· On the Spot ~ John Phillips
At BAMMA 4 it took Welsh pugilist John Phillips just one minute and 34 seconds to put veteran James Zikic to sleep, which lead to calls for John to be next in line to face Tom "Kong" Watson for his title. For one reason or another that fight has not been able to materialize. However John Phillips returns to BAMMA for the third time to face the very experienced Frenchman Jean-Francois Lenogue at the M.E.N. arena in Manchester, England on February 26.
The former amateur boxing star will be hoping for a repeat performance and an early finish—to make sure he is next line for a title shot and also to raise a few eyebrows on the international scene. With such a stacked card featured on free television (on the Syfy channel) this is certainly the perfect opportunity for the Swansea native to leave an impression.
MMA Spot’s Jamie Kennedy caught up with Phillips to find out his thoughts on the fight, his desire to train with American Top Team and much more.
Jamie Kennedy: Hi, thank you for taking the time to speak with MMA Spot. How excited are you for your next fight on BAMMA 5?
John Phillips: I’m always excited to fight, I wish I could fight every week to be honest.
Kennedy: You're fighting Jean-Francois Lenogue, who has faced some tough competition in the past such as Hector Lombard, Mark Weir and Foupa-Pokam to name but a few. What is the biggest threat he brings to the cage?
Phillips: Jean is a good all-round fighter but I’d say his biggest threat is his experience.
Kennedy: How have you changed your training in preparations for this fight?
Phillips: I haven't changed my training at all. I always cross train in every field no matter who I’m fighting.
Kennedy: This is one of the most stacked cards in U.K. MMA history and it is being shown on live TV. How important will this added exposure be for your career?
Phillips: Well, it’s a big show and a lot of people are talking about it so hopefully it should pull in a lot of viewers and it should get my name out there nicely.
Kennedy: Your last real loss was to Team Jackson fighter Tom "Kong" Watson. Is that a rematch that is important to you?
Phillips: Yes. I have a loss to Tom Watson and I’m looking forward to fighting him in the future, hopefully for the BAMMA middleweight title.
Kennedy: Nearly all of your fights have ended in a first round T/KO. Do you see this fight going the same way?
Phillips: Every time I fight I want to put on the best show for the crowd as I possibly can. I know the crowd loves to see people getting finished, so I try my best to finish my guy off inside the three or five rounds. I class my self as a finisher and if I don’t finish someone off with in the time scale it’s not a real win to me. I train hard to finish people and I think it shows in the way I fight and my record.
Kennedy: What would this win do for your career?
Phillips: This win will mean a title shot against Tom Watson hopefully, so this fight means a lot to my career.
Kennedy: You had a very successful amateur boxing career, even representing your country. What made you make the cross over to MMA?
Phillips: I love boxing, and if it wasn’t for boxing, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I love to fight but I found some times in boxing you could get ripped off or someone could cheat you out of a win. By running and playing touch, and holding on to you for dear life every time you get close enough to strike, until the ref sets them off on there bike again. It’s a shame they've turned boxing into some kind of fencing point’s game. Where you’re liked more for running and notching up the points rather than the knockouts. I got into MMA after watching a Pride DVD and thinking 'wow that’s what I want to do.' Because I thought there was nowhere for anyone to hide or steal a fight in there, the better fighter would always win—the same as the gladiator days.
Kennedy: Which fighters do you most enjoy watching?
Phillips: I enjoy watching any fighter but mostly I enjoy watching fighters who try to finish.
Kennedy: Where do you currently train?
Phillips: I train out of my own gym in Swansea, South Wales, where we have a strong team with C+J Gladiators.
Kennedy: Do you have any aspirations to go and train with an American camp?
Phillips: I would like to go and train with American Top Team one day.
Kennedy: Have you set yourself any career goals?
Phillips: My goals are to be a champion and the best I can be. There's no point in putting the gloves on otherwise. Who doesn’t want to be the champion?
Kennedy: Is there anything else you'd like to mention or anyone you'd like to thank?
Phillips: I'd like to thank my trainer Chris Rees who puts a lot of time and dedication into making me stronger, faster, and better every day! Also all my sponsors and supporters—they know who they are [laughs].
Fight photos: Sherdog.com