Hugh Gleeson “We don’t pad our records like other gyms do”

Combat Vision MMA spoke to Koko Mixed Martial Arts fighter Hugh Gleeson (4-2-1) and conducted a Q&A interview as he goes into his next amatuer fight, a welterweight bout against Andreeas “Judoka” Binder at Akuma Fighting Championship on Sunday 23rd of April 2017.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to Combat Vision MMA, Hugh. Could you tell our readers about the type of fighter you are?

I took up MMA without any previous combat experience when I was a lanky 16 year old. I’ve been brought up as the ‘new breed’ of MMA fighters – unlike lads a couple of years ago who might have a background in Kickboxing or BJJ and relied heavily on just one aspect of the sport in order to win a fight. These days, however, you need to be good in all areas of the sport, otherwise you’ll get found out sooner or later. I do have a preference for striking though, which makes it more exciting for people watching if nothing else!

You fight out of Kokoro mixed martial arts. Could you tell our readers about the coaches and any fighters you train with?

I started in Kokoro back in 2009 with Shane Thomas as my first coach, and he really got me hooked on the sport. I learned the fundamental aspects of the sport under his guidance, as well as the importance of a strong work ethic in the sport and when Daragh Kennedy took over as head coach I started to make the transition to competing. He’s a brilliant coach, really patient and great at dealing with both beginners and fighters training needs. Most gyms think we’re a predominantly stand-up gym, as Daragh comes from a kickboxing background. But, his knowledge of the ground game is fantastic aswell, so we’re well versed in all aspects of the sport. Stevie Webb is our striking coach and spent a lot of time training in Muay Thai in Thailand and K-1 in Holland and as an ex-powerlifter, it’s great to have him to drill wrestling techniques with. I look after the S&C aspect of the gym, so we’ve a really strong support base at Kokoro”

“We’ve a solid group of about ten fighters coming out of the gym at the moment, with some very talented younger guys almost ready to take the step into competing. Jay R Campos and Alex Budoiu are names that are familiar both at home and abroad, with Jay famous for his flying knee highlight reel knockout on Clan Wars and he’s also the current Akuma lightweight champ. Alex, the current Flyweight Clan Wars champ is known as the ‘Cowboy’ of the gym as he takes fights literally anywhere, anytime and against anyone across three different weight classes and brings it every single time!”

Heading into Akuma Fighting championship after two title losses at 155lbs against Dillan Douglas and 170 against Sean McInally. How do you bounce back from those devastating defeats and what has these defeats taught you about yourself?

“Losing is a horrible process. But, sometimes it’s a necessary one in order for you to learn and grow as an athlete. The most important lessons are learned from losses, so I’m looking forward to getting straight back into the cage again and showing everyone what I’ve learned from the past two fights! At an amateur level, my main focus is just about getting experience and getting as many tough fights under my belt as possible, before making the transition to the pro ranks. So I’m not disheartened by the defeats. Just hungrier than ever to get back to winning ways.

You head into Akuma Fighting Championship with a (4-2-1) record. How confident are you that you will be (5-2-1) come Sunday 23rd April 2017?

“I’m always confident in my abilities and the fight on Akuma is no different. It’s a question that a lot of fighters get asked before they step in for a fight; ‘Do you think you’ll win?’ and I always think that it’s a stupid question…. Why would you bother training with a 6-8 week camp, training twice a day, looking after your weight and everything you eat, having very little social life outside of the gym, just so you  step into the cage and lose? It doesn’t make sense to me! Although, I’ll always have the pre-fight nerves and never go in thinking it’ll be an ‘easy fight’. I always go in there expecting my hand to be raised at the end of the fight”

How much do you know about your opponent Andreeas Binder and his style of fighting?

“I know he’s a big guy and he’s fought the majority of his fights at middleweight, so I reckon he’ll have to cut a bit of weight for the fight. I’ll expect him to try and close the distance using wild strikes and try to take me down against the cage – the same method that almost all of my opponents have tried to use against me. I’ll be ready and waiting for it”

It is approaching the two week mark for your fight. How has your training camp been and has there any goals you wanted to achieve coming out of this camp?

“I’m in fantastic shape for this fight. Both physically and mentally and I’ve cardio for days. The weight cut was a problem for me in my last fight at lightweight. So fighting at the same weight I walk around at this time around, will allow me to concentrate on staying sharp and not worry about cutting weight a week out from the weigh ins. Andreeas is stocky and if he manages to make it into the later rounds, then the extra muscle will cause him to gas. Especially with his weight cut and the high pace I’m going to set right from the start”

You have fought at many events at different weight classes, has it been a struggle to find a suitable weight for your career or has it purely been that you will fight anyone at any weight class?

I’m huge for a 70kg fighter. But I’m also quite big for the 77kg division, so I really don’t mind what weight I fight at! The perfect weight class for me would be 73kg and I reckon it’s only a matter of time before they bring in more weight classes, as 7kg is a huge gap between classes. Daragh deals with the various promoters about my fights and I trust his judgement completely. It’s usually a case of him coming up to me and saying he has an opponent at X weight in a number of  weeks and if I’d be interested. He usually gets the same response of ‘stupid question, of course I’m up for it!!’. It’s only later that I think to ask who I’ll be fighting against! But, then again that doesn’t really bother me, as I know Daragh and Stevie have done their research on them and are designing my training camp specifically for them. It’s definitely a theme in the gym, as Alex and Jay are the exact same, fighting across multiple weight classes against the best fighters in the country and beyond – we don’t pad our records like other gyms do”

Lastly, would does 2017 have in store for Hugh Gleeson?

2017 is going to be my most active and successful year so far. For the past few years my academic career has come first, with training being interrupted by other opportunities that have come my way from that area of my life. However, I have one semester left in my final year studying sports science and health in DCU and for the first summer in four years I’ll be at home in Dublin and able to train flat out with no distractions. Watch this space!”

#TeamKokoro

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