Irishman Paul McVeigh is soon to be added to the small list of UK-based MMA fighters who have fought in that Mecca of mixed martial arts; Japan. Answering a world wide request for an opponent that was put out on the internet, McVeigh now finds himself lined up to fight the current Shooto 135lb champion, Ryota Matsune***.
(***Interview note: Soon after this interview was completed Paul was informed that sadly he would not be fighting in Shooto)
Based in Glasgow, Scotland, McVeigh is a familiar face on the UK circuit. A UK champion in two promotions, McVeigh goes in as a complete underdog, but has plans to make the most of his time in Japan by hopefully coming back with a bona fide world title.
Professional fighter Ian Butlin recently took time to discuss this matter with McVeigh.
Ian Butlin: Paul, for those that don’t know you, what is your martial arts background and where and with whom are you currently training?
Paul McVeigh: I suppose you’d have to say I was a typical BJJ fighter- no striking or descent wrestling but ok mat-work. I’ve got a black belt in traditional ju-jitsu but that really has feck all to do with MMA.
At the minute I’m trying to develop some decent hands, my boxing coach Kenny and Thai coach James Doolan are helping me with that. You’ve also given me some great pointers that have helped me in my sparring. Hopefully in my next fight I’ll have a chance to use these skills. I just need to be more confident with it and actually believe I can take someone’s head off.
My grappling coach is John Kavanagh (www.irishbjj.com). I hook up with him about 6 times a year and every time my abilities improve as a result. He corrects my mistakes and makes sure I’m improving. In Glasgow I’ve got a bunch of great guys helping me train, the best being Doug MacMaster. I’d say he’s probably helped me improve the most out of all the guys I’ve trained with. We don’t have regular access to high level coaching so we have been figuring a lot of stuff out for ourselves- its very satisfying when you discover new principles and techniques that work regularly, then you can give them silly names like the Shoulder of Justice, Gimp Choke or the Evil Dead.
Ian Butlin: You would surely be the UK and Ireland 135lb champ if we had the division. What do you think is stopping promoters and what are your thoughts on the division?
Paul McVeigh: I think its the same as when they were talking about introducing the 145lb/u65.3kg division, the promoters argument seems to be that there aren’t enough fighters. I think there are a lot of fighters sitting around 65kg who aren’t exactly thrilled about facing some monster like yourself who when not fighting struggles to stay below 80kgs yet manages to weigh in at 65kg. Without this division I don’t think I’ll be able to fight within the UK again without putting on a lot of weight.
We need to accept that weight cutting is integral to any combat sport and that those not cutting are making it harder for themselves. If we want to compete internationally we will need to be comfortably cutting weight otherwise we wont be successful.
I think that once this division is introduced a lot of our established un65kg fighters will enter this division as well as a bunch of new fighters. Its good for the sport in my opinion.
Ian Butlin: You are in a unique position in that you have fought most of the countries top guys at the weight, including Leigh Remedios, Neil McLeod, Chin Weerasingh- tell us your thoughts on those fights, the fighters, and other guys in the division in the UK you know about.
Paul McVeigh: Leigh is a dick with a shrivelled dehydrated wab and can produce monster turds and then enjoys showing them to other people. [Ed’s note- McVeigh has a slightly surreal and twisted sense of humour. Leigh still has a small “wab” though]. I get on well with Leigh and I’m looking forward to training with him at the Quannum Gym soon. During our fight I made a dumb mistake and paid for it, I don’t feel that either of us fought particularly well, but on the night the best man won.
Neil McLeod is an awesome athlete with great technical ability. He just loves to fight and I really respect him. I heard that he has had to retire after receiving a back injury in training. I was gutted for him, I tried to get an email for him to pass on my regrets but couldn’t get one. I felt I owed him a rematch after our fight, like my fight with Leigh he made one mistake and paid for it.
Chin is the toughest mofo in the UK scene- he will fight anyone, I think he, like me, will benefit the most from the new lower weight division.
Other guys who I have seen and have been impressed by have been Emanuel Fernandez- awesome jiu-jitsu. Pete Tiarks- I like his clinch work. Leigh R and yourself and Dave (Butlin, Ian’s twin brother) as I know he can make the weight class.
Scotland’s MMA scene is growing fast- we now have a few MMA fights in most Thai shows as well as regular MMA events run by Duncan Airlie James. The biggest star on these shows is James “Thaison” Doolan from our team. When he competes in the UK people are going to the hospital. I’ve never seen anyone fight with his intensity. Speak to anyone who has seen his last 3 fights and you’ll understand what I’m talking about- 2 KO’s and a submission. The rules up here allow a standing 8-count so technically it should be 4 KO’s and a sub. During his last fight I heard the phrase “greatest destruction of a human being I’ve ever witnessed” mentioned a few times.
Ian Butlin: You have had a bit of time off to concentrate on your university studies, do you think the break from fighting has helped you?
Paul McVeigh: Well I’ve done really well in my degree and should hopefully be able to feed myself when I enter the real world, not that I encourage that sort of finding-a-job behaviour. With regards to training I feel that I’ve improved greatly. When I was fighting last year people kept saying I was improving with every fight but I was really only showing skills I already had. Last year I don’t think I improved very much as all my workouts were at a high intensity and I rarely did any technical sessions as I always had a fight in “x” weeks.
I’ve been able to develop much more as a fighter and have improved my skills in every range because I don’t see everything as a cardio workout now.
Ian Butlin: Do you feel your Sports Science degree helps you and your team’s training?
Paul McVeigh: Personally I feel that its helped me a lot, I specialized in nutrition and eat really well and I think that more than anything has helped my training the most. If your training more than twice a day you need to get your nutrition right otherwise you’ll be constantly knackered.
We are really lucky at the Dinky Ninjas as we have a few personal trainers, physios, Nazi drill sergeant cardio freaks etc on the team so there is always someone around who can sort out your training if you need it.
Ian Butlin: Talking of your team, the Dinky Ninjas must be one of the most successful teams in the UK and Ireland, and most certainly Scotland’s most prolific Martial arts Team. Can you tell us a bit about the teammates, the titles you have won and where you all train?
Paul McVeigh: The Dinky Ninja Fight Team is really three teams, I run the Glasgow branch, John Nicholson heads the Dumbarton team and “Thaison” (James Doolan) has his team in Lanark. We all train together regularly and get together to organize our training and plan for the future.
There are strong and weak points of all the teams- for example my guys are very good technical grapplers but we cant punch worth a shite or run a mile, so to combat this we get the other guys in to help our weak areas. John Nicholson came over recently and crushed my entire team with cardio and his bastard core conditioning circuit, some of the guys were screaming while others were singing the rocky theme tune. That was one of our stranger training sessions.
We are concentrating on building up a good stable of fighters and help them get on to UK shows when they are ready. In the MMA shows up here we usually make up half the card and with a few exceptions we win all the fights. I just had the first fighter from my team fight and win at show last week- he dominated his opponent for 55seconds before finishing with a keylock (shout out goes to Big Willie Style). I feel that it is important for fighters to get a bit of experience on smaller shows before heading into CageWarriors and the like and that’s what we are trying to do. By next year we should have guys regularly competing in all the UK shows.
Our guys have also been doing really well in striking only competitions, Graham Connelly is the Navy’s boxing champion, Angry Stevie Mains is 2-0 in Thai with two head kick KO’s, Graham “afterburner” Turner British Junior Kickboxing champ just won his first Thai fight- he hammered his 22y/o opponent for 3 rds, he’s only 16, and Dirty Tam won his first Thai fight at the weekend.
Other guys to look out for would be Gazz, Karate Steve, Kenny Simpson, Daddy Sweg, Quinny, Marty Nic, Rob Taylor and Sean Wright (2 time British Thaiboxing champ) and T-dawg when they give up this pursuit of elbowing boys in the face.
Ian Butlin: Your immediate future is obviously a title fight in Japan for the Shooto title. How do you feel about this?
Paul McVeigh: My dream for a number of years now has been to fight in Shooto in Japan; I never expected to be fighting for a world title. Obviously I’m being brought in to get a kicking off Ryota and give him a win over international opposition, but that is motivating me to hurt him. I’ve seen about an hour of footage on him now and I really feel like I’ve got a strong chance of causing an upset. I think striking might work well for me as I have about a 5” height advantage over him.
Ian Butlin: How has training gone for the fight? Are you doing anything different to usual?
Paul McVeigh: Training has been going really well- been doing a lot of pad work and sparring so my hands feel a lot shaper. Been getting my cardio really good and have been careful not to over train like I normally do. John Nicholson has got me doing some interesting stuff like sledge hammer training and core conditioning work, I think this has helped me improve my punching power as I’ve improved my ability to coordinate movements between my upper and lower body.
Grappling has been going good as well I think I’ve improved my shoot and clinch greatly. Been working on specific things that I think maybe of use against Matsune and for the first time I’ve actually got a game plan for the fight.
Mentally I feel very strong I never really get nervous before a fight but this has hurt me before as I lack aggression. This time I’ve got a lot of rage to fuel my technical ability. I’ve been watching those fuckers on Big Brother and yesterday my girlfriend ate my last muffin- Matsune will pay for it all.
Ian Butlin: Well I wish you all the success in the world for you and the team and I look forward to training with you guys again and of course helping you bring the Shooto title back to the UK.
Paul McVeigh: Cheers and I’d like to thank you for setting all this up and for coming out with me to work the corner as well as for all the training. I’d also like to say that Quannum gym is the best facility in the UK for training fighters and everyone who’s into fighting should check that place out- its awesome.
If anyone’s interested in MMA training in Glasgow contact Paul McVeigh on email@example.com.
Special thanks To Hywel Teague and Ian Butlin.