Mixed martial arts in the North West has witnessed a real explosion of late, with a flurry of experienced amateurs making their anticipated professional debuts around the scene. The latest to join this list is The MMA Academy’s Mark Kinsella.
Kinsella boasted a clean seven wins at amateur with no defeats. Despite the fact he’ll be taking more than a handful of experience into Shinobi 10, to the welterweight, the previous statistics are now deemed irrelevant. As the next chapter approaches in just a number of days, ‘Kinny’ feels his preparation has been on point as ever, with only the littlest of adjustments having to be made.
I know that if you’re going to try to finish me, you’re going to have to go all the way in order to do so.
“I learned a lot about myself during my amateur run,” Kinsella explained. “More specifically, how durable I am and how well I’ve been able to hang in there. Back then, I never used to go into fights thinking I was really skilled. I’m far better than I was undoubtedly, however I’d rely more on the fact that I knew I was tough rather than on my disciplines.”
“I know that if you’re going to try to finish me, you’re going to have to go all the way in order to do so. Everybody thinks we’re grapplers because of Jason Tan’s expertise, but we have a great striking coach in Peter Davies. I’ve been at The MMA Academy since it opened, so I know just how well he’s formed myself and the others in the striking facet.
“One of the most important things that stint taught me was that I’ve got cardio for days – even as a little fat lad. I work well when I set a pace and it isn’t easy to keep up with at all. My time at amateur has prepared me for this weekend massively and I can’t wait to do the business now.
On turning professional, Kinsella commented “Not much has had to change really. With regards to elbows, we’ve always utilised them and gotten ourselves familiar because we’re always going to go pro eventually. You have to be ready for it, however since this turn has been coming I’ve focused a lot more on heel hooks, leg locks and escapes primarily.
“I think what I’m most looking forward to is being referred to as a pro,” Kinsella continued. “It sounds strange but I don’t look at myself as an athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s nice for people to recognise it and for me to be able to say that, as someone who does this as a hobby, I’m a professional at it. It’ll be nice to finally put the elbows to use, too. I’m looking forward to that.
“It’ll also be the second time I’ve headlined Shinobi. Obviously I’ll be nervous before I go out but I’m not one for pressure, my team will tell you that. I’m the joker in the dressing room. It’s very rare that people get to do what I do, so I’m just looking forward to being able to enjoy the moment.”
Unlike his teammate, lightweight Tim Barnett, Kinsella will be performing in front of his home crowd at the Liverpool Olympia. For some, creature comforts can become a very real variable in a bout. In the mind of the 170-pounder, the location plays no factor. The mindset has been moulded; crafted in the gym amongst several high-level combatants all preparing for the same thing in the coming weeks.
“Whether I’m fighting at home or away, it doesn’t affect my performance,” Mark confessed. “Most times I can’t explain what I’ve just done in the cage after a fight as I tend to go into autopilot. My training takes over and I just do what I do. It’s obviously nice to have your friends and family around you for the morale boost, but I’m always going to shine no matter where I fight in the world.
“Funnily enough there’s been eight or nine guys in our gym preparing for fights, so the morale has been really high and the intensity has soared. We’re a small, close knit gym. We’re a family. We don’t have that egotistical mindset of winning every battle in the gym. We boost each other and that’s made for such a great energy in the gym.”
As Kinsella makes his aforementioned professional debut this weekend, the man standing opposite him will be a fellow experienced battler in the form of gritty Mick Stanton (1-0). Despite the reputation Stanton upholds, Mark feels his previous bouts and the knowledge from The MMA Academy has prepared him for everything Stanton could possibly throw at him. In Kinsella’s words, he will be “far from flustered” come Saturday night.
He’s been saying he’s going to try and wrestle with me. I don’t think he will, but if he does it’ll be amazing to watch the horror on his face when he folds under me.
“I was apprehensive about taking the fight beforehand as I know he’s pulled out and missed weight against a few of my teammates in the past,” Kinsella said. “However, he seems to have gotten his act together now. I’m not too worried about him, though. I think most times people consider me the underdog and I think that’s the same here even though I was unbeaten at amateur. That run doesn’t matter now. This is a fresh start.
“I still think people will overlook me in this one. Mick Stanton’s a very gritty, aggressive opponent to start off with. He’s going to try to knock me out and wing some shots at me, but I’m just gonna shoot in, take him down and submit him and move on. He’s been saying he’s going to try and wrestle with me. I don’t think he will, but if he does it’ll be amazing to watch the horror on his face when he folds under me. Honestly, I want to get in and out, stay fresh and hope that a great opportunity can come along soon after, but I’m excited to see what he tries to do.”