Michael Parkin 6-0-0 is an English professional Mixed Martial Artist currently competing in the Heavyweight division, representing TFT MMA. He has competed for Combat Challenge, Almighty Fighting Championship, Caged Steel, Olympus Fighting Championships, Rise and Conquer and has recently earned a UFC contract by way of Dana White’s Contender Series.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to speak with me Michael, and also to congratulate you on your successful capture of a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender series.
I know you’ve probably heard this a million times over, but how does it feel to now have your name amongst the world’s most elite fighters on the UFC roster?
“It’s crazy and a bit surreal. people keep asking me this, I can’t comprehend it really. I’ve still gotta fight for the UFC yet, so I think it will feel a bit more real once I get out there.”
Definitely. It must be mind-blowing, you must still be pinching yourself now.
“Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s what everybody wants, just so lucky to have got this opportunity.”
Years of dedication and perseverance across countless hours of rigorous training with your peers at TFT have given you this opportunity that many fighters long for. What does it mean to you to not only have this opportunity but also to be able to represent TFT under your new banner?
“I’ve been with TFT for about 4 years now, maybe more. Since joining I’ve changed into a completely different fighter, much more confident in my skill set. Andrew Fisher is building a great team here, quite a few are ready to break through. I was just lucky because at Heavyweight there aren’t that many, so my path was probably a little bit shorter than others. There are a few guys at TFT at the moment definitely knocking on the door, it won’t be long until they all get through I think. It only takes one person to break into the UFC and then you start getting noticed more as a gym, we’ve got a good team. We’ve got a few Heavyweights training there now like Big Phil and a few others that have just started with us, we got a good heavy squad. We’ve got some great Middle-Heavy lads too, then the light lads. So if you come to train at TFT at any weight, there’s somebody good for each individual weight class.”
I completely agree, you really are shaping out to be quite the band of warriors. Most recently performed well at Goliath Fight Series as well as the up-and-coming Rise and Conquer 11 card, there will be many out in force.
“Yeah, there’ll be a few from our gym there, nice local show. Some of the younger guys are breaking through now, they were about 15 when I joined, and they’re all pushing 18/20 now, they’re looking amazing. So much better than when I was a kid, some of these kids look so kich different from when I was younger.”
Haha, yeah. I think generation has something in the water.
“They’re Definitely bigger nowadays.”
Your astronomical journey has placed your name alongside the many UK-based warriors to have graced Dana White’s phenomenal organisation. To have your name amongst the likes of Brad Pickett, Michael Bisping, and Ross Pearson just to name a few, must be surreal.
“Yeah, it’s crazy when you look back at some of the names. I recently watched UFC 1. It’s amazing how far the sport has come. The Northeast in particular has produced a lot of UFC fighters from old to present. It’s a big achievement for such a small place, as there’s not a lot going on up here as opposed to London, Manchester and Liverpool. But I think we’re doing really well, for how little we’ve got. Not many big gyms around here, mainly industrial estates and small gyms with people just training hard.”
It must make you extremely proud to have reached where you are knowing that.
“Yeah, that’s the hardest part. Some people just focus on the fighting side of things, not the training every day, it’s the smaller things that are missed really. Like going out with your friends, going for a drink, going out for food as you can’t do all that when training. It’s the hardest thing for most fighters really, the commitment side of it.”
I can only imagine.
Looking back to your victory over Eduardo Neves back in August, what was going through your mind before the fight began, knowing what was at stake that night in Las Vegas?
“I didn’t worry too much about the show or what could come from it, the contract side of it etc, I was completely focused on my own fight plan. I was focused on my opponent, I knew he was explosive and strong, definitely was my toughest test to date. I knew he’s fought a lot at southpaw so I did a lot of southpaw training in Ireland with Karl Moore, a Light-heavyweight over there. I felt like I left no stone unturned, I was pretty confident, a few nerves here and there, but I went out there to do what I always do.”
I stayed up to watch that night, you really did amazing work out there.
A first-round victory is one way to turn the gaze of Dana White, but to do it in many fight fans’ favourite ways via Rear-naked-coke is a surefire way to secure the dream. Was this the plan going into your encounter with Eduardo?
“Not really, I remember thinking there was only one of two ways the fight was gonna go. In all of his fights, he’s won within the 1st 2 or 3 mins via KO, so he might have gone for that. Or he was gonna come out explosive because he might have been a bit nervous, so I needed to be ready from the start in case he never started quick and I wasn’t forced to fight. The fight starting off quickly worked out better for me, because I got to show a bit of everything. He didn’t come out as a southpaw, he came out orthodox, which he did in his last few fights, I’d trained that a lot, it was more of a southpaw that I needed to get used to. He came out swinging, I knew I had to weather the early storm. Fisher was saying in the corner, the longer the fight goes on, the better it is for you, so don’t be afraid to tie up. I tired him out, I caught him with a few shots, he went so heavy and hard that he started to tire. After wrestling with him for the second time of going down, he showed signs slowing, he put everything into his first couple of shots. It was a bit of inexperience on his part u think, i know he’s had just as many pro fights as me but from my experience, you can’t just come out swinging from the start.”
You really did show why you have remained undefeated in all your pro outings.
The Heavyweight division has gained yet another warrior, and the division has definitely had a vast injection of talent in the past year. Given the choice, who would be your dream debut opponent in the Octagon?
“I haven’t really looked too much into it, I’ve been watching the Contender series and there have been a few Heavyweights on there. So from past experience, I might get one of those. I’ve been keeping an eye on them all really, I’d be keen on fighting someone that’s really stood out. But no one has really stood out for me, they’re alright when they’re winning in the early minutes but further in they all start to fade. I’m gonna focus on myself for a while and wait for them to give me a name, then plan my camp around him. I think my first few fights will be with people of the same calibre, new to the UFC. I think I’ve got a four-fight deal with them now, so get the first fight out of the way and see what happens in the second. I’m looking to build myself, I’m not gonna rush in straight away. I’ve got a few friends at the UFC now in Tom Aspinall and Paul Craig, Tom took his time, then started to get the bigger fights. I have good people around me to ask their opinions on things like that.”
Gotta be good knowing you have good friends established with the UFC to good you on your journey.
“Heavyweights problems are getting good guys, so between Tom, Phil and Paul, I’ve got three experts in that area. I won’t get any better than them in the world really. I know Tom’s injured at the moment, but when he’s back, me, Tom, Paul and Phil will get some good training in. Where situated between Scotland and Liverpool here, it’s the perfect place for all of us to train together. Tom would do his camp up here the odd few weeks with me and Phil, then Paul was coming down. Paul was bringing his training partners down, and Tom would bring his training partner up, at one point we had six high-level Heavyweights to train with. After that more would show up from Manchester, and then we had 10 good Heavyweights on the mat. That’s all you need, good training partners as everything is different when you’re big. It’s ok to train with smaller people, but it’s really good when you have your own size and weight to train with. I’ve always said, a fighter will need one good training partner, but when you’re sparring you need different outlooks. I’d go spar with Tom, Paul and any other big guys to get a different outlook on the many different styles. Even when others are not available I’ve always got Phil, who’s bigger and more experienced than I am. My grappling and wrestling have come a long way because of Phil, he’s been a high-level competitor for the past fifteen years possibly longer. He teaches you some great techniques, if Phil can’t keep me down I think no one will.”
It will be good to see more of what he’s been teaching you in the hopefully not too distant future.
I’m no matchmaker, but with a four-fight deal, it’d be great to potentially see you go up against another relatively new addition to the roster, Chris Barnett.
“Oh yeah haha. He’s definitely entertaining, I watched his last fight, and he showed a lot of heart. He had a hard first round. I thought he was done, but then he made a great comeback to win in the second. He’s very different for a Heavyweight isn’t he, he’s small and has some great techniques. He seems like a really nice guy too.”
I think that’ll fill some seats if you two ever meet, definitely tune in for that one myself.
I look forward to witnessing your new journey in UFC unfold Michael, it has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you mate.
Last but not least do you have a message for the readers and anybody you’d like to give a shout-out to?
“I was amazed by the support back home, but I’ve had so many people come up to me offering congratulations and how they’ve watched my fight and stuff like that, it’s really nice to see so thank you. You all have plenty more to come from me. Big Thank you to all my family and friends, also teammates and coaches.”