Say Uncle present their second fight night on Saturday 11th October, live from Sheffield, with a UK vs. Gran Canaria professional main card and competing on the section is Helen Harper.
Helen makes her return to the cage after a year away, as she takes on Nayra Acosta and is looking forward to getting back into the cage on UK soil and getting the chance to put on a performance in front of her friends and family.
She has been training out Phuket, Thailand, learning so much out there and she is sure to be even more skilled when she steps into the cage in six days time.
At the moment she is training out of the fantastic Andy Robert’s BJJ, where she is continuing to develop her skill set and is someone who could definitely make it all the way to the top.
Ahead of the match up in Sheffield, Helen took some time out to look back on her first two pro fights, her time in Thailand and her return to the cage this coming Saturday.
Hi Helen, thanks for your time, I wanted to start by asking about your unique nickname. How did you first come to accquire the name ‘Hellraiser’?
“It actually started in Phuket, when a friend of mine used to shout ‘Hellraiser’ every time he saw me. Although that was before I had fought professionally, the name stuck and it became my nickname”.
You turned professional in 2013 and went 2-0 within a matter of months. Looking back on those first two fights, how much did you take away from them?
“Both fights were a fantastic experience, however it did make things a lot harder when it came to finding my third fight. None of the ‘local’ girls wanted to fight me but I wasn’t quite ready to step up to an international level”.
Your last fight was a year ago, and I know you were due to fight in September of this year as well. How frustrating has it been not to be able to get in there and compete, but how much do you feel you have benefited from being able to train?
“I was absolutely gutted not to have fought last month, as it was the best fight camp I’ve ever had, but hopefully that experience will help me for all future fight camps. I train the same whether I have a fight coming up or not, I like to be ready always as you never know when a last minute opponent will be needed!”
I see however you have been in some grappling competitions. How good do you feel they have been for your all round development?
“The most recent competition was Grapplers Showdown at SENI. It was a fairly small event but really good fun. It’s always good to improve your competition experience without getting punched in the face….”.
You specialise in Jit Jitsu, what is it about BJJ that first interested you and was that what led you into MMA?
“I was introduced to Jiu Jitsu by a friend who had become worried about me whilst in a bad relationship. Jiu Jitsu helped me get back on track and once I had some of my confidence back I decided to give MMA a go. It all just fell in to place from there!”
Next up you compete on the Say Uncle Pro Main card. How much do you know about the say uncle promotion and how have they been to deal with so far?
“I don’t know a great deal about the promotion to be honest, but I hear the first show was a massive success. I’ve been dealing with John, who has been extremely helpful and informative”.
On the night you take on Gran Canaria’s Nayra Acosta. Personally I’ve not been able to find much on her, but how much have you found out about her and the possible challenges she may pose?
“I too, have found very little out about her. Sometimes that’s a good thing though, I don’t want to get in to too much of a comfort zone. Expect the unexpected!”
Without giving too much away, where do you feel you will be the stronger on the night and what can people expect from you?
“I’m quite comfortable standing or on the ground, so it really depends on how the mood takes me on the night”.
Being back in England to compete must be a great feeling. Are you hoping to have some good support there to cheer you on?
“I actually used to live just outside Sheffield, before I moved to Thailand. So it’s one of the best places in England that I could be fighting. I’ve got friends from all different corners of the country coming to watch me get my hand raised”.
You are training now with the guys at Andy Roberts BJJ. How has it been going through the fight camp with those guys and girls?
“The guys at at ARBJJ are absolutely brilliant. I’m sure they must get fed up with me asking for extra sparring sessions, but they are still right there with me and could not be more helpful. The one thing that I feel has helped my game the most has been wrestling. We have a fantastic wrestling coach (Csaba) who has been absolutely brilliant in helping me, and pushing me forwards”.
How did you find the whole experience of training out in Thailand?
“The experience of a lifetime. I miss it! Anyone who has trained in Thailand will tell you that Thai trainers are just the best people ever. I learnt a ridiculous amount whilst I was over there and hope to go back one day”.
And finally, is there anybody you would like to thank/give a shout out to?
“Obviously a massive shout out to everyone at ARBJJ (www.andyrobertsbjj.com) and I’ve also done a little training with the guys at Shinkick (www.shinkickmuaythai.com) who have been really helpful too.
Massive thanks to my sponsors: Xbrain (www.xbrain.co.uk), Battle Balm (www.battlebalm.com), Pony Club Grappling Gear (www.ponyclubgrapplinggear.com), STR8_CHEER (www.str8cheer.com)”.