How did you get started in MMA?
My brother Sam and my cousin Ope started MMA before me. I was 19 and into soccer at the time, and when my brother was home he would practice different moves on me, which is typical of brothers I suppose. I came along to the gym one day just to see what it was about. For me, it was more about competing against my brother. I asked the coaches how long it took for my brother to get his first fight, they answered 6 months so I wanted to do it in 4 months. I never did it but that was the main thing that got me into MMA. I was training in Waterford MMA for a bit under Anthony O’ Brien, Bobby Meade and Gaz Wallace. I was there for about three months before I moved to Dublin for college, where I joined the MMA club in DCU. Back then it was called DCU MMA but now it’s Compound Martial Arts under Oisin McCabe. I got injured in a soccer match then. I tore my ACL, LCL and just destroyed my knee completely. So that put me out of training for a while until I had surgery. Once I could walk on the leg I started training in boxing and had a few boxing fights with DCU boxing and then slowly transitioned back to kickboxing. MMA was the main goal for me, that was where I wanted to be because I enjoyed it so much from the first day. As soon as I was comfortable enough to start grappling again I started to add the grappling back into my training, I moved back to Waterford and had my first MMA fight under Bobby and Gaz, but now I’m with Team Ryano Waterford since Waterford MMA closed down. I’ve been with Team Ryano Waterford now for about two and a half to three years roughly.
How did you get onto the Irish International MMA team?
I heard that the Irish team was doing really well internationally at the IMMAFs. I knew Lee Hammond and some others had won gold and I thought it would be a good way for me to test myself. Andy Ryan mentioned that the squad sessions were coming up to Bobby Meade so we went to try out for the Irish team in Dublin and at another one in Cork.
What was the experience of competing at the IMMAFs like?
It was quite different, and a lot more intense. It was more formal, there were a lot of countries there, there was an opening ceremony and it felt like we were at the Olympics, like something you’d see on TV. For the fights themselves, you were fighting right beside two or three different cages. It was completely different to what I was used to,there was no walk out music and it was all set up in more of a tournament style, which was good. I enjoyed it and gained a lot from it. It was a completely different atmosphere than what I was used to but it was great to get that experience. Being able to represent Ireland was a great privilege because I was born in Nigeria but I grew up in Ireland for the last 13/14 years so it was great to be able to represent Ireland and gain that experience.
What has been the highlight of your MMA journey so far?
I don’t know if I could pick out one single moment but the whole process has changed who I am as a person. Overall the journey itself has changed my mindset and my outlook on life. Coming from soccer to a sport where it’s just you in the cage against another person changed my work ethic and how I viewed life in general, not just in training. In MMA you have to put in the work to get the results you’re looking for. The mindset that I learned from training has changed how I approach my education, my work life and relationships. I approach everything with the mindset of complete ownership now, where I know I have to do the work myself because no one else can do it for me.
Who are the main people who have guided and supported you in your MMA journey?
My family, mainly my brother and cousin, introduced me to the sport, they’re also very encouraging outside of MMA also but I think everyone I’ve met along the way has had some sort of an impact on me, some more so than others. In the gym it’s great having the coaches there like Bobby and Gaz, and Oisin back when I was training in Dublin. They have been very encouraging throughout the whole process. Outside of the gym it means a lot to see my family and my brothers be proud of what I am doing and what I have accomplished so far. It’s my motivation to keep going. I can’t give my coaches Bobby Meade and Gaz Wallace enough recognition for all they have done. I was meant to fight on Clan Wars earlier this year until the show was postponed due to covid but they put in an immense amount of work, time and effort to help me prepare for that, especially at a time when we were unable to train in a group as we normally would. That really pushes me on to see how much they believe in me that they are willing to take that time out of their lives and families to help me achieve my goals.
What are your plans for the future?
Covid has really slowed down my plans but ideally I would love to go pro soon enough. The professional ranks have always been my goal. I want to test myself in that field against people who are training as intensely as I am. If possible I would like to make my pro debut this year, I had hoped to do tht last year but obviously I haven’t competed in over a year now. Once I make my pro debut I will work my way up and start making a name for myself. The end goal is to see how far I can take my career, possibly at the UFC or at the highest level of the sport.