Interview by Adam Parrott of Katana Clothing
On Saturday July 21st at the HMV Forum, London, Jack Mason will return to action at Cage Warriors 48 when he takes on up-and-coming UK prospect Danny Roberts, in a bout that will mark Mason’s debut at welterweight.
The drop from middleweight to welterweight is a move that Mason would have made sooner, but the chance to compete in the organisation’s Middleweight Tournament last February was too good an opportunity to pass up and those plans were put on ice. Mason did, however, compete in a catch-weight bout at 80kg on the last Cage Warriors show in Dublin, Ireland – where he defeated a valiant Tommy Quinn by split decision.
A veteran of UK MMA, Mason will be looking to make waves at welterweight and shake up the division. We spoke with Mason ahead of his upcoming bout with Roberts:
In your post-fight speech after facing Tommy Quinn last time out you seemed quite disappointed in your performance; why were you unhappy, and did you feel the weight cut affected your performance at all?
I was extremely disappointed with my performance. I feel like I put on a poor show and didn’t do the stuff I had been working for on the fight. Tommy Quinn is a great fighter and I think he will go on to do very well, but I am disappointed that I gave him the opportunity to do anything in that fight. I’ve been working on making sure that next time around I don’t let that happen.
I don’t think the weight cut affected my performance in the fight, I was in fact pretty ill with a stomach bug which meant I couldn’t keep any food down for about 8 days prior to the fight. It made the weight cut extremely easy (only had to drop 2kg in water), but left me feeling very weak come fight night. This was probably a factor in my performance looking back and I’m just glad I dug deep to pull out the victory.
This will be your debut at welterweight, what was the decision behind dropping down from middleweight, and do you feel it’s something that you should have done a long time ago?
It’s definitely something I should have done a long time ago! The main factor for me dropping down is because the new breed of Middleweights are huge; I am dwarfed next to guys like Luke Barnatt, Ben Callum and Chris Fields in this country. Last year I fought Norman Paraisy and I really noticed the size and weight difference then, and standing next to Brian Stann at UFC in Stockholm earlier this year I just felt like a child!
I used to bullshit myself that making Welterweight would be a struggle, but I’ve done a lot of research and consulted various nutritionists and made the changes to my diet necessary. I’ve actually dropped a considerable amount of weight already without noticing any negative side effects, I actually feel like I have more energy and am still making strength gains on a weekly basis.
I had actually planned to make the drop to WW straight after my loss to Brian Foster last year – which was an 81kg catch weight bout – but the opportunity to fight in the Cage Warriors FC Middleweight Tournament came up and it was an opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down.
It’s something that, in hindsight, I should have done a long time ago and I’m treating this drop as a fresh start to my MMA career!
You’ve fought for numerous UK promotions, Cage Warriors is often touted by many fighters as being the most professionally run organisation in Europe; does this help ease your preparation for a fight knowing that you can just focus on the task ahead?
I’ve had over 30 Professional MMA fights and without a doubt Cage Warriors are the best promotion I have fought for in terms of the support they give to their fighters, the way things are run, their match-making and just their overall professionalism. I will always have a place in my heart for UCMMA as they really helped me build my career; I still love their show and have a ton of respect for Dave O’Donnell.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience being back stage at UFC events with my team mate John Maguire and the way they look after the fighters is second to none and I have to say Cage Warriors comes very close to that experience. From the rules meetings taken by Marc Goddard, to the hand wrapping by their professional hand-wrappers and just the general fighter management by the Cage Warriors team you never have to worry about anything come fight day and it takes a lot of the stress away from the fighters and their corner team. I wish all the shows in the UK had such high standards when it came to running the show and looking out for their fighters.
This will be your eleventh fight in just eighteen months and your fifth fight this year alone; why do you like to stay so active and how do you manage to avoid injuries?
Wow! I never really think of it like that but that’s quite a few fights! I like to stay active as I find it very difficult to stay motivated and justify all the training and sacrifices to myself (and my girlfriend) if I don’t have a fight booked on the horizon! I love to train so it’s just the daily travel up and down the motorways and late nights that I need to have something to focus on to keep me motivated.
In terms of avoiding injuries, I make sure that I eat a clean diet, train with the right people and do a lot of work with my strength coach Laurence Irving (@LI_Strength) who makes sure I do the right exercises to keep strong and prevent injury. I am also lucky enough to have an excellent supplement sponsor QNT UK who provide me with the right supplements to help me recover from hard fights and training, you can check out their stuff here www.qntuk.com.
You work full-time and compete as a professional mixed martial artist, how do you manage to balance the two, and as you’re so active does this never leave you feeling drained and fatigued?
I work a full time job in the City, train either before work or at lunch, travel back to Essex in the evening, jump in the car and head on the motorway to either Cambridge, Colchester or one of the other gyms I train at for training in the evening. I normally leave the house at 7am and get home at 11pm. I do this every day and also coach the MMA at BKK Fighters.
I’m not going to say it’s not hard and I don’t get tired because I do and I have to make a lot of sacrifices. I have an excellent network of support with all the guys at Tsunami and BKK Fighters and I’m lucky that my day job is pretty flexible. I honestly don’t know how my girlfriend puts up with it, although I’m very grateful!
I have a large number of goals I have set myself and I will not stop until I’ve achieved them, so I’m going to stay busy whilst I still have the energy to do so and make sure I achieve what I’ve planned.
If I am honest with myself I know that I would probably be a better fighter than I am now if I was able to just train full time, I probably wouldn’t get much more training in but I’d get the rest and recovery that I should be getting. The fact is I’ve got a mortgage and bills to pay and that’s not something that the money I earn from MMA is going to cover right now.
Your opponent Danny Roberts has a fairly small fight record in comparison to your own, does it bother you when there is less footage and material to study on opponent, or do you feel that your experience will see you through?
I’ve seen various tape on Danny and I’ve done my homework, he’s a very credible opponent and I look forward addressing the challenges he poses. Danny most certainly hasn’t faced the level of competition I have yet, but I don’t think it’s my experience that’s going to get me the victory here I think it’s my superior skills.
At the start of the year, you said that felt you needed to work on the aggressive aspect of your fight game, is this something you feel you have achieved?
It’s something that I’ve been working hard on in training, although, no, it’s not something I think I have achieved yet in competition. I think it was one of the things that lacked in my last performance against Tommy Quinn, I have huge power in my hands I just haven’t thrown them often enough in a fight yet.
You’ve worked with the guys over at Mind Power on the psychological side of your fight preparation, do you feel that this is an essential component to a fighters training regime? And how has it helped you as a fighter?
The work I have done with MMA Mind Power has been unbelievable and I really wish that I had started working with them much earlier in my MMA career. I’ve always trained hard, but I really believe that training my mind has been one of the things that has been missing from my training programme; I feel better than ever and feel in a great place in terms of how I approach a fight mentally now.
I would definitely recommend MMA Mind Power to any athlete looking to achieve their full potential in the sport of MMA. Whether you are an MMA athlete that is new to the sport or a long time fight veteran you should be training your mind as well as your body, why would you not want to do everything possible to get that win and achieve your full potential?
After your last performance you said that you don’t feel that you let your hands go as often as you should, is this something you’ve been working on in preparation for this fight?
I have the type of power in my hands to change a fight with one punch, I just haven’t really let them go often enough in MMA competition and it’s something that I’ve learnt from. Over the past few months I’ve been working with a new boxing coach Steve Whitwell who runs St Ives ABA and coaches a number of top ranked professional boxers too. He has taken me back to basics and I’m feeling very good about how much my boxing has improved.
You train between BKK and Tsunami, with a plethora of fast rising mixed martial artists in the UK, does this give you confidence going into a fight knowing that you’ve been put through your paces with such quality training partners?
Without a shadow of a doubt. I train with some phenomenal talent on a daily basis, from young rising stars, UFC fighters and veterans of the sport. I also travel to Gothenburg, Sweden on a regular basis to train with the Shooters MMA and Gladius MMA team out there.
I know that I train with one of the best teams in the UK and feel privileged to do so. There isn’t anything that I am going to encounter in a fight that I don’t see in training on a daily basis, so I have confidence that I will always go into a fight well prepared.
If you had your way, how would you see your MMA career end out, and what achievements do you still wish to fulfil in the fight game?
In the short term my goals are to beat Danny Roberts, establish myself as a force at WW and earn a shot at the Cage Warriors FC Welterweight gold in 2013. I’m not looking too far past that right now.
Obviously every professional fighter’s dream is to fight in the UFC although I want to beat all the top guys fighting for Cage Warriors before I start thinking about that!
And lastly, as you are such a huge superhero fan, what super power would you choose if you had the choice – Invisibility or the ability to fly?
To fly, it would save me a fortune in diesel going back and forth to training!
Thanks for the time, Jack – Is there anyone you would like to thank?
I’d like to thank all my friends, family, coaches and team mates for all their consistent support and of course my excellent sponsors;
www.qntuk.com @QNTUK “Superior sports nutrition powering superior athletes”
www.britishfighter.co.uk @BRITISHF1GHTER “A high quality fight wear brand, clothing Britain’s finest MMA athletes.”
www.mmamindpower.com @MMAMINDPOWER “Helping athletes achieve peak performance through advanced mind coaching techniques.”
www.ignitept.co.uk @LI_Strength “Tailored strength and conditioning training for elite level athletes.”
www.funkygums.com @FUNKY_GUMS “Providing premium fight protection with style”
www.pro-amfightcentre.co.uk @TSUNAMIGYM “World class MMA facility based in Cambridge, home to some of the UK’s finest MMA fighters”
www.bkkfighters.com @BKK_FIGHTERS “First class MMA facility based in Colchester Essex, home to some of the UK’s best up and coming talent.”