Combat Challenge heads to the North East this coming weekend to host its first show in Hartlepool, with a night of exciting MMA and K1 action.
Competing in a welterweight MMA match up on the evening is Akurei MMA’s James Donnelly, who is no stranger to the Combat Challenge show after competing on the show in Bradford a few times.
He is confident going into the fight this weekend, especially knowing that he has been pushed over his training camp by a fantastic team at Akurei MMA and he knows that he is the best he has ever been.
With only two days to go to the show, excitement is building and I caught up with James to get his thoughts ahead of the night.
Thanks for your time James. MMA is heading to Hartlepool next week with a really good looking card and you get the opportunity to combat. Just how much are you looking forward to showcasing your skills on the show?
“No problem… Yes I’m very excited, I’ve trained really hard and can’t wait to put it into practice on fight night”.
How much did you know about the combat challenge brand before the show was announced?
“I’ve had three fights on combat challenge in Bradford now, so I know it pretty well. It’s a really well organised show”.
On the night you have been pitted against Dave Young. I don’t personally know too much about Dave, but have you had the chance to research or see him in action and what are you expecting from him on the night?
“To be honest all I’ve been focusing on is myself and I’m 100% confident I will get the victory”.
I see that Dave is an independant fighter, so will train with quite a diverse range of people all over the place. From your point of view as someone who is part of a stable team, do you think that must make it harder for him but also make him a little more un predictable on the night?
“I’ve been with Akurei MMA for a long time now, the set up they have at the minute is phenomenal, all the coaches are high level and producing some really good fighters at the minute who are also my training partners. This is why I’m as confident as I can be I will get the win on the night”.
Obviously you will be focusing on your own game mainly heading into the fight and implementing what you are good at. Without giving too much away, what do you feel makes this a good fight for you and where do you feel you will have the edge?
“It’s a good fight for me because I’m the best I’ve been: fit, sharp and strong. I think this gives me the edge wherever the fight goes”.
Anything can happen in MMA, as we have seen many times, with one punch changing the dynamic of any fight. Heading into your fights do you prefer to have game plans to fall back on or do you like to feel out your opponent and see how the fight plays out?
“I do have a plan but this can obviously change when we are in there. I feel adequately equipped wherever the fight goes”.
As you are quite local to the show, are you hoping to have some strong support following you and what does that support mean to you?
“Yes it’s going to be great being local and having the support of my family and friends which can be a great help if I need to dig deep”.
Once in the cage you’re on your own, but you will be backed by a fine team. Who have been some of the bigger influences on your development at the gym and whats it like having that amount of knowledge behind you in the gym?
“As I mentioned before Akurei is a fantastic gym with a great atmosphere, everyone there has played a part in my development for which I’m very grateful”.
Another part which people sometimes abandon is the psychology behind the sport. How much do you believe in being strong mentally and how do you prepare yourself heading into a fight and switch into ‘fight mode’
“I think you have to believe in your self no matter what you do, that belief for me comes from having a strong team behind me. Preparation wise I just like to relax knowing that the training is done”.
And finally, thanks for your time, is there anybody you would like to thank/give a shout out to?
“I would like to thank my coaches, Nathan, Newton, Anthony, Mick, Andy Smith, Jamie T, and all my training partners for their help and support and also the Mrs and two kids who put up with it all.
Also would like to say good luck to all the Akurei lads going to war that night….. LETS DO IT!!!!”