McLeod is arguably the most exciting British fighter around. His all-action-balls-to-the-wall
style of fighting has resulted in a series of absolute classic fights and soaring
popularity amongst fans, fighters and promoters.
took the fight with Ricky 'Ninja' Salhan on short notice and only a couple of
weeks after losing his Extreme
Brawl belt to the brilliant newcomer, Paul McVeigh in stunning match.
interview, Extreme Force, 13 July 2003
Ashley Webb, additional questions by SFUK
Well, Neil, youre into this at very short notice. How do you feel about
this fight all in all?
McLeod: Looking forward to it. Ive wanted a rematch for a long
time now, so I cant wait to get in there.
Have you trained any differently since youve heard that you are going to
be in on this one?Neil
McLeod: No, I train all the time anyway, just upped the training. I
know he is a tough guy - I look forward to beating him.
OK, do you ever train specifically for your opponents or do you train your own
way and thats that?
McLeod: My training is pretty well rounded anyway from stand up to
ground, but normally if I know Ive got a stand up opponent then Ill
emphasise the take downs obviously, so yeah I change my fight game slightly. But
when you get in the cage you tend to change your plans anyway.
Yeah of course. I saw you fighting at Bracknell a few weeks back which culminated
in an unfortunate end to the fight for you. Was it just one of those things?Neil
McLeod: Yeah, just one of those things. Loved the fight. Great fight.
Really liked the guy, felt I really took him apart until the final 8 seconds (laughs).
But win lose or draw doesnt matter to me cos I get paid, and I get better.
As long as they dont kill me Im going to get better anyway.
How does it feel to be on a show that most people rate as a big show in terms
of international visibility. Does it make any difference to you?
McLeod: The venue doesnt really matter to me. At the end of the
day when I face someone thats the only person I see - I dont hear
I guess what Im getting at is that because this event will get a bit more
publicity than most, if you do something good here it raises your stock a little
bit more in the eyes of the world. Had you thought about that?Neil
McLeod: Im pretty much a karmic person, Im a good person.
If I do things right good things will happen.
Sure. Good philosophy.
I guess we all know that Ninja is gonna want to take the fight to you
McLeod: Yeah hes gonna want to hit me, unless he gets tired in
which case hes gonna try to take me down, but pretty much hes gonna
want to stand up and hit me, and thats cool because I want to trade with
SFUK: How do
you feel about your climb back to getting your title back? Which opponent would
you like to start with?Neil
McLeod: Andy (Jardine) is talking about me fighting an American guy
in September on Extreme Brawl 4 and I have spoken to Dougie Truman and he is talking
about me fighting for the Cage Warriors title vs Paul McVeigh early next year.
The title doesnt really bother me, whether Ive got a belt or not.
I just want to put on a good fight, a good show. My instructor Eric Paulson says
that for every fight you have you gain a years experience, so the more fights
I have the more experience I will get, and thats the bottom line, you cant
not get better.
How do you explain giving the fight away in the last 8 seconds at the last extreme
that karma gone too far?Neil
McLeod: It certainly was (laughs). It was me being arrogant more than
anything. I wanted to beat him at his own game, and his own game was on the ground.
It was almost to test myself.
McVeigh said you were bashing him from one end of the arena to the other until
then. Seriously, he said afterwards, "Look at me, I look like Ive been run
over by a car, and you look at McLeod and theres not a mark on him". Great result
though for McVeigh.
McLeod: Yeah, always a pretty face (laughs). Ill know better
next time. I wont take him as lightly. But its not that I took him lightly
even, its just that I was enjoying the fight so much. Fights like that I enjoy
so much. I was talking to him, I was talking to his corner, I think he was talking
to my corner.
It was an amazing fight. Is that part of your fight style or game plan, to have
exciting fights? I mean, youre not like a sort of cold blooded fighter that
gains position then bashes your opponent into submission, you give things away
when you go for your moves.
McLeod: The bottom line is that Im not egotistical in any way
shape or form, Im really not. I dont give a crap whether I win lose
or draw, and thats the honest truth. Id say that for my first two,
three or four fights I did feel that way (wanting to win) but thats why
Im trying to fight more, so the ego goes out the window. Just get in there,
have a great time, have a great tear up. Its almost like its not that big a deal.
People look at it like its macho and egotistical, I look at it like its
a game guys, its a sport. Some people play racquet ball, some people
play squash, we play vale tudo.
But its a game that you want to win still though?
McLeod: Yeah I want to win, but I enjoy the game, I enjoy the taking
part. If I win, great, its a bonus.
So youre saying you dont want to win at the expense of your karma
So when did Aylesbury become a Mecca for the mixed martial arts?
McLeod: (laughs), yeah, no one knew did they!
Eric Paulson is your instructor, but hes a long way away isnt he?
McLeod: He certainly is. Basically, I moved to Aylesbury when I was
8yrs old, 22 years ago. I started martial arts when I was 10. I started travelling
down to London in my mid teens to train with Bob Breen. I started training with
Bob when I was around seventeen. Almost immediately in 1991 I was training in
Shooto. In 1996 I went to Los Angeles and did some training with Eric (Paulson)
and really rated him.
On a weekly basis how does it work?
McLeod: We all get together. I run a club in Aylesbury where we have
a kick boxing class for an hour, then we have a weaponry class for an hour, and
then we have a vale tudo class for an hour and a half. Everything we use comes
direct from Eric. All our techniques, all our training comes from Eric. I go out
to Los Angeles twice a year to train with Eric, and he gives me loads of information
to bring back. Then I come back and we work it.
Whats all this about you in back street bars in Bangkok beating people up
with sticks then? (jokes)
McLeod: Yeah, weve done a bit of that! (laughs). Weve fought
all over the world in sticks.
Youve done stuff without pads havent you?
McLeod: Ive done no holds barred (stick fighting) in the Philippines
Surely thats got to be about the worst place to do one? Id say Surrey
would be a nicer venue!
McLeod: We were told that there was going to be a regular full armour
competition for the light weights. Then we were told there would be a World Championships
without the armour, and I was well up for that. Then when we got there no-one
wanted to do it including the Filipinos. So it got to the stage where me and my
team coach said shall we just fight each other? So we did. They called it a demo
match but I still beat the crap out him, busted shin bones and everything. What
was good about it was that after the fight the old masters with the scars on their
faces came over and checked our wounds and they could see the welts, and they
said "you are real stick fighters!" *imitates masters voice*
What did your instructor with the broken shin say?
McLeod: Nothin! Its part of the game.
How does that sort of thing compare to vale tudo?
McLeod: Its (stick fighting) a lot faster, a lot more furious, and
hard to judge. I think that like in any arena its an adrenaline rush. Thats
probably where my all out style comes from, the fact that in stick fighting its
three one minute rounds, and you just have to go for it. It scores like boxing
but you just have to go for it, so pretty much thats where my style of fighting
It must take the fear factor away from hitting or being hit with fists?
McLeod: A punch in the face is stinging, especially vale tudo where
you have gloves. A stick getting cracked around your body or your ribs is tough,
although again when your adrenaline is on its a stinging experience, its
not like a baseball bat. I mean how do you actually compare or relate pain, a
poke in the eye or a kick in the groin? They both hurt!
Thanks Neil. Good luck for tonight
McLeod post-fight interview, Extreme Force, 13th July 2003
conducted ringside a few moments after Lee Murray had knocked out Pele
made short work of the explosive Ricky 'Ninja' Salhan, finishing the fight with
a nifty face down armbar in about a minute of the first round. McLeod has been
extremely prolific in the two years sabbatical that Salhan has taken from MMA.
Experience counts. Alex Evans and Paul Jenkins are perfect examples of fighters
notching up loads of experience and getting better every outing. Lack of ring-time
is probably what undid the Ninja. For McLeod is was a bounce right back to winning
on your win tonight. How did you feel about it?
McLeod: It went exactly how I planned. Thats all I was working
in the changing rooms, catch the round (house) kick, go in and double leg takedown,
get him out powered, then the armbar, and it worked perfect, it was cool.
Well you make it sound easy. Is that how it felt?
McLeod: I dont think it ever feels easy, its just nice when it
goes your way! (laughs)
So from a karmic point of view, everything flowed right tonight?
McLeod: Everything flowed perfect. Im gonna go and meditate with
my gurus now! (laughs)
McLeod: Thanks very much
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Fight Night - One of the best UK fights ever. Mcleod loses to Danny Batten
in an incredible fight.
- Armbars Chin Weekasingh for a quick win
- McLeod v Ninja first time round.
Beats Jimmy Hewitt from France with an armbar and McLeod fans scream the house
- Beats Chin "Evolution Man" Weekasingh with a choke
- Beats Chin's stablemate Ricky Moore with an armbar
- Gets triangled by Roli "the Crazy Cuban" Delgado from Team Extreme USA
- quick win, beating Chris Freebourne
- loses belt to Paul McVeigh by triangle with 8 seconds left on the clock
- beats Ninja quick