· For UFC Newcomer Tom Blackledge “Everything Is Falling Into Place”
When rumors first surfaced that the Ultimate Fighting Championship was on the verge of signing three fighters from the famed Wolfslair Academy, many U.K. fight fans had their fingers crossed that one of them would be light heavyweight Tom Blackledge.
Those that have followed the English fighter know of his dynamic fighting style and ability. Despite his 10-6 record, Blackledge is always a split-second from ending a bout—likely why he was one of the recent acquisitions for the UFC.
Blackledge was due to make his debut for the Las Vegas-based organization in London, England with his fellow Wolfslair teammates: Michael Bisping, Chieck Kongo, Kurt Warburton, and Rob Broughton at the O2 Arena at UFC 120. Unfortunately, an injury delayed his debut and he now finds himself making his first appearance at the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia. Not a bad trade.
MMA Spot’s Jamie Kennedy had the pleasure of speaking to Blackledge from his training camp in Sydney, Australia, where the heavy-handed striker could hardly contain his joy in the thought of making his debut against native Australian Anthony Perosh.
“I'm extremely excited; I seriously cannot wait to step into the Octagon” he stated with enthusiasm. “It has all been a massive learning process for me to get to where I am now, and no matter what happens to me, I just see it all as experience and now it is just my time to show what I am capable of.”
Tom has had a career full of ups and downs but now believes that “everything is falling into place” as he strives to form some consistency with MMA’s premier promotion. However, he had nothing but praise for his opponent Anthony Perosh who gave a very gutsy performance against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović the last time the UFC was hosted by the Acer arena.
“I've watched some of his previous fights and obviously I knew who he was before I was due to be fighting him. He’s a very good jiu-jitsu practitioner, and also a very good MMA fighter, but I see myself having the advantage on the feet but I don’t mind if we go to the mat either,” Blackledge exclaimed.
Having coached alongside Wolfslair Academy teammate Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights” Blackledge is very capable on the ground, but when asked how he wants the fight to end he’ll only ever give one answer, “by knock out.”
His weapon of choice can come in many forms, as Enoc Solves Torres found out to his peril after bad mouthing Tom before their bout at M-1 Challenge 18. Blackledge had first made the drop down from heavyweight to represent Team England, and didn't take too kindly to Solve’s trash-talking—with the fight only nine seconds old he unleashed a brutal and devastating head kick to knock out the hapless Brazilian and claim the victory.
“I got told he'd been saying loads of stuff about me and was just generally being disrespectful toward me, so he changed how I would normally feel before a fight and made the fight a little more personal, due to him being like that.”
When asked why this was his most satisfying bout to date he simply stated, “I’m not sure. It is always satisfying when I perform, and this is exactly what you can expect from me in the future, exciting fights with a good finish.”
As for what fights he was most looking forward to seeing, the Englishman replied, “Kurt [Warburton], Mike [Bisping], Ross [Pearson] and Jamie [Te Huna], as they’re either teammates or friends of mine, but I’m looking forward to all the fights."
“But, mine most of all,” he added with laughter.
“I'd just like to thank my family, my sponsors, JST Nutrition, my teammates, managers and coaches and anyone who has supported me in my career, I really appreciate it.”