Mathieu Nicourt French Free Fighter
SFUKER : Why did you start Martial Arts?
Mathieu Nicourt : I began the martial arts essentially to build confidence in myself. I was especially interested by the effectiveness in real combat.
SFUKER : What prompted you to make the change from traditional Martial Arts to Mixed Martial Arts and when was this?
Mathieu Nicourt : The change from traditional martial arts towards Mixed-Martial-Arts was made naturally. At the time of the first UFC, I was practicing traditional ju-jitsu which attached an importance to fighting and I fought often, almost without rules against practitioners of other disciplines. The appearance of the professional MMA tournaments was for me, the means of giving another dimension to my practice.
SFUKER : Was it always your aim to compete or was this just a case of progression?
Mathieu Nicourt : The competition was exciting in itself in so far as it enabled me to show how good a fighter I was but it is also an essential instrument of progression; it makes it possible to test the techniques and to evolve/move consequently.
SFUKER : Can you tell us about your Fight History?
Mathieu Nicourt : I began my professional career in MMA with the Free-Fight-ju-jitsu World Championship in Palasport de Rimini (Italy) in 1994. After that, I improved a lot on the ground and my way of fighting evolved/moved much. I then gained the first Cup of France of Pancrace and the Cup of France in submission-wrestling in 1997 in Paris. Then the European Vale Tudo championship in 1998 and 1999 in England (in the organization RINGS U.K.). Lastly, I gained the IFC XIII "battleground 2000" in Canada.
SFUKER : Can you tell us about the event where you won the "European Vale Tudo Champion" Title
Mathieu Nicourt : After my victories in France in pancrace, I came into contact with Lee Hasdell. I went to England and I showed him video of my fights. Then I trained at his club with his students to show him my level. Following that, I was offered the fight for the European championship of Vale Tudo in March 98 against Gerald Colville. I won the fight with a choke after approximately 3 min 30s in the first round.
SFUKER : When are you due to defend it?
Mathieu Nicourt : I defended my title in October 98 against Justin Grey. Justin defended himself well and succeeded in holding until the limit of regulatory time. Following that he was declared victorious on a points decision. But, in my opinion (and that of much of people present), I had totally dominated the fight upright, takedowns and on the ground. We thus put in a complaint concerning the decision. The organizers recognized that the fight was very tight and so ordered a rematch in March 99. But Justin Grey pulled out two weeks before the fight and thus I retained the title, which I then defended against Martin Carter. I gained the victory with an armlock after approximately 4 minutes.
SFUKER : Who are you training with at the moment?
Mathieu Nicourt : I train with my pupils some of which are also fighters.
SFUKER : Why do you fight?
Mathieu Nicourt : I like fighting and I use it as a means of improving my technique. It is also the means of making myself known and for developing my school of combat.
9.In your opinion, what makes a fighter?
Mathieu Nicourt : Technique, the physical condition and the mental one.
SFUKER : Are there any up and coming fighters, who we should look out for?
Mathieu Nicourt : In my team, Benjamin Allion, Bendy Casimir and Marc Babouram already have had results. For the English fighters, Scott Godard and Danny Rushton.
SFUKER : You have a seminar coming up soon, can you give us some details of this and what will be taught?
Mathieu Nicourt : The training course is devoted to the free combat (MMA). I will give technical teaching on fighting as a whole (upright and on the ground) while teaching the way of binding the various parts together (strikes, takedowns and submissions).
SFUKER : Do you plan to hold more seminars this year?
Mathieu Nicourt : Yes, it is an activity that I want to develop and there is a lot of request for it. I want to show my qualities not only as a fighter but also as teacher. I will be holding a training course for 3 days in Portugal in June and again in the Alps Maritimes (France) for a 6 days training course. Rhomdhani Abdelkrim has also proposed a training course in Tunisia for me soon. I would also like to organize a training course in England.
SFUKER : Are you currently teaching at a regular club?
Mathieu Nicourt : Yes, currently in the Free-Fight Academy in Paris. And I hope to open a new club in Nice.
14.Now on to the scene in France and how big is the French Mixed Martial Arts scene.
Mathieu Nicourt : The Mixed Martial Arts are not very developed in France. The first good initiatives such as Hybrid Pancrace did not continue. Several martial arts developed relatively free competitions but not enough to be called MMA. Currently, the CNPEA develops a form of amateur pancrace allowing all the techniques of stand up striking, takedowns and all the submission techniques on the ground (without strikes) and unlimited time on the ground. It is the form which is most like Mixed Martial Arts in France, and it is there that I enter my pupils for their first fights. I lately entered five of them in one inter-club tournament. All five won their fight by submission.
SFUKER : What is the current licensing statement regarding Vale Tudo or No holds Barred competitions in France?
Mathieu Nicourt : Currently, the situation is a little fuzzy concerning No-holds barred in France. The problem comes down to the fact that to make decision on a subject, it is necessary to ask for the opinion of responsible specialists and not of people who know nothing about the subject. It reminds me of the law on the pit-bull which is prohibited while am-staffs are authorized, (I am concerned because I have just acquired an am-staff) without knowing that with the US, many of the dogs are registered the same, like pit-bulls and am-staffs.
In France, if you say that you have pancrace, a Greek ancient sport authorizing the techniques of boxing, fights and judo, everyone finds that very well but if you speak about ultimate fighting, you are told that it is an excuse for violence and that that must be prohibited.
SFUKER : What is the French public's perception of Mixed Martial Arts?
Mathieu Nicourt : With every answer, it all depends on the name that you give to your practice! That said, for many the practice of martial arts is respected. The mixed martial arts are a reference point for proving the effective techniques and have brought much to the often unrealistic world of Martial Arts. Unfortunately, there are always people who believe that one can trap the wrist of somebody in a fight, to make him make a pirouette without effort and throw, only with the pressure on the wrist. For these people, the MMA do not interest them.
SFUKER : Are there a lot of Mixed Martial Arts events in France?
Mathieu Nicourt : There are some events permitting stand up and a little on the ground, such as the golden delicious trophy but the rules are too restrictive. Therefore not a lot of true professional Mixed Martial arts in France for the moment.
SFUKER : Finally what are your ambitions for 2001?
Mathieu Nicourt : To contribute to the development of the MMA in France and Europe by giving training courses and by opening clubs. I would also like to contribute to the recognition of the pancrace as an Olympic sport. It is, in my opinion, a very significant stage for the development of our sport. As for fighting, I want to fight in Japan and I also await a response from the UFC.
SFUKER : Thank you for taking the time for us and I look forward to the seminar.
Mathieu Nicourt : Thank you for the interview. Until the seminar.
SFUKER 8 April 2001
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