Combat Vision MMA were lucky enough to conduct a Q&A interview with Samson Martial arts fighter Stephen “Skeletor” O’Driscoll. Stephen is the former Cage Ring featherweight Champion.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to Combat Vision MMA, Stephen. Could you tell our readers about the type of fighter you are?
“I like to think of myself as an all rounder with a good base in every aspect, with a passion for Jiu jitsu and Muay Thai. As an amateur Muay Thai fighter, I have a record of 7-0 with two wins by knockout, an MMA record of 3-2 and I am the former CRC featherweight Champion. I like to stay active, to build up as much experience as possible whether that be competing in MM, Jiu jitsu or Muay Thai”
You fight out of Samson Martial Arts in Cork. Could you tell our readers about the coaches and any fighters you train with?
“I train in Samson Martial Arts 6 days a weeks, mostly twice a day when preparing for a fight. Under the tutelage of coach Dylan Sheehan (Pro Mma Fighter 2-2), Kieran O’Brien Snr (Bjj Blackbelt) and Kieran O’Brien Jnr (Pro Mma fighter 2-0). As you can see, by the quality and experience of our coaches, were are in good hands and always prepared for every fight no matter the discipline. We have one of the best up and coming thai boxing teams in the country with the likes of Ben Clinch Clarke, Dean Murphy Crea and Michael O’Donovan all taking big fights this year in the professional ranks”
Could you tell our readers about your background in Muay Thai and how you transitioned into MMA?
“As an amateur Muay Thai fighter I have a record of 7-0, I am also the holder of an amateur jnr Muay Thai belt. To be honest, I wouldn’t say I transitioned from Muay Thai to MMA as I still like to compete in both. My last fight was actually a c class Muay Thai fight on cage kings in the neptune stadium in February against Keelan Foran. But, MMA is definitely my main focus”
What does a typical training camp consist of for you heading into a fight?
“My last training camp was geared towards an MMA fight, training 6 days a week in Samson Martial Arts mostly twice a day and doing strength and conditioning work in Elite Gym Cork with Colin O’Shaughnessy an ex kickboxing champion. I had been drilling a lot of defensive wrestling and footwork as I was preparing for a rematch on Cage Warriors with Jack Maguire who I fought in the final for the IMMAF irish team trials, where i lost out on a very close majority decision. The fight was pulled the Thursday of fight week so I took a late notice Muay Thai fight on Cage kings. I like to try train as much as I can leading up to a fight in each art to be as prepared as i can be”
Your last fight was against Alex Kravstov at Cage Ring Championship 2 in September 2016, where you won the featherweight belt by way of split decision. Looking back, how happy were you with your performance on the night and was there anything you felt needed to be worked on?
“I was delighted to get the win obviously. But, i really was not happy with my performance at all. I felt like I was burnt out, I found the weight cut very difficult for my last few MMA fights with the new same day weigh ins. I was killing myself, cutting far too much weight and I was not myself in there at all. I was happy to take home the belt. It was good for me to get the win over Alex, because of how experienced he is, he has been around for a long time, he had actually fought my coach Kieran. I was really glad i beat him aswell, because i probably would have got a slagging if i hadn’t got the nod”
You were due to make the first defense of your featherweight belt against Pawel Politylo at Cage Ring Championship 4. However, you had to vacate the belt. Could you explain why you had to vacate the belt and how difficult was the decision to do this, as you never got the opportunity to defend it.
It was a really difficult decision to make. I wanted to prove to myself that I had deserved to win the belt in the first place. But, in reality me fighting at featherweight with this current rule set at amateur with the same day weigh-ins, has become unrealistic. Therefore, I had to vacate my belt and I will now be fighting at lightweight for the time being as an amateur.
Your amateur career is (3-2) and two of those losses were against Kenny Mokhonoana at Akuma Fighting Championship 6 in 2015 and Jack Maguire at Battle Zone FC 16 in 2016. How much has your fight game developed since those losses?
“Hugely, those two losses have taught me so much about my game and what I need to improve on. Since fighting Jack last September, my game has improved all round – tenfold considering the fight was scored so close first time round. I feel that with the improvements to my game that I have made since, there is not many in the amateur MMA scene who can compete with me. I still have massive respect for both Jack and Kenny, both lads boast good winning records and are both top of their divisions. Hopefully at some stage i can get a rematch with both lads to even the score.
As a fighter how did you handle those defeats physiologically to come back both mentally and physically stronger?
“I came away from both of those fights uninjured apart from the expected bangs and bruises. I was obviously disappointed. But, motivated as well to get back into the gym and work on my game and learn from what worked and what didn’t”
Lastly, what does 2017 have in store for Stephen O’Driscoll?
“I am hoping to make a big impact on both the MMA and Muay Thai scene in 2017. As of now, i don’t have my next fight lined up. We are looking at May and June to get back in there. I would like to wish my head coach Dylan Sheehan, the best of luck in his co-main event professional MMA fight this weekend on Full Contact Contender in England. And a thank you to my sponsors Ts Events Ireland and TeamServe for their continued support.
To find out more about Samson Martial Arts – check out their facebook page HERE