Leeroy Barnes (10-9-0, 1NC) as made a name for himself since his return to BAMMA. His first fight back with the promotion saw him stand toe to toe with undefeated Jack Marshman and despite a hostile crowd chanting "Marshmans gonna get ya", Leeroy walked away with a close loss and some well earned respect. Returning for his second fight saw him grapple and submit his way to a win over MMA veteran 'Matt Ewin'. BAMMA 10 see's him facing Denniston Sutherland (17-8-0) a fight that Leeroy was looking to have a while back.
FRMMA: If anyone follows you on Twitter they'll know that your either in the gym or on a train, could you run us through a normal day?
LB: I have to be up for 6am then be in Liverpool for 9am and be on the mat for 10am. When I'm in Liverpool I'll try and get two or three sessions at the MMA academy then that takes me through to the afternoon. I'll get home and sometimes I'll do boxing and I also do strength and conditions with Barry Edwards at Extreme strength and conditioning in Bolton. So normally I'll leave at 6am and I'll be back in home at 9-9.30pm.
FRMMA: When you trained at Wolfslair was everything in one centre so you didn't have to do that kind of travelling?
LB: Yes, at Wolfslair, before the fire they had accommodation so I'd go there on the Monday and I'd go home at the Weekend. Its costing me a lot more in travel but I'm training a bit different and I think its done me good.
FRMMA: You also follow a strict diet, so could you tell us a little about your eating regime?
LB: Now I'm in Camp, I'll try and eat every 2-3 hours so I have to put reminders on my phone or I'll forget. If I'm travelling I'll have meal replacement drinks from my sponsor, BodyActive. Even when I'm not in camp I'll eat clean but just a lot more, like more carbs. Now I'm in camp I'll have to get my weight down so I don't have a cheat meal at the weekend. So my meals usually are a good heavy carb breakfast like porridge and bananas then mid afternoon I'll have potatoes and steak or something like that. From 2pm I won't have any carbs so I'll have greens with my meals like green beans or broccoli, I don't eat bread, Pasta or rice when I'm in camp all I'll use for carbs is potatoes and porridge in the morning.
FRMMA: If there is such a thing as a favourite meal whilst training do you have one?
LB: I love steak but it does get a bit boring sometimes. Ive become a bit of a chef, I could only ever make pot noodles before but now whatever kind of steak you want I can do it.
FRMMA: Have you always trained at this level?
LB: I have always been in the gym but I am more focused now and I train a lot smarter. I had a bad spell at Welterweight and I didn't know what I wanted to do with myself so I took a bit of time of re-evaluated and came back at middleweight. I won't take fights without a real 6-8 week camp, I also evaluate everything by writing everything down and try and become better. I've just got to knuckle down and make a go of it which is what I'm doing.
FRMMA: Do you regret the fights you've taken in your past now that your training properly?
LB: I get asked this all the time and to be honest a few years down the line it won't make any difference and the lessons that I've learned have been invaluable to me. so theres nothing that I would change, its given me the kick up the arse that I needed to be honest.
FRMMA: Your first BAMMA fight was against Jack Marshman, if that was a 5 round fight do you think it would have been a different decision?
LB: Possibly yeah, there was things in that fight that I didn't do that I should have done and things in that camp that I shouldn't have been doing but they were out of my control. Its not an excuse because if I really wanted to change things I could have done but I was stuck in that routine of doing what I was doing at the time. I was really fit going into the fight and we had a game plan and I sort of stuck to it. I started slow because I knew Jack started at a fast pace, I had a few doubts and when we went into the third round I thought "Shit I've got loads left here" so I started to push the pace. If we had the fight again I'd probably do things differently, I'd probably work at a faster pace.
FRMMA: Was it hard to fight someone like Jack, who has such a huge support?
LB: No, I kind of liked it. It was funny because when I got in the cage they were shouting "Marshman's gonna get ya"!!! It was good though because there supporting him and I don't care if its boo's or chants it's just noise. Jack's a good guy, I like him he's a sound lad.
FRMMA: We interviewed you after your Matt Ewin fight and you said that you wouldn't mind a rematch. Were you disappointed that you didn't get that chance?
LB: Sort of, I had a bit of a rant on twitter about it and I came across a bit disrespectful to Andrew Punshon (Punshon faces Marshman for the title). I was a bit pissed off with myself for doing it because I didn't mean it to come across that way. I've trained with Andrew and he's a really nice guy but I was struggling getting matched at the time and I know Andrew was coming off a loss at BAMMA and all of a sudden it was announced that Amdrew was fighting Jack for the title. After all the rematch hype recently I thought if Jack was going to be fighting and I wasn't matched I might get the opportunity. However it hasn't happened, Punshon as got the opportunity, I hope he does well, I hope he as a good fight and hopefully if I get passed the test in front of me and beat Sutherland I'll get a shot at the winner.
FRMMA: Do you think its a good match up and who do you see walking away the winner?
LB: It is a good match up. I can't see who's going to win to be honest, it will probably be who imposes the others game. I've trained with Punshon and he's got good striking, good kicks and he's a surprising grappler. He's not a technical grappler but he can catch good submissions and then you've got the punching power of Marshman, I don't think people realise how fast his hands are and how good his reach is. It could go either way, it will be an exciting fight.
FRMMA: Your set to face Denniston Sutherland who's just come off a win over Sizeland, how do you feel about the fight and what will you be training specifically to get the win?
LB: I'm happy with it, I sort of asked for it a while back but he wasn't available. He took the fight on cage warriors and we didn't want the fight if he lost. I'd been watching Sizeland and I thought that Denniston would beat him to be honest, I'm surprised that Denniston got controlled as well as he did at the start of the 1st round by Sizeland, its just one of those things. I'm just happy to be matched against a good opponent. Sutherlands a good test, which is what I want. He's strong and he likes to take you down and Gound 'N' Pound but that sort of styles not going to work with me at the moment, your not going to finish me there and the longer I'm on the mat the more chance you've got of being submitted.
FRMMA: Do you think cardio might play any part in the fight?
LB: Yes, I don't think people realise how physically fit I am and whatever fight I go into now I'm going to be putting the pace on, If they can't handle that pace and the minute I see them slowing I'm just going to up my game even more. He's a veteran and he'll know how to conserve energy though.
FRMMA: I know that you can't look passed Sutherland but if you get the win are you happy to face either Marshman or Punshon?
LB: I've tried to avoid Punshon before now because he's sort of a friend, I've trained with him and we've got friends of friends but if he was to win that fight and he had the belt we'd have to put that aside and have a big exciting heavy spar because I want that belt.
FRMMA: After the success of the MTV documentary do you have any plans to do another one?
LB: It seems to have done well and it was fun doing it. There's no plans to do another one yet but if the opportunity came about I'd definitely do it, I think a second one would be better because I'd be more comfortable with the guys doing it.
FRMMA: Could you also tell us about the charity that you give part of your ticket deal to?
LB: I've not done this before, normally I'd give a discount on the tickets just to say thanks for the support. Instead of taking any commission this time I'll be taking half the commission off as a thank you for the support but the other half will go to the Trinty Hospice, they were really good when my Nan was ill last year, she spent some time there before she passed. They really looked after her and its all funded by donations.
FRMMA: Finally is there anyone that you would like to thank?
LB: I just want to thank all of my coaches, my boxing coach Alan Levine, Jason Tan and Peter Davis, everyone at the MMA academy and my sponsors who look after me, BodyActve for my supplements, Fightshop, Sandee, Jaco, MMA Apparell, Pirhana Guard and I think thats it. If I've missed anyone I'm sorry.
You can catch Leeroy giving his thoughts daily on Twitter
For the full audio interview check the podcast page for future shows.