Gerard “RPG” McKee is set to compete for the amateur welterweight belt at Clan Wars 27 on Saturday, March 25.

The Sprawl conducted a quick fire Q&A with McKee ahead of his fight with James Sheehan.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to The Sprawl, Gerard. Could you tell our readers about the type of fighter you are?
I am an ex-boxer, winning an Ulster title before I started MMA. So I like to strike, but then I got hooked on the grappling game so I also like to go to the ground. All my four wins come from submission, I’m comfortable anywhere it goes.

It was recently announced you will be fighting on short notice for the amateur welterweight Clan Wars title – could you tell us how this came about and what your thoughts were before accepting the bout?
I have been away from MMA for a while due to work and family life, so I only had time for some BJJ, I started competing in the Gi. I have entered five competitions now and have came away with six medals. Recently I have been thinking about getting back into the cage. I have been getting ready for a boxing match I have coming up, so I’m in shape. This opportunity came up and I jumped all over it.

Could you tell our readers about your background growing up in Limavady in Northern Ireland and any challenges you faced starting out in MMA?
When I was younger, running about in Limavady, I was on a bad road. I would describe myself as being wild back then. It was a road I was taken off when I started boxing. It’s a fact that boxing saved my life and the boxing background lead me to MMA. My life is amazing now I have my sons Dara and Pearse, who are the reason I breathe, and a job in the fire service which I am very proud of. I have been fighting independently these past few fights, but one of my reasons for fighting again is to start an MMA club in Limavady.

There are a lot of good young people with nothing to do and maybe going down the bad roads I went down myself. I know the way off those roads and I believe I can show them if I can get a club up and running. Very early days but watch this space.

Your last amateur fight was a knockout loss to Maciek Gierszewski at Clan Wars 22 back in 2015, what did this experience tell you about yourself as a fighter?
I took the fight on two days notice, out of shape and I was only training BJJ. I planned on taking him down and subbing him. I got caught early by a lucky haymaker and that was that. No disrespect to Maciek, he is a great fighter doing well. I learnt from this that if you fail to prepare, then you prepare to fail.

Has there been a reason why you have not fought in two years and what have you been working on during this time?
I have been through some personal difficulties, I found myself in a dark place. I tried to block it out through working too much or going out drinking. These things only made it worse until I hit rock bottom. Anyone who has ever been that low will know that if you get through it then the only way is up.

I found a lot of strength through the great love I have from my sons and realised I had to make changes. Something happened to me then and everything has been on the up ever since and it just keeps getting better. It was simple: if something makes you feel bad, stay away from it and if you find something that makes you feel good, then do it every day.

This will be your first title fight at amateur level and you only have two weeks in preparation time, how will you mentally prepare yourself for the task ahead?
I always train, I have never came into a fight as fit or as mentally strong as I am at the minute. I am more mentally prepared than I have been for any fight before.

How confident are you the belt will be coming home to Limavady and does the importance of bringing the belt back give you any advantage in this fight in terms of heart and belief?
The belt will be in Limavady on the 25th.

Lastly, what does 2017 have in store for Gerard McKee?
Who knows. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift. That is why we call it the present.