Sport

John Hathaway vs ZOO

John, the O2 is a big venue. Are you looking forward to fighting there?
Definitely, I can’t wait. It’s always special when I’m competing back home and the O2 is a brilliant venue.

What are the British crowds like at UFC contests?
They still support the American fighters because they’re more established stars. It’s been going on there for longer and it’s definitely still a growing sport in Europe, especially the UK.

Your opponent Mike Pyle was the World Extreme Cagefighting Champion. Are you scared?
No, not at all. I can’t wait for the fight. I don’t see any reason to be scared. I’m preparing really hard for it because he’s very experienced and has had a lot of victories by submissions. I need to be ready – and I will be.

How have you prepared for this fight?
I’ve been doing a lot of sparring over the last couple of weeks and a lot of positional work. It’s important for me to practice getting out of difficult holds on the mat because that’s what I expect I’ll come up against.

After the fight, will you guys get on or will it be a little bit awkward?
I’ve got no animosity towards him so after the fight, I’m sure we’ll have a chat – but certainly not before.

What do your family make of you fighting? Can they bear to watch?
They really support me and I make them proud by performing well. They’re happy I’m doing something with my life that I love to do. My family come to watch me as much as they can, but they find it hard when they see me in a bad situation or taking big hits. They’ve always been great and have always backed me.

We hear you were a promising rugby player…
I got into the Harlequins academy and did quite well. I also got selected for the Bristol academy but turned them down because I didn’t want to move there at the time. I was an open-side flanker and probably would have made it, but I was always really into my mixed martial arts. I’m pretty happy with my decision now!

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