more than on the mats of tournaments. I’m trying to improve my gi game as much as I can, but it’s hard to fit it in with fighting k-1 every few weeks”.
Your next fight at Eiko 4 is against Alex Ciolac. How much do you know about him and what kind of fight can we expect on the night?
“I’ve seen him fight before, he looks strong. He’s fought some good opposition. I like the European style those guys have, I think it’ll make a good exciting fight, a lot of back and forth. That’s the kind of fight I like and crowds like”.
What is your current K-1 Record?
“I’m not completely sure. I’ve had about 20 k-1 and Muay Thai fights and won most of them. I’m the current UCMMA UK-1 champ and ICO super middleweight British champion”.
How different is it going into a K1 fight, compared to MMA?
“It’s less stressful, more fun. I like the pace, the speed and rhythm of K-1”.
Which do you prefer K-1 or MMA and what has been the highlights of your career so far?
“I prefer fighting K-1. I used to over think MMA fights and it took some of the fun out of it. Also I’m less connected and invested in the K-1/Muay Thai circuit. I just rock up with my gloves and fight, fairly anonymously, and go home and don’t read about it or think too much about it ever again. I haven’t even seen many of my k-1 fights back on tape, but I used to obsessively scrutinise my MMA performances.
The spirit of events is a lot more pleasant in Thai boxing. People are more loyal to their gyms but more pleasant to their rivals. The requirements of the multi discipline nature of MMA, and the American ‘superstar’ athlete model has a lot of fighters getting rockstar syndrome very early in their careers and thinking they are more important than the gym, which has really jeopardised the whole concept of a team. The Thai boxing crowds are nicer and more appreciative of the sport too. At times everybody seems to be a plastic gangster in an MMA crowd. It seems like they are just there to see somebody get hurt and humiliated”.
Eiko is putting on one hell of a card on 5th May.Have you fought at Eiko before and how much do you know about the promotion?
“I fought on Eiko once before, supporting my friend and long time team mate Craig Jose, a World class Thai boxer. I defeated young German prospect Daniel Solaja and Craig won another Title for his substantial collection. It was a good day”.
What is a typical training camp like for you?
“I train at Semtex gym 6 days a week and once a week coach Sunny Dholakia gives me a fitness test, comprised of timed sprints, pad sets and a variety of resistance work.
I spar less than I used to, a couple of times a week, as I’m fighting more regularly. I’ve gone more ‘old school’ in my training these days, as you can’t really periodise training when fighting every month. I just run a bit, hit the pads, and fight”.
You oversee a network of gyms! Is there any particular fighters we should be looking out for?
“I work with a few guys in the North-East. My guys Ryan Roddy, Tommy Quinn and Alex Enlund are all with Cagewarriors now, which is a great place to progress and get exposure. Alex is a really talented coach with a strong crop of young guys coming through the ranks. I won’t jinx anyone by naming names, but they are doing it the right way, building up a step at a time.
Richy Knox runs our Newcastle gym, and the future is bright for him too, the next few years will be very exciting”.
Having fought all over the world, which countries have been your favourite to fight in?
“I loved Estonia, the guys there were so hospitable, we were treated so well. Russia was fascinating, but I wouldn’t care to live there. I loved fighting in California, but unfortunately I’m not allowed back in the U.S., which really fucked my MMA career. Brazil has got to be the greatest place though. I often wish I’d never come home”.
Which international MMA fighters do you enjoy watching fight in your spare time and what do you like about them?
“I follow the guys I know and have the bold, exciting fighting style I like. Guys like Paul Daley and Ross Pearson. I don’t really like anybody that’s coming through anymore though. The criteria for winning has made it boring and I don’t really like watching the UFC, I haven’t for quite a while. For years now I’ve spent all day in the gym, from early morning to late night, and my weekends are taken up by cornering, giving seminars or fighting myself. The last thing I want to do with any leisure time I get is watch MMA”.
Thanks again for taking the time to speak to Split Decision MMA UK. Is there anybody you’d like to give a shout out to?
“Just my coaches at Semtex gym: Steve Gladstone and Kieran Keddle. My MMA teacher Alan Orr, who sadly for me is moving to New Zealand soon. Of course, that’s also brilliant, as I’ll be going over to fight in New Zealand”.