Ahead of his welterweight title bout at Warrior Fight Series on May 23rd, I had the pleasure to chat to Nathan “Mr. Bag & Tag” Jones (8-4). Jones is a brash London-based welterweight who is currently making waves on the UK scene with his slick submission skills, whilst providing a support scheme for kids in his local community via his programme In The Bag.
So Nathan, you’re coming off of a quick submission win back at BAMMA 19, how did it feel to register your first win in the BAMMA cage?
It always feels good to win. Whether it be in BAMMA or not, it’s always great to go out there and perform. I was really happy with my performance and to entertain as well. I go into perform and I go into finish.
Your next assignment is for the WFS Welterweight title against Matt Robinson on May 23rd. Where do you think your opponent excels and what areas do you see yourself having the advantage?
With all due respect, it’s not about him. It’s about me. I don’t like to focus on my opponent too much; I just want to worry about what I’m going to do. That’s not to say I am overlooking him, I know he’s a tough and worthy opponent, but I already know I am the champion and it’s going to be my night.
Once this fight is out of the way, where do you intend to fight next?
Honestly, I’m not sure. I don’t like to plan ahead as things can fall through, and opportunities can disappear, so I don’t like counting on things to happen. Ideally though, I would like another fight before the end of summer. I don’t ever want ring rust to be a factor.
What about who you would like to fight next?
I don’t like calling people out, but anyone who’s ranked above me is a target. After I win the belt I think I deserve to be ranked among the top UK welterweights – so bring me any of them. Right now I have my marker on my opponent, but after that give me anyone who is ranked. I wouldn’t be opposed to a couple of rematches either. If someone were to offer me either of the last two guys (Menzies and Montagnani) I lost to, I’d take those as well.
Could you give us some insight into the origin of your nickname?
It’s a funny story. You know there is this unwritten rule that you have to be given a nickname to have one? Not me. I’ve always wanted one and I got tired of waiting around, so I decided I had to take it upon myself. I spent some time looking in to a few things and then I’d try them out in the gym to see if they would catch on. It wasn’t until one of my amateur fights that one actually stuck though. I’d won my fight and the crowd was chanting “Bag and Tag!” I then added the “Mr.” to show I mean business.
What do you think separates you from the rest of the division?
I finish fights – just take a look at my record. Some people like to lay and pray which is their choice, they can do what they want with the skills they have. Not me though, I never want to go in there and grind out a decision. I want to stop someone. My personality is different from these guys as well. I’m not talking about my personality as Nathan Jones, as everyone has a personality. I’m talking about the brash and confident Mr. Bag & Tag. I want to have fun with this sport too. I train my ass off and put all my time and effort into it, so I don’t just want to fight, I want to enjoy it.
Who is an up-and-coming prospect you train with who you envision making waves in MMA?
Jake George. He’s sixteen and will be competing on WFS 3 too. The kid’s currently studying for his GCSE’s, meanwhile he’s also training regularly with me. I’ll tell you something, the guy doesn’t get fazed. I’m a grown man to him, but when I try and take his head off in sparring, he’s still standing there throwing back and giving me everything he’s got. The training is far from one-sided either; he can test me in all areas. Whether we’re training striking or grappling, he’s always pushing me, he’s a great training partner. I’m just glad I’ll be retired before this next generation comes through.
What have you got your sights set on achieving in your MMA career?
I just want to be the best I can be. I’m an eternal white belt. I have been training for four years now though and there are a lot of other people who’ve been training for four years who aren’t at the level of competition that I am at. That’s not taking anything away from them or boosting my ego, facts are just facts. I want to leave a legacy – not for myself but for the next generation. I’m a youth worker and I set up a company last year called In the Bag – we teach MMA, self defence, fitness and self-esteem to young people. I also tour around schools in the local area teaching as well. As my profile is raised, so will In the Bag’s. If I can change one person’s life it’ll all be worth it.
Nathan I’d like to thank you for giving up your time to do this, have you got anyone you’d like to thank?
First of all, I’d like to thank Impact LPA, JY Nutrition and Battle Gear BJJ. I’d like to thank all my teammates from Team Titan, Legacy BJJ and E.T. Martial Arts, and all of my friends and family. Look out for me.
You can catch Nathan in action on May 23rd in the co-main event of Warrior Fight Series 3, at York Hall in London. Tickets are on sale now.
This scrambley Verne Troyer look-alike spends his days down in South London working in the cloud. At night you can usually find this critter on the mats, doing his best to emulate Masakazu Imanari.