“I think with a win over Ben Alloway I’ve got to be very close to a shot at the title”.
When you think of Jack ‘The Stone’ Mason, what are your first thoughts? Tremendous athlete? Quality coach? Pioneer of UK MMA? or all of the above plus more? For me Jack Mason sums up the dedication and drive required to see results pay off and reap the benefits. Not only has he faced some of the toughest fighters, he has come through them with flying colors, has gotten into the cage 38 times as a professional and turned professional nearly ten years ago in 2005. 2014 is looking like it could be one hell of a year for the Essex based fighter and who would deny him that?
2013 for Jack was a very good one which saw him go 4-1 inside the Cage Warriors cage with wins over Matt Inman, Collin Reuter, Vladmir Opanasenko and Seydina Seck. He got two TKO (Elbow and Punches) and two unanimous decision victories and pushed himself right up to the top of the welterweight ladder. Looking back on the year he has found himself taking so much from the year and a great balance in training.
“I think that a winning record on Cage Warriors is really something to be proud of as the level of competition is so high and they have so many international opponents on their cards. I managed to beat top ten UK competition and also beat some of the best fighters in Europe too. I learnt a huge amount this year and I think I’ve found a formula in my training that really works now so I’m in a really good place in terms of fighting and training now”.
The only defeat which Jack suffered in 2013 came at Cage Warriors 57 in Liverpool, when he took on Ali Arish. It was a tough fight and he unfortunately suffered an unanimous decision loss. He was originally due to fight Bruno Carvalho but Arish stepped in on five days notice, which can sometimes throw off the best of them. Losses, however, can become good learning curves and Jack has definitely taken a bit away from that fight.
“Well that match was made on five days notice and I wasn’t as well prepared as I should have been as was preparing for Carvalho who is very different stylistically, that said the fight was so close that if I had hustled that little bit more I think I would have got the decision which has played on my mind ever since. Going into the third round I thought the fight was mine as I’d won the second and thought I had the measure of Arish and I started a bit slow. I should have gone for broke from the outset and I didn’t which cost me the third round. I won’t make the same mistake again”.
Three months after that fight he returned to the cage in Amman, Jordan, when he took on Ukrainian Vladimir Opanasenko and put on a fantastic performance and got a very deadly finish via second round TKO (Elbows and Punches). Jack was back on song and ready to take on all comers and the performance against someone of Opansenko’s quality made people take even more notice.
“It was a great end to the year and brilliant to get the finish against Opansenko who is an M1 Vet and a Sambo champion in Russia. I can’t thank Cage Warriors enough for the opportunities they’ve given me in 2013 and I hope to repay them but supplying them with some more brutal finishes in 2014”.
Now all the focus turns to 2014 and UK fans will be hoping that Jack can get some more brutal finishes, especially in his next meeting which comes against highly touted Australian Benny Alloway. Alloway is known for his time on the UFC: The Smashes ‘TUF’ show and then his brief stint with the company. There is no love lost between the UK and Australia and it will make for one hell of a fight on the Cage Warriors 65 card, in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday 1st March 2014. Jack is expecting Benny to come out firing on all cylinders but doesn’t think he is up there with some of the opponents he has faced in the past, but he isn’t taking him lightly.
“I don’t think Benny Alloway is the best guy I’ve faced in my career so far but I think because he is a ‘UFC Vet’ for a lot of the casual MMA fans I might get a bit more props for beating him than I would for say a lesser known opponent. That being said I do think Alloway is a very tough fight for me and I have my work cut out so am working very hard for this fight and looking to take this win in impressive fashion. In terms of a title shot, in 2013 I had the most wins out of any other Welterweight on the Cage Warriors roster and I also have the most wins on Cage Warriors out of any other Welterweight on the Cage Warriors roster of all time (including the current champ). I think with a win over Ben Alloway I’ve got to be very close to a shot at the title.
I’m expecting him to come out aggressively, throw lots of kicks punches and knees, try and avoid my takedowns try and knock me out! I was him that’s what I would be trying to do too! :)”.
Also on the night in Ireland Jack’s team mate John Maguire will make his second appearance under the Cage Warriors banner when he meets top prospect Saul Rogers in the main event. John got back to winning ways with an unanimous decision victory over Philip Mulpeter at Cage Warriors 63, on New Years Eve 2013, in Ireland. It was great for everyone involved with John to see him get back to winning ways and they are expecting big things from him this year.
“It was John’s first win since April 2012 so it was brilliant to see him back in the win column and I think this will spur him on to go and do great things in the Cage Warriors lightweight division! John’s got the ability to go out there and submit all of the guys in that division and I have a feeling he will make a statement against Saul Rogers in Dublin”.
Seeing John Maguire be successful first hand is fantastic for Jack, but he gets the opportunity to train with him and learn so much from him, but there are even more people who have influenced his career right from the day he was born. With a supportive family behind him, two of the UK’s best teams in Tsunami Gym and BKK Fighters, ‘The Stone’ can only get stronger and sharper having them to influence, support and develop him.
“To be honest I’d say my mum who instilled a strong work ethic into me growing up has been a big influence to me and that approach has really allowed me to keep a full time job going whilst essentially training full time, competing at a high level and coaching.
I’ve met some fantastic people along the way and there really are too many to name the original guys who got me started in MMA properly are the original Tsunami Gym team in Robbie Olivier, Nigel Burgess, Pierre Guillet, Lee Doski, Mark Day, Chris Ellington, AJ Wenn, John Maguire and Tommy Maguire. Luke Barnatt has been a big inspiration in recent years with his go getting attitude and has really showed that if you want something then all you have to do is go out and get it.
Another inspiration is Alexander Gustafsson who we used to train with under the Shooters MMA organization out in Sweden headed up by August Wallen and again with a go getting approach, hard work ethic and refuse to lose attitude has gone from being essentially just a good boxer when I met him to one of the best Light Heavyweights in the world in a very small period of time”.
Not only do those guys really influence him, he is also a massive inspiration to other fighters as he also coaches along with competing. Coaching isn’t for everybody but Jack has really taken to it and continues to help everyone he comes across, as they get his insight and tips from what he has learnt over the years. Coaching has also really helped him as a fighter as it makes him look at the technique’s of everything and learn to break it down. With a wealth of knowledge, competing experience, and many years training, who wouldn’t want to learn from ‘The Stone?’
“Coaching definitely helps me to get better as a fighter because you have to really understand how to execute a technique before you can show and explain it to your students so it’s really opened my eyes to a lot of things. Also it gives you even more incentive and that extra drive to get better and perform each time you fight because you don’t want to let your students down and you want them to be proud of you”.
Mixed in with all of Jack’s other talents he has also taken to helping out run the BCMMA show, which is based in the East Anglia area. He helps out founder Christopher Cook and gets to put his unique perspective on the top quality events which are put on down in the south. It means that he can also focus on making sure that everything runs smoothly and bring a fighters perspective to running the show, which can only help all involved. Be sure to look out for him at there next show in Colchester on the March 29th.
“BCMMA is a local show which puts on events in Colchester and close by, primarily focusing on amateur MMA fights. I’m getting involved with the show because it gives us the opportunity to showcase the local amateur talent from BKK Fighters and the other great gyms in East Anglia in a safe and controlled manner. I want to grow the sport in Essex and surrounding areas and if I can help by ensuring the local shows are of good quality, are fairly matched and look after the fighters then I’m going to take that opportunity. I’m not in the sport of MMA for the money as there is none, I just love the sport and want to help it grow”.
I started this article by asking what everyone thought when Jack ‘The Stone’ Mason was announced and I can say there are so many positive words which can be used to describe him and they would all be correct. Hearing about how much Jack does for the sport from an Amateur to a Professional level, whether it in the cage or out, is fantastic for the sport and must be commended. However when it comes time for him to take care of his business inside the cage on March 1st, you will see the best Jack Mason you have ever seen and then is quite the task for any welterweight in the world to deal with.
Jack would like to take the opportunity to thank:
“Thanks very much to you guys for the interview and thanks to everyone for all the support for this fight and my career so far!
I’d like to thank all my coaches at BKK Fighters, Tsunami Gym, Tandy Boxing and of course all of my team mates for their help.
I’d also like to say a huge thank you to my sponsors, please check out their websites and follow them on Twitter:
You can keep up to date with Jack on twitter as well at: @JackStoneMason
Or his website at: http: www.jackstonemason.com
I also put together a highlight video of Jack, which you can view here and see Jack in all his glory: https://splitdecisionmmauk.com/2014/01/26/jack-mason-highlight-video/
A massive thanks to Jack for taking the time out to speak with me and giving me the opportunity to write this piece.