The Lancastrian Suite in Gateshead hosted Almighty Fighting Championship 20 two weeks ago in an action-packed night of competitive fights. The card was filled with talent from the United Kingdom looking to put on a show for those in attendance, and boy did the fighters deliver.
Almighty Fighting Championship 20 marked the third show of the year for the English-based promotion, with two more shows to present before the end of the year.
Scotland’s Danny Naismith was a man who was back in the firing line at Almighty FC 20 after a long haul of inactivity. Naismith cruised his way to a unanimous decision victory after five hard three-minute rounds to attain the Almighty Fighting Championship amateur welterweight title. The decision victory moved Naismith to (6-0) in his amateur career.
I had the pleasure to speak with Danny Naismith after his convincing outing at Almighty FC 20.
Interview with Danny Naismith
Two weeks post your hard-fought victory on Almighty FC 20. How did it feel to be back among the madness of preparing for a fight, cutting weight, fight-week, and the nerves of competing again after a period of inactivity?
Danny Naismith – “It felt great to be back training and working towards something. It was a long two years off and hopefully doesn’t happen again. The fight week was all about cutting weight, to be honest, and was probably the hardest week I’ve ever had in my life, both physically and mentally. I ballooned up to 17 and a half stone the two years I was out, so had a lot of work to do in not a lot of time to get down to fight weight and be competent in the cage.”
On the period of inactivity, what was the reasoning behind not seeing you in the cage for that period? Were you consistently training on that time off, or did you need a break from the fight lifestyle?
Danny Naismith -“I fought March 2019, and from that night until a week after I accepted the fight with Reuben, I hadn’t been back in the gym, so inactivity would probably be an understatement. What caused that was a mixture of working and living up and down the country for over a year, and then when I got a job back home and was ready to start training last year, the pandemic struck, which affected everything and everyone.”
Having time off would have been enough pressure for me, but you jumped straight into a title fight too. When offered the fight for the belt, was it an instant yes, and do you feel this added any added pressure?
Danny Naismith – “There was no hesitation at all. I never have and will never try and weigh up my chances of winning a fight before accepting it. I want the hardest fights possible. I want to go into fights with the possibility of getting knocked out cold if I make a mistake. Reuben had knocked out/TKO’d five people in the first round. That’s the kind of opponents I’m looking for.”
Talk to me about how you felt in the opening round. After the time away, was it tough to get used to the distance, finding your timing, and trying to get a read of your opponent, or did you feel as comfortable as usual?
Danny Naismith – “I put up a post after the fight giving my thoughts on how it all felt in there, and people messaged me saying I was hard on myself. Then the video got released, and I stand by everything I thought originally. It all just felt slow and sluggish, and my body was a half-second behind what my brain was asking of it. The weight cut ruined me, but that was a self-inflicted issue due to not looking after my health for two years, so I can only blame myself for that. It’s not an excuse. It’s just me telling it as I see it, and I suppose I had to get that one out the way to move onto better performances which I definitely will. It’s just a bit gutting when you have coaches investing so much time into you and then not paying that back with a performance to match it.”
Did you feel a sense of comfort in preparation at all, knowing your opponent Reuben had been out for two years instead of jumping straight back into the deep end against an active Welterweight?
Danny Naismith – “I didn’t read too much into it as pretty much every amateur in the country had a period of inactivity due to the pandemic. The only question left is how much training was he doing during the time that shows weren’t going ahead, and the answer to that is I wasn’t giving a f**k, to be honest.”
Although at the time, going five rounds wouldn’t have sounded pleasing due to just coming back to competition, but looking back now, are you happy to get a solid five rounds under your belt?
Danny Naismith – “I certainly wasn’t wanting five rounds at the time, but I’m glad they are in the bag now. It has given me an excellent idea of what kind of pace I can set when the next one comes around.”
Speaking of belts, you’re the new Almighty FC amateur welterweight champion. A promotion I have high hopes for. They are leading the way with regional scene shows in the UK and continue to get stronger. How does it feel to be holding that belt and talk to me about the whole experience of competing on Almighty FC? Were you pleased with everything?
Danny Naismith – “Almighty is the best promotion in the UK for amateurs to be fighting on, so it’s an ideal situation to be in holding the belt. We don’t need to go messaging multiple promotions trying to find tough fights. We can sit where we are, and they will come to us. As far as the actual running of the show goes, it is second to none. Everything that is promised is done and done on time, and Ray is about all day answering questions and checking everybody is sorted, so you can’t ask for more than that.”
You certainly looked like the stronger man in there and seemed to control Reuben rather easily. Am I right in saying that? How did he feel in there and is there anything he did that you expected him to be better at or vice versa?
Danny Naismith – “I knew I would have the advantage grappling and against the cage. The first part of the game plan was to get him to the cage, lean on him, tire him out, and slow him down because he started fights fast from what we watched. The second part was to land takedown after takedown and inflict lots of damage, and unfortunately, I came up short in that aspect. He was what I expected regarding moving in and out of range well and the quick hands, but he didn’t have the power that I was expecting. I went in willing to take a few heavy shots to get to where I wanted to be, but that never materialized.”
So, you’re back with a bang, now (6-0) as an amateur. What’s the goal moving forward in MMA? Do you have hopes of turning to the pro-ranks eventually?
Danny Naismith – “The goal is to be as active as possible. I know what level I can get to, but I need a solid training run and plenty of fight and cage time to do that. I would have been on the almighty card on 20th November, but that date doesn’t work for me now. I will be looking to find something middle of December if possible. There are three Almighty shows between January and April, and il be on them all if possible, then it will be down to Mark and Marc, the head coaches, to decide whether it’s time to have a crack at the pro ranks, but its certainly something I’m eager for. Its smaller gloves with elbows and knees to the head which means more violence, and more violence means more fun.”
Lastly, you had a good crowd down supporting you in Gateshead, causing a great atmosphere. How grateful are you for the friends and family that travel down to support you?
Danny Naismith – “It’s really appreciated, and the majority of them that were there haven’t missed a fight yet, so I can’t thank them enough.”
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Featured Image credits to DN4 Photography