Jonny Saville: “I’m a deceptively strong, small bloke; compact and muscular, like corned beef”

Photo Credit: Danny Allison Illustration

Photo Credit: Danny Allison Illustration

This weekend see’s FightStar Championship return to Halifax to host their fourth installment, with a night of MMA action and competing on the night is AVT’s Jonny Saville. 
Jonny is a very talented competitor and his record of 0-2 does not do him justice. Since he began in the sport, everyone has seen him develop with each fight and he is definitely not to be taken lightly. 

One stand out of Jonny’s skill set is his wrestling, but he has been working hard on his all round game in preparation for his fight against Josh Keys this weekend. 

Ahead of the match up Jonny kindly took some time out to answer my questions and give his thoughts on training, his last competitive match and his upcoming bout on a packed FightStar billing. 

Thanks again for your time Jonny. I wanted to start by going back to the last time I saw you compete which was FightStar Championship 2 when you took on Robbie Thacker. Unfortunately the result wouldn’t have been what you wanted, but how much did you take from the match up?

“Hi Simon, no worries man, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you. Yeah, as you already know Robbie TKO’d me in the first round but as all the greats say the L is for Learn not Loss and I’ve managed to take a lot away from it. I had a massive lack of confidence in my stand up and didn’t want to trade with him which is something which I’ve been working very hard on, I’ve also learned to stop being lazy if I’m on my back. I won’t be giving anyone the room to land a solid shot on me and will be chasing the submission/sweep hard if I end up in a bad position”.

Was there anything that surprised you about Robbie once the fight got going?

“Yeah, in the first exchange he landed a beautiful switch head kick which completely surprised me and made me shoot the double. I had him against the cage, in prime position for a huge slam but his defensive wrestling was really on point. In hindsight that shouldn’t have surprised me at all because he has a great kickboxing coach and team behind him”.

Since that fight you haven’t competed, but how much do you feel you have developed training in the gym each day?

“After the fight I stepped away from the sport for a small while, during the training camp I found out my partner was pregnant and she needed me to be around a bit more to help out with stuff and get jobs done around the house in preparation for the lad. He was born healthy and happy on June 1st and he’s just brilliant. Still, in and amongst I had been doing at least one training session a week, working very hard on quick submission attacks and a couple of deadly combos I’ll be looking to work in this fight. I got back into full training two weeks after the little man was born and have been really trying to work out the kinks in my game”.

Fightstar always put on great events and I saw you at the 3rd one, which saw them bring MMA to Halifax. What did you make to that show and how excited are you to get back out there and compete under their banner?

“FightStar always put on a good show, even though I wasn’t competing at the third event I still helped out with the show and worked on the cage door. It was a great opportunity to work with UFC referee Neil Hall and the rest of the MMA Officials crew. The whole event was very smooth but all it did was light a fire in me that desperately made me want to get in the cage. I was pretty much on stand by that day in case anyone got injured because once I saw the venue I was gutted I wasn’t fighting. The show was great as well, I got to watch a couple of the best Amateur fights I’ve ever seen including Robbie’s second ammy bout which was a true testament of his will and the headline fight between Ant Davies and Josh Collins was hands down the best back and forth war I’ve seen live”.

This time you have been pitted against Josh Keys who makes his UAR debut. I don’t know too much about Josh, but have you found anything out about him and what type of challenge are you expecting?

“He’s a kid from Birmingham that’s called me out and you know as much as I do about him. He sent both me and the FightStar promoters begging to set the match up, which is kind of ridiculous, because who am I really? I’m 0-2 as an amateur A and he’s looking for what he thinks is an easy fight. You’re meant to call the top guy out, not the guy in the middle of a losing streak. He’s never been in the cage before and all I’ve heard is that he’s training “to take my head off” and I can’t wait to see him try. I’ve got no idea how tough he is and no idea what he thinks he’s doing but whatever. He wants to fight me and I’m happy to oblige him”.

I saw via Facebook that Josh had commented saying that he isn’t going to let you ‘cuddle’ and ‘lie’ on him and has confidence in his striking. Does this give you confidence that he is possibly under-estimating your strong wrestling base and can play to your advantage?

“Yeah, I’m not interested in his trash talking. He won’t be able to stop me doing whatever I want, at any point in this fight. I’m going to dictate the pace and where the fight takes place and if I do decide to take him down there will be absolutely nothing he can do about it. I can guarantee if I get on top of him that I won’t just be cuddling him and I won’t just be lieing there. I’ll be passing his guard, looking for subs and dropping massive bombs in his grill.

Also, anyone that thinks wrestling is boring has no passion for the sport of mma. If you just want to see knockouts go and watch Glory or K1″.

One thing nobody can predict though is how this fight will end, as in MMA when you think one thing will happen, something totally different happens. Where do you feel you will be stronger and what makes this a good match up for you?

“I don’t think he’ll be able to match my physical strength. I’m a deceptively strong, small bloke; compact and muscular, like corned beef”.

The last time we spoke you mentioned how you played rugby union in your past, which is a very demanding sport. Do you think that Rugby has given you a good base for MMA and have you been able to transfer any skills over?

“Rugby made me competitive and when I first started I looked at blast double leg takedowns the same as a rugby tackle, however since then I’ve refined the technique with some great coaches and really refined it. Also, the Mauling element of Union is really similar to clinch work which is another area I’m going to beat Josh in”.

I see that you now train out of the awesome AVT. How have you found your time there so far and who have been some of the key players in helping you progress there?

“Yeah, it was a tough decision to make because I’d trained with Andy Farrell from my first MMA session right through to the beginning of this summer and him and Paul Birkhead were instrumental in my early development as a martial artist and I will always be in debt to them for their belief in me and dedication to me. Still, as you progress you’ve got to go where the fighters and instructors are, I wanted to be where the best are because I want to be the best. It had almost become a “big fish little pond” scenario at Farrells and I found myself lacking in ultra hard competition, now it’s the complete reverse and I’m training with very high level fighters that are bringing my level up every time I train.

The fight team at AVT dwarfs that of the one I was part of before in both size and talent and they’re also a really nice group of guys who have welcomed me with open arms, closed fists and hyper extended joints.

Of course, head coach Danny Mitchell has been an invaluable source of knowledge and skills. His locker is full of useful shit like submissions from crazy angles, each with God knows how many twists and variations and little footwork moves that really help your stand up. Josh Collins and Simon Stadnicki have been working striking and helping me progress as I start to unlock my full potential standing up. Jason Furness, who will be commentating at FightStar too, has been a massive help as well. He takes one of the submission wrestling classes at AVT and I’ve got to say they’re pretty much my favourite classes of the week”.

And finally, is there anybody you would like to thank/give a shout out to?

“Firstly, I’ve got to thank my wonderful missus Megan who makes my life so easy and looks after the two boys while I’m working and training and off doing other general stuff. She’s a bloody wonderful woman and I genuinely doubt I’d be fighting if it weren’t for her. Along with her I’d like to thank everyone at Farrell MMA, everyone at AVT and especially Kiru and Pav Singh Sahota. Those two also made the transition from Farrells to AVT and they’re two of my best and most consistent training partners.

I’d like to plug my start up event catering business SAV’S BBQ PIT. If any promoters or event organisers reading this want a delicious selection of bbq meats with vegan and vegetarian options serving outside their shows from my trailer then get at me @savsbbqpit www.facebook.com/savsbbqpit or savsbbqpit@gmail.com“.

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