This week’s Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association featured fighter of the week is none other than 23 year old MMA fighter Kyle Paton training under head coach John Sheridan
of IMMAA gym Satori MMA. Kyle claims his interest in martial arts began at a young age from watching fight scenes in action movies “As a young lad watching those scenes you’d be dying to try out all the fancy moves naively thinking they would work in real life situations but as I got older the realisation started to sink in that I was going to need to learn some practical skills if I wanted to be capable of defending myself.” Kyle grew up with a great love for sports and a keen interest in football and breakdancing before he was introduced to the world of mixed martial arts.
“I had heard of the UFC but never really followed it until around 2013 when Conor McGregor came on the scene, having an Irishman to support suddenly made the shows much more interesting.” At the time, then 17 year old Kyle was weight training at his local gym when whispers began to circulate throughout the gym members about a man regularly seen passing through the building. “Chris Fields MMA was coaching classes in the MMA gym upstairs and every time he would pass people would stop and say ‘That’s McGregors’ mate’”. Having seen the signs at the front of the building for Satori MMA, Kyle was intrigued by the sport and had been longing to finally begin training but each time he would attempt to walk through the door his nerves would take over, he confesses “I couldn’t count how many times I walked to the top of those stairs to enquire about classes but at the last minute would turn around and walk straight back down them again. It took a few weeks of failed attempts but once I finally managed to force myself to walk through the doors of Satori for the first time it would turn out to be the single best decision I have ever made.” When questioned if he preferred one aspect of his training over another Kyle replied that he loved each discipline equally having begun his training journey with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes and gradually adding on striking and wrestling classes he wholeheartedly embraced soaking up as much knowledge and technique as he possibly could.
Kyles amateur debut fight got his career off to a superb start with a TKO win on Battle Arena 53 but after losing his second fight via unanimous decision at CLAN WARS 35 he began to have doubts as to whether he was as good a fighter as he believed. Thankfully he then went on to win his third fight on Cage Warriors in Belfast which according to Kyle was the highlight of his fight career to date because it gave him the reassurance he required to continue to pursue his interests in fighting, although he admits that he chooses not to sit back and admire his achievements and believe that the best highlights of his career are still to come. Unfortunately, Kyle found himself facing a major setback when he found himself unable to train for a period of time having dislocated his elbow during training while helping a teammate prepare for an upcoming fight. Kyle stated “The pain didn’t bother me half as much as the frustration of not being able to train, I never thought I would find anything that meant as much to me as MMA does so to not be able to train for any length of time absolutely broke my heart.” Thankfully Kyles elbow has fully recovered and he is back to training at every given opportunity as he has high hopes for his fight career in the future. When questioned if he has any plans to transition to the professional ranks Kyle claimed “Absolutely! I want to go as far as I can possibly go in this game, I don’t ever want to look back at think ‘what if’, I’m going to give it my all and hope that my determination and work ethic can take me all the way to the UFC someday. But for now I’m focused on each upcoming fight at hand and hopefully the opportunity to turn pro will come in due time.” Kyle also stated his intentions of competing at the future IMMAF – International Mixed Martial Arts Federation World and European championships as part of Team Ireland “I’ve heard so many great things about the IMMAF championships, it’s the closest thing we have right now to the Olympics for MMA and to take home a gold medal not only for my gym but for my country is definitely something I aspire to do in the near future, I believe it’s a great way of proving yourself at a high level and a brilliant achievement to have on your amateur career”.
When asked who inspires him to reach his potential Kyle replied “John has been the most incredible head coach I could have ever wished for. From day one he has taken me under his wing, taught me everything I know and given me the support I needed in order to turn my life around for the better. He goes above and beyond the call of duty, even going as far as to keep track of my sleep schedule to make sure I am getting enough rest”.
Having completed his secondary school education Kyle had enrolled in university to study engineering but had found himself uninterested and unmotivated in his studies. “I didn’t realise it at the time but everything I was doing was what i thought was expected of me, not what I wanted, I was trapped in the typical loop of partying all night, showing up to college hungover and barely scraping a pass with my college work. I was unmotivated and had no direction in life, I wasn’t living, I was simply existing.” Finding martial arts gave Kyle the self belief and determination he needed to finally make the decision to drop out of college and pursue a career in an area that gave him a sense of purpose. Kyle now spends his working days coaching a range of martial arts classes at Satori MMA and teaching self defence classes to children in the local schools alongside fellow Satori MMA coach Patrick Sheridan. Kyle professes that while a career in coaching may not yield a salary to match that of an engineers it provides him with much more job satisfaction and self worth than any other profession possibly ever could “I may not become a millionaire but I can go to bed each night content in the knowledge that I am making a difference in these kids lives. I try to give them what I wish I had when I was their age – a sense of confidence, belonging and self belief that will benefit them throughout their lives.”
Luckily Irish MMA fans will not have long to wait to see Kyle in action again as his next fight will be on CLAN WARS 37 in Belfast on February 29th where he will face current Clan Wars champion Troy Gibson of IFS MMA Club,Belfast for the SuperWelterweight title belt.
Photo credit to the talented Amy Kelly Creative Media

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