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· On The Spot ~ Jim Wallhead

· Article author: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Posted on 10/11 at 09:27 PM

The skies are clear. Experience is not a factor. The planets are aligned. And it appears that the timing is finally right.

No, it’s not a space shuttle deployment, but it could end up being the long awaited launching of “Judo” Jim Wallhead’s stardom.

After having his April debut scrubbed because of smoke-filled skies, the 19-5 Leicestershire, England fighter is set to step into the Bellator cage on October 14 in Kansas City. Wallhead will face off with season two tournament participant Ryan Thomas, in a tournament eliminator bout, this Thursday at Bellator 32. The winner will move on to the season four welterweight tournament which is shaping up to be one of the best in the history of the young organization.

Wallhead has been building up to this moment for several years. Of his five losses, two came very early in his MMA career before he had developed his own style and technique. The accomplished judo player is currently on a seven-fight win streak that includes five stoppages, and a hard fought decision victory over highly regarded Che Mills. “Judo” Jim now sits down with MMA Spot to talk about his career, his opponent, and how he fights for his family.


MMA Spot: How has training gone for this upcoming bout against Ryan Thomas?
Wallhead: Training has gone well. It’s been a long camp and I’ve had a couple of niggles along the way. I had to listen to my body a couple of times and slow down. But all in all it has been very good.

MMA Spot: Does Thomas bring anything unusual or anything specific that you’ve had to train for?
Wallhead: He is very unorthodox and a pretty strong all rounder, so I have been covering everything really. So I am ready for what fight he wants to bring to me—that is if he can handle what fight I take to him!

courtesy Robert Swann Cage WarriorsMMA Spot: Although this is a tournament eliminator, how do you like the welterweight line-up in Bellator?
Wallhead: Bellator’s welterweight roster is wicked. They have got some great fighters, especially now with all the new signings. I just hope I can progress into the next tournament, as it will be the toughest and most prolific one yet.

MMA Spot: How would you stack Bellator’s welterweights up against the other major organizations?
Wallhead: I think their welterweight roster is incredibly strong and rivals any other organization’s out there. I feel if you take G.S.P., Fitch, and Koschek out of the equation then Bellator’s welterweight roster is just as good as the UFC’s.

MMA Spot: What does this opportunity mean to you and your career?
Wallhead: This is a massive opportunity for me and it is very important because I feel I have so much in front of me, and I have so much riding on this fight. I have a family to support and I need to start making this sport pay now because I have been fighting and surviving for so long on a pittance.

MMA Spot: Why did you choose to fight in Bellator rather than UFC, Japan, or Strikeforce?
Wallhead: I chose Bellator as it was the best offer presented to me, and I was a fan of the promotion and the format, so I jumped at the chance.

MMA Spot: You are not expecting any more acts of God before your fight are you?
Wallhead: [laughing loudly] I hope not. If there was another act of God, I do not know what I would do. I was so frustrated when the ash cloud crisis hit last time—as I have waited for a long time to get a shot at a big show. And ever since I signed with Bellator back in December last year, I just wanted to get out there and fight. I spent weeks making sure I got my work visa and my training camp ready, then to see on the news that flights in Europe were grounded was just devastating.

MMA Spot: Can you explain your martial arts background a bit?
Wallhead: As a child I started taking Judo lessons and was successful as an Under 16 and was also the three time Under 21 British judo champion at my weight. I also was a former British Judo Youth Games Team Member and I finished sevent at European Youth Olympics in Denmark in 1999. Then I walked away from judo and didn’t really get back into martial arts until 2005, when I started training again locally and was offered a fight at a semi-pro show.

MMA Spot: What tools make you such a dangerous opponent?
Wallhead: I think I am a solid all rounder and have strong wrestling, which can help me dictate where a fight goes. I can adapt very quickly to situations. When I started in MMA back in 2005 I really had nothing apart from my judo background, but training at the Rough House and working with the various coaches and fighters there has helped me develop new tools and sharpen my existing skills to adapt them for MMA.

MMA Spot: Tell us why judo is such an important aspect of MMA?
Wallhead: The main use I have from my judo background is the balance and core strength you learn from studying it for so long. It attributes into helping my takedown offense and takedown defense very well. But as I said before I have worked very hard on adapting that into my MMA game.

MMA Spot: Who has pushed you to become the fighter you are?
Wallhead: I push myself for my missus and my children. I have a 3-year-old daughter and back in August my wife gave birth to our first son. They are my motivation. I fight for them and I do not need anything else.

MMA Spot: How do your training partners and camp help push you?
Wallhead: Obviously training at the Rough House is a great help for any fighter. It is a great set-up with some top fighters and coaches. But most of all we are a big family who have been together for a long time and we help each other constantly, which pushes us to improve even more.

MMA Spot: There has been a bit of a spotlight on U.K. fighters recently. Who are some of the best unknown U.K. talents out there, other than yourself?
Wallhead: I have trained with some good up-and-comers. Guys like Joseph Duffy, Dean Trueman, Leon Del Gaudio, Tom Breeze, Charles Libor, and my fighter and friend Craig Turner, who makes his debut this weekend. I see a bright future ahead for all those guys. And also Ricky Gammon who is unbeaten as a pro and won an English title earlier in the year.

MMA Spot: You have lots of local U.K. fans. Do you feel pressure from them to go out and represent England in Bellator?
Wallhead: I do not feel any pressure. Seriously, I just want to get out there and fight and do the U.K. proud.

MMA Spot: What has been the favorite part of your career so far? Do you have a favorite fight or experience?
Wallhead: I really enjoyed the Fabricio Nascimento fight at “Cage Warriors: Enter The Rough House 7” back in 2008. There was a massive crowd all behind me, cheering me on. It was an amazing atmosphere, on a great card, and there were several TV crews there that night filming documentaries for U.K. TV. I was even filmed in the run up for that fight too. Plus it was a great fight and I got a good win over a very experienced European based guy who has some really slick jiu-jitsu.

MMA Spot: Hypothetically, who would win in a tournament involving yourself, Paul Daley, and Dan Hardy?
Wallhead: [laughing] I would win. I don’t think Daley would make weight, and I am sure I could “GSP” Dan and lay on him, hugging him for 15 minutes. [laughing again]

MMA Spot: How do you get away from fighting? What do you do for fun?
Wallhead: When I am not training I just spend a lot of time with my family. I take the kids to different places, eat good food, watch movies, and just spend a lot of good quality time with my Family.

MMA Spot: How supportive is your family of what you do?
Wallhead: If it was not for my family I would not of been able to pursue this path for so long. My parents have supported me emotionally and financially and my missus has gone without holidays, and we have both always struggled financially. However, I am going to make it pay.

MMA Spot: Do you have anyone you would like to thank, or sponsors you would like to mention?
Wallhead: Sure, I would like to thank everyone at Team Rough House, Ollie Richardson at, Owen Comrie, Ian Dean, Victor Estima, my family, NRG Fuel, Caged Steel, and FBT. And if anyone wants to sponsor me for my upcoming fight let me know.

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