MMA: Interview With Rising Star Richie 'The Guvnor' Knox

Richie Knox MMA is now THE fastest growing sport worldwide with specialist 'fight clubs' springing up all over. As an indication of the sport's enduring appeal, people are happy to take up the full contact sport just for fitness alone these days, with pounding the treadmill at your local gym becoming less appealing, especially to the younger generation. Of course for the truly gifted and most dedicated of athletes the path of an MMA fighter can lead to the pinnacle of combat sports and the bright lights of the the UFC. I have been lucky enough to interview one such star - the best light-heavyweight MMA fighter across Europe in Richie 'The Guvnor' Knox. The 6'2" twenty-eight year old fighter from Newcastle upon Tyne, England is the current MADE4THECAGE European light-heavyweight Champion along with being the 10th Legion light-heavyweight Champ. The Brazilian Jui-Jitsu brown belt is coached by the legendary Pete Irving, while also coaching professional fighters himself at his own 'Men At War' within 'Men At Work' gym in Newcastle. I caught up with Richie after Daniel Singh's final training session before the pair headed out to India for Daniel's next fight. Would you like to tell me anything about your upbringing?... I only ask this, as a fair amount of fighters take up the sport to avoid getting involved with bad crowds and a life of crime? I had a fantastic childhood really. People always say to me that 'I must of had a tough background to be doing this', but not at all. My Mam and my Dad were brilliant. They've not got a bad bone in their body, and have always supported me in whatever I've done. You started out as an amateur boxer, when was this and did you have a bright future? I started out when I was was twelve or thirteen and boxed till I was nineteen. But it just got a bit tedious doing the same thing over and over and basically I'd seen some old UFC fights on TV. So I went down to a gym in Byker and I was lucky enough to find Pete Irving, and I've been with him ever since. You became MADE4THECAGE European light-heavyweight Champion in your last fight, defeating Rab 'Baloo' Truesdale with a 1st round triangle. Do you think he underestimated you, as he said he was either going to KO or TKO you in the 1st? Ah yeah, he totally underestimated me. All my victories have come within the first two minutes of the first round. And he thought he was just gonna run straight through me as he was ranked number eight in the UK, while I wasn't ranked as I'd been fighting in Europe. When I came into that I was a big underdog, but I knew what was going to happen, there was never a doubt in my mind how it was gonna end. But it's nice when people talk a lot of trash and you can shut their mouths for them. Richie Knox 2What's been your best performance to date, your most enjoyable victory? To be honest, I've enjoyed everyone of them pretty much equally. Although winning the European title and the 10th Legion were pretty special, to get the belts....the best times are when you get the belts. While I was at 'Belgium Beat Down' I got a slick Kimura submission, which was nice. You pulled out of BAMMA12 through injury, how come? Yeah nightmare. I threw one kick within ninety seconds and caught the lads knee, breaking my foot. I didn't realise till about twenty minutes later in the dressing room. I said to Pete 'god, my foot's a bit sore'....and he said 'it cannot be, you never got hit!'. But aye, that was that. It took about eight weeks to heal, but never mind it wasn't too serious. Your replacement Tom Denham submitted Brett Mcdermott in round two. That must of been a bit of a sickener for you, knowing how good your ground game is? Devastated to miss out on BAMMA! I was meant to fight Tom Denham which would of been a good scalp for me, you know. But Rab Truesdale beat him anyway. Not that I was looking past him or anything, it would of been a good, nice fight for me though. When I took the fight it was only two weeks after 'MADE4THECAGE' and if any injury came about they said 'they had no problem with me pulling out' and they'd have me back, so it's not the end of the world. What style of fighter would you say you were? I don't really have a style. I'm very aggressive and like to entertain people, I don't want to win on points, I like to finish fighters in whatever possible way I can. As I do. Richie Knox 3Typically, what sort of preparation goes into a fight? It's generally eight to twelve weeks camp training, hell to be honest. I train at 'Spartan Performance' in Consett, it's a strength and performance gym. A guy called Jack Lovett who is two time British strongman works me over, he's just a horrible man who thinks of horrible things for me to do. But he gets you in the best shape you can possibly be. The rest I do myself along with Pete Irving my coach, who does all my sparring. So I go down to 'Semtex gym' in London to get my arse kicked. Do you see yourself as the No1 light-heavyweight in the UK and Europe? Yeah, I do! To be honest my skill set is there. All I've got to do is get the cage time now, you know? I know what I can do but I'm not being offered any fights from anyone above me. Nobody will accept my offer of a fight either. It's getting a bit sickening now, getting knock-back after knock-back, but I'll prove it in the next year. I've just got to be patient and get the bouts. Where do you see yourself in the next two to three years? I want to be in the UFC, that's where I'm headed for. I'm just gonna do what I do. Do you generally stay at around 205lbs, so you don't have to cut weight....which obviously would affect your cardio? Yeah, I'm not the biggest light-heavyweight and everyone's obsessed with getting bigger but then you've only got to cut it back off again. So I just like to keep myself trim and around the weight category, you know. All these guys like Rab (Truesdale), he was probably over 100 kilo on the day, while I went in at 94kilo. I just concentrate on being better than them, better technique, more skill. I don't care how big they are! You're a brown belt in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, are you concentrating solely on that or are you trying to master other disciplines? Everything to be honest, my boxing will always be a game changer, it's just I've never got the chance to hit anybody as they just try to take me to the ground. Which is crazy because when they do that, I just submit them. It's just the way it is, I'm sure I'll get the chance to knock someone out one day soon. But yeah I train everything, but my BJJ is obviously a strong point, as soon as it hits the ground I'm super confident that it's gonna go my way. It does make you wonder why they always try taking you to the ground though, even I'm puzzled by that? Yeah, thickness isn't it, haha. Richie Knox 4When you next in the cage? I've got no idea. I didn't get a match for the next MADE4THECAGE which I was hoping for, and like I said earlier I'm off to India on Wednesday (8/5/13) with Dan (Singh) so I will be speaking with the management company SFL in India to try and arrange a fight over there. Like I said, I'm struggling to get fights over here just now. Do you have enough sponsorship to solely concentrate on fighting, or do you have to work? Well to be honest, in the last couple of weeks I've picked up some massive sponsors. MTrec now sponsor me financially, which allows me to take a lot of time off work and concentrate on my training. Pete Irving has obviously been a huge positive in your life, where do you think you would be without him? God knows! Well let's put it this way, in the cage you can hit people without getting into trouble. I have a lot of pent up aggression! We'll leave that one there then? ...Yeah, haha. Do you have any bad blood with any other fighter, someone you don't like, or maybe doesn't give you the respect you think you deserve? No I don't believe in all that bad talk, I'm there to fight, I couldn't care what they say. I'll just sort it out with them there and then on the day. You're fairly new to the sport with a 4-0-0 record, any ideas as to how long you could fight on for? I can see myself fighting for another ten years, I'm twenty-eight now and guys are going on into their forties now. And the weight category I'm in guys can fight on for longer, just look at fighters like Vitor Belfort, still knocking people out. We'll just have to see how it goes. Images courtesy of The Bigger Picture.
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I'm a long suffering Newcastle United supporter. MMA fan who is born and bred Newcastle. I write for a few sites , including my own. Quite possibly spends a little too much time on the Playstation and generally being productive.