Lee Hasdell at the SFUK Open Mat
UK MMA pioneer Lee Hasdell chews the fat with Carl Fisher
Lee Hasdell sharing some training tips at SFUK Open Mat
Talk us through your fight with Sander Thonhauser?
Lee Hasdell : It was a very controversial fight; my opinion is that he realised that Id sussed his game plan as he had been working on Thai boxing and I had no intention of standing there; I wanted to take him down to the ground. I didnt even wear gloves for the fight as I was only going to hit him when I wanted to. As soon as the bell went I shot in and the referee separated us; I shot in again and we went down to the ground. The referee called a break as I was half out of the ring and I was getting to my feet, I was kneed in the face and I was concussed and a small scar had re opened on my face. I was angry as I had trained very hard for the match and I didnt see why it had to be this way and I lost my head a little bit. When it all calmed down they tried to persuade me to carry on the fight, which I wanted to, but my corner man was against it as I was concussed and cut, and I have had enough of taking risks and it wasnt my fault, so I left the ring and walked off. All the people I have spoken to have said I did the right thing, even the Dutch and Chris Dolman agreed with me and apologised on behalf of Sander and I havent spoken to him since.
Would you have a re match with him?
Lee Hasdell : Possibly yes, but I would do the match if it was not in Holland; I dont like bad feelings and I want to fight on neutral grounds.
Whats in the pipeline Lee competition wise?
Lee Hasdell : Last year I was a bit up and down and took many fights on short notice and in different styles; I wasnt focussed, I was trying to fight as much as I could. This year I am going to remain focussed; my next fight is in Japan in October for the King of Kings event so I am not going to fight until then and concentrate all my energy to fight at that event. I want to get a high placing in it obviously I want to win but I want to finish high if I dont win the final. I want to build more weight up for the event as I am quite small for a super heavyweight and want to get up to 105 kilos.
How did you gain entry in to the KOK event?
Lee Hasdell : I had automatic entrance as I was in Rings anyway under the old system.
Who else will be there?
Lee Hasdell : Well Japan have been on to me saying they want another British fighter to fight there in the Open weight and am looking for a fighter at the moment. I have sent a few applications off but am waiting to hear from them.
What other events have you lined up?
Lee Hasdell : Well on June 9th is a MMA event starting at grass roots level and I am looking for new talent. We will have some Thai boxing matches and ju jitsu matches and we want to have some kind of knockdown matches and we also want some KOK, Rings and shoot out matches as well. Rings would like to see a shootout with four -75 kilo fighters just to see what they look like and hopefully they will choose one or two of them in future events.
Will you encourage your fighters to fight just in Japan or on a more global basis?
Lee Hasdell : I am in contact with many promoters around the world now so I am looking to send the fighters out worldwide, although my loyalties still lie with Rings as they got me started and I know a lot of fighters left Rings recently, but I will stay with the organisation.
Would you fight in the US?
Lee Hasdell : Yes; I will be out there this summer visiting friends in California so I will be talking to people when I am out there.
Would you fight King of the Cage?
Lee Hasdell : Possibly, depends on the money; I do want to break new ground and I dont want to retire without having fought in America. The first angle would more than likely be Rings USA and take it from there. I am not going to retire until I have fought in the US.
How are things developing in Spain?
Lee Hasdell : Everything is still going ahead; I was meant to go there this weekend but I had to cancel it, as my partner has just had a baby, so I had to cancel the trip and will reschedule it for June sometime. I have students out there already and they have experience of promoting martial arts events and I am going out there to advise them and we are going to set up some Vale Tudo events and the only thing to do is to find a suitable venue for the events; I am quite interested in holding them in Benidorm or Alicante for the tourists, as a night out like this would be a great promotion; other than that we would hold the events further inland and have it on for the Spanish people instead.
Anything else on the horizon in the Lee Hasdell global empire?
Lee Hasdell : (Laughs) I am trying to keep my feet on the ground by working at grass roots level, thats why I'm here today. I like to be involved in this kind of thing; I have been out of the country a lot fighting on big events and I want to work with everybody and I want other people to take my place when I have retired. My next goal is to win my next fight as I have had a few losses and they are difficult to deal with.
How do you manage to get through the bad times in your fighting career?
Lee Hasdell : Its an interesting subject and I could talk a long time about it; I think you have to be careful in your mind as to what your aim is. If your main aim is to become a good fighter, then you have to suffer some losses, as it makes you a better fighter and a lot of people become discouraged when they lose. You should look at these occurrences and see them as a way to develop and become better, as long as you keep up your positive mental attitude.
How is the academy progressing Lee?
Lee Hasdell : Its really picking up pace now; thats one of the reasons why I am trying to keep my feet on the ground in the UK. I am getting a lot of students coming to me over the last two years and they are developing fast and competing and winning and helping other people to compete.
James Zikic has retired; do you think he will return?
Lee Hasdell : Like I say its all down to aims and his aim is to follow his heart and his faith and I respect him for that; James has done a lot for MMA, but I think he should not come back.
Is MMA looking healthy in the UK?
Lee Hasdell : Yes it is; its very very new and is still early in the country and people should not judge it just yet. Like I say you have to look at the future and the aim of the whole thing; theres going to be ups and downs for everybody as they all look to find their places. There have been a few political problems here and there but by and large with the pros and cons I would say the pros are in the lead
Anything else you would like to add Lee?
Lee Hasdell : I would like to thank everybody on SFUK and all involved in the UK scene who have supported me through my ups and downs; its nice to know that people still respect you as a person when you suffer a few losses
Thanks for the interview Lee
Lee Hasdell : A pleasure Carl
Written and submitted by Carl Fisher - "the European voice of MMA news". 13May 2001
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