Combat Vision MMA conducted a Q&A interview with HAMMA fighter and Taekwondo world champion Sophie O’Brien as she prepares for her amateur bantamweight championship fight against Michelle Jones at Golden Ticket Promotions 6 on September 9th 2017.
Thank you for speaking to Combat Vision MMA, Sophie. Could you tell our readers about the type of fighter you are.
“I like to think I am a humble and entertaining fighter where people will enjoy coming to watch a show that I am part of. I like to put on an exciting fight where hopefully people will want to see more of me”
You fight out of HAMMA academy in St Helen’s. Could you tell our readers about the coaches and the fighters you train with.
“I have been at HAMMA for 18 months and deciding to train there was very good decision that I made. I train about 4-5 times a week at HAMMA and the support is fantastic. I have a few different coaches who help me in different aspects of my tainting such as Mick Stanton, Jay Gavin, Dave Faulkner, Eddie Johnson and Steven Heys and finally not forgetting the Head coach, Sean Martin”
“Sean supports me all round in my training mentally and physically. He ensures I’m getting the best out of my training and gives me a lot of his time including 1-2-1’s and even talks to me to keep my mental state priority. Also Sean’s wife, Caroline Martin who keeps the gym spotless and gives a lot of her time to the club to support all the fights. I’m lucky enough to get to train with some of the best fighters in England. I look up to them as I can see how much potential they actually have, such as Beau Gavin, Coner Hignett, Azi Thomas, Bobby Pallet, Ashley Reece, Mick Stanton, Danny Randolph and many more”
You have won world championships in Taekwondo. Could you tell our readers about your background in this sport
“I started Taekwondo when I was 7 years old after attending an after school club of Taekwondo lessons. The instructor at the time could see I enjoyed taking part at a really early age and invited me down to his club. I took to Taekwondo very easy and up to now I have achieved my 2nd Dan black belt, umpires qualification, part 1 of my instructors course and winning my biggest achievements of 4X European and 2X World titles”
“My main instructor in Taekwondo is James McGinn of Liverpool East Taekwondo who is currently 4th Dan black belt. I also train under Warren Vice of Sefton Takeowndo who is 6th Dan. These 2 instructors have taught me a lot and because of them, they have gave me a good base in MMA. I am still part of the TAGB, where I support and try and inspire younger people by helping out and assisting. I still train in Taekwondo, but at the moment I am focusing more towards MMA”
How have you found the transition from Taekwondo to MMA and do you try to incorporate the striking skills learned into your current MMA style.
“The main difference I’ve found from training in Taekwondo to MMA is the level of fitness it requires. It is a lot more cardio based especially when sparring and doing 10-15 rounds of 3 minutes sparring without much of a break. When I spar in Taekwondo, I’m used to wearing a head guard, gloves, shin pads, foot pads and a gum shield, whereas in MMA I’m only wearing a small pair of gloves and a gum shield”
“MMA is a lot more physically rougher and demanding than Taekwondo so that’s another adaption I’ve had to get used to. I believe my Taekwondo background does help me in MMA a lot with the likes of striking. When I first begun MMA, it took a while for me to get used to the overall MMA fight style. I used to find that because of my high level striking (kicking) I would get taken to the ground easy. However, now the likes of my boxing has improved, so I am able to start with my hands and my BJJ has improved to some extent so that if the fight does go to the floor, I have some knowledge on how to defend myself”